2 Businesses, 2 Churches, 2 Books

Its’ been an unusual year in a number of ways, not least in that I have spent the time pastoring in two churches, running two businesses and publishing two books.  As someone who generally seeks to maintain a steady, even pace of life I will admit that at times it has been busier than I would like.

But it also feels good to push into some new spaces.  To see my book The Future is Bivocational actually in physical form was a little like seeing one of my kids get born.  Wow… I actually did that… 

When the first box of books arrived I was caught off guard by the emotion it generated in me.  Sheer excitement… My other book is the third of my Yanchep Beaches 365 photo books, but this time with a collection of local stories of where we have encountered ‘on earth as in heaven’.  It’s a super ‘soft entry’ to the kingdom of God for those with no religious background whatsoever. It should be ready to go in about 6 weeks and I’m hoping it will give people a hint of where God may be at work in our neighbourhood if they have eyes to see. Some of the stories I have told on this blog will make their way into the book.

While I was only pastoring for a paid equivalent of 1 day/week, it still took both head and heart space to stay invested in both the Quinns and Yanchep congregations. As of yesterday we have finished in our pastoral roles and are looking forward to seeing what the future may hold. As we have said many times before ‘we are not retiring’.  So ministry and mission will continue but without an income from the work. The upside of being unpaid is that the weight of responsibility will not weigh as heavily. I doubt you ever get to a place of not caring about how a congregation is functioning, but I do feel like it will be good to dial that down a bit. For some time now I have resonated (in a healthy way) with Paul’s words in 2 Cor 11:28. In the Message, Petersen puts it like this:

And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches. When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones. When someone is duped into sin, an angry fire burns in my gut.

2 Cor 11:28

The ‘daily pressure of the churches’ is there in a different way for a pastor than it is for the congregation – and it should be there – so it’s not a bad thing. But it will be interesting to live life without that concern running full time in the ‘background’.

Last day…

The running of two businesses was quite sustainable until the caravan business caught fire and has kept me running hard thru winter. I didn’t expect the caravan gig to spark up quite like it did, but it seems there is no one else in Perth specialising in diesel heater installation, so if you good that phrase ‘Perth diesel heaters’ my name will pop up right on the top of google… I kinda stumbled on this one, but I enjoy the work and the challenges that go with it. It’s a nice change from digging someone’s yard up, but crawling into tight spaces around caravans still takes a little bit of effort 🙂

May be an image of indoor
Perth Diesel Heaters Supply and Installation
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Mobile Vehicle Weighing Northern Suburbs of Perth

In 2 weeks time we head off to Europe for a month. We start in Scotland where we will be attending the Global Prophetic Alliance conference. You know how they say that sometimes you have to do things that are out of your comfort zone?… Well this is one of those things. This conference won’t be me in my happy place, but perhaps it will be a surprising and transformative experience. (Or I could just get frustrated and cynical…) A friend invited us to join her in a trip to Scotland and some of the significant spiritual heritage sites. She was already attending this conference and invited us along. Danelle was keen and I said ‘ok…’ To be clear, I believe in prophetic ministry, but sometimes prophets just weird me out a bit.

Happy place 🙂

From Scotland we head to Italy for 10 days. I don’t really know what we are doing as Danelle has planned this whole trip and I have just said ‘yep sounds good.’ But I’m sure it will be fun. Then we get home early October to a new look Brighton Reticulation‘. We have just employed someone to work for us full time and hopefully to manage much of the day to day of the business. The first 3 months will be pretty hectic as I train him up, but ultimately my hope is to slow down, do a few jobs for regulars, but to let the new employee pick it up and really drive it. I even bought a dedicated business ute last week so that in time I can send him out on his own while I stay home and catch up on my Netflix backlog.

So much room!

When I’m not on Netflix I will focus on some other stuff I want to write as well as developing Weigh My Caravan. I will also sloooooow down again and return to living at the pace I want to live at.

It’s gonna be a very busy October to December, but once my new worker (unnamed because he needs to resign from his current role) is up and running I will look to take some time off and have another back operation. The first one ‘worked’, but then a new issue emerged and our health insurance won’t kick in until December, so it’s ‘suck it up and power on’ until then! As well as the back operation, it seems I will be able to get a neuromodulation device implanted to help with the butt pain that has been in my life for 8 years now. Chances are it will reduce or remove the pain – which would be awesome. So there will be a couple of months of relative ‘taking it easy’ in there…

2022 has felt a lot like a ‘clutch’ year, a lot of changes and meshing of new projects and initiatives. Some of it has been smooth and seamless and a bit of it has been clunky, but we are moving into a new space and looking forward to seeing what may emerge.

