Thursday, December 28, 2006

We're In Singapore

We left Melbourne at 12:50am this morning. The kids were very excited. Tom and Matt were pretty hyper but a dose of phenergan (is that how you spell it?) settled them down for a sleep on the plane.
We had a seven hour flight to Singapore and landed at 8am Melbourne time (4am in Singapore). It's now 6am local time and we're in the terminal having a coffee and Burger King. We depart here at 8:05am and head for Guangzhou.
Thomas, Kate and Matt enjoyed watching Open Season on their TV screens and the kids all had around 4 hours sleep. I can't say that Mum and Dad had that much. