Forever a Rookie?














Recently we took off for a few days down to Bridgetown to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. The actual ‘date’ of our wedding was April 6th, but life was a little too messy right then to be able to get away. But we managed to eke out a few days, leave the kids with mum and dad and head off to spend some time together away from the demands of everyday life.

We booked 3 nights in an old renovated barn, kicked back, ate out and generally relaxed and enjoyed the head space that only comes with no one else around. It was on the Tuesday morning as we were going for a walk along the river that I said to Danelle, ‘you know in 25 years of being married & being a pastor, I think I have taught about marriage once.’

I realised I have never really felt like I have had the credibility to say anything significant about marriage – like once I get some ‘runs on the board’ then maybe then I will be in a place to speak to others. I don’t think that about almost every other aspect of life, so why marriage?

A perplexing question…

Its not like we are in a shaky place where my words would be inauthentic or hollow, as we have a good relationship, and we have worked thru some pretty dark times and some challenging issues, but for some reason it seemed a tad arrogant to think I might be able to teach others on this issue. I know that doesn’t make any sense, but it was what I was feeling.

As we walked along I said to Danelle ‘Ok – if not now, then when? When we are in our 80’s and can’t remember one another’s names?…’ It was a short, sharp moment of insight, that this is not a topic that should remain off limits – in fact chances are in the 25 years we have been figuring this stuff out, we may have actually learnt some valuable stuff.

So I made a commitment to do something with this – to move past my own lack of confidence with and just begin sharing what we have learnt in an accessible way. I have a few ideas brewing, so hopefully soon we’ll be able to offer something into the mix.


Train Wreck

trainAnd the big lesson from this week is make sure you are committed to your decision before going public with it…

Sadly the folks at World Vision have egg on their face and a major mess to clean up after their announcement that they would now hire people in gay relationships, only to retract the statement and revert to their original position just 48 hours later.

The problem is that the damage is done now. They have smashed a heap of trust and its going to be hard to rebuild it. Whatever you think of World Vision the issue here is the flip flop.

Now rather than just having alienated one group of constituents they have angered two. The first decision clearly made the right wing mad, while the left were happy WV had ‘seen the light’, but clearly the right have many more $$ because the reversion was for their benefit. Now the right won’t be sure if WV have genuinely recanted and the left will hate them for their back down. Lose – lose

I didn’t know WV were still an overtly Christian organisation and I figured they hired staff who had no faith affiliation. So the original decision surprised me as I thought that was the lie of the land anyway. While the original decision obviously was a political hand grenade, it would be interesting to know what genuinely motivated both decisions. It would seem the first may have been a response to culture (and I think many theological shifts are a result of cultural change, moreso than new ‘learning ‘) but the reversal is confusing – it presents as theological but I wonder to what extent it is driven by the need for the organisation to keep running, for people’s jobs, leader’s reputations etc. Yeah – I’m a bit cynical there.

Maybe it was motivated by the fact that the decision will hurt the poor – the reason for WVs existence , but my guess is that it’s a combination of all of the above to a greater or lesser degree depending on who you ask.

And which decision was the correct one?… I’m not sure at the moment.

If we are arguing that sexual orientation is central to the gospel then you’ve lost me there. If WV are as keen to take a hardline on other sin then perhaps that would seem fair. But we all know that nothing riles a conservative more than being kind or fair to gay people. For some reason they belong in a different category of ‘nasty’ to adulterers, pornographers and hetero-sexual-sinners.

Unfortunately what presents as a decision based on theological conviction seems to be more likely driven by bottom lines, people’s jobs and maybe even the folks at the end of the line who end up suffering because people won’t allow their funds to channel through a ‘sinful’ organisation.

I wonder if those same folks who boycotted WV are willing to allow WV to take money from gay folks? Or are they allowed to give money to sponsor kids who are gay. If you are gay should you starve?


Yeah I think it can be…

Or maybe its not complex and we’re just bloody stupid sometimes.


Flat Beer or Stale Bread?







