Influencing the Community?

I had another email this week from the BUWA asking the question ‘how is your church influencing the community it is a part of?’ The results are to collated and used at the next Baptist assembly.

I was pondering how to answer this, and then I asked Danelle…

“By living in it and being part of it.”

I love the way she can simplify stuff to such a ‘duh’ response!

But its a great answer because there are plenty of churches where the majority of members actually live outside the local community. As Simon Holt says its like ‘owning a house you only visit on weekends’. The people in the town know you don’t belong there and your investment is much less than theirs. When you ‘buy in’ then you send a whole different message.

So my question is – how would you answer that?modigliani download

60 thoughts on “Influencing the Community?

  1. By being a strategic place where local parents access life enriching experiences and programs for themself and their children.

    On your critique of ‘plenty of churches’..people travel 15 minutes to go to the movies, 50 minutes to go to work and many travel to go to church….it does not mean they are not impacting their community for Christ.

  2. do they want you to quantify your response ie. running 1x kids (5-12yo) program & 20 attending; 1x youth (12-15yo) program & 120 attending; 4x recovery programs (adult) & 86 attending??

    I wonder if they can collate responses like yours that ooze of being rather than doing. If they require facts and stats – how would you respond?

  3. I reckon that any stats need to include what the swell/fishing conditions were during the service. Its always great fishing weather when church is on!!!!!!

  4. “people travel 15 minutes to go to the movies, 50 minutes to go to work and many travel to go to church”

    It simply means they cannot be present to anywhere near the same degree as people who actually live there.

    Surely this is obvious?!

  5. present where?

    In their neighbours house?

    My point is it does not matter where you live,

    We have people come to our programs from Jandakot…

    Your logic….on one hand you say the sunday gig is not important, its what happens in your backyard, and know you are saying people need to live close to their ‘church’…what do you mean?

    I think you should live close to the place you minister in, which is why I also moved, and I recognise that people who come to your church programs will normally live close to the ‘church’ building.

    But…I was sharing with a guy last week who is a lapsed Catholic who lives in Jandakot (which is miles from our church)…I would never have this opportunity if not for what we do.

    and oendup…I reckon ‘being’ is overated by people in many experimental church communities to the detriment of doing…but that is I believe something you and I may never resolve, we have our differing starting values, and that is life. And I think the BU should ask stats for those things, absolutely, ‘we count what is valuable to us’.

  6. “I reckon ‘being’ is overated by people in many experimental church communities to the detriment of doing”

    actually I take that statement back, it is a gross generalisation….and is true of just as many christian leaders in just about every type of church. My tummy hurts….I have just had my appendix out and it is making me cranky.

  7. hope you get well soon Mark…

    i think we once again return to our differing starting points, and as mentioned elsewhere, it is not that one thing is right and the other wrong, but more the need for both to be recognised as equally valid and dare i say it… “viable” 😉

    however, the issue becomes a problem when one set of measurements is applied to both styles even though it may only be relevant to one type of methodology. Imagine if a cricketer played golf and thought it was the person with the most strokes that won – different game, different rules, different skills – diversity is golden.

    maybe in the BU document a box needs to be ticked for what style of ecclesiology you are experimenting with, and depending on your answer, you then get an appropriate set of review questions that applies to your chosen expression of faith community.

    methinks that would be a powerful testiment to the value of diversity and autonomy within your denomination.

  8. For us it is just being there. Sometimes we get caught up in big visions. It is the small stuff that really seems to impact those in our communities.

  9. I agree there should be room for diversity.

    There needs to be some form of accountability and mutual responsibility, how that is framed is not an easy answer.

    Gav has made sense as well.

  10. In some ways it is an odd question in that ‘community’ can be defined subjectively and, if you chose, it could be a quite narrow definition. For example a orthadox church asked that question might define the ‘community’ as those who were members of the church rather than those in geographical proximity. This is more because of the sense of community that churches with a strong mono-ethnic origin create for themselves to keep the ties of both religion and culture that they value.

    The more diverse the chruch membership, the less critical those cultural ties seem to become and the more likely it is that the ‘local’ community become ‘the community’.

