Back Into It

Yesterday we drove back from an enjoyable week down in Busselton.

Its the 3rd time we have done the January Busso trip with our friends from here in Brighton and this year we finished up with 10 different families dotted around the SU campsite.

We began these camps a few years back with one simple specific purpose – that of helping foster a greater sense of community amongst those who live in this local area. When we go at Easter we do some more ‘Jesus focused’ stuff, but January has simply been a shared holiday.

This time round we had 4 families from here in Writtle St as well as others from around the suburb. It was great to get away with our neighbours and give them a chance to see some of West Oz – as most of them are from overseas or east. I think they had a blast.

However the increased numbers did mean that some smaller groups formed and people generally hung around only those they were familiar with – a bit of a shame in the overall scheme of things and perhaps a learning that if you want to help foster interaction then fewer people is better than more.

As well as 3 great surfs at Indijup Carpark – one of my favourite breaks – I managed to get thru nearly 4 books.

The Time We Have Taken by Steven Carroll is a Miles Franklin award winner and is a beautifully written story of life in the suburbs. Carroll really makes the ordinary every day life sparkle and his writing is superb. Top notch and well worth buying!

Then I moved onto The Children, another Aussie novel by Charlotte Wood. This story follows the interactions in a dysfunctional family when the dad falls off a ladder and enters a comma. It is valuable for the way the roving journalist sister who seems to love spending time in Iraq and other war torn countries is forced to interact with her siblings who don’t see the world thru her eyes. All in all a decent read but lacking a bit of biff.

I am almost finished Richard Flanagan’s Unknown Terrorist – a book dedicated to David Hicks – that looks at how a person can unknowingly be implicated in a terror plan and how the media can sabotage any chance of their redemption. The Hicks dedication at the start gave the game away and for Flanagan – whose Sound of One Hand Clapping is brilliant – I thought this one to be a tad disappointing.

On a different tack I have also been reading Brian McClarens latest Finding Our Way Again and for the most part finding it really valuable. It looks at the value we can find in a variety of Christian traditions and explores how we can ‘find our way’ by including these in our lives. Its one of the most enjoyable McClaren reads for me, but I find his attempts at inclusivism a bit off-putting and unnecessary.

Any with book reviews over here are some ‘highlights’ from the 8 or 9 days we were there…

Sam loves to dance and at the annual street festival he got out there to try and win a digital camera… He might not win but he makes us laugh.

Indijup carpark is one of the best right handers in WA and at 3-4 ft its just a nice manageable size on the mal. I paddled out on the first day and my leg rope snapped after 5 mins so it meant the rest of the time was spent trying very hard not to wipeout or get caught inside. There was one stuff up that resulted in a swim but it was a very nice few days there.

The SU campsite we stay at backs onto this beach and its beautiful. Our friends from overseas are always amazed that such beautiful beaches are so common here in Oz.

We are also getting prepared for our trip around Oz and this was another good workout for the Jayco. One of the things we love about it is that the beds are very comfortable and each morning we were battling to get out of bed before 8.30am – a rarity for me these days! I guess camping is always about compromise and this seems to be the best compromise between tents and caravans.

While we were away we had Australia Day and with a pretty patriotic crew it was well and truly celebrated. Lunch was a bacon egg and sausage fry up and the rest of the day was spent on the water swimming and skiing.

One of the beauties of being a bloke is that the world is your toilet – however as we discovered – if you wee too much and too often close to your camper then the smell is not pleasant… Won’t be doing that again!

The view from the camper window gives you an idea of how close we were to the beach – 50 metres or so. A great picture to wake up to!

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And I slot this one in for the colour of the water. Tell me that isn’t as nice as you have seen anywhere!

So… we’re back and into it…

Work started at 7 am this morning which was a bit hard to take, but we are now in countdown mode with only 11 weeks to go until April 20th which is when we drop everything and take off.

Looking forward to it!

The Outback Salute

If you’ve done any driving in the more remote areas of Oz then you’d know that as you pass a car coming from the other direction it is regular practice to wave, raise a hand or in some way offer a ‘g’day’.

However I have been getting in trouble lately from my lovely wife for failing to wave sufficiently often and appearing rude or uncaring (possibly because I am). Its quite ironic because a) we have no idea who we are waving to b) given we are travelling in opposite directions we will be unlikely to ever cross paths again…

But apparently you still need to wave…

So I have been experimenting with a variety of wave techniques, from the single raised finger (no not that one), to the army salute to the full blown ‘across the crowd – best friend I haven’t seen since high school’ wave. This one has caused a little embarrassment to Mrs Co-pilot who would prefer I wave in a more regular manner.

