Twists and Turns

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Life never goes quite where you expect.

As of last night I have a new ‘job’.

Over the last year or two I have preached occasionally at Quinns Baptist Church, a small community of people just down the road from us.

They are a good bunch and I have enjoyed being with them on those occasions. About 6 weeks ago after a sermon I was approached and asked if I’d like to do some work there next year.

‘What kind of work?’ I asked.

‘Whatever you do…’ was the response.

I was liking the sound of that job. “Well I sleep in late, drink lots of coffee, have people wait on me hand and foot… Seriously’ I said ‘If you are interested in who we are then give me a call and we can talk.’ The overall gist of the invitation was to come and give leadership to a group of people who are keen to move but not sure where.

The last 5 years have been very helpful for us in terms of clarifying who we are – what we are about and the things that are not negotiable, so if we were to give leadership it would be a very specific kind and it would head in a very clear direction – that of giving shape to a missionary community.

Take it or leave it.

So over the last 6 weeks we have had a few meetings and conversations and in the absence of a set job description I wrote my own for developing a missionary community and described in 3 pages what such a community would look like. (I can email you a copy if you want to see it – but I won’t be putting it on here)

It was a picture of the kind of the church we would like to be involved with either as leaders or as members and a vision of where we would head if we worked together. It draws on all of the learning we have done here in Brighton as well as considering the issues involved in more regular church life.

So,they called – we talked – we met with their leaders – their church met and voted (they are Baptist…) and now, as of last night, we have a ‘job’. (Job is in inverted commas because church leadership is not a job in any traditional sense.)

It is a ‘2 day a week’ job and in the other time I will be continuing my retic & turf business as I have found that to be a place of great enjoyment.

We are calling it an ‘engagement’ period because we are both aware that a trial period is healthy in any relationship to find out if we are a good fit for one another. Normally these things aren’t very possible as people have to move house and commit to a new church, often after a very short ‘dating’ period. Because we live 2kms away we have the luxury of not having to move house, not having to send kids to a new school – in fact not having to do much different at all.

So we will work together until April when we head off on our trip around Oz and the US (that was a not negotiable part of the arrangement!) and hopefully by then we will know if a ‘marriage’ is a good idea. I should say that we are going into this keen to make it work and keen to explore what we have been learning in a new setting and with a new bunch of people.

We are very much aware of the tensions in this situation and the fact that people say ‘yes’ to ideas much more easily than they say ‘yes’ to reality. I think a test period is really healthy for both of us as we get a genuine ‘no obligation’ opportunity to figure out whether we can work together well. I think we are well beyond being idealists in these situations now and know that whatever we do will be partly rewarding and enjoyable and partly just hard work.

We will keep Upstream

running and in time make a decision about how we work together on that front. We are still very keen to keep deeply involved in our own community and there is no point in making any firm decisions until we are surer of the future.

So we are looking forward to a new challenge.

I have needed one for a while and this could be just the right thing to stir the creative juices and bring some new energy. One of the particularly appealing things about this role is that we don’t have to move. We have spent a long time getting established here and getting to know the local community so it gives a place to develop that further rather than starting over. As much as I love change and moving house, I think this could be a good chance to do something new yet in the same space.

Over the course of the year we have been working with established churches who are seeking to ‘re-imagine’ and I had to admit that I did like the thought of having a crack at it myself. I have been aware of a few different churches seeking leaders but I haven’t applied to any of them. I tend to wait to be ‘invited’ and lately – since we have stepped outside the regular system – we haven’t had too many of them!

There are some wonderful ironies in this situation.

The Quinns church is connected to Quinns Baptist College… and you all know my thoughts on Christian schools!… And then even funnier is the fact that the school is currently in the process of building an enormous great 1200 person auditorium – primarily for school use – but if we want it then we have first refusal. I can see it now…

Anyway – there is lots to chuckle about and no doubt this ‘twist’ will amuse some and concern others. To those who fear we may have given up on our convictions about the missional incarnational church the short response is ‘NOPE’. We are looking forward to a different experience, working those convictions out in an established setting.

I have had some ‘oh shit’ moments over the last few weeks as we have pondered this. In many ways it is like a marriage and I felt strangely similarly after I got engaged to Danelle. Seventeen years on we are doing pretty well!

On that note I will sign off on this post with a great quote from Alan Roxburgh in The Missional Leader:

“In these biblical narratives God is constantly present in places where no one would logically expect God’s future to emerge and yet it does over and over. There is nothing in these stories about getting the wrong people off the bus and the right people on to accomplish great ends and become the best organization in the world. This God who calls us is always calling the wrong people onto a bus that isn’t expected to arrive.”

Missional Leader A. Roxburgh Pg 18

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24 thoughts on “Twists and Turns

  1. anything to get out of manual labour – you’ve gone soft 😉

    seriously though, “you go, you good thing!”

    look forward to hearing what happens in the days, months and …

    peace for the road ahead…


  2. I think there’s something healthy about your ‘take it or leave it attitude’. I think leaders have to be who they are, and churches have to be who they are, and it either works or it doesn’t.

    What seems to often happen, using your marriage metaphor, is one or both spouses wants to change the other, and it just builds up resentment.

    The only way I see these kinds of changes is if both are transparent about who they are, and if both are willing to learn and change from the other where change is needed–but with a voluntary change.

    Anyhow, all the best in your new “job” 🙂

  3. John – that’s a better way of saying ‘take it or leave it’.

    We recognise that who we are may not fit and we don’t want to try and move a bunch of people who really don’t feel any need to move.