    While it is true that with large churches (eg Hillsong) people may come from hours away to attend, for most churches members are likely to live nearby. Hence the ‘parish’ system that originated in the days when travel time dictated just how far you could live from a church if you actually wanted to attend.

    Today, most of the community who do not attend/are not interested in attending services are only likely to come into contact with a church if that church as active outside their own body.

    Hence my contact with Hamo.

    In other words “By living in it and being part of it”.

    Nice one Danelle.

  11. Church isn’t something you go to its something you are. Therefore, programs are programs, and they may be good, they may not be, but everyday living with a community of faith requires proximity, and so does community developement. When we see the church in scripture it is always, everytime geographically ordered, and proximity is valued. It is practical by the way, we have people selling their houses and moving to close proximity (walking distance) so does Hammo. This is both a biblical model, and a Christo centric model, this is the way Jesus lived in community. It promotes a less consumeristic discipleship, that doesn’t result in driving long distances (which is environmentally unfriendly also) to sit passively while the professionals do their thing.

    This does not say that the programs and services are not good, I am sure they are wonderful. They bless people. But the kind of discipleship that Jesus calls the disciples to, one that moves past the self centered consumerism of our culture, to the radical identification with the Jesus of scripture, requires communities of faith that are far more than meetings, and programs, but extended families engaged in the revolution.


  12. Amen Rev.

    As I read through these comments, I get confused on a thought process level!!! BUT, when I compare my experiences of church, I have to say, the main differences for me have been:

    1. I am no longer inviting people to my space where I am in charge of imparting knowlege and wisdom through programs (remember this is MY experience)!!! It is now about sharing the journey of life with people. It has been a humbling journey and one I wouldn’t have missed for anything. It is more real and it is more authentic for me and those I relate to.

    2. It is an influencing that goes both ways because I am open to learn through journeying rather than feeling I need to have all the answers.

    3. It is authentically relational and my experience is that I need to be local for that to happen. This morning I got on my bike and visited 3 friends briefly and we influenced each other, sharing great news stories from the weekend. That wasn’t my conscious intention, it just happens in authentic relationship when I follow Jesus. Through BEING a disciple, the DOING comes naturally.

    Grendel – thanks for always encouraging.

  13. I guess this thread raises the question of whether a neighbourhood, incarnational model of church can be truly served within a denomination. If a church influences a community by challenging the whole community (church included), then isn’t the aim to make more than just Baptists?

  14. It’s not enough to just be in it and be a part of it. We’re all in alot of things and that’s not neccesarily for good.

    What are the results of you being in and a part of the community? How are people responding? How are hearts being touched?

  15. Well I think the assumption was that we were talking about being a visible witness for Christ in our communities. The problem is that sometimes being a visible witness for Christ will make us unpopular, and rejected by many. Ultimately though we are called to make disciples, not converts, and in the process of doing that we need to be a community that is actively engaging in the life of Christ, including engaging the powers, practicing community, and living an alternative ethic.


  16. It is a sad indictment on our churches that we have to put together a list of how the church influences the community. Do you wash your hands after going to the toilet? Do you eat when you are hungry? Do you put on extra clothes when you are cold? There are some things in life that we don’t quantify because they occur naturally. We have to learn them in early childhood but there would be a concern if we hadn’t learnt them by adulthood, and in most cases well before that. How the church influences the community should be Lesson #1 not something we are still discussing as if it were a new idea.

  17. Thanks all, this has me thinking and I’d love further comment on this.

    Seeing as many people may travel distances to attend a gathering of followers of Jesus for the likes of teaching, encouragement, prayer etc Is it possible that this could happen and then those disciples/missionaries go out from there and be a part of their community, intentionally being a witness in the name of Jesus? . . without living in direct proximity to the core?

    With this I am also wondering if we, as any church gathering model, are trying to cram too much into the meeting time eg mission, discipleship, building community, prayer, worship etc I’m querying whether mission could be more on an individual basis, where we are at and that the other aspects of being church happen as the followers gather at some time?

    Obviously this type of mission would not be measurable by a BU . . .

