Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Smoky Mountains Visit

After we visited New Spring Church we headed over to check out the Great Smoky Mountains since it is Will Jr's school holidays. Sunday night we actually stayed in Hendersonville. Needless to say we felt very much at home.

Monday morning we drove Henderson County; through Bat Cave to the Chimney Rock National Park. From there we drove north to Asheville and on to Cherokee (Nerida was dying to visit the Casino) and had lunch there before driving into the Smokies.

The boys loved the fair dinkum Flint Indian Arrowheads they bought from an Indian.

We loved driving through the bush and it was amazing to see the mountain streams and waterfalls. We nearly got bogged stopping on the side of the road, lucky we grew up on dirt roads and know how to navigate mud patches.

We finally arrived at Pigeon Falls and had dinner at the Cracker Barrel (Will and Fergus' favourite). We then tried to get to sleep at the hotel, but alas, there was 10,000 teenage Christians from Alabama also staying there for a youth conference... needless to say, we did not get too much sleep. They had a good time though. I'll post on Tuesdays adventures tomorrow.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Spring Church Visit

This morning the family and I drove to Anderson South Carolina to visit New Spring Church. Well we were utterly dumbfounded by what God has and is doing there. The people were so friendly, we were escorted everywhere and guided through the whole morning from kids check in to the coffee shop. The service was powerfully Jesus centered.

The big take away for Nerida and I was however the power of stopping to celebrate.

The service was simply titled "A New Spring Christmas Party" and after an amazing time of singing praise Ps Perry reminded us that the reason we often stress so much about the future is because we fail to stop and look back and relect on how He has guided and cared for us in the past. The service then walked through a year in the life of New Spring, the joys, the breakthroughs, the lives changed, decisions, baptisms and community care.

Leadership lesson : take the time to celebrate. It encourages the disheartened with a reminder of past victories, it unites the team on the common vision and it fuels hearts for the next steps into the future.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Don't miss the magic this Christmas

We visited a church this morning called 12 Stone.
It was an amazing experience. It was a special place. One of the standout things was their media ministry.
Partway through the message they paused to show a short film called "Magic" and it was awesome.
Check it out at the White Stone Motion Picture Website.
I'll just let the clip do the talking. Have a blessed and joyous Christmas and don't miss the magic that is knowing Jesus is Lord, Saviour and Friend.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Back from New York

I've been out of action the last few days on a trip to New York. It was the most amazing place. We flew in on Saturday, my Birthday and I didn't need any other presents, just seeing the masses and masses of people from everywhere bustling through the streets was mindboggling. Though there are a million and one things to do between meetings and appointments I simply enjoyed watching the people. A lifetime memory.

OH I also saw a mugging and two blokes tackle the thief to get the bag back on 5th Avenue walking home with the 3 boys!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sometimes God is Loud

Tonight we had our 'Merge' gathering at Mountain Lake Church. And as I sat and listened to Shawn speak from Ephesians 4 I actually felt a bit spooked. God spoke to me loudly from that passage of His Word.

I am called to lead. And that calling is one of relationally building, encouraging and preparing others for the good works Jesus is calling them to. Not trying to do it all myself (which is obviously impossible and stupid). Thanks Shawn, the fact that God is stretching you makes me fired up!! Thanks God for continuing to grow and challenge me to be a disciple maker and a world changer as I follow Jesus.

Coach or player?

I love this picture. Coach Wayne Bennett, arguably the best league coach in the world and his apprentice Darren Lockyer. Wayne was a good player but he’s the best at coaching others.

Sometimes the greatest thing stopping me from going forward in what God is calling me to is everything I’m doing.

You know what I mean – the “to do list” is two pages long and it all can get a little overwhelming. Overwhelming that is until I return to the fact that as a ‘leader’ my job isn’t to do everything that needs to be done. My job as a leader is to keep growing myself and my team and that means I must be an expert at relationally equipping and giving more and more of the tactical work away to others gifted in those areas and focus in on building into the lives of faithful men who in turn will do the same.

Now that sounds simple, but it is isn’t. In fact it’s one of the core things that separates growing leaders from ‘players’. OR to put it another way it's what separates a great coach from a great player. Great coaches don't play they coach the players, they know their best input to the game is not run with the ball... it's to coach!

Now again I’m not saying it’s easy, because it isn’t, and some people are just gifted at doing it. I’m committed to growing in this no matter what it takes.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Turkey Hangover

Well I was so busy yesterday I did not have a hope of posting.
It all started at 6am with a phone call from Australia! So much for sleeping in! The crazy ossies...
Then I literally spent nine hours on the computer working on a church planting proposal for a Australian partner... I had received an email that had to be responed on Thanksgiving!
Please pray for our future, that God will guide us as we seek to follow His Son especially in where and with whome He wants us to serve.

The day was beautifully closed with the most amazing meal with our dear friends. What started out with me nervously going to a growth group couple of months ago has emerged into a group of friends that Nerida and I hope keep in touch with forever.

All that to say - I am so Thankful for Jesus. He has set me free to live a life that I never could have imagined, so rich, full and exciting that I can't begin to try and capture it in words at 7 in the morning.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Christmas Rebellion

Yesterday Pastors Shawn and Rodney launched a new series, "Christmas Rebellion - Taking Christmas Back."

As I sat in the 4pm service I was again confronted by the truth that as I follow Jesus my world will continue to be turned upside down. That's what Jesus came to do. To save us from ourselves. To save us from our self focused inward looking nothingness. And where the world screams at us to get more, more, more all for me, me, me... God, the creator of the universe GAVE. He gave to us. He gave His most treasured posession to you. He gave His Son so that we might gain forgiveness and new life with God.

And as I sat there with my 3 boys, with Archie asleep in my arms as Shawn preached, I was gripped with an glimpse, an insight of God's fathomless love. He gave His one and only Son, He sent His baby as a gift, a ransom-gift that we might be set free from the bondage of more, mecentred sin and death.

The best gifts cost the most. They cost you. God may your Spirit of love fill me this Christmas to love the people you've placed around me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Day off hanging with the little men...

Hey hanging with the boys today and one of the things we love to do that cost $0 is watch some youtube together. Here's a couple that are always requested...
Archie - "Dad do the 'move it' one."
If you don't feel like dancin, there's something wrong!

All - "Dad the Cronodile Hunter snake one."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nine Years Married - WOW!

Today was a special day for me. Today Nerida and I celebrated nine years marriage. We hung out this afternoon. Went for a drive and talked. We had a nice meal of Bison (that was a first). And then just walked around the shops and we didn't even buy anything. We just talked.

Nerida, you are the love of my life. I thank you for being such a patient, caring and steadfast partner. Of all the amazing heists I've managed to pull of in life, marrying you was and always will be the biggest. God must have been distracted that night to let a pirate like me run off with one of his angels. I love you honey and look forward to many more years God willing of this journey with you. Love always - Will.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"No is not an option" - Jesus

Tonight at a Worldcare planning meeting Pastor David Putman shared that there are three key things that continue to stop people from getting involved:
1. I'm not good enough.
2. Time.
3. Finances.

My thoughts on each of these:
The first one was dealt with by Jesus Himself, His death and resurrection qualifies you. You think you aren’t good enough? Of course you aren’t, no one is. But God loves you enough to send His Son to die for you. And today Jesus calls you to come and follow Him and share His message of life and hope with people everywhere, worldwide. If you’re a Jesus follower you are called, qualified and sent. Sent by Jesus with his promise to be with you always, everywhere, wherever He leads you.

The second issue is really an issue of obedience and priorities. If you aren’t going and sharing the good news of Jesus with someone somewhere let’s face it you aren’t following Jesus. Following Jesus really requires letting Him lead.

The third is the one I continue to struggle with the most. It is a also an issue of continuing to trust Jesus at His word to supply my families needs each day. And that’s just it, if you’re following Jesus the journey is crazy at times and He tends to provide for each day in some amazing ways through amazingly generous people. The issue is to trust Him and His provision.
(BTW the 'Go Logo' is care of the reformed presbyterian church of Ireland - rpc.org/go. Go the fightin Irish!)

Nashville TN Trip

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Good Writers... Good Preachers

My mate and Aussie Planting Coach Steve Addison shared this...
Good writers have two things in common: they prefer to be understood rather than admired; and they do not write for knowing and over-acurate readers.
Friedrich Nietzche

I reckon the same thing can be said about pastor/teachers. Great preachers have two things in common: they prefer to be understood rather than admired; and they do not preach for knowing and over-accurate listeners.

The goal is not to please the nit pickers, the goal is that the humble of spirit will hear and see life change in their lives as they engage with Jesus and His gospel!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Planters - 3 things to consider

At last months October Churchplanters.com Coaching Roundtable Shawn Lovejoy shared three key things to consider when selecting a sight/suburb for a fresh launch:
1. Growth and changing demographics,
2. Must fit with planter and his family (unless you are a cross cultural missionary),
3. Ability to grow organically and within time make the transition to financially funding the ministry locally and from within.

Changing Area, Leadership 'fit' & Finances. Sounds simple.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Plant Visit – Cumberland Church

Yesterday we visited Cumberland Church a Strategic Partner of North Point Ministries. They are running two services (9.30 and 11am). We visited the 11am service. On pulling into the car park we noticed that the building was a refurbishment (an old Lutheran church). We were welcomed inside. We found our way over to the kids check in. After a few difficulties the four boys went into Waumba Land (their brand of kids church) and we had the last laugh as we walked away! Once inside we got a seat, it was pretty full, I’m guestimating aroung 200+ish adults. Nerida actually got a coffee and it was good coffee, nice and hot. The band was excellent, great musicians and clear leadership and times of prayer. Transition into the video message was great. Andy Stanley spoke and closed with prayer. The prayer time was the transition back from video to “live” leadership. Pastor Eddie then closed the service after making an announcement and inviting people to meet with him for coffee. Pastor Eddie Johnson also did a great job leading, welcoming and meeting people. Their notice sheet was a half A4, two sided, one colour. Series info in color on one side and notices on the other. Their guest “gift” was a message from Andy Stanley in a C’board sleeve with a welcome message from Ps Eddie inside. They only had two notices announced that I could remember - Youth and Children’s events.

• Building appearance is important, it doesn’t have to be brand new just modern, neat and cared for.
• There is nothing like having good greeters welcoming both outside and then again inside, offering help and guidance.
• Good children’s ministry is very, very important for mothers.
• Jesus Bible teaching is “central.” Hey okay that’s a no brainer but I’m noting it down. The Worship Leader talked about it in his time of leading and then Andy Stanley is an absolutely amazing communicator. He clearly taught and applied the bible from a Christ-centered perspective. He applied it to both seekers and believers.
• Keep announcements to two key ones.
• Great to have pastors meeting and greeting the people afterwards.
• Printed materials does not need to be much, just well done.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Jesus - Come Follow Me.

