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.