  18. The problem Glen is that discipleship, and fellowship actually must involve quantity as well as quality time. I cannot really know someone in two hours a week, especially if it is a staged atmosphere, where most of the time professionals are doing the talking and singing ect. In addition, when a group of people travel to be part of a “larger” gathering, there is no way the scriptures can be fulfilled that say, “when you gather everyone brings something to edify the body, one a song, one a psalm, one a word of exhortation…” So part of the body gets atrophied, while another part gets overworked. Now I don’t have as much of a problem with the idea of small communities that actually do live close to each other, practicing what I am talking about, that occasionally gather in a larger group for edification and encouragement, that is quite good.

    The other issue is ofcourse mission, which is to be done as a community in my opinion. There is nothing that shows the truth of God’s claims more than the body practicing the communal life of Jesus, in and among those that do not know the kingdom, or the king. By actually living in the kingdom in an among those captive to the dominant empire, we invite them into the radical community of the church. It is not about specially gifted people, doing evangelism in their neighborhoods, but the community of faith living its call to be the actual physical incarnation of Christ in their neighborhood.


  19. Gav

    I have never seen commuter Christianity ever breed effective missional acts. The big problem is time. Having been part of a large church twenty one miles away, I could only attend on a Sunday. Trying to get there after work was impossible in Minneapolis traffic. This was a period of spiritual decline in my life, poor fellowship, no chance to take part in mission, and tired out from driving too and from church.

    Just my thoughts. I will let the experts comment.

  20. Living in a global village I feel that community influence should not be limited to a geographical area surrounding a church building. I can have influence on the community where my church family meets on a weekly basis, but I also have influence on the community where I live some distance away through conversation with neighbours and involvement in local community groups. At the same time I also have the privilege of impacting communities around WA through a caring ministry that I am involved with.

  21. Me, my wife, and about 10 school friends became Christians because of relationships we had with people in the local church.

    We couldn’t have cared less about the ‘church services’ it was all about relationships. We would all be around peoples houses etc. ever other night having fun, laughing, eating and also talking about Christ on occasion.

    This simply couldn’t have happened if we and the Christians befriending us didn’t live in close proximity.

    Now we have to travel 20-30 minutes to small group, and almost never have people over, and I would say our spirituality has suffered because of it….

    From my experience i can’t see how effective Christian community can exist without close proximity.

  22. Rev said: “Now I don’t have as much of a problem with the idea of small communities that actually do live close to each other, practicing what I am talking about, that occasionally gather in a larger group for edification and encouragement, that is quite good.”

    Thats probably what I was trying to describe. Pods of smaller communities that may start with individuals yet supported, trained, etc to be sent out in their local community knowing they are attached to a larger body that would meet on a corporate level regularly (but not too intruding or over programmed . . . . could go on . . and on . )

    In my opinion mission is probably more holistic than just individual or communal if you like. I’d say there is a fair bit of mission that can take place on an intimate personal level and also being involved in the communal life of the body. I would say both are valid and vital.

  23. I would say that to minister communally means ministering individually as well. It is not like I tell my friends go away until one of my community members show up. It is the understanding that as a community we do mission, that allows us as individuals to be supported, but also invites people to be a part of a community, not just an intelectual or spiritual belief system.


  24. Hamo, what do u actually mean by “plenty of churches where the majority of members live outside the community”, that appears to be a very general statement I am sure you cant possibly know that many people, or is that just a rough guess.

    I am trying to understand what you and some of your friends are doing , but sometimes the things I read make it sound like because you no longer choose to be a part of the “sunday church thing”

    that you are being more like Jesus than the rest of us.

    The whole home church , community movement is not a knew thing , I knew people who became involved in this 20 years ago and still are, but lets not write of the more traditional church just yet.

    Both have and always will have there ups and downs, where ever there are people there are problems , its called sin.

    I would like to hear some of the more practical things that go on in backyard mission, there seems to be lots of theory but what will be the answer to the question you were asked by the BUWA.

  25. Just thinking, It must be funny sometimes looking at this blog from a different nation and wondering what the heck the BUWA (pronounced ‘boowah’)are? 🙂

  26. Well I know that in our circumstance we have a relational common purse, that we all contribute to, and use that to meet needs of people that we have a relationship with in the community. Might be groceries, school books whatever. We host dinners every week that people from our neighborhood are invited to, people we will see on a regular basis during the week. We are part of a newsletter that is sent out every week talking about the needs and resources of all of the different faith groups in the suburb. We often meet for a beer, or a coffee in local cafe’s and pubs in order to ask for support, confess our sins, or just encourage and enjoy one another. We share resources, our houses are frequently shared with others that do not have houses, we have one lawn mower between three people, ect.

    Now I know that the more traditional churches can do many of these things, and do them even better, but we do them much more relationally because they are part of our day to day life. We are doing them with people we run into daily, we are concerned about the issues because they are our issues, and we can get involved because they are our issues.

    But the biggest reason this is important, is that we must learn to live in the way Jesus taught us, and the way the early church did. When our community just looks like a slightly more moral version of the same old thing, with a different schedule for Sunday morning and Wednesday night, then we are not “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” but rather, “tweedle dee and tweedle dumb hanging out on earth til heaven”


  27. Rob, In regard to the whole hand washing, going to the toilet thing….It might be sad to think, but plenty of churches are totally unintentional about their mission, which is why I think the Booya… questions are good. we all need accountability.

    I also think there are plenty of stereotypes being flung around here…..(on both sides)

    As much as it seems to me that Hamo is arguing for discipleship and accountability, and saying it cant happen on sunday between 10 and 12….I am saying that without a group to be accountable to, the ‘local expression of church’ may find itself devitating from mission.

  28. The tone that I seem to get from some of the ‘I don’t do Sunday, I’m a 24/7 missional christian’ seems to imply that they follow Jesus more faithfully than the rest. I sincerely hope that this is not the case, as that opinion is full of pride.

    I travel about 15 minutes by car to my church gathering. My Sunday church has about 500 regular attendees. We are involved in mission throughout the local community and internationally. A number of our congregation are involved in full time local and international mission. We are involved in organic church plants throughout our city. We have a strong teaching focus. If I was to tell my pastor that I have started a christian gathering with 5 other people and we meet in a pub every Monday arvo, he would say “Amen. Bless you. Let me know if you need anything.” On Sundays we sing songs and take offerings and pray for our missionaries, and then our “professional” pastor (who is theologically educated with post graduate qualifications) teaches us to be faithful followers of Christ. I don’t know that our singers are too “professional”, but they do a good job in leading the community in verbal praise of God.

    There is much to be applauded about the smaller missional movements (especially the ‘relationship’ factor), but the notion of “we do church better than them” needs to go. I respect what Hamo is doing with Upstream and Forge, and what Rev is doing with his community. And the same, vice-versa. Established churches need to humble themselves and learn from the missional movements, and after an honest self-examination, ask themselves if they would be better suited to dis-aggregate into smaller missional cells to reach their community.

    Together, we must be ecclesia catholica semper reformanda. The church, catholic (which I read as united and universal), and always reforming.

  29. Ok, just got back from Melbourne…

    To answer Lesley’s question: “Hamo, what do u actually mean by “plenty of churches where the majority of members live outside the community”, that appears to be a very general statement I am sure you cant possibly know that many people, or is that just a rough guess.”

    It is a rough guess but its based on a lot of experience. Sure there are people who live locally and ‘attend’ locally, but the bigger the church gets the more likely people will come from further afield.

    I am a huge advocate for churches being as local as possible. I believe presence and proximity are essential for relational mission.

    Rob is right that you can have connections outside your community, but i see that the intent of a local church is to serve and bless the local area.

    As for what we actually ‘do’ Lesley, I could write a long list of activities, but they would sound like normal life… Having people for meals, helping a neighbour build a patio, talking to people in the street, shopping local, getting involved with what’s happening locally by way of community events, taking kids to school, helping out at school, getting a job locally, baby-sitting people’s kids, cleaning people;’s houses… i could probably write much more…

    But reality is that mission is more about the way we go about things and the purpose that shapes our lives. You can do all those things and not have any missional purpose. By the same token we do not do these things with the purpose of converting people. That would be rather dodgy.

    What they do is put us in places where we are able to build relationships so that if people are willing we can then speak with them about Jesus.

    Does that answer the question Lesley?

    Mark – i don’t think I said ‘discipleship can’t happen between 10-12’…

    I have always argued for rigorous discipleship and accountability (which is part of our community) but I think the chances of that happening once a week between 10-12 are pretty slim.

    Daniel – one of the critical issues here is the definition of church.

    If you started “a christian gathering with 5 other people in a pub every Monday arvo” then surely that would be church? No?

    While you may still wish to attend the Sunday thing, you wouldn’t need to in order to be in Christian community.

  30. I don’t really care if you call it pride or anything else, the fact is what I am doing looks a hell of a lot more like what you read in Acts than what the traditional church is doing. The whole professional, qualified teacher who teaches us what we are supposed to do and know is a direct affront to Jesus’ example of picking the least educated, most uncapable, outcasts of society. The idea of mission and small groups being an extension of the church means just that, they are not the church they are just a little extra tacked on for those that need that sort of thing, or at best a place to meet the more communal needs, but when it comes to teaching and real ministry you need the “priest” is not what we are left with in scripture.

    Now if you want to just dismiss what I say as being arrogant, fine, but I am not saying I am better than you, I am saying that we must look at the bible for our practice, and then early church tradition. I am also saying that when we live in this way we actually begin to practice the things Jesus teaches in real ways not bizarre super spiritual weirdness. Like binding and loosening, like the communal meal, like practicing forgiveness and confession. The fact is that every joint supplying doesn’t mean that eighty percent of the body is supposed to be good boys and girls, work hard and put in the money so we can do some mission, and pay some expert to tell us what God wants of us.

    Now you may have noticed that I speak in very blunt black and white terms, but I do not in any way think my way is the right, or only way. What I do believe is that those that are moving in a direction of a biblical model of church, in the many myriads of ways that may come to be, are being true to the calling to discipleship. And to continue to build our churches as monuments to the CHristianization of consumerism is the epitome of compromise.


  31. Hamo, in answer to your question – Yes. That would be church. I thought my comment implied that. Sorry if it didn’t.

    Rev, you are quick to arc up. Are you taking a one-sided look at the early church. While maintaining the communal and relational aspects of the early church (which again I say is non-negotiable and is a great shame that they have been compromised in many established churches), it is also clear that the early church had bishops and teachers to feed the body with the milk of Gods word. Yes, Jesus chose outcasts, un-educated, and incapable people, but he also chose Paul – one of the most educated people in Jerusalem.

    The professional teacher whose ministry is to humbly pray before the scriptures, study God’s word, study the original texts and the context, and then bring the scriptures to life for us is one of the most important and sacred roles that a Christian man or woman can take up.

    As a Christian leader yourself, surely you understand the necessity of good teachers who are to serve the church with the sacrifice of their learning.

    I know that you are a fan of the writings of N.T. Wright (I read you say that you like his books once on your blog). Is he not a professional? Is his ministry and scholarship a direct affront to Jesus teaching?

    I look at the church in China that is having a massive revival. Figures estimate thousands of new converts every week. But then I hear the stories. Comments such as “the revival is a mile wide, but an inch deep”. The Chinese house church is craving for teachers to come in. I’ve heard about the Chinese house church becoming easy prey for the myriad of cults in that country ready to exploit the vulnerable.

    The church needs good teachers. That is my firm belief.

    Your comment “And to continue to build our churches as monuments to the Christianization of consumerism is the epitome of compromise” – I couldn’t agree more.

    Further, just for clarification – I do not use the term professional as if I am referring to the mega-church pastor in his nice suit, or a business model mode of operation. I use the word professional to connote someone who is good at their job.

    P.S. I am not a Roman Catholic as the undertone of your comment seemed to assume. I am Church of Christ, but I like the word Catholic when used with it’s original meaning.

