Because Imagination is More Powerful Than Knowledge

It was Einstein who once said ‘imagination is more powerful than knowledge.’

I was responding to Steve’s comment on my own blog last night and wrote this:

‘When we (as the church) start to value spirit inspired innovation as much as spirit inspired preaching then we may have a more hopeful future.’

Occasionally I feel I have moments when I say something worth sharing, or I have a perspective that is worth presenting and this is one of them. I have found myself bemused over the years that certain gifts and abilities rank more highly on the ‘we need that in the church’ rating system than others.

I wonder why spirit inspired preaching is valued more than spirit inspired innovation / creativity?

I am guessing its because its the culture we have created and lived with for so long, so my question that arises is ‘how do we create a culture where fresh ideas and creativity is seen as every bit as valuable as our more traditional foci (preaching/pastoral care/worship)?”

I don’t think there are any magic answers to reaching the western world with the message of Christ, but I would dearly love to see us become a people who ask ‘what if?’

A couple of years back we closed Forge down in WA and scaled back nationally. Since then I’ve been busy leading a church and running a business in the outer suburbs of Perth, and because we are a long way out and life is what it is I no longer have much networking or connecting with others around missionary ideas.

I have lost touch with many of my more creative, and innovative friends, folks who regularly inspired me and provoked me to keep going. Perhaps part of my own struggle lately has been because I have settled back into a space in life that I had intentionally stepped out of.

To be fair I feel a sense of divine leading to this place, but amidst the various demands and necessities of my roles I have found it difficult to keep on the creative edge. I don’t think I’m seeking a new ‘network’ as I have several good friends who I talk with regularly and some folks within our community who also have some creative spark. But I do miss the sparks that fly with wider interaction.

There aren’t too many conferences I ‘must attend’ these days, but I am keen to get to Vose in August to be part of what Scot McKnight has to say as I imagine that will be a good couple of days. Since reading Scot’s blog over 5 years ago now I have found his thoughts to be really valuable and hearing him lead us in the topic of ‘Church in a Post Christian Culture’ is something I could really get my teeth into. To get there we will need to shorten our planned camping holiday up north so its a big call.

I’m constantly conscious that the tug of the familiar is strong. There is much more kudos for a ‘good sermon’ than for a ‘good idea’ and with limited hours in the day its easy to play to the crowd.

I imagine this is the case for all church leaders, but I’m hoping that we can begin to raise the value of the imagination again.

I really believe its a ‘must do’ and not an optional extra for those uniquely gifted.

Amazing Meetings

My friend Rob Douglas has recently started a new blog that allows us to see the encounters Jesus had with different people thru the eyes of those who may have been there.

Its an imaginative and creative way of exploring the gospel stories as Rob ‘interviews’ those who were on the scene at the time. I got to know Rob during the time I was leading Forge in WA and his church were involved with our ‘re-imagine’ process. He’s got some great insights to share.

His ‘blogblurb’ reads:

Rob Douglas is a former journalist and pastor who now works as Mission Leader within the aged and community services sector in Western Australia. Rob believes that the greatest hope for humanity in the 21st century is to connect with Jesus Christ who began the movement we now know as Christianity, around 2000 year ago. In this blog, Rob imagines himself in the communities where Jesus was living and conducts interviews with people who have met Jesus or had some interaction with him. By learning more about Jesus, what he taught and how he lived, we have the opportunity to come to know him for ourselves and discover the Life that he embodied.

You can check out the blog here.

Time To Change

Here’s a pretty convincing piece of research about the need for change in the Aussie church via Steve Taylor.

Steve (who titled his post ‘Landslide Victory For Fresh Expressions in Australian Churches’ writes:

Some 66% of church attenders agreed that the traditional established models of church life must change to better connect with the wider Australian community (only 11% disagree).

For an even larger majority, this was personal. 82% claimed that they would support the development of new initiatives in ministry and mission in their church (3% disagreed).

So why on earth would there be resistance?

My own reflection is that people would rather hang on to what little they have got rather than risk losing it. To try something new is to risk pissing off the faithful few who remain and that would be suicide. But to do nothing is to choose a slow and pointless death.

What a choice…

Seriously its a lame choice, but in the face of that, the vast majority still choose a slow painful death. Why?… My guess is because change is difficult, time consuming and painful. The status quo might be lame, but we know how to do it.

Its the ‘club’ mentality overriding the missionary heart. The path of least resistance wins out and the possibility of change evaporates with the desire to simply do what comes easiest. In a busy world its an easy default position. “It may not be effective, but we at least know how to do it!”


The research seems to say people want change, but I am actually not convinced. I think people think that they want change, but its usually change without risk, or change without any impact on the current state of play.

Low cost change.