With an election looming these feel like the choices.

It was my first Sunday back teaching at QBC after our break, so I thought I’d launch back in gently… and pick up the topic of ‘how to vote in the coming election’.

As much as some like to avoid mixing their faith and politics I think Ghandi was right when he said: ‘He who says politics and religion do not mix understands neither one.’ We simply cannot be ‘apolitical’ (if there is such a word) in our discipleship. To follow Jesus has political implications and the current hot button of asylum seekers and border protection is a case in point.

So come September 7th we will all vote, but some of us will do it after having moved thru a conscious process while others will simply respond to sound bytes, propaganda and gossip. The question I posed to our crew today was ‘how do you know who to vote for?’

I began by letting people know that Danelle and I are swingers. We have been for a long time and while that might sound odd, we are at ease with it. Of course I’m talking about being swinging voters… That’s what you thought I meant right?…

In the last 30 years I have voted CDP, Liberal, Labour and more recently Green, but I have no allegiance to anyone. Which makes it interesting each time an election comes around. While I have no allegiance I do have a process for arriving at a decision and it is a fairly simple one.

Here it is for what its worth (and this was the guts of what I shared at QBC this morning)

How do we develop a framework for casting a vote that will reflect the priorities of Jesus?

I want to suggest that there is one primary theological lens thru which we can look to assess the merits of the different political parties – and I say ‘parties’ because we are not voting for ‘Rudd’ or ‘Abbott’. These men are not dictators or tyrants – they are subject to the ethos of their own party. So if you don’t like either of them then discard the idea that you are voting for them per se.

That lens I believe we need to look thru if we are vote according to the priorities of Jesus is the lens of the Kingdom of God. The Bible wasn’t written with 21st century western democracy in mind.  Nor was it written for first century imperialism. None of these human forms of government are to be seen as what God ultimately hopes for. They are our best attempts to keep a world in order and keep a society healthy and functioning.

What God had in mind right from the get go in Genesis was a world where he and his creation would live in harmony and where there would be goodness, peace, justice and love. It was the world he originally created. It is the world we – as the church – are seeking to work with him to create at this time. It is the world to come when he restores this world.

It is the kingdom of God. The world where God’s rule is seen and experienced most clearly and powerfully.

So my sole criteria when seeking to decide who I will vote for is to ask ‘whose policies and priorities best depict the kingdom of God?’ Who, if they got in power and were able to get it all own their own way – is likely to move us close to God’s dream for the world?

And what’s interesting is that Godly people can come down in different places on who they see as best moving us in that direction.

But to be able to make that kind of a call you need to be able to both have a grasp of the Bible and also a grasp of what the major political parties are on about. So you do need to do some reading and some thinking.

I think this is where most of us come unstuck. We get sound bytes and propaganda from the various spin doctors but often we don’t take the time to visit the various websites and see who is saying what.

And you need to. Its all there.

So if it’s the kingdom of God as the primary lens thru which we make a decision then we need to know what that means.

If we are envisaging a world formed by God’s rule then we will ask questions like:

  • who best looks after the poor and needy both here and around the world?
  • who will best work to develop a righteous and moral society?
  • who is truthful and honourable in the way they lead?
  • who best calls us and envisions a way to look after the created world?
  • who will best uphold the values of a just and fair society and foster healthy relationships between people?
  •  who will promote strong family as core to the health of a society
  • who will see human rights as a central issue
  • who will protect the rights of the powerless
  •  who will seek peace and healing as ways of resolving conflict and who will avoid war and bloodshed?

And yes – these are complex issues

And there are obviously more, but as you consider the characteristics of the kingdom as described in scripture you can then filter each parties ideas thru that grid.

And the caveat here is that just because a party has Christian in its name, it doesn’t means it is better at envisioning the kingdom of God than those who don’t. Currently neither of the overtly Christian parties take a welcoming / compassionate approach to asylum seekers and for those of us who see this as a significant issue its something of an embarrassment and a puzzle.

So that is the backdrop against which my vote gets cast. Who best envisions a world that looks like what Jesus hopes for?

And the challenge is that many people will prioritise economic development and personal advancement over and above these issues. Because that is in our nature… and because that is in our nature and politicians want to win, they will generally shape their policies to suit our desires.

Its not to say a healthy economy doesn’t matter, so don’t hear me say that – because obviously a country with poor economic health is going to struggle, but I can’t imagine Jesus ever having that as his primary concern – person wealth and societal affluence….

Obviously the hot topic in Aussie politics at the moment is border protection and the treatment of refugees. And both of our major political parties have taken a very hard line on this – which tells you where the bulk of Aussie are at with it. It is an election winner and whoever takes a softer line will not win. And you need to win… even Christians ‘need to win’ apparently…

So – the overarching question is not who can best sustain a western democracy, or who can best effect economic growth, but who can best help us move in the direction of what looks something like the kingdom of God?  (even if they don’t realise they are doing it)

I would suggest to you that this is the core question we need to grapple with each time an election comes around.

And I realise it’s a big question, but I tend to see it as the only question.

The second issue I want to focus on relates to how we determine our vote – an actual process. Because I am guessing many people will feel overwhelmed with the challenge of thinking it thru.

So the next challenge – in how to vote is to put in the effort to make a decision

Think of it as – pray / read / discuss  / pray  / read / discuss / vote

Don’t simply vote in line with family tradition, don’t look for someone with ‘Christian’ in their name and hope they get it right. Don’t simply vote from self interest looking at who will put the most money back in your own pocket. That is not a responsible way to vote. It is selfish. But we do it – see here for the election issues for West Aussies

Choose carefully and be prepared to join the swingers!

Australian theologian John Dickson says:

“Christians should be willing to change voting patterns after Christian reflection on particular policies. A believer who cannot imagine voting for the ”other side” has either determined that only one party aligns with the will of God or, more likely, is more attached to their cultural context than to the wisdom of scripture.”

Its too easy to determine out theology by looking thru the lens of our political ideology, rather than the other way round.

Dickson says we need to avoid polarising arguments and think critically about both our favoured party and the ones we see as less appealing if we are to make a healthy decision. You should be able to find holes in each party’s policies because none of them are perfect. If you can’t then you aren’t looking hard enough.

He has some excellent thoughts here on how to vote as a Christian.

I know that this election I will vote for a party who are ‘for’ some things that I cannot agree with. That is how it rolls…

So will you…

So in that process of pray / read / discuss / pray / read / discuss I am suggesting we:

a) take this seriously and to ask God for guidance in prayer.

b) Then read – firstly scripture – and ask ‘how does the Bible enlighten me on this issue?’ Begin with the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5 and ask who it best describes. But try and reflect on the whole tenor of the Bible and see who emerges.

Then read the websites of the various parties you know are core – read the Libs, Labour, Greens and Christian parties. For fun you can read the Pirate party… the HEMP party and the Sex Party…

c) Then discuss it with friends. Ask one another who you’re going to vote for… And why… Let’s get beyond seeing discussion of politics as taboo. The purpose is not to debate and argue but to understand and respect that different people who love Jesus will vote for different parties at different times.

I know some churches have a party line – there was an article last week in the West about a church’s links with the liberal party and their overt promotion of them as their preferred choice. My mate attends a church that got a very strong message from the Australian Christians about why they should vote for them – and as a church were obviously nailing their colours to the mast.

I am not up for giving my support to any one group because all of them are good in their own way and flawed in their own way. And as a church I believe we are healthier for diversity than for having a party line. My ideal scenario would be to have someone who is going to vote for each of the major parties take some time on a Sunday to give us their reasons for their choice and then allow debate and questioning – kinda like our very own Q&A.

That way we get to really hear the strong and weak aspects of each group. But we won’t be having any one party take the floor to do their thing.

My take is that no one is committed to the kingdom of God as we would hope, (And I don’t think we are as committed to the kingdom of God as we would hope either…)  but that each in their own way are seeking to build a better society.