  32. Never assumed you were Catholic, and I did assume that you were accusing me of arrogance, which makes me arc up. I think you should look at the role of the bishops and elders a bit more closely, a free ebook can help it is called straight talk to pastors, by Frank Viola, and if the link doesn’t work just look for it on google. You may also be interested in Franks and George Barna’s book Pagan Christianity. In my experience, and in my reading of scripture Jesus is very clear that it is the doers not the learners that are blessed. It doesn’t take a great mind to understand love your enemies, it takes a great man to live it. The entire wisdom of the Godhead is found in the body of Christ, and the most profound insights come from those parts of the body that are esteemed the least. When we elevate the intelectuals above the rest in the life of the body we become imbalanced, intelectualizers. When we let the firebrands like myself run rough shod over everything then all hell breaks loose. But in the body we have it all, wisdom of age, care of a mother, empathy of those that have suffered greatly ect. Why is the man gifted in intelectual pursuits and oratory elevated above the others? And please don’t say its not elevation, he even stands on an elevated platform. He (or she) speaks, everyone else shuts up and listens, passively. If we say the Holy Spirit lives in each of us, if we believe in the priesthood of all believers, then we should live it.

    Please read the straight talk book, it is a short quick read and shows the biblical truth very concisely.

    And forgive my defensiveness, I am tired of being called arrogant for stating what I believe to be a true malady to the church who I love. A doctor is not arrogant for pointing out sickness.


  33. Thanks for the book Rev. I will read it tomorrow during lunch.

    I’m still interested to know your thoughts on N.T. Wright. Is his professional ministry and scholarship a direct affront to Jesus teaching?

  34. hey hamo,

    i like your response (sorry… your wife’s response) and I think it would be accepted by BU as legitimate feedback – maybe it isn’t so much a fact finding mission for statistics as it is a way of inspiring each other by celebrating what the different expressions of the baptists are doing within WA???

    In regards to other comments – i think as soon as we say “this is the “only way” or the “best way” of doing/being church” we potentially lose the opportunity to experience church in all its richness and diversity. This blog interaction could be seen as an expression of church.

    For Allie and I, we spent 3 years traveling 25 – 30 min to minister in an area that we didn’t live until only recently (12 months). We built some incredible friendships with people in that time and they didn’t give a rip how far away we lived, they cared for us because we loved them. I couldn’t write that time off as ineffective because we didn’t live in the area. We just did the best with what we had and where we felt God calling us. That and the price of real estate.

    Sure, the last year has been incredible where we can walk the kids to school, walk to the shops, the park, the best coffee in Perth, develop relationships knowing we will be here for many years. I personally love it, but I can’t write it up as the only or even the best expression of church. I would be having too narrow a view of what church is.

    We have people who drive 30 minutes to be a part of our weekend worship services and love it but we have a belief that wherever you are – the church should be – through you. We also have communities (small groups) where smaller expressions of church exist in close residential proximity of its members and other quite radical expressions of church communities.

    How am I meant to define my community? Is it how far I can throw a stick? My suburb? How far I can walk in 10 minutes? What if I pass someone in another community other than my own, should I reach out them if they don’t live close to me? or should I try to connect them into something closer to them and hope that they look after their needs? If I pop by Samaria for some water, should I stop and reach out or should I wait till I return home?

    When I read the NT I see quite a messy picture of the church that at some point contradicts “only one expression” of what it should look like – its crazy, complex, diversified, simple, well thought through, easy, difficult, life-saving, life-taking, all at the same time. maybe a little like today???


  35. But you are setting up a false dichotomy, and also misrepresenting what was said. The first is that this is completely good and this completely not good. Which is never the truth. Of course we will see good things, but this does not mean it is the best way to make disciples, be disciples and live out the witness of the body of Christ.

    Secondly, there are a million ways to do church that are still in geographical proximity. And I don’t care at all about worship services and their styles as long as the community actually acts like a community, and there is a mutual need for all of the gifts, of all of the people to be used and nurtured. I will give you an example: Once when we were in a house church that was very disfunctional it was my turn to do some teaching. In the middle of the teaching I was interupted by one of the members who said, “I really just want to know what is going on in your lives, and what problems you are having and stuff” which made me very angry. (shocking isn’t it) 🙂 See the thing is, I shouldn’t have to tell you what is going on in my life, if we are living as community we all know. When my wife is struggling from anxiety, or I am struggling with depression, everyone knows because we actually aer in each others business. This is real community, and is what we see in the bible, and yes its messy, and diverse, but that doesn’t mean that everything is therefore good, healthy and in Gods plan. I am sure there are types of church that you do not think are good for the body, high church maybe, very emotional pentecostalism, religious legalism whatever. Well I am taking that a bit further than you, and saying our whole structure is off, and not what we see in the bible.