Its a hedging of bets so that if the new initiatives don’t cut it we can always steer back to the tired (no spelling error)and tested expression that will see us thru to our graves even if our kids will find it bizarre and maybe even abhorent.

The research gives me hope, but I also know that people don’t like pain, risk and uncertainty… so it may be a much greater stretch than we would hope.

We can only hope.


I’m not much into ‘parking space prayers’ – in fact just the mention of them gives me cold shudders. I know God is interested in the details of our lives, but something in that idea leaves me cold.

But I do believe God answers prayer and sometimes the strangest stuff.

Yesterday I was doing some retic work at a large apartment complex near the city. I had been there once and needed to go back and find a solenoid that was stuck open. I wasn’t sure how I was going to go because it is a big area and sometimes they can be real buggers to locate.

Anyway after doing some maintenance I began the hunt. My solenoid detector wasn’t giving me any love and in all of my walking around this place I had only managed to see one solenoid – but not the one I needed. I walked around for about 40 minutes, tried a number of different things, but without any success. I was starting to get worried. Maybe I would have to resign myself to the fact that this one ‘beat me’. I haven’t had that happen yet so I didn’t like the thought of it.

As I walked around I began to pray… ‘Lord I could really use a hand… any time soon…’

I walked across to an area I had walked past several times and there in the middle was a green lid of a solenoid box. It was in the wrong place to be the one I needed but it was the only one I could find, so I had to at least check it out. Anyway I opened it up to find it was leaking… It was the one I needed…

What a relief.

And how nice to have a moment of grace in the midst of a fairly ordinary working day.

I have no idea why God answers some prayer and not others. I don’t know why he chose to help me out yesterday and not other days, but I reckon he did and I enjoyed the moment.

‘Oh Well…’

Recently I wrote a post that captures some of what I have been feeling about life at the moment.

It’s ok…

It’s not particularly tough and it’s not particularly inspiring. I feel like I’m lacking some passion and drive, but I can’t just conjure it up out of nowhere. I’ve been asking God about it because for nearly all my life I’ve lived with a really strong sense of purpose and a clear identity. This is not a place I like and feel at ease in. In fact at times I feel like I must be losing my way to be lacking in goals beyond the immediate.

It has felt very much like a time of plodding – just trudging on – occasionally with joy but mostly with resolve and sometimes indifference. It’s hard to feel like a legitimate Christian leader when you live with periods of indifference, or when you struggle to feel inspired. I’ve been schooled that my job is to inspire others and to not let my struggles be visible. Paul can make struggle and weakness sound very noble, and we often hear people speak of ‘strength in weakness’, but (and maybe it’s just me) I am not sure if I have permission to live here. It feels wrong… and yet it simply is where I am at right now.

I don’t feel depressed or miserable. Just weary and a bit flat – but with nowhere to go but forwards.

As a church community we have been reading Exodus these last few weeks and I have been reading it now for a couple of months, reflecting on it’s themes and asking God what he wants us to hear as a community.

What I have been struck by again is just how difficult Moses experience of leadership was at this time. I’m not referring to the amount of opposition he faced, although that would have been wearying, but more to time spent apparently going nowhere and accomplishing little. His life was certainly largely uneventful (with the exception of a red sea crossing etc) But seriously, most of Moses journey in the desert with the Hebrew people could be described as monotonous and repetitive. But it was what God called him to do so he kept going.

I could imagine Moses complaining to God about the life he had been called into. From a safe cruisy life as a shepherd in Midian to leading a bunch of people who don’t seem to be going anywhere fast. A life that has little by way of achievement and satisfaction.

I can imagine God responding with ‘oh well…’kind of a divine ‘whatever…’ I don’t think God sees things as we do and he is not overly concerned if we get bored or fidgety. He just asks us to be faithful and to do what he asks.

On that front I feel like I’m doing ok. I’m getting used to living in a different space and I’m accepting that perhaps this is actually an intentional experience rather than just a rut.

I was talking to some friends the other day and happened to say ‘I don’t know whether I am dying or growing!’ As the words came out of my mouth I knew the answer and my friend verbalised it… ‘ maybe both?…’

I feel like I’ve told God some of my frustration with the place I am at in life and he has said ‘oh well…’ He hasn’t given me any great revelations as to what lies ahead. He just seems to be asking me to keep going.

The other day I bought Petersen’s ‘A Long Obedience in the Same Direction’ almost purely on the basis of the title and how I have been feeling. I held great hope that it would offer some really useful insights… But you know what?… I am finding it hard going. I seem to remember trying to read it about 20 years ago when it first came out and feeling similar. It was his premise (from Nietzsche) that piqued my interest – “The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is. . . that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.”

Somewhat ironically reading the book feels like a ‘long obedience’ at the moment ( and I say that as a Petersen fan!)