One of the books that have changed my life other than the Bible is Robert Coleman's "The Master Plan of Evangelism." Now ignore the title, I also cringe at the word "evangelism" and get a copy of this book and read it. It is a classic, short and easy to read and yet for me life changing. Here's a short snippet:

"Having called His men, Jesus made it a practice to be with them. This was the essence of His training program - just letting His disciples follow Him. When one stops to think of it, this was an incredibly simple way of doing it. Jesus had no formal school, no Seminaries, no outlined course of study, no periodic membership classes in which He enrolled His followers. None of these highly organized procedures considered so necessary today entered at all into His ministry. Amazing as it may seem, all Jesus did to teach these men His way was to draw the close to Himself. He was His own school and curriculum."

Robert Coleman, "The Master Plan of Evangelism." Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1964, p. 38.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Multi-Site Reflections - Ps Shawn Lovejoy

Hey if you haven't already read Shawn Lovejoy's post on Multi-Site you need too. He has some great insights as he reflects on Mountain Lake Church, One church - two campuses.

NewThing Multi-Site Practicum Takeaways 1

Hey all my brothers in arms in Australia. A few of my mates have emailed and asked about the NewThing Practicum. Here is some of the key takeaways.
• Think Mult-Site but not church (Restaurants, banks, hospitals etc). Now think church. One Church meeting in many locations; schools, community centers, coffee shops etc. Also think planting new churches in other places that will reproduce sites.
• Move One – The God Thing. Where is God at work & where is He preparing new things? Face it, we need to follow Him.
• Move Two – The Vision. It never changes. The problem is us. Our rebellion, sin and spiritual death. The solution is simply Jesus and the life He offers. The catalyst is a gifted leader who get’s this. They see the urgency of the situation and are motivated to get involved and lead a team to follow Jesus in His mission.
• Move Three – The Leader. The guardian of the Jesus’ mission. Encourager, voice, trainer, overseer, recruiter, point person.
• Move Four – The Team. It always takes a team.
• Move Five – Finances. Know and share the cost. Have moral integrity in your life with finances. Make sure you are fully funded in enough time.
• Move Six – Alignment. Consistent language and experiences. Constantly revisited in the leadership communities. One vision, one budget, one eldership, one staff.
• Move Seven – Unstoppable! Determination in the face of fears, doubts, warfare, failures to push forward. Remembering that no plan is perfect, and to work the plan. An unwavering resolve to do what needs to be done. Unstoppable.

Check out Dave Ferguson's blog for more great insights.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A new Day, A New President

This morning we got up and America has a new President.
I think there are many good things about Obama being the new leader of the U.S.A. but that is another post and time will tell.

Anyway as I drove my eldest son to school this morning I said to him, "Do you know we have just had an election?"
He replied, "Of course Dad, I voted at school the other day."
Fascinated I asked him, "So who did you vote for?"
And without a word of a lie he declared, "Dad I voted for Obama."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because I like him... and he needs my help to be the President."

I sat there in silence and let his words sink in. Someone who runs the publicity machine of the Democrats needs a raise. They got their message through. Even to 2nd grade Aussie ring ins.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Privilege

(l to r : Ps Shawn Lovejoy, me, Ps David Putman & Ps Dave Ferguson)

Last night as Nerida and I talked we agreed - It is a privilege to be built into by others and we never want to take that for granted.

We have both been overwhelmed by the input and encouragement we have received over the past few months from people that are Mountain Lake Church and also our friends in Australia. Today we finished the NewThing Multi Site Practicum and as I reflected on the people that have been speaking into my life over the last 3 months Dave Ferguson commented; "God must be preparing you for something big." Now I can't comment on that but it is true, God has been overwhelmingly generous to me and my family and I look forward to the adventure of following Jesus for the rest of my life.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Who does the inviting?

Quick update : Our car is at the mechanics getting the brakes fixed (they actually fell off) and the back window fixed (Nerida smashed it out in a fit of rage a week ago). Anyway David Putman has generously lent us his 'truck' and so this morning I drove over to his house to pick him up for work. And it's amazing the life changing insights God can bring when you're just sitting and chatting in a pick up truck.

For me it was a moment of clarity as we talked about why so many people openly say they're Christians but just aren't following Jesus. My thoughts on why are as follows:

As Christians we often talk about "inviting Jesus into our lives or hearts." We even tell others that they too should "Invite Jesus into their lives." But let's just stop for a moment. Doesn't that get things completely upside down? Isn't it Jesus who does the inviting? As I read the gospels I don't see Peter, James or John inviting Jesus into their lives. Come to think of it, neither did Paul. It was always Jesus who did the inviting. And He's still doing it today. Today no matter where you are (and I mean truely that) He is inviting you and I to follow Him. He's still saying, "You, come follow me. I invite you to enter into MY life." Now that's a completely different paradigm. He's the one doing the leading. He's the one who get's to call the shots. He's the one running the show, not you, not me. It's His life at the end of the day. And if you think you get to call the shots you're not following. It's really that simple.