So while it might feel like a choice between stale bread and flat beer I am hopeful that we can be inspired a bit beyond that…

I haven’t made up mind yet as to who will get my vote. Last time I voted Green, as I felt their justice and environmental policies led us in a kingdom direction, even if I disagreed with their stance on some of the moral issues.  I know this choice had some people question my integrity as a Christian leader. I’m ok with that, as I knew it would happen, but I was disappointed when Bob Brown came out swinging for gay marriage as his first priority.

This time I am puzzled. The asylum seeker question is a significant justice issue and I had hoped Kev would be as good as his word and the do the right thing here, but clearly too many votes are at stake. He has really caved in. Clearly Abbott has no time for them, but at least he has been up front from the get go. The CDP and Australian Christians probably need to have another read of the Bible quite frankly, while the Greens are much more open and compassionate.

Anyway, my hope is that as a Christian community we will take the time, make the effort and use our brains to reach a sensible vote, given that no choice is perfect.


My memory of how the Bible was formed is that some big councils met and decided which books deserved to be in and which ought to be excluded. Is it possible there was human error in the process?…

All I can say is that they must have voted on Leviticus at end of a night on the grog!

I recently finished reading the Bible thru and have started over, but for the last few days I have been reading this book and genuinely wondering why do we need to have this today?…

I sometimes find myself wondering about the content of the Bible and why God (my assumption is that he was able to direct the councils) would allow some stuff to be ‘in’ and other stuff ‘out’.

I know a friend recently preached about 12 weeks in a row on this book and I’d love to hear what he has to say because right now I think I would be about as well off reading the phone book.

Anyway… a late night rant!

Hamo’s Random Coffee Commentary II

Giardini’s – Oxford Street Leederville – Now… I had better be careful because this is where I work (meet people) and I wouldn’t want to offend those fantastic staff who are there! They use Vittoria coffee and do a pretty decent job with it, but it does mean they start a few steps off the pace in terms of quality. When Greens closed earlier this year a few of us were forced to move location and I finished up here. Their food menu is good, but not cheap and their coffee is decent, but not brilliant. The reason I stay is because they are top notch people and their service has always been sensational! In the Leederville area there is very little top notch coffee being made, so the decision becomes one made around other factors. For me friendly staff who don’t treat you like an inconvenience is the key element and Leon,Deb and the crew are a 10/10 on that score. I will be there for a while to come even if the coffee is a 7/10. There is also plans for a wireless network here so it could be an even bigger hit for the crew who use cafes as offices.

Sayers – Ok here’s a relatively new cafe in Carr St in Leederville. It is owned by a bloke called Mark Sayers, so when my friend and Forge colleague (called Mark Sayers) was in Perth for the Herding Cats seminar earlier in the year I took him here so he could meet his namesake. These guys are fast getting a reputation for high quality food and good coffee. They also use a five senses blend for their coffee and generally it is very good albeit a tad frothy. If you go here, then make sure you order a large cup of whatever because those small cups just don’t last real long at all! The service is very good and friendly and the vibe of the place is modern although a tad cramped in areas. If it weren’t off the main strip I would probably go here a bit more often. Its probably the best coffee in the Oxford St area. 8.5/10

130’s – Oxford St Leederville – Well… some places just leave you wanting to never return. My first two experiences here were with staff who were so rude I almost walked out. I wonder if its the fact that they are popular that makes them behave like this? I find their coffee quite average – probably a 7/10 at best. The grungy & somewhat noisy vibe will suit some people but it is not my cup of tea. I like to be able to have a conversation and not have to yell at people to be heard. I go here when someone suggest it, but otherwise I avoid like the plague.

Hamo’s Random Coffee Commentary I

Ok,in the last 6 months I have gone from being an appreciator of good coffee, (while still being a regular instant drinker) to now being somewhat obsessive about the stuff.

I owe that largely to my caffeine freak friend Grendel who has ‘converted’ me to a life of ‘only the best’.