Anyway, the last time I wrote about this it was with some level of anxiety and frustration. Today I write with a curious sense of peace – and I use ‘peace’ rather than resignation because I think I am sensing something of the divine in my current place. Not that I would personally choose to stay here, or for this to be my experience for a very long time (not that I have much of a choice), but I feel like maybe I have stuff to learn about steadiness and the absence of sparks and fireworks. I feel like maybe I have been led to this place and if I can stop resisting it or seeing it as a waste then maybe there will be some rich learning.

Sure hope so.

Letters to Father Jacob

SBS is currently running a series of films on faith and the other night I happened to notice that this one was scheduled. It was one of those rare and simple films that communicates one thing well.

The story involves a newly pardoned murderer called Leila agreeing to work as an assistant to a blind pastor. Father Jacob spends his days answering the letters of the needy, which Leila finds pointless. Leila’s job is to read the letters to him – a job she does grudgingly. When the letters stop, the pastor is devastated and Leila finds herself wanting to help him, but in the process helping herself as she unfolds her own story to him.

While the storyline was a little predictable there were moments of beauty. Watching the joy the old priest derived from his work was one of those moments. Seeing Leila’s release from bondage another. A simple story, but just a reminder of the brokenness of our world and our common need for healing.


I hate it.

People whose jobs involve making life complicated for others.

As I was working today I got a call from the local council office letting me know that our ‘church in the park’ gig this Sunday hadn’t been run past them and we didn’t have permission to have a public gathering in that location.

Oh really… she started to speak to me about council rules and regs and I began to glaze over, except that I knew I had to listen.

As she was speaking I vauguely recalled a mate having a birthday party for his wife and encountering similar issues when he wanted to use the park across the road from his house.

I hadn’t even thought to ask. 30 people in a park having a picnic… probably most of them ratepayers… but to use the park you have fill in a truckload of forms, pay $50.00 and have it agreed to by the council… blah…

The issue was that we made mention of it in the school newsletter and that was considered advertising. (Really makes you wonder how they got hold of a QBC newsletter doesn’t it!?) As a result we may be ‘inundated with people’ and the council needs to know.

I don’t have much energy for this kind of stuff. In fact it really gives me the shits because it actually works against people trying to do simple positive things like a picnic with ‘the family’ in the park. Crikey given their rules every time Danelle’s family comes around and we head down to the park we’re going to need a permit!

Its just one more way in which life becomes complicated and people say ‘forget it…’ Maybe that’s the idea…

And in case you’re wondering – no I wasn’t operating on the ‘easier to get forgiveness than permission’ premise. I just didn’t think 30 people having a picnic needed a permit. Obviously it does. Obviously it could create a significant challenge for the local community on Sunday.

Ironically it looks like it may rain on Sunday and we might not be able to do it anyway…

I think Danelle is going to follow it up tomorrow and she’s even feelin feistier than I am so it could be fun!

Email and Identity

As we move house I lose my ‘’ email address and I guess like many people I am tired of changing email addresses. I’d like a ‘home’ so to speak when it comes to email.

My other emails are ‘’ and the same at hotmail (where all my spam and crap goes) and then

I feel like the ‘backyardmissionary’ email is definitely me, but it can be an odd one to give to people, apart from being quite long. I’d like to keep my business email purely for business so I don’t think its an option. I also doubt I will be doing reticulation and turf for the rest of my life.

I have been exploring some other options (a ‘family’ domain name ‘’ or similar) or a different kind of gmail. Of course andrewhamilton@gmail is long gone and then it becomes a case of being andrewhamilton9765… no thanks. is available as is, but I’m not sure they ‘feel’ quite right.

Yeah I’m a fussy bugger.

Right now I’m thinking ‘backyardmissionary@gmail’ might be me… unless I can be a little more creative.

Either way, if you email me on the hamo@brightontown address then you will find it bouncing in July as we will no longer have that account.

Angry Boy

I have to admit to enjoying Chris Lilley’s first two comedy series and the characters he created, so I was looking forward to ‘Angry Boys’ premiere last night.

I’m afraid that hope was dashed.

What do comedians do to get a laugh when they have run of good jokes?

Use the ‘f’ word liberally and edgy humour. I’m not offended by the ‘f’ word and I really don’t care much when its used, but last night had a certain cringe factor, partly from the language, but also from the icky politically incorrect jokes.

Again I don’t usually get offended by political incorrectness – in fact I think we need a good dose of it every now and then to keep us living in the real world – but again you got the feeling that in th absence of a good script it was easier to say ‘f*&k’ or poke fun at a deaf kid than to come up with something clever.

What a shame. Another talented comedian takes the easy route rather than doing the hard work to be genuinely funny.