Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Easter Sunday - New Series

We continue to follow the ministry of Jesus in the Book of Luke. Jesus makes it clear when it comes to following Him: no perfect people are allowed. And that's good news for everyone.

No Perfect People Allowed from Will Henderson on Vimeo.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Engage Church - Bigger OR Smaller?

At Engage City Church (I'm one of the pastors) we've determined we want to GROW BIGGER & SMALLER at the same time.
BIGGER - We actually believe Jesus meant it when He said, "I will build my church" and as His followers we are compelled by His love to go and share Him with their community and world. The Church will naturally grow as we serve others in Jesus' name. The Gospel compels us.

SMALLER - We also believe that there are no lone rangers when it comes to following Jesus. In fact to follow Jesus means we embrace relationships from His perspective and under His leadership. We need other followers in our life to encourage, stretch and grow us in our relationship with Jesus Christ. The Gospel compels us.

Tim Keller, the Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York makes this helpful comment on the "Big Church versus Small Church" debate:
"My conclusion is that –in the final analysis–neither approach to church is better at growing spiritual fruit, reaching non-believers, caring for people, and producing Christ-shaped lives. I said ‘in the final analysis’ because each approach to church–the smaller, organic, simple, incarnational church, and the larger, organizational, complex, attractional church–has vastly different strengths and weaknesses, limitations and capabilities. The two constants to effectiveness are: a) getting the gospel right (not moralistic or antinomian, not individualistic or collectivistic) and b) contextualizing the whole church to the culture around (not over-adapted or under-adapted.) To think that the key is in the methodology (organic/incarnational vs organizational/attractional) is a mistake that comes, I think, from a lack of experience. There are great and terrible examples of all these methods and models. All kinds are thriving and all kinds are failing."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Vision - the role of the past

I don't think there is much debate about the role of Leadership. Leaders lead and by definition leaders take others on a journey towards a preferred destination.

Today I was reflecting on Andy Stanley's statement that it is okay for leaders to be uncertain. He points out that as a leaders we will be constantly dealing with uncertainty and if everything was certain we wouldn't need leaders. Instead of worrying and expending energy on the uncertainty of the day to day journey Andy wisely points out that leaders should instead focus their energy on being clear about the core vision or purpose and instilling a culture of flexibility in how it is realised. The role of the 'past' for a leader is therefore to clarify the vision as we celebrate how it has been realised and to be a foundation on which to continue to pursue the vision into the future.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Church Planter Essentials 3 - Get Disciplined

Wayne Bennett, legendary coach of the St. George Dragons reflecting on his time playing in the 70's said:
"I love the things that it (playing football) teaches you. It teaches you to be disciplined. I teaches you not to give in. It teaches you to be taken off, it teaches you to handle disappointment."

Discipline is not a 'cool' word in the world I'm living in but I'm convinced it's one the 'hinges' on which life swings. You see a man who can keep himself in check and you see a man others people truly respect. I'm not talking about being boring or 'perfect' but simply consistent, stable and honest in your relationships with others. John Wooden a famous US Basketball coach commented, "Discipline yourself and others won't need to."

Interestingly the word Discipline and Disciple are from the same 'word family' which focuses on training, balanced order and behaviour. As a follower of Jesus I understand that to be called His 'disciple' means to submit to His leadership and care. Jesus offers His Spirit that we might truly live lives that reflect His presence. As we daily engage with Jesus He lives in and through us reflecting His nature in the way we love God and other people. Hmmm I'm still chewing on this one but I'm appreciating the ongoing changes and stability Jesus brings to my life as a husband, Dad, Pastor and friend.

Easter Blast

So excited about our Easter Saturday Easter Egg Hunt.
With thousands of Easter Eggs, 1000 pancakes, Jumping castle, competitions it's going to be a great time for the whole family.
Where : Norman Park State School Oval, Agnew Street, Norman Park
When : 8am breakfast begins, 9am Egg Hunt, Saturday 4th of April
EVERYTHING IS FREE! See you there.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Who's the boss & passing the buck

On Monday my Mum and Dad arrived to stay overnight. We always thoroughly enjoy having our family come to visit, there are inevitably some hilarious moments. Here are a couple from the last visit:
Who's the boss
The boys were arguing who was the boss. After a heated discussion it was concluded that when Pa and Nannie are here they are the 'boss'. When they're gone Dad is the boss. When Dad's gone Mum's the boss. When Mum's gone little Will is the boss. If Will is gone Fergus is the boss... but if it's just Archie home alone no one's the boss. Archie was disgusted. Needless to say the youngest gets away with murder and actually bosses everyone mercilessly.
Passing the buck
Nerida was cleaning the house and was furious when she found that 'someone' had forgot to lift the toilet lid and sprayed everywhere. She interrogated the three boys, "Who made this mess." After a group discussion the three amigo's agreed, "It must have been Pa Mum." Poor Pa. Needless to say he and Nannie use their own bathroom downstairs. The boys got bail.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Church Planter Essentials 2 - Get Coached

Let's face it, people do not grow in a vacuum. Growing people have others coaching them, and having coaches as a planter/replanter is crucial. It is a non-negotiable.

If you are a planter, be wise and get coaches in your life well before it is obvious you need them. I know most planters are the 'pioneer' type, but there is too much to loose just so you can get some satisfaction out of thinking you can do it alone. The great explorers and pioneers always did their homework as much as possible, prepared for the journey and took a team with them.