So I am wondering… am I the only reluctant waver out there, or are there others?…

Is it rude not to wave?…

Does anybody really care?…

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Its Been a While

And its likely to be a bit longer as tomorrow we are off to Busselton on our annual Brighton camp withp8 or 9 other families from around the area. We’ll be gone till next Wednesday and I’m hoping to relax, spend some time with family & friends and read a few good books. I love reading while on holidays as it almost takes you into another world.

I’m having one of those ‘not much to say’ periods, so when its like that I try not to say too much. I don’t like it when people drone on and on when they ought to just shut up!

However for those who are interested here are some quick life updates:

* Probably the biggest shift in the last month or so has been our joining with Quinns Baptist and taking over leadership there. While I do so with some reserve, I also have been enjoying the experience. Having solid practical work for 3 or 4 days a week outside of the church has meant that my ‘2 days’ of employment doesn’t simply explode into 5 – because it can’t. It hasn’t been hard to slot in and it feels quite familiar. I guess its a bit like riding a bike…

* Business has been quite busy, but not over the top. If we were staying in Perth this week I would actually have no jobs on – yet – which is quite unusual. I think there is definitely a higher degree of caution being exercised by people on their spending and it will be interesting to see what develops over the next couple of years. I know I could get more work by advertising more and being prepared to work in more diverse areas, but then that’s not what I want to do…

* Our long holiday is approaching fast. We leave just after Easter and that is barely 12 weeks away. It was thrown into a bit of a spin when we discovered 2 days before Christmas that we had lost an absolute shitload of money in an investment. Its a long story and not one that I am fond of telling, but basically it has set us way back financially. It made me mad for a week or so as we essentially had money stolen and it looks pretty much irretrievable. Excrement occurs and this time it occurred all over us. As a result the holiday went thru some changes. Initially the 8 month holiday got shafted altogether, then we decided to go 3 months and more recently agreed that a longer break is important for our own r & r, so it looks like 6 months will do us. We should be able to manage the debt issue and feel its just important to do something that has been in the plans for so long and not lose it as well. As much as we have lost some $$$ it really does help to keep perspective and realise no one has died, we aren’t going hungry etc…

Anyway – hopefully my inspiration will be rekindled as I spend some time away! download l a story divx

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Shark Alerts and World Financial Crises

Is there really a world financial crisis?…

I went to the beach today and for the first time in my life I was a little worried about sharks. The reason I was feeling like this was the huge number of recent stories in the Perth news about shark sightings. Its as if there are more sharks lurking in our beaches than ever! And yet reality is that there have always been sharks and there are probably fewer now than ever before because we are better at killing them.

But the more we are told that something is true the more likely we are to believe it.

Which makes me wonder if the world is really in such a bad state… or… if we have heard some news reports and the result has been a self fulfilling prophecy.

We hear that things are bad so we sell our shares and as we sell our shares things get bad, so we sell more shares. So the media reports on the growing crisis and we get alarmed… and so it goes on.

Were things really that bad 6 months ago?

Or has media reporting actually created the crisis?

Whatever the case I am off to Lancelin tomorrow to go surfing and I know there is 50 000 x more chance of me getting killed on the road on the way there than getting eaten by a shark!

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Cracked me Up!!

Here’s one for my SDA friends…

I mean with an ad like this why wouldn’t

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you want to go into the ‘ministry’?… Check out the young Russell Crowe and get inspired!

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From Ben

‘Post-Missional’ – More Than a Dash of Truth?

Its said that there is many a serious word spoken in jest…

The Out of Ur blog recently posted a satirical look alien raiders download free

sydney white free at ‘what’s next’ in Church World and one of their offerings was that the next ‘big word’ (following on ‘post-modernity’ and ‘missional’ I am guessing) will be ‘post-missional‘.

It was only as I read further that I realised it was satire… but that is because it has tapped into something I have been feeling increasingly over the last 12 months or so.

Maybe we are

getting into a ‘post-missional’ stage. By that I mean a period where our emphasis shifts off provoking the church to be missional and on to something else that needs attention.

Its been a worrying thought (a splinter in the mind perhaps…) that maybe we have so emphasised and drilled home the need for the church to be ‘missional’ that we have negated other aspects of discipleship in the process.

I wonder if anyone else has had this similar feeling?

Kinda like a ‘what now?’

I feel like I have been reading and writing, practicing and reflecting on this same issue for the last 7 or 8 years and to be honest I’m a little weary with it all. As I write this I am conscious that this could even read as a betrayal of all that I have been focusing on and given my life to, but its not that.

I believe we were very much on the money to call the church back to its missional agenda and now it seems that the message has very much taken root and that some are even acting on these ideas. I know there is a long way to go to see the church truly embrace its missionary identity and I am not advocating we stop leading in this way, but I am beginning to wonder if maybe its time to turn down the heat here and turn it up somewhere else?

I realise I may just be reflecting on my own personal journey, but I take the risk of sharing this publicly because I wonder if others may feel similarly?…

I still have a deep sense of calling to be a missionary in the western context, but I am sensing some changes coming in my own focus and trajectory. No doubt some will see this as co-inciding with my return to meat & 3 veg church life, but I think its much more than that. Please don’t write me off with that simplistic suggestion.

I remember back in the 80’s the Vineyard called us to re-engage with some of our core identity as the church – signs and wonders – intimacy with God – the poor – the kingdom of God and to many their message was radical and ground-breaking. Yet within 10 years the uptake of their message was huge. Now its uncommon to find an evangelical church that hasn’t been significantly influenced by the Vineyard in some way – at very least to acknowledge that there could be a sane approach to signs and wonders and that it is ok to feel things when we engage with God.

I feel the ‘missional’ message is heading a similar path. Most have accepted it as vital and normative for a church to be engaged in mission – not just ‘mission-s’ (read ‘overseas’). Many leaders have picked up the language of mission and we seem to be well beyond the critical mass indicator for acceptance of ‘missional thinking’ as mainstream. Hopefully behavior will catch up and I have a feeling that for many it will.

My own journey into this arena began a long time ago with a sense of discontent at how we failed to be able to develop church communities where those from outside typical middle class backgrounds could feel at home. I saw many younger Christians leave the church because it was so stodgy and conservative and culturally foreign. And I was determined to find ways to help them connect and feel at home. My time in youth ministry involved a lot of work on this front – but it was about ‘getting the meeting right’ so that people would come.

Then around 7 years ago I realised that I had basically become a professional church leader with few friends outside of that environment. Even if the meeting was good it still didn’t scratch where most of the world was itching. I knew I needed to address that and began to take steps to get more involved in my community, but I found the local church environment too constricting and demanding to be able to re-orient my behaviour. There were too many expectations and boundaries already in place that I needed to conform to. I realise others have been able to change within, but I am not wired that way and so I jumped out completely to learn from scratch what it means to be a missionary in Oz society. It was probably one of the best things I have ever done.

I feel like after 7 years of serious practice and reflection I have a pretty good grip on it now – not just intellectually, but practically. I have moved from dissatisfaction with my engagement in the world to a position of genuine satisfaction. I feel like I have been re-learning how to be a Christian again with mission as the guiding motif. It is a great place to be.

However as with many new learnings there comes a time when they become second nature or automated and now I don’t feel the need to ‘push myself into new places’ or attempt new things in the name of mission. I feel like I have come to appreciate how God has shaped me as a missionary and where my spheres of influence are. It has been so woven into the fabric of my life that I don’t need to consciously ‘do some mission’. (I also realise that for some there has been no need to go on this journey as this is how they have always lived their lives)

I have a small fear of becoming a church manager again but I think I have moved too far to go back and honestly if it ever did happen I imagine I’d jump ship again very quickly.

But now that the missional issue is very settled within me I have less passion for reading and reflecting on it. I am in a sense listening to God and asking ‘where to now?’

I have a sense that I am being taken to a place of more healthy balance as I am conscious that in the pursuit of mission activity we have at times done it at the expense of community or at the expense of spiritual formation. I know we would argue that these things ought to be happening in a genuine missional context, but I think we did them in quite small proportion to what we called mission. So sometimes we had fractious communities trying to love and serve their local neighbourhoods – often fractured because a disproportionate amount of time was given to mission compared to that given to growing a healthy community. Or sometimes we would have people with no spiritual depth or strength ‘doing mission’ and then either burning out or having a moral failure because they were pure activists and were not well connected with God in scripture and prayer.

Calling the church to mission is a necessary, even essential correction, but lately I have found myself drawn to exploring more intently how we nurture really strong and healthy communities of faith as well as wondering how we move beyond lip service in spiritual formation and development.

At Upstream we agreed that the life of discipleship really boiled down to 3 things – loving God – loving one another and loving the world. If you can imagine a diagram with three intersecting circles then I would say that at times we need to place emphasis on different aspects and recently ‘loving the world’ has (quite rightly) been the place of greater emphasis.

If I were to ask you which one was of greater priority I honestly don’t think you could pick one ‘imperative’ above the others easily. Maybe we aren’t supposed to.

So are we moving to a ‘post-missional’ era?

Not an era where mission is off the agenda – not at all – but perhaps an era where the emphasis shifts?

I have rambled here for long enough.

Hopefully long enough to convince my friends that I have not ‘abandoned the ship’, but equally I hope the length of this post will serve to frame my inner disturbances in a way that makes sense.

So over to you.

Some of you have been as deeply engaged in the missional journey as I have and may have similar inner questionings. Or you may see that I am just tired and in need of that long holiday we have scheduled for April this year…

Either way let me know your thoughts…