I have entered the ranks of those who reject instant coffee in favour of water or tea. I can even pick the difference between good and very good these days and sadly most days I would rather drink at home than risk someone else’s brew.

Anyway here’s a quick run-down of some places I’ve visited lately and the quality of their coffee… (in my humble opinion…) I tried some of these places because following our tour of the 5 Senses ‘lab’ we were given a bunch of vouchers to use.

Velvet Espresso – King Steet in the city – Hmmm…. bloody good coffee! (5 Senses) I had some muesli and fruit as well as two flat whites and they were brilliant. The place was humming and the staff seemed to know what they were doing, which is probably why they have such a good rep around the place. A real winner! 9/10

Stimulatte – in Hay St Subiaco, just near Nandos. We stopped in here to get a coffee on the way down south, so it was always going to be take away. I don’t like paper cups, but you gotta do what you gotta do… Its a small cafe, but was busy enough when we were there. I could tell the barista was going to stuff my order up because he was engrossed in conversation with a mate, so the request for 1 sugar in my flat white was forgotten in the hubbub. We only discovered the absence of sugar after we had started driving… But in my mind its a measure of good coffee if you can drink it without sugar. These guys are right up there for quality coffee (5 Senses) because it was still very very good. A little attention to customer needs and they’d be a real winner. 8.5/10

Prevelly Cafe – Margaret River – The views from this cafe mean you could drink cat wee and not complain! With a large swell running out at the bombie and a beautiful sunny winter’s day I was in heaven. The coffee was average and the staff were ok. 6/10 for the coffee experience 11/10 for the location

The Urban Bean – ok you have you go to Margaret River to get this stuff, but these guys do a great brew! Its at the top of the street (south end) and well worth the effort. The food is the organic salad kind of stuff and it has that ‘we grew it ourselves’ type of feel. Personally I like a bit more meat… but the staff are good, the vibe is nice and the coffee is sensational. 9.5/10

MacDonalds Busselton – come on… laugh with me! Actually it was better than I expected but still not something you’d go back for! The kids loved it and Danelle enjoyed the sleep in. 5/10

Yallingup Coffee – Dunsborough – These guys do their own brew and are getting fairly well known. I have been there twice now and had a large flat white both times. I’d have to say it was ok but tasted a bit harsh and wasn’t up there with some of the better stuff I have come across. The place was busy and quite impersonal. Not a cafe I’d hang out to get back to. 710

Bridgetown Pottery & Tea Rooms – Bridgetown – This place has become a regular stop off on my south west travels! The coffee is ok – pretty average really – but the scones, homemade jam and double cream are just sensational!!! The vibe is much like a lounge room and the owner is friendly. If you’re in the vicinity then stop in and have some scones… you won’t remember the coffee once you sink your teeth into them. 10/10 for scones, jam and cream 5/10 for coffee.

The Merchant – Mandurah – these guys have a very good reputation for good coffee and being right on the shore of the estuary it was a nice place to spend a Sunday morning. Unfortunately this is where I am reminded that factors other than coffee come into play when it comes to assessing a cafe. The manageress (I assume this was who it was) was one of those obnoxious, belligerent people who abused her staff any time they did anything wrong. As we sat right next to the till we heard everything! The coffee was good but the way she treated her staff made me want to walk out. 6/10

Long Mach – South Terrace Fremantle – another example of people who know what they are doing with coffee. My Five Senses voucher got me another freebie for Danelle and I as we came home from holidays and it was verrry nice. Good vibe, nice people and an interesting food menu. Would have liked to stay and eat… 9/10

The coffee at Long Mach was a great way to end the holiday…

More random coffee commentary to come…

What’s The Deal?

I had a text from a mate the other day who was in a meeting that was discussing the possibility of a big name American speaker coming to Perth. He wanted to know if we (Forge download who am i movie man between the dvd download ) would be interested in using him.

I read it and thought ‘maybe…’ and then rang to find out more.