NewThing Multi Site Practicum

Today and tomorrow I get to sit in with the Mountain Lake Crew and learn from Dave and Jon Ferguson as they lead the NewThing Multi Site Practicum.
I still can't get over the fact that God has enabled me the privilege and opportunity of learning and growing under leaders like this. And then there's the ongoing privilege of learning from Shawn and David and the rest of the Mountain Lake Team every week. It is absolutely amazing!

Angies Arrived

We are so excited!
Last night Nerida's younger sister Angela arrived safely in Atlanta direct from Australia (via) L.A.
Now Nerida gets to take her to Starbucks, Zaxby's, Walmart, the outlet mall, 5 Guys and all the other cool places.
All our Aussie family can relax now.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

October is over

Well we can't believe it - October 2008 is over.

So much crazy stuff has happened this month.
- We visited the Cumming Fair and got really SICK!
- The world went into recession.
- Australia is in Spring and Georgia Jumped into WINTER!
- We got to visit some full on church plants; Freedom, Fusion, Oak Leaf & Revolution.
- Went to CATALYST and saw why Andy Stanley is the best.
- had our first 'trick or treating' experience.
- And had a complete gut full of the U.S. election.

We can't wait to see what November brings.

Hendersons kick Halloweens...

Well we had one of the BEST nights ever tonight.
Thanks so much Pam and Randy, we were a little unsure about Halloween, but the boys had the time of their lives.
It was good to get dressed up too. I think Nerida looked really HOT as a Basketball Ref, she can call me out anytime she wants.

And it's still FALL!

Hey this morning when we left the house to do the school drop off thing the boys seriously thought it had snowed.
It was just a MASSIVE frost, and get this it's only FALL (translation - Autumn). Nerida went to turn the heater on this morning cause it was so cold and said, "What wrong with this heater thing, why is it not working?" I didn't have the heart to tell her cause it's absolutely freaking well FREEZING outside. I just shrugged my shoulders and said, "Donno Hon... maybe it's broke."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Leaders do this.

This post is for my own benefit, but I hope it is food for thought to you also. The past week I’ve been constantly reminded of the importance of leadership: My Pastor Shawn Lovejoy shared : "At Mountain Lake, we seek to live and teach a series of Leadership Practices, based concretely on the life of Jesus. We call them ECHO PRACTICES: Resounding Leadership. Ripple Effect Leadership. We believe an ECHO LEADER:
• Shares the Vision: A leader believes in the vision and inspire others to share it.
• Encourages the Heart: A leader, encourages, challenges, and celebrates others.
• Enables Others: A leader recruits and builds great teams.
• Models the way: A leader sets the pace and the example."

John Maxwell shared that :
The best leaders give their best to their people by...
• Growing personally as leaders,
• Serving their team and lifting their performance,
• Modeling the way
The best leaders get the best from their people by…• Listening actively to their team for insights, thoughts and feedback,
• Relating, they touch a heart before they ask for a hand by sharing life together.
• Teaching their team what they are learning and growing in.
• Developing their team not just for tasks but as leaders.
• Motivating their team by all of the above (and constantly sharing the vision).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Yesterday I posted about the need to "Confront the brutal facts." Now when times are tough and everyones hurting, we find that difficult. In fact we'd rather blame someone else than take responsibility for moving forward.

Whilst a clear understanding of the current facts are essential, it is with a humble confidence in our Lord’s leadership that we must engage our world with His gospel regardless of the difficulties we face as we follow Him. His church will be gathered from every nation, His Kingdom will prevail, and all mankind will acknowledge His Kingship.

“I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” - Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:18).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Confronting the brutal facts...


According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics* the Australian Protestant church is declining by 5% per year. Conservative estimates calculate that there is only one Protestant church for every 2,100 people, with an average of under 75 people attending.

*Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2002, 2001 Census Basic Community Profile and Snapshot, Canberra: ABS.

Monday, October 27, 2008

All things to all men... to win some to Jesus

Since I now live in the "deep south" I thought my Aussie mates might like to check out my new "do". Nerida does NOT like my hair long, but I keep telling her, "Hey Honey it's for the sake of the gospel, at least God's not asking me to go where he asked Timothy go... ouch!

Oak Leaf Church - Community Connections

Yesterday Nerida and I drove over to Cartersville GA to visit Oak Leaf Church. We had a great trip, the night before Nerida accidentally smashed out the back glass of our car and so we had the boys rugged up in jackets and blankets – they thought it was awesome!

Anyway Oak Leaf certainly is doing a fantastic job of reaching their community and Nerida and I want to share some of the things we learnt later this week, for today I want to simply post this reminder for myself – marketing doesn’t have to be expensive or ‘sell-out’ to be impactful. Oak Leaf is a great example. Their approach to connecting with their community over Halloween is excellent, see the invite cards above. Michael shares more about it here.

Another powerful outreach strategy they’ve come up with is simply getting the church “out” in the community by setting up a booth downtown and handing out Candy and Invite Cards. I love the way Michael, Anthony, Mitch and the OLC team think. Jesus wants His good news to be spread far and wide! It is a message to be taken out and it’s great to see a church continually seeking to ‘redeem’ their community for Jesus and doing a good job of it too! Mitch has a great post too.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What do Leaders DO?

