Well, here we are in Albany, one of my favourite places. I have been re-reading the Turning, much of which is set here, so its nice to be in the thick of it. It’s also amazing how much you miss in a novel when you read it just once. I tend to read quickly so I know I miss more than most.
We spent a couple of days in Mandurah catching up with Steve and making a guest appearance at the Baptist assembly. In 15 years of local church involvement I have now been twice” I have to admit it was better than I imagined, but it’s still hard to imagine myself factoring these events into the diary on a regular basis. The day was well presented and well thought out, but as an experimenter and missionary it is hard not to feel like an oddity. When discussions turned to church planting and the urgent need to ‘buy land now and lots of it’ I found myself thinking ‘what the?…’ I chose not to say anything as I find it opens a whole can of worms that some days I just don’t have the energy for. Of course someone had to ask” ‘what do you think Andrew?…’
Brian Harris, the principal of our Baptist College presented an interesting spiel on the current missional landscape and suggested that when it comes to being the church in society we actually have quite an ‘open’ culture.
On a scale of 1-10 (1 being resistant and 10 being totally open and supportive) he placed West Oz as a 5. He compared this to Auckland which he said was a 3 (much more resistant) and South Africa which he rated a 10.
He argued that things like the openness to chaplains in state schools and the Gov funding for Christian schools gave us opportunities that simply weren’t present in NZ and made the gospel easier to communicate. I think on some levels he is correct, but” that would then suggest that the South African situation is the most desirable and my observation is that in any community where Christianity is the ‘norm’ it almost inevitably tends to increase the amount of nominalism. It also doesn’t take into account the rapid spread of the gospel in persecuted countries, so I tend to think the shape of our context may be more complex than Brian explained on Saturday.
From Mandurah it was off to Busselton for a few quiet days, before coming down here. Today is full of meetings and work, tomorrow is a bit quieter and then on Saturday we head up to Katanning to meet with Tim and preach on Sunday morning. Along the way I have been preparing for an .acom course on Mission and Culture I will be facilitating in Kalgoorlie in August. This is a course with some challenging concepts around the nature of church, mission and contextualisation, so it will be interesting to see how it goes over.
I’m sitting in Barcino in Middleton Loop, a cafe owned by Annette, who I met on the Getaway Retreat recently. Its a pretty cool cafe, with good coffee and free wireless access, so if you’re ever in Albany make sure you drop in.