Final Gig

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Today was my last sermon before finishing up at Quinns church and I was torn between what to speak about. Part of me – the part that avoids pain – was headed towards something cerebral and safe – a ‘heady’ message – a message that informs and provokes, but avoids what is going on in the heart.

But after 31 years of doing this stuff I know when I’m copping out. A ‘thinkers sermon’ would have been an attempt to avoid the simple but significant pain that comes with finishing ministry amongst a community of people you love deeply.

If I allowed my heart to express what was going on then I would speak from Acts 20, where Paul farewells the Ephesian elders on the beach at Miletus. There is something beautiful, raw and visceral in the display of affection that is shown there. I knew that was where I wanted to go but I feared the degree of emotion it would evoke in me.

But that scenario and some of Paul’s words encapsulated much of what I wanted to say to the church – so I made the choice and dove in. There has been some deep, sincere love shared and some significant participating in people’s lives over the 14 years of being there. We have shared in marriages, divorces, new converts, de-converts, funerals, sickness and the whole spectrum of life. And while we often glibly use the language of it being a privilege – I can’t think of a better word to describe our experience.

I felt more emotional than I expected this morning, so chugging thru some of what I wanted to say was difficult. But to not go there would have been simple cowardice. In the Acts 20 passage there are a lot of tears – Paul says he warned them continually with tears, he reminds them that he served them with humility and tears and the final scene on the beach is full of raw emotion as they farewell Paul knowing they won’t see him again. Acts 21 opens with the words ‘After we had torn ourselves away…’ It was a heart-wrenching time.

And while today was hard, and some of it was shared thru tears I am glad for taking the harder road. I want our people to know some of the depth of what we feel – and that our shift has been led by the Spirit – as best we can discern. It was an opportunity to ‘end well’ and to call the church to support of Ed as he continues to lead us forward.

If I had to encapsulate what we hoped for over the time then it was simply to be ‘real’ people who allowed others into our lives – the good, the bad and the ugly. There is so much plastic Christianity around the place and pastoral celebritism that it makes me ill as I observe it. Then there’s the whole idea that you shouldn’t be friends with your congregation, which has never made sense to me either. I suggested ‘no bullshit’ might be a good summation of how we have hoped to live among the church over these years. People nodded.

I joked that Paul was on the money with calling people to remember how he lived as there sure aint anyone gonna remember sermons! That said, I was stoked when one of our younger people told me after that she remembers clearly one thing I said ‘ ‘God is good‘. Yeah I did say that and I said it often as it’s the foundation of my theology. So to know that this idea has taken root in someone else’s life and will be formative for them gave me goosebumps. If you can get this one idea embedded in your heart and mind then you are gonna travel well.

I love Paul’s words that seem to be central in this account:

“However I consider my life worth nothing to me – if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”

Those are true words for Paul – but probably more ‘aspirational words for myself.

I remember being interviewed for a youth pastor job back in 1995 by the Lesmurdie church and they asked me what my sense of calling was. I said ‘I want to be able to communicate the Christian faith to ordinary Australian people in ways they can understand.’

In recent years I have added to that ‘and create Christian communities that make sense in this culture.’

Part of this is the apostolic gifting that I have been given and part of it came from being part of churches where ‘insider language’ meant that ordinary Aussies felt like they were entering a foreign culture. That’s been my goal for many years now – for faith to make sense to ordinary Aussie blokes especially.

When I thought this morning of ‘finishing the race’ well I remembered the women’s 10000m from earlier in the week where the Scottish woman, Ellish McColgan finished with such power and purpose that it sent chills down the spine. I sense that is some of how Paul hopes to end the race and I hope it can be my own experience too.

August 21 is our ‘farewell service’ where we officially finish ministry in Quinns and Yanchep. And while these 14 years won’t be written about in anyone’s history books as a phenomenal success or an amazing achievement, for us it has been a beautiful and significant experience of travelling with a community of people through good times and bad.