On the Other Hand…

Sometimes you just have

to break all the rules… but the story I’m about to tell you will probably evoke some internal convulsions in you because these are rules that we have tried so hard not to break.

What if breaking the rules happens to be the most effective thing to do though?…

I was reading this article in Eternity magazine a week or so ago and it started me thinking.

Steve Addison writes:

I’ve just finished a coaching call with Tim Scheuer. For the last six weeks Tim and his team have been out knocking on doors in Airds, one of Sydney’s most disadvantaged suburbs. Tim asks five simple questions to discover people who are ready to find out more about following Jesus. For most of us that would be hard work, but Tim loves every minute and every encounter with someone who doesn’t know Jesus. Of 45 homes, 42 people wanted to talk more, 11 wanted to join a Christianity Ex-plained group in their neighbourhood, and two wanted to host a group and invite others.

So his plan was simple.

Bang on a door. Be totally upfront about your intention and see what happens. It seems that in this particular community people wanted to talk. And as a result he has been able to develop a whole heap of simple churches in that area.

I can’t help wondering if people in communities near us may want to talk too. Perhaps there are many people around genuinely asking spiritual questions, but they simply don’t have anyone in their orbit who can field those questions?…

Could it be as simple as that?

Now to be honest, I know how I feel when someone bangs on my door and wants to talk to me… They generally don’t get to meet ‘friendly Hamo’. So I am very reluctant to thrust that kind of experience on anyone else.

Its kinda like spam. Unwanted and unsolicited and usually very annoying. But maybe there are people out there who actually like spam?



I don’t think it would be cowardice that would hold me back from heading down the road to talk to people, but rather an internal cringe at the thought of what I’d be doing. I keep wondering ‘what if?’ though. What if we actually connected with some people who we would never meet otherwise?

What if some people encountered some good news and found hope?…

So – yeah – you’d have to accept that in the process you were going to piss a few people off, but maybe (if Tim’s stats are anything to go by) that is less likely in lower socio-economic groups?

I dunno…we have a couple of Perth’s poorest/toughest suburbs right next to us so it would be interesting to give it a whirl.

You could call me Elder Hamo.

Seriously though. What do you think? We have tended to start with demonstrating the kingdom and speaking of it later, but what if we reversed the order?

Starting Points?

You could read this story two ways…

West Ridge Church along with 77 other churches in the Atlanta area are canceling Sunday services the weekend of July 23-25 in order to do community service (something we’ve seen before). It’s called Community Makeover, and it’s an event that creates an opportunity for the church to get outside of their walls and do some good. Much of this idea really puts a smile on my face, but I think a part of it should give us a bit of a kick in the butt.

Its great that churches are seeing ‘church’ as more than songs and sermons, but serving the community once a year?…

I want to both applaud the endeavour – because it is something that I see as a genuinely good thing and yet I feel conflicted because an annual event somewhat misses the point, if the rest of the year its simply business as usual.

So while I cheer for the initiative I also lament the fact that we see things as we do…

The comments on the original post reflect similar sentiments. I guess my pondering is around how we make acts of community service more natural and how we dissasemble such a rigid imagination of church and allow it to grow into something more dynamic and fluid.

Night and Day

Today I went to see Toy Story 3 with the kids while Danelle is in Muswellbrook with her family for birthday celebrations.

I am not a fan of animation and have been known to sleep (and snore) thru almost entire movies, but I enjoyed this one and particularly the short film that preceded it entitled ”.

The spiel about it reads:

When Day, a sunny fellow, encounters Night, a stranger of distinctly darker moods, sparks fly! Day and Night are frightened and suspicious of each other at first, and quickly get off on the wrong foot. But as they discover each other’s unique qualities–and come to realize that each of them offers a different window onto the same world–the friendship helps both to gain a new perspective

It was a great inspiration to learn from one another and appreciate points of view other than our own.

Just Business

Three years of running my own business has taught me a lot and it has made me much more perceptive of how others run their businesses. In the last month I have experienced both the best and worst of small business and the good has inspired while the bad has been a reminder how easy it is to lose a customer and for the word to spread.