    I am a firm believer that all gifts are to be used for the glory of God’s kingdom, so I think N T Wright is very important for the church, as one of the five fold ministries that are Jesus gift to the body, the teacher. But if you think about it, where is his influence best suited? Shouldn’t everyone that can read the Challenge of Jesus, or Simply Christian? And can’t those that are capable help to put his words into simple practical helps for the church in their own community? And isn’t that a much better model that each church paying for someone to be educated, oratorially trained, and well refrenced? Doesn’t the you sit their passive while smarty pants speaks teach a dangerous precedent? Didn’t Jesus speak while on the road? and wasn’t the biggest point the action reflection time with his disciples on the road? I mean if the disciples didn’t understand what he was saying why do we assume the crowds did?


  36. Gents,

    it seems a little ironic that you guys are into Tom Wright an Anglican Bishop whose ecclesiology seems far from what you are wanting to practise…

    “If any one can an Anglican!”


  37. I don’t see any irony in it at all. I do not like Tom for his ecclessiology, or even his practice, I like his theology. Just like in your case, I like your rugged good looks, and your devil may care attitude, but then I still think your body odor is quite off putting!!! 🙂


  38. rev,

    I don’t think I’m setting up a false dichotomy at all (it took me a while to figure what that actually means) I just choose to celebrate multiple and diverse expressions of church.


  39. Daniel, tks for answering my question, I think its great what you are doing , one thing that puzzles me though is your comment that you are not doing these things to convert people, that would be dodgy.

    I understand what you mean to a degree, but where is the difference then between the church and any other humanitarian or charity organisation who are helping those in the community who have needs.

    Surely we have something more to offer, and I do see what you are getting at as I hate that whole concept of trying to hoodwink people into the kingdom.

    So in being active in the community , loving others sharing your possessions or whatever you do , when does the line need to be crossed over where we have a responsability to share the good news. Otherwise couldnt we just be operating a social gospel.

    Jesus did all the community things that you speak of but he also cast out demons , healed the sick, called people to repentence etc, and I dont think Paul would have thought you were dodgy if in your heart your motive is to see people come to christ.

    I am not trying to be critical this is something I struggle with myself, how do we balance these thing out in our lives?

  40. Glenn,

    I believe that you are setting a false dichotomy by saying that this cannot be a false structure of church life, because good things have happened through it. So either it has to be bad, or it is good. The fact that God uses all of our feeble and often incorrect ways of doing things to sometimes bless people, does not mean that we are not called to redeem, reform and repent. This is not about styles, where you and I might prefer gridiron, another loves footy and others love the rugby codes, and some weird people somehow like soccer, and isn’t it wonderful how we can all enjoy a cold beer and good company watching the sports. This is a matter of biblical accountability. Paul tells us how our meetings should be, we see in scripture how structure is dealt with, we have been given in the word examples of the church that are direct expressions of Spirit directed apostles of Christ himself.

    Now if this is true, which I think is completely undeniable, then we must not ask, does good happen in other modes? but rather, is there something in these structures that are in and of themselves important to the discipleship journey, and the example and teachings of Jesus life. And I believe there are many. The first is the idea of the priesthood of all believers, no matter how we try and distance ourselves from the consequences of going against this idea, they find us out. We are teaching our people to be passive, we are teaching our people that they hear from God through the leaders (there is no mediator between God and man but Christ) we are teaching our people to ignore the Spirit in their own lives by not practicing their gifts. By our centralization of power we have stopped following Jesus command to not have power over others. By our ritualizing of the communion feast, we have stopped living an ethic of racial, and class harmony.

    So Glenn it isn’t about enjoyment, the fact is I love the worship of some of the bigger churches, I love the achitecture of the Cathedrals, and all of the mystery of the mystic rituals. I enjoy it all, but is our discipleship journey being shortcut by our choosing of preference over biblical example? And I believe it most certainly is. Do good things happen, sure they do. Do we get wonderful memories and God stories from them? of course. Is it the design that was passed on to the disciples, and called the way? Unfortunately I think it is not. And judging the success of it is not how many souls, how much we enjoy it, or even how many people we help, but rather how we are being faithful to the way of the cross, and the kingdom of God.


  41. Ok last few comments from me.

    Lesley – what I mean about ‘conversion’ is that as much as I would love to see all my friends share my faith, I need to love people where they are at and accept them as they are, rather than seeing everything as a means to an end.

    This hasn’t come naturally to me as I grew up in a ‘means to an end’ world and it doesn’t mean I don’t care for people’s savation.

    It just means I am not doing what I am doing soley to see people come to Jesus. Otherwise I doubt many people would even want to hang out with me!

  42. Thanks Rev,

    I would certainly hope that my life is being faithful to the cross and the kingdom of God, although I’m still working out my salvation daily.

    You seem to promote a strategy/model/picture that you think is the purest expression of church. I’m really interested in hearing what that is/looks like for you guys (sincerely) and seeing what differences we actually hold. I didn’t sense many when we ate emu together.

    So what does being faithful to the way of the cross, and the Kingdom of God look like for you guys?

  43. Rev – I have been meaning to ask, (if light of our offline conversations, as well as what you write here) how do you reconcile your speaking at Riverview with your critique of church in that form?

    As you would know I see things similarly to Glenn, whereas (correct me if I’m wrong) you see the established / inst church as having missed the point and in error. Is that accurate?

  44. That was great Emu wasn’t it boys 🙂

    Hamo, I think John spoke there in the “St. Francis model of engagement” which I think I’ve shared with you before (I will turn this into a talk one day).

  45. Glenn, we are probably not too different to Jarrod’s community. We live close, we eat together often. Our meetings encourage mutual participation. We make decision on a consensus model. We are trying to be prejudiced in favor of the poor and marginalized.


    I watered down my message not at all, and therefore I think it is very appropriate to speak at places like that. As I was invited in, I think it is my honor and duty to proclaim the kingdom as prophetically as I can. I felt like I did so both times I have spoken there. Again, I do not hate the church, I want her to be all that her groom desires her to be.

    And I understood what you meant to Hammo, I love to introduce people to Jesus, but I want to extend the kingdom without strings attached.


  46. All kinds mate, from important as what to do as far as affiliations with denominations, and how to spend the money we share in the community, to personal decisions like whether or not I should take a speaking engagement in Perth, or spend a week learning the EPYC workshop. Or even weird questions like what a specific dream might mean.


  47. Well it was interesting, and I did write about it on my blog. The first thing that happened is I had a dream, and the very next day a member of our community had the exact same dream without me mentioning it to him. The same day we received news that we needed to find a new sponsor, and that we were not eligible for permanent residency as a religious worker. This was part one and as we brought this to the community we all agreed that it meant we were to realize that our time in Australia was not indefinite, and to begin to live like we would be going home most likely when the girls were done with high school.

    Next our visa was not being granted, and after a long time we began to question things. So we talked to the community and everyone decided it would be best if we didn’t wait on the government to make our decision for us, but begin to seek God’s will, and then deal with the governments decision accordingly, part of that process was Raquel and I going away for a few days to think, talk and pray.

    Then we shared with the community what we believed was the plan, which was to go home in early april (we had already planned a visit then to attend my brothers wedding) with the logical reasons being we couldn’t afford to put my oldest daughter through uni here, we were feeling uneasy about her moving home without us, and a growing sense that the timing was right to do what we already had gotten divine guidance on. We talked, and prayed, and the community believed that it was indeed the correct path, and timing. Though they sometimes go back on that decision now 🙂


  48. Oh I might add, when we make these decisions, we always leave things open for God to correct us, in this case things kept getting more and more confirmed. We are still waiting for the final confirmation which is all of the money for our relocation, and the sabbatical that we have been ordered to take. Sometimes we have to trust God in the details though, something I wish was easier at times 🙂


  49. BTW – I thought it was a good question from BUWA, so no problem there!

    I would be interested to hear responses from others in BUWA, but I doubt I will be at the ‘assembley’

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