I discovered that this person is very expensive and only flies first class. Suddenly the decision became easy. I told him my friend that I wouldn’t even consider it based on that alone. If someone has that level of self importance then they probably aren’t someone I want to listen to.

What is it with those Christian ministers who ‘only fly first class’ and charge like wounded bulls? (I can understand some regular flyers might prefer business class – but to make first class a requirement?…)

We have a word here in Oz for people like that. I’m not sure what it translates to in other parts of the world, but I’m sure I don’t need to spell it out.

By contrast:

Darryl Gardiner came to our last Forge intensive where numbers were down and as a result our income was low. He refused to take any speaking fee, (as he always does with Forge) stayed in our home rather than a hotel (all the Forgies do that) and actually gave us $100.00 back to help with the costs we incurred in running the intensive.

What does that say to you about him?

You reckon I’d have Daz back? You reckon I’d love to give him as much money as I could find? You betcha!

Some people ooze integrity and concern for the kingdom. Those who ‘only fly first class’ raise some serious question marks in my mind.

Maybe some of you out there are in high demand and have similar standards. Please tell me if I am really missing something here because to be frank it just feels very very dodgy.

border the free

When we rail against stuff

I have avoided any comment on the recent saga concerning a leading evangelical pastor because I tend to believe this sort of stuff is none of my business and if I ever get called into question I would hope others would do the same for me.

However I have been thinking and want to offer a theory.

As I was reflecting on this yesterday I began to wonder if the things we rail against are actually our own deep seated weaknesses – our dark side – and that is why they evoke so much passion?

The person in question was vitriolic at times in his anti-homosexual stance (don’t ask me to define that!) and ended up being in a male-male sexual relationship.

Maybe it s a reminder that the things we go in hard on are actually the things that we are struggling with ourselves. If I apply that hypothesis to myself I would say that one of my biggest beefs is middle classdom’s addiction to safety and security as well as its knack for ever so subtley subverting the gospel. I know I speak about this regularly, think about it and the choice to name our own community ‘upstream communities’ free laramie project the movie download is a way of confronting it again.

But if I take a ‘naked’ look in the mirror I see that I enjoy comfort, affluence and stability and I struggle with greed and the constant desire for new toys. If it were discovered one day that I had millions stashed away and was living the life of a Kerry Packer I think people would have a right to feel a little deceived.

I don’t make any claims to be a radical simple living person, (like the UNOH crew) but I do try to avoid excess and indulgence. At the same time I lust after it… If it is possible to lust after inanimate objects then I would say that is what happens when I walk along Ocean Drive in Quinns Rock and see the two storey houses with never to be interrupted ocean views… ah…

Pursuing my own shadow side is just as wrong as the other tragic tales we hear but ironically (and perhaps dangerously) I will probably never be dismissed from my various positions for being too greedy!

Where Will Your Kids Go to School?…

Danelle and I were talking one day a couple of years back and realised that we had quite different plans for the education of our daughter, Ellie. In my mind she was going to the local Lesmurdie Primary School while Danelle had her attending Kalamunda Christian School.

Hmmm… obviously we thinking different things… both with good reasons.

So where are we at now?…

There are so many options for education these days and if you are concerned for where your Christian faith comes in then the options expand even more. Here’s what I see:

Homeschooling: we considered this one briefly as we like the flexibility it offers, but it does seem to bring a degree of isolation and insularity that neither of us are fond of. Homeschooling also has a slightly whacky vibe to it that leaves us uneasy! We’re seen as whacky enough with how we do church. Homeschooling would only confirm people’s worst fears!

Closed Christian School: This is a school where only kids of Christian parents can attend. Usually at least one parent must be a Christian and a regular church-goer. All staff are Christians and the culture is heavily ‘christianised’. An example would be Kingsway Christian College where I taught in 2004.