Today I had the privilege to spend time with my friend Bryan Brown (That's him on the far right with his Aussie Campus Outreach Team). Appart from having a great time just talking Bryan reminded me that as far as he was concerned there is only three things Jesus Leaders should do:

LEAD their team who in turn lead their teams,
CARE for their team as they care for others,
DEVELOP their team who in turn will develop others.

Great advice, even better to put it in action... it's what separates leaders from the rest.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Johnny Cash's America

As an Aussie living and working in America during the 2008 U.S. Election I have two questions:
1. Why is America SO divided and angry at one another?
2. I grew up listening to my Dad's Johnny Cash Records and as I listen and reflect on what John has to say about "his America" I have to conclude that the real America is far from what is presented by the media. Why? And who's running this show, the people or minorities?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fusion Church Guest Welcome

Last Sunday the Hendersons visited Fusion Church. We were really impressed with the way they are doing 'church' in a High School. One of the stand out points was their extremely warm welcome to us and the other guests. With friendly people welcoming and offering help to good coffee and donuts it was easy to feel safe and get engaged in a conversation. There IS something about coffee and nibblies that make one feel safe and even open to engaging. Great welcome pack too by the way, my wife loves chocolate!

Monday, October 20, 2008

200th Post - Archies Birthday!

We recently celebrated Arch's birthday and it was great to see how much he enjoyed himself this time round. We had a great time. It all started off with opening presents and readin Birthday cards from friends and family from back home. I actually felt a little homesick for family for the first time, but only for 3 seconds ;)
We then went and bought Arch some new boots. He calls them his 'hunting boots' cause his favorite show after Sponge Bob is the Deer hunting channel...
We then went and had lunch at Five Guys, it was packed. Archie actually tried to chat up a little blonde girl who was sitting over from him. He offered her some of his hot dog (we diverted their attention) and her Mum said, "Oh how cute!" I then went to get some drinks and while I was away Nerida said the girls Dad looked at Archie and sternly warned, "Okay you've gotta be home by 9, and I'm letting you know I have a gun."
We then went home all feeling a little sick and had a 'nap'. Then it was get up and eat chocolate birthday cake!! Yay. And then I took the boys down to the Church car park to ride on their pushies. All in all it was a great Birthday. We love you so much Archie, may God richly bless and guide your life always.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Visit to Fusion Church

Today Nerida & I packed up the boys and headed over to Fusion Church. It was great to visit another plant that is knocking it out when it comes to meeting in a high school. Our first impressions were as follows:
(BTW - Excellent Website, clear and easy to navigate.)
• Great signage on the roads around the school. We easily found where to park and how to find our way to Kids Safari and the main meeting.
• The boys were amazed by the Safari theme of the Fusion Kids Ministry environment. They especially loved the bugs that were nailed to the desk and that they got to be ‘tigers’ and ‘giraffes.’
• We were warmly welcomed by the Safari staff and they answered all Nerida’s questions. It was good to know that they had it under control and our boys were safe.
• Fusions approach to their Kids ministry is that the kids have their own ‘church service’ designed specifically for different age groupings. We weren’t there but the boys loved it, remembered what they were taught and wanted to go back. Now that’s a ‘win.’
• The foyer environment was excellent, from the Krispy Kreme Donuts and Coffee to the warm welcomes and clear directions it was clear that this environment had been carefully thought through.
• Once inside the auditorium (500 seat) we were ushered to a seat and were quickly engaged with the praise time. The words were very gospel centered and the music was contemporary with a rock/pop band style.
• The worship leader did a great job of reminding us of the good news of Jesus.
• The transitions were smooth, quick and frankly I didn’t notice them, that’s a win.
Tony McCollum did a great job with the message. Tony spoke from Matthew 14:22-33. He connected with the audience by beginning with the fears and uncertainties we all face, He then lead us to Jesus and the truth of the gospel and all along the way he applied the truth of Jesus soundly and practically to the challenge of personal fears and uncertainty. It was a little long but Tony is such a good and humorous communicator he pulled it off.
• The band did a great job closing out and we picked up our kids and had a great time chatting about our experiences on the way home.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Master, Padawan or just a loose cannon?

Now my mates back in Oz would know that my leadership style tends to lead more naturally to the ‘instinctive’ side. You know, point me to the hill and I’ll just run and start climbing it and work it out as I go, now that’s good and bad and maybe I’ll talk about why in another post. But over the last three months I’ve been intentionally nurturing my ‘reflective’ side and one of the things that keeps messing me up is the way leaders like Shawn and Bob keep saying this :

“Want to know the leader you will be in 5 years? It’s determined by the subjects you spend consistent time studying and the people you hang around.”

Now those questions are revealing and profound, but as I ponder them for leaders there has to be a third –

“Who are you intentionally pouring your life into?”

Answering the first two well means absolutely nothing if it all stops with me. Now that’s profound. I’ve gotta go and eat some sugar or something…

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Catalyst Pre Lab NewThing Network

Yesterday morning I attended the NewThing Network Pre Lab at Catalyst.
My Key Take Away.
As Christian leaders we need to remember that it is Jesus’ mission we’re engaged in and His plans are much bigger than ours. He wants to do immeasurably more than we can think or imagine in our lives, in His church and in His world. He wants it to be filled with the Glory of His gospel.

Application : I need to stop daily and come back to Jesus and realign myself with His gospel, and focus on His mission of reaching those who’re far from God and encouraging them to grow in their faith. Jesus’ mission is far bigger than I can imagine.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Freedom Church Take aways - Part 2

Yesterday Nerida and I jotted down some of the key things we noticed and learned during our visit to Freedom Church last Sunday. Today we'll pick up where we left off...

Foyer : We were then escorted back to the ‘foyer area’. My wife grabbed a couple of cups of coffee, it was was hot and Starbucks, which to me is always a safe move for guests. There’s something soothing about having a familiar cup of coffee. The information display was neatly presented and there was plenty of colour.

Meeting : We then walked into the auditorium, being welcomed again as we entered. The service was excellent, the music rocked and J.R. is a great communicator. I personally noticed that he communicated the “vision” a number of times during the message. There should be no mistake, “Freedom exists so that people who’re far from God might have life in Christ.” Again there was no confusion.

Baptism : Again there was no confusion. They had packs done up for men and women with clothes, flip-flops (thongs for us Aussies), you name it, they had it!! There was no excuse, and because of that there were a whole bunch of ‘spontaneous’ baptisms.

J.R. and his wife Devin were kind and friendly and it was good to see the way they interact with the people who make up Freedom Church. They are strong leaders and it’s obvious God is using them. I know it sounds lame but really there was nothing we experienced we could pick a hole in. We learnt a lot about being prepared and clear. Clarity about the vision is crucial to creating an environment that makes people who’re far from God feel safe about checking out Jesus and ultimately making the decision to follow Him.

Off To Catalyst - Pre Labs

Well it's finally decided to rain... and I have to drive further into Atlanta this morning to the Catalyst Conference. It's all an adventure.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Freedom Church Take aways – Part one

The key take away from our visit to Freedom Church last Sunday was – “NO Confusion.”

Car park : There was heaps of road signage. Once we drove into the car park there was a sign saying - "Parents of Preschoolers and first time guests please turn on you lights, thankyou." That sign set the tone for the morning. There was no confusion what to do next.

Welcome : Once parked it was dead easy where to walk because there was huge colorful signage. We then walked up to the ‘welcome desk’ and not only was my wife and I warmly welcomed, but our kids were too! They actually gave the boys a pack of M&M’s each (which I confiscated till after church cause our boys go crazy on sugar ). They talked to our kids, asked them how old they were and then offered to escort us into the Children’s ministry area. Now for us that was great, we don’t want to feel like we’re not welcome to drop our kids off.

Kids Ministry : Once we arrived at the ‘kids check in’ we were again warmly welcomed and everything was explained. The kids were given a welcome gift, a neat kids book, and they are still carrying them around. That was a huge win, cause our boys love Freedom now. We all got neat printed stickers for security/I.D. purposes and then were walked to the different classes. The children staff were very happy and professional. My wife particularly liked the way the workers were clearly identified by ‘staff lanyards.’ ID makes her feel the kids were safe. Again there was no confusion about what to do next.

Next post - Foyer, Meeting, Baptism & Wrap up.

Monday, October 6, 2008

September Top 3 - Part 3


Be mean about the vision. Clarification, firstly it doesn't mean being nasty or cruel to people and it doesn’t mean not seeking to do it better and being willing to change things, but at the end of the day the vision never changes and the is no debate over it. Leaders guard and defend the vision, and at the end of the day they will need to be mean about it.

The truth is that Jesus' vision never changes and faithful churches stick with it. I see this vision working as the engine at Mountain Lake Church. The vision is to reach the people of Cumming and grow them as followers of Jesus and this vision is the filter that decides everything. From the time you drive into the parking lot to the welcoming, to kids check in, to the way the auditorium is set up, the coffee, the music style, the age of the staff, the clothes they wear, the quality of the printed materials, the use of videos and production etc. It all is shaped and tweaked to make guests feel more than welcome, but a part of the church. To feel like they belong... and as they do they're in a place, a community where the grace of God can impact them through the gospel. A place to belong and a place to become.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Visit to Freedom Church

Today Nerida and I packed up the kids and drove over to Acworth to visit Freedom Church. Freedom was launched in January this year and it is literally exploding. I want to blog about what we saw and learnt later this week simply because I want to take the time to sit down with my wife and process everyting we saw. That said, it was great to visit and witness their baptisms today. Good stuff J.R. you have an awesome team and it's obvious that God is doing something great in you, the people who are 'Freedom Church' and in your town.

Septembers Top 3 - Part 2.

The top 3 things I learnt from Mountain Lake in September 08...
In no particular order.

There is such a thing as the gift of leadership. Ps Shawn has it. He is a great speaker, communicator and is hugely hungry to lead the church forward. I said to him one day last week, "Shawn are you wired today?" and he said, "I'm always wired." That gives you a glimpse of the leadership hunger I'm talking about.

Leadership is more than important it is crucial. One of the things that stands out to me is that at Mountain Lake Church the 'leaders' are allowed to lead and that is KEY to this church's ability to 'do' the work Jesus has called it to do in this community. Leadership is also the fundation under the unity of the team environment. Sure there are little things, that's people living in relationships, but at the end of the day the staff at MLC obviously enjoy working together. I think that is a direct result of the leadership culture that Shawn and David etc have intentionally developed and nurtured over the years. It is hands down the best environment I have worked in - appart from working with my Dad on the farm growing up, but those days will always be the best in my mind.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Septembers Top 3 - Part 1

The top 3 things I learnt from Mountain Lake in September 08...
In no particular order.

No. 3. It is all about Jesus.
If there is one thing I thank God for it is David Putmans tenacious and laser like focus on keeping the team centred on following Jesus. Sounds simple? Well if we listen to God talking to us through His word it's not. Too easily we get sidetracked into making other things, in fact anything, the focus. God tells us to 'daily' remind and encourage one another to stay following Jesus. We all need encouragement. You never 'arrive' and go onto something else. That's why God tells us to spur one another on. I thank God for David, Shawn, John and the MLC Team, it's a daily thing here and I'm being strengthened as a follower because of it. MLC is all about seeking to grow in knowing Jesus and sharing Him with others.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Cumming County Fair

Tonight I took Nerida and the boys to the Cumming Fair. It was a blast. The kids had a great time. We all got sick eating corn dogs and hot dogs - seriously ;)
The boys got their faces painted, rode roller coasters, ferris wheels, giant slippery dips in the shape of a shark... Fergus and Will even got ripped off by the carnies in the "Pop the ballons for a prize" deal. Oh the memories it brings back to me when I was 7 of the circus coming to Talwood QLD Australia. The Lion wizzing on one of the locals is a memory I'll never forget. I hope today will be a special memory for us all as a family of our time in Cumming GA, USA.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Vision, Goal, and working backwards

“You should define your life forward and live it backward (Soren Kierkegaard).” Meaning, having a clear sense of what you want to get done and living your life in light of that. Ecclesiastes 10:10 If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success.
What Solomon is saying is that your life is all about chopping a pile of wood and you can be really strong, really motivated, but if you have a dull axe you’re not going to chop a lot of wood…”
Mark Driscoll – Acts 29 Bootcamp.

Today I had the privilege of sitting down, listening and learning from J.R. Lee, church planter and now Lead Pastor of Freedom Church. I learnt many things but the key standout takeaway for me that though vision is important it takes more than that.
Vision is the starting point, the “what” that you believe Jesus is calling His church to do. Frankly this has already been determined and is non-negotiable, Jesus wants His people to live and share the gospel with others everywhere. The vision never changes. That’s step one.
Step two is to prayerfully determine in light of the “vision” the “picture” of where you believe Jesus is wanting your specific congregation to be in say 6 months.
Step three is to now work back and prayerfully work out what it will take to “get there.” This is hard, it takes time and it goes into the details and plans that will need to be executed.
Step four is to now prayerfully work the plan.
Step five is to take the time to critically evaluate everything after the steps have been completed, was it a success? Why or why not? What will you do again and what goes on the scrapheap. Back to step two.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Japanese Friends - the movement continues

A while back I shared about how my friend U was seeing God at work in Japan.
Here is a great photo of U and his friends (left to right - U, Arai, Moet & Ryota). Please pray for them all but especially Moet. Moet only recently became a Christian so our prayer is that God will provide an older Christian lady that will be able to speak into her life and teach the ways of Jesus.
Pray too for U and the other men, that they will grow in grace and strength of leadership.
It was and continues to be a privilege to be used by Jesus in U's life. And I am so proud to see him growing into a leader reaching his peers with the love and truth of Jesus.
This is fuel in my tank, it's what I live for!! Jesus is Awesome.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Why are you doing that?

The "Why behind the What." It is a question leaders constantly ask.
It’s something that Shawn and David have been drilling (intentionally and unintentionally) into my head ever since I arrived at Mountain Lake Church. Simply because it's all to easy to just settle for doing something, anything, especially if it seems like it's getting the 'job' done. To combat this great leaders constantly take the time to drill down and ask themselves the “‘why’ behind the ‘what’” question.
The question is key because it eventually exposes the core values and DNA, both written and unwritten behind the "what" that is happeneing.
Asking this question also helps to make future decisions as although strategy changes are alwayw necessary and inevitable the mission never changes.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Church Planting Set up Team

Mountain Lake West Forsyth Campus Sunday Set Up is where the real stuff is done. Is dark when we get there at 5.30am but we all have a blast and it's great to see a school turn into a state of the art Church Meeting Environment.
Here's a few photos of the crew who were knocking it out this morning!!

Next week...

Talking to Fergus this morning about the Dawgs loss to the Tide. After explaining to him the result he smailed and said as he jogged away, "Too bad. There's always next week." Right on. Can't wait to see what it brings.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Good Times Saturday

Fergus' tip : Dawgs by 3 again.

Ned Kelly is tracked down living in Cumming GA

They've finally found out where we live (just kidding...)
It was all we could do to keep the 5 boys from running outside.
They desperately wanted to go for a ride in the Police Cars.
I'm sure they'll get their chance one day.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Following Jesus is ALL about...

If following Jesus is all about relationships, why do we try to do everything BUT nurture and grow our relationships with Him and the people He places around us?

Discover, Encourage & Equip the 'Connectors.'

On Wednesday I attended a BBQ lunch Ben Arment put on to encourage church planters. He shared a bit of his story as a 'parachute planter' and one of my takeaways was this : Discover, Encourage & Equip the Connectors in your launch team. Make a chart. It's a simple exercise, and it makes it profound difference to where you will choose to spend your time as a leader.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Greatest Day Ever - Part 2

Well September the 24th finished off 'tremendous-LY' as the people of Mountain Lake Church gathered together on the cement SLAB of the new worship auditorium.

The singing was fantastic & Ps. Shawn reminded us that what Jesus 'starts what He finishes.' AMEN to that. We're all works in progress, with a master builder committed to getting the job done.

The night was literally a ground-breaker, 515+ adults (plus kids). HUGE!!

Great Day - Ben Arment ( Catalyst ) Part 1

As far as days go yesteday takes the cake.

It all began with Sunrise and I got to take the boys to School - sweet times talking about 'The coming Georgian Blackout' and all that means to mankind as we floated along in the 'Red Rocket.'

Then off to work and from there I got to 'hang wit' James Rodder as we cruised over to the Catalyst offices for a BBQ lunch with Ben Arment and the 'Catalyst Crew.'

Here is a taste of the day. Ben talked about 'What it takes to plant a church' and 'How the gospel travels down relational networks.' It was really good to meet Ben. I honor and respect him for his willingness to share what he has with others. I have learnt alot from him over the past years.

The key 1 : make sure you are intentional about loving and caring for others. You never know when God is going to break in through you and change someone's life - forever!

The key 2 : share what you have, and you never know who it will impact.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Know the Scorecard


Important Question that must be answered : How does Jesus define ministry success?

In a world where us ‘pastors’ rate our success on the size of our congregations, buildings, staff, budgets (hey I’m just trying to be real here) it was good to be reminded again by my mate and pastor David Putman that what we see as ‘success’ may not necessarily line up with what Jesus see’s as ‘success.’ Everyone knows that if you don’t know what you’re aiming at you sure won’t hit it. This is the same with ‘following Jesus.’ Are you taking the time to stop and listen to what your Leader is telling you to do???

A Positive Example : Willow Creek and the REVEAL report.

Now before I go any further, I have to confess that it was Bill Hybels who God used to lay the foundational burden for leadership in my life. I remember the day well, my girlfriend was with me (Nerida) and we were transfixed as Billy preached from Luke 15 and ‘bleed’ about the desperate need for missional church leaders. It was a ‘catalyst’ moment in our lives and I really honor and look up to Hybels for his humble, committed, faithfulness to Jesus over his lifetime. God has certainly used him and I personally know many godly pastors and leaders who’ve been encouraged and influenced by Bill’s gifts and leadership. That’s what made his recent acknowledgement in REVEAL all the more ‘gutsy.’ Bill openly said that for all Willow Creek Church’s ‘success’ it was failing to really succeed when compared to what Jesus’ scorecard. Sure ‘Willow’ had fantastic facilities, staff second to none and one of the biggest growing evangelical congregations in the world, the only problem was ‘Willow’ just wasn’t cutting it when it came to growing “fully devoted followers of Jesus.”

Shorthand – they had a multitude of ‘stuff’ and people… great! One problem… the vast majority of the crowd wasn’t going on and becoming ‘mature’ followers of Jesus. Now admitting that is true leadership and it is took real guts. I love it when leaders man up and confront the brutal facts, cause it has to be done – regularly or you’re leading your team out the back door.

Don’t get me wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong with buildings, staff and big churches, in fact I believe there is much right about them (that’s another blog). But bottom line for me as I hear Jesus the win for his church and success for His followers, is found in two simple areas:
1. First He says, “You (yes you) – you, follow me.” Daily we need to ask ourselves am I? Really? I mean really?
2. Then He says, “As we go, your life is be used to lead others to follow me.”
Simple? Profound? Radical? Earth changing? Sure, that’s the Jesus way. It’s a mission Jesus is calling us all to get involved with. He is committed to us, we’re a ‘project’ that takes a lifetime, but following Him reaps uncalculated rewards both now and in eternity.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

David Putman LIVE

Yesterday I had the privilege of hanging out in South Carolina and helping David Putman as he lead a day conference, “Transitioning your church to missional ministry.” It was a big crowd and the people were so kind and welcoming. It was really good to hear David’s heart again as he shared about his journey back from ‘Toxic Religion’ to again striving to enter the ‘rest and life’ Jesus offers. Honestly this is a battle we all have to fight. This battle against ‘religion’ is for life and peace is only found as daily choose to enter into Jesus' kingdom, grow in our relationship with Him and surrender our lives to His call to share the gospel.

I had two key takeaways from the day. The first was a simple reminder : In essence we’re all make disciples, that’s not the issue. The issue is what sort of disciple am I making? Religious ones? Selfish humanistic ones? The list goes on… OR am I keeping my eyes on Jesus, walking with Him and allowing Him to change me and change others through me?? It takes a true Jesus follower to make another Jesus follower. Jesus talked about this alot (Matthew 23:15).

Driving it home:
1. Am I focused on following Jesus and letting Him call the shots when it comes to this thing we like to call “life.”
2. Who am I seeking to introduce Jesus to?
3. Who am I seeking to live life with?
4. Am I prepared to give my life away, my time, my resources, my energy etc that others might know and grow as followers of Jesus too.

A real highlight was being able to meet David’s parents who’ve been serving Jesus in Pastoral Ministry together for 30 years!! Mrs. Putman made me laugh as I said goodbye. She smiled and said, “I’ve so enjoyed listening to David preach today, I had to preach to him for long enough!” I love it! Mum’s always tell the truth!!

Tomorrow I’ll share my second takeaway. Gotta run to a meeting.