The ‘good’ was the washing machine guy who came to fix the suspension in the LG that was rattling and shaking like crazy. I was going to do it myself but with a quote of $150.00 for parts v his quote of $165.00 fully fitted I thought I’d save myself the bother. So he came, replaced the suspension, but noticed that it still shook more than was acceptable. He explained that it was the construction of the frame and that some angle brackets rivetted internally to make it stronger would make it more secure. “I’d like to take it away to my workshop’ he said.

If you’re anything like me you now see a cash register ‘ching chinging’ and the concern that once the machine has gone we are vulnerable to him finding all sorts of unneeded repairs. (Life does make you a tad cynical of people doesn’t it) ‘No’ he told me ‘no extra cost. I will just take it, strengthen it and bring it back – probably tomorrow’.

I was stunned. I was ready to shell out another $100.00 for his trouble figuring I had no choice. But I wasn’t thrilled about it. Not only did he do the job properly, but he gave it a good going over in his workshop for no cost and replaced a belt at no cost. He brought it back on time, cleaned up after himself and was a good bloke in every way

Would I recommend him?

Absolutely!! Greenwood Washer / Dryer / Dishwasher service. His name is Andy and he won’t rip you off.


I was doing a complete landscaping job just around the corner and got a quote on fencing from a local bloke. I should have smelt a rat when he was 30 mins late for our meeting and rang twice to tell me he was ‘just around the corner’. But his price was fair and he seemed like a decent bloke so I gave him the job.

A fence that should have taken 2 days ended up taking 9. Constant delays and excuses and lack of communication left me frustrated and wondering if it was ever going to get finished. On day 8 I ended up letting him know exactly how poor his effort was and he got the message.

Day 9 the fence was complete, but just for a touch of irony he rang me 5 mins after completion (I know because I could see him working from our home) to ask if I had ‘transferred the money yet’…


I explained to him that the money was there 9 days ago but that it had been used to pay someone else and he would get his money when the customer paid the bill. He got narky about not being paid on time (it took 24 hrs to pass it thru) but at every step of the way he said loud and clear ‘I am not reliable’.

Let’s hope the fence stays up.

So two businesses and two very different approaches. One will never hear from me again while the other will be getting referrals for a long time to come.

When I first started my own business it was with the realisation that all you have to do to succeed is:

a) Turn up on time, be polite and treat people well

b) Do the job well and at a reasonable price

c) Go the extra mile

I’d have to say it has worked for the most part. There have been things that have gone wrong and a couple of times when I have simply got it wrong, but I haven’t gone the route of over-promising and under-delivering – a sure way of losing business every time.

Just some thoughts on a stormy winter morning as I delay heading out the door to dig some trenches in someone’s backyard…

Homeskooling Adventures

Over the last 12 months Danelle and I have increasingly considered homeschooling as a way to go with our kids. To be honest, its been more Danelle than me as I don’t want to get too involved practically, but recently we made the decision to give it a shot for the second semester of 2010.

Its quite unlike Danelle to jump boldly into such new and unfamiliar territory, but I’d say she is as excited as I have seen her in a long time and we’re both looking forward to what develops. Some of you may be interested in the reasons we have made this choice.

Well… 1. we just wanted to protect and insulate our babies from the big bad world and we felt this would work… 2. Danelle also wanted to sleep in more and not have to get them to school so early.

Ok and back to reality. (Reason two is probably accurate 🙂

It actually developed from two main reasons:

a) believing our kids would learn better and develop educationally at a greater rate in the home environment

b) allowing greater flex in our lifestyle as a family

We would clarify that reason ‘a’ is probably not going to apply to everyone’s kid, but as we looked at our kid’s learning styles and experiences of school – and as we compared that with the schooling we did on our round Oz trip – we felt that we should at least give this a good shot. Our kids learnt well as we travelled and we were also able to ‘teach as we go’ meaning that all of life contributed to their learning.

We are both aware of the time wasted in school going between classes or just in admin type of requirements and we also saw that it was hard for teachers to give sufficient attention to kids on a 1:1 basis. We have a very clever and inquisitive little fella and a girl who doesn’t gel much with the regular classroom style learning, so we thought we could hopefully stretch the little bloke and find a different approach for Ellie as they receive some learning that is more in keeping with their own learning styles.