Christian School with Specific % of Non-Christians admitted: They are similar in most ways to the last category, but less prohibitive on who can come. Christian staff, Christian ethos and usually an allowance of 20-40% of non-Christian enrolments. Sometimes these emerge because they recognise that the market for closed enrolments is tiny and ultimately unsustainable. An example would be Swan Christian School or Kalamunda Christian (where Danelle was intending to send Ellie)

Christian Staff School: In these schools the staff must be ‘certified practicing Christians’ while the students can come from anywhere. The numerous Baptist colleges that have sprung up over the last 15 years are of this ilk and have proved very popular with the community as well as being accepted by the denomination. The schools have a strong Christian ethos with Bible lessons taught and no backward step for being Christian. An example would be Lake Joondalup Baptist College.

Christian Ethos School: As time goes by it seems that some of the schools that start out with an ‘only Christian staff’ approach end up morphing into a quality school but with mainly hannibal rising divx download Christian staff and a strong Christian ethos. I wonder if this is because it is difficult to find quality Christian teachers, so rather than compromise the educational standards the school accepts non-Christian people who are excellent teachers? St Stephens in Duncraig would seem to be a school of this ilk. It has an excellent reputation around the place and (as far as I know) has Christians working at the senior staff levels, but also allows non-Christian staff entry also. Enrolment is completely open, but because the school is so highly regarded there are waiting lists.

Catholic Schools: Its hard to categorise these guys as they cover such a broad span. Some are low fee paying, some are elitist. Some place a high premium on personal faith, while for others it is a relative non-issue. Ok – I’m ignorant here!

Church School: These are the prestigious private schools like Scotch College and Guildford Grammar where it would seem that high moral values are upheld, but those morals are not necessarily conveyed as Christian. These more elite schools are reknown for high quality education and huge fees. I can’t say much more than that, because, my own knowledge is limited.

Alternative Education: For those who want to buck the system and learn differently there are the Rudolph Steiner and Montessori type schools. I’m not that familiar with these either, but if I read it right it is where the more open approach to learning is favoured. These are usually small with only a couple around the city.

State School: This is your local government school where there is no focus on faith development and where anyone is welcome as staff or students.

Quite a choice!

My choice in order of preference:

1. Government school – its local, its cheap, it allows my kids to mix it up with local kids and it prepares them well for the world they live in. If my local government school was particularly ‘bad’ I may reconsider, but this is currently my preference for both primary and high school.

2. Christian Staff School – The local version is Quinns Baptist which I know very little about. Their fees seem reasonable, but even at $3000.00 for a year its still $3K more than Butler Primary. What do you gain for $3K? Better education? I’m not sure about that. A Christian influence from teachers is what you may gain and probably an environment where Christian faith is given some credence. The problem with private education is when it ceases to be local and kids need to catch buses and move out of the area to go to school. That would not be my preferred way of operating.

3. Christian Ethos School – At this point it gets to be a bit of a raffle, and a lot of my decision has to do with $$$$. Is it proven that you get a better education at St Stephens or Peter Moyes than at Clarkson High or Quinns Baptist? My jury is out on that one.

For me, the key influencing factors then are:

– ‘localness’

– quality of education

– $$$$

The only schools that would not be on my radar at all are the elite church schools and the closed enrolment Christian schools.

In 2004 I taught at Kingsway Christian College with some wonderful staff and some great kids, but I would never in a gazillion years be sending my kids to this kind of school. There are some fairly serious issues associated with this form of school not the least of which is that someonehas to decide if someone is actually a Christian or not and then if they are attending church often enough… How do you figure that one out?…

As the market for this kind of school shrinks I imagine they will eventually either open their doors and let the pagans in, or they will die out. However it seems that some people actually want a protected environment for their kids to be taught in and don’t want them hanging around non-Christian kids. I’m Can’t say I see much wisdom in that, but each to their own.

As for the elite private schools… there is simply no way I am paying those kinds of $$$ for education!

We have what seems to be a quality catholic school nearby also which I would consider sending the kids to if we chose not to go the route of state school, but in the absence of a decent reason I’ll be staying local and letting my taxes pay for my kids education.

Anyway its quite a complex topic and I am by no means an authority.

Feel free to let me know what you think and help me chew this one thru.