    By the same token we both learn and grow and hopefully as we do that together we both get reshaped into healthier people in the process – just like a healthy mariage.

  4. Haven’t been here for a while Hamo, so I am not sure what else has been said on the matter of this change from what you have been doing for the last 5 years or so, and I cant be bothered doing a search through the comments…

    But I believe your years doing what you have been doing have been like a intensive workshop where most of the students haven’t had to rock up to class. There has been much learned, and thankfully you have put the hard yards in so that people like me can sit in front of a screen and be challenged in my thinking.

    The point being, I think this last chapter of what you have been doing in Brighton has been an incredible time for many people. What you envisaged in the beginning may not be where it has ended up, but to me, I think it is far better for all that has been learned.

    I hope this next chapter is a continuation of what has been a phenomenally significant time for you and fam, for those others involved, and for those who watch on.

    Looking forward to hearing when the 1200 seat auditorium is too small for the 5 Sunday services you are conducting. I will visit when the “Come to church and win a car” competition is announced.

    Would love to read your pages on community if you could send them through.

    All the best for the transition too.

  5. You’re really not doing that well at being the Australian emerging church poster boy! Which just goes to demonstrate the heart of what you seem to have been on about since the start. It’s a brave move – and good on you for giving it a go. And I’d love a copy of that 3 page description of missional community!

  6. Great stuff Hamo.

    I reckon you’ll be a much different leader to what you were like back at Lesmurdie and it sounds like this might be a great opportunity for you and the church.

    I find it very interesting that this comes after your previous post. Maybe there’s some prophetic words for Quinns Baptist there?

    Anyway, may God bless and guide you in this next step.

  7. Hey mate, great to see they recognised good leadership. Keen to see how this journey moves forward. I can see how you’ve communicated clearly to make sure that they do not have the wrong expectations and that’s a good thing without a doubt. How that transpires into the methods of teaching, discipling and practiclity will be the crux. Praying for you guys and adding my name to the list of those keen to have a squiz at the document.

  8. “Looking forward to hearing when the 1200 seat auditorium is too small for the 5 Sunday services you are conducting. I will visit when the “Come to church and win a car” competition is announced.

    luv your work Cam…. 🙂

  9. Are you allowed to have ‘‘oh shit’ moments’ when you are a leader of a Baptist church? 🙂

    This will be fun. It will be interesting to see you implement what you have learned etc over the past 5years into an already established group. Another learning curve, no doubt…

    And therefore, it will be fun!

  10. Wow, this is going to be interesting. One of the major hurdles faced by churches in the UK wanting to change is the lack of examples of traditional churches moving to a missional model. I’m aware of conversations that have taken place (all along similar lines to your ‘this is me, this is what I do, take it or leave it’) but when it came down to making the concious decision to me missionally focussed they all bottled it.

    I’ll be praying for you in this. I’d also be really interested to see the paper on what you think a missional community would look like if you’d be kind enough to e-mail a copy.

    Isn’t life fun when you’re open to opportunities!

  11. Brilliant news Hamo. Really stoked for you mate. And for the folks at Quinns. I think could be an exciting opportunity. Our community needs it.

  12. when He calls we must say “here am I” and take the turns He placed before us – I am very excited for you because to hear the voice of God and responding is to write His narrative upon our hearts!

  13. I’v never commented on your blog before but have followed it for some time so I suppose this post triggered something in me …

    You said, “It is a ‘2 day a week’ job” which I take to mean you’re getting paid! If you’re not – great, it’s nice to have a piece of clay to play with. If you are then I believe you are right when you said this is about you needing a new challenge. Again nothing wrong with that – it’s the sort of motivation I like to have when I’m about to take on a new job (knowing your mission minded heart obviously this is not your whole motivation).

    I agree there are reasons why you don’t get invited to gigs when you step outside the ‘regular system’. Consequently, you can rest assured, no matter how you approach the scene at Quinns this is exactly what you are doing – stepping back into the ‘regular system’.

    I also stand and agree with you that you’ll never give up on your ‘convictions about the missional incarnational church’. After all if anything other than family can be said to define Hamo, surely that conviction does, however I tentatively submit that the position you now find yourself in after the last 5 years of your journey may have helped you to move from the ‘something’ which lead you on your journey to Brighton in the first place and which is what gave you the conviction to leave Lesmurdie. (For me, that ‘something’ signifies the essential difference between Upstream and Quinns)

    This comment is not a value judgement about what you have just chosen to do, but in recognition that you will soon, I believe, be like a pig in mud and back to where your giftings will flourish, it is a salute to what you have done in the last 5 years.

    And I suppose you can’t miss it, this comment is also an expression of my belief that there is an extreme and significant difference between denominational churches (like Quinns) and what is still ridiculously referred to as the ’emerging church’. I’m not either/or but both/and (there’s a great need for every ‘church’) but I do like to maintain the difference.

  14. Hmmm… not sure whether or not to let that go through to the keeper… 🙂 I will for now.

    Just wondering – are there any Quinns Bappos who read this who would like to comment regarding what you think of this new development? (perhaps you already have commented, and I just don’t know which church you go to!!)

  15. Via Geoff via Tim, our home group has been having a chat about your missional community writing (A Missionary Community in Quinn Rock)

    In your second ‘signpost’ you say:

    “- we will be able to articulate our own unique sense of calling and vocation.”

    If you’ve got a moment can you unpack what you mean by “calling and vocation” I’m not sure that I have the same grid as you when it comes to the meaning of those terms.

    I’m also wondering if by “articulate” you just mean verbal? or have you envisioned/experienced non-verbal means of articulation?


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