We also like to be able to live a fairly flexible life and to be able to take off camping for a few days is much more possible when there isn’t a regular school commitment to attend to. Given our weekends often involve church based commitments it allows us to use the week for days off and time together. We also really enjoy hanging with our kids, and while we realise many people are just happy to get their kids out of their hair for 5 hours of each day we would actually like to spend more time with ours.

What it all boils down to is that Danelle will do the bulk of it because she is empassioned by it and inspired while I will ‘go to work’ as usual, contributing where I can. If you’ve seen Danelle teach then you’d know she is brilliant with kids and a great teacher so we have no concerns on that level.

The obvious question people ask is ‘what about the socialisation processes?’ And we are not unaware of that. We have a heap of friends who we see regularly and a church community, as well as a street and then there will be new homeschool networks etc etc. Neither of our kids are natural recluses so I can’t see them growing up into socially backward weirdos who are unable to interact with others.

The pilot period begins from when we get back from holidays and we will see what develops. If it doesn’t work out then we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Currently the primary school the kids are in is huge (850 kids) and probably not ideal and while we could send them to a private school neither of gets overly excited at paying money for education when we can do it at home.

So its another new adventure and this time its mainly Danelle who is going to enjoy the ride. I’m hoping that somewhere in there I will re-kindle some of my passion for teaching and might actually get a buzz out of it too…

Is The Pope a Prophet?


I have pretty much just copied his post as it needs some context. Of course we wouldn’t want to hear this, so best to ignore it 🙂

I was struck by the following, a quote within a quote from the June 7th 2010 issue of Time Magazine. The article I’m referencing was the feature article on the Papacy and trouble besetting the world-wide Catholic Church

It reads:

“…One vision for the future echoes from the past. A conservative website is circulating a prophecy uttered by a 42-year old Catholic theologian in 1969, amid the turmoil of that year of radicalism and barricades.

“From today’s crisis, a church will emerge tomorrow that will have lost a great deal,” he said on German radio. “She will be small and, to a large extent, will have to start from the beginning. She will not longer be able to fill many of the buildings created in her period of great splendor. Because of the smaller number of her followers she will lose many of her privileges in society. Contrary to what has happened until now, she will present herself much more as a community of followers… As a small community, she will demand much more from the initiative of each of her members and she will certainly also acknowledge new forms of ministry and will raise up to the priesthood proven Christians who have other jobs… It will make her poor and a church of the little people… All this will require time. The process will be slow and painful.”

The theologian was Joseph Ratzinger. And his vision from 40 years ago may now unfold in ways he could never have imagined…”

Not Working?

I always find myself intrigued by the different analyses of various faith stages. I have written previously about Fowler and how used these stages in his ‘Churchless Faith’ research. Very helpful I thought.

Last week Len Hjalmarson wrote about this from a different perspective and I thought its simplicity was also quite useful.

Len writes:

For myself I can see the first 5 stages playing out at different points in my life and while I don’t really like the description for stage 6, I think I get the gist of what’s being said.

Unlike Fowler that has more of a cognitive approach, this schema seems to pick up on how we relate to God. I think its important to acknowledge that for many people there is a ‘stage 4’. Whether its that ‘prayer doesn’t work’, or ‘church doesn’t cut it’, or the ‘Bible seems irrelevant’, we all go thru questioning and doubting places.

In those difficult places some will retreat to earlier stages and fan the flames of nostalgia hoping to rekindle some of the old passion, while others will push on and discover a different way of living – a way of being that can only come after some displacement, frustration and confusion.

I have said it before and I’d want to say it again, that its vital we help people develop in all stages of their faith. Typically evangelicals sit more at ease with stages 1-3 (we even excel at 2 and 3!) But we often find ‘4’ to be on a par with rejecting faith and hence in that place people are extremely vulnerable to giving up on faith altogether if they are not given a space in which to air their concerns.

Equally those at later stages of the faith journey need to avoid the arrogance of looking condescendingly on those in earlier stages. Being a child isn’t something to look down on, unless of course you refuse to grow up…