One last thought, I'm using the plural cause it is important to have more than one. Don't get tricked into thinking that you will get by with just one coach. It is too much to expect from any one person to be able to coach you in every area. Instead take the time to identify key areas, say three, you know are challenges for you and seek the best coach you can get for each one. Begin with an agreed time frame etc for the coaching relationship. Finally, thank your coach by expressing your gratitude to them personally and by passing what you have learnt on to someone else who is also facing the challenges.

BTW - Go the Dragons for 2010!

Archie preaches Easter

Yesterday I was working in my study when my youngest boy Archie wandered in with his oldest brothers bible under his arm. He walked up to me and declared that he was going to show me "the worst day ever." He then proceeded to walk me through the devastating events of Good Friday; the betrayal, flogging, mocking and crucifixion of Jesus. It was profound, a four year old reteaching me the terrible events that occurred on that dark, dark day in history. It was a re-revelation for me. However it was even more amazing when he went on to ask, "Do you want to see the best day ever Dad?" He then flipped over the pages to a picture of the resurrected Jesus standing in the garden with the nail marks in his wrists. Yep, Archie is right. That first Good Friday was the worst day ever, but the first Easter Sunday was the best day ever, and I live today in the light of it. Thanks Archie for reminding me of the finished work of Jesus, I needed it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Church Planter Essentials 1 - It's ALL about Jesus

Over the next few weeks I'm going to jot down my thoughts on some 'Essentials' when it comes to church planting or replanting.

Number One, for the record and so there is no confusion, make sure you daily nail this one down:
It all begins with Jesus, it is His vision we're being invited to participate in. Die to yourself and daily crucify that old man 'flesh.'
It all flows from Jesus, He is the author and sustainer of all things. Rest in Him and work with His energy and power.
It all ends with Jesus, He will return one day soon to an amazing throng of people from every nation on earth. Live today in the light of the future.
Rick Warren recently twittered it perfectly this way -
"Our path is a Person - JESUS is the Way. Our creed is a person - JESUS is the Truth. Our lifestyle is a Person - JESUS is the Life." John14:6

Why Acts 29?

I got involved with Acts 29 years ago as I sought answers to various questions as I launched a second congregation in a geographically separate area from the first congregation I was pastoring at the time. From initial interaction through blogs etc I eventually travelled to the 'States' to be trained and assessed in church planting by Acts 29 whilst interning at Mountain Lake Church, Cumming, Georgia.

The biggest benefits of being a part of A29 are the 'brotherhood,' the ongoing coaching and the amazing synergy that results from churches globally partnering together to see the gospel spread throughout the world.
The Story Continues...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Following Jesus... living in tension

A friend of mine recently commented that pondering Calvinism for too long tended to kill his 'spirit' and for him that was not good. I agree anything that kills our love for Jesus is certainly not good, but I find that the more I read the Bible the more I’m compelled to be uncomfortable with the truths that it reveals about God, Jesus, mans rebellious heart, the gospel and the tensions that remain in His truth…
Jesus is in control of everything… and I’m still responsible for my actions.
Jesus is the author and perfecter of my faith… but I’m still responsible to exercise that faith in relationship with Him.
Jesus does not desires that anyone be lost… but there will be people who don’t go to heaven but will end up in Hell.
Jesus' Spirit is the only power for life change… but I must walk in step with it.
Jesus' Spirit gives me life, hope and peace... but my sin nature wars against it continually.
Bottom line : I think it is okay to be ‘uncomfortable’ with the truth of God, to be able to say I don’t get it all is a good thing when it comes to God, He is God after all. Following Jesus means being willing to accept tension in my life. I’m glad to be able to admit I’m happy it’s not all about me and that I’m still discovering and rediscovering it’s really all about Jesus.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Why do 'Calvinists' and 'Mac users' freak us out?

I just finished laughing so hard I cried. I was reading my bro in law's blog and was struck by his statement that being stuck in an elevator "with a 5-point Calvinist and a Steve Jobs disciple would kind of be like hanging out in Purgatory."
At first I was a little offended. 'Hey Matt,' I thought to myself, 'so that's what you really think about hanging out with me? I know I'm odd but a harbinger of purgatory is something I've never really considered...'
Anyway, after I thought it over for a while I couldn't help but burst out into laughter. Why is it that Mac users and Calvinists command such strong reactions in people? I guess it's because both are convinced they've finally discovered something that changes their 'worldview' and that passion makes people around about them uncomfortable...
Passion both draws and repels I guess? What do you think? Thoughts?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Link Love Wednesday

Just thought I'd throw out a couple of links that some of you might be interested in...

Churchplanters.com 2010 Conference FREE Sessions

Engage City Church on Facebook

My little Bro-in-Law Matt Smallbones new Blog, great stuff mate! (He's always been a bit of a late adopter :) )

Rules for Planting

Sometimes it's good to be reminded of the rules:

"Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain." Psalm 127:1

"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building." 1 Corinthians 3:6-9

"I will build my church." Jesus

Monday, March 1, 2010


Yesterday I travelled down to Northern NSW to attend my Aunt's funeral.
It was a happy sad day as we remembered and celebrated and cried together as a family.
I was encouraged again as the pastors shared the hope that Jesus offers.
He is the way, so that no one should be lost.
He is the truth, so that no one should be deceived.
He is the life that defeats death.
My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to her family and my Mum.
It is days like yesterday that remind us all of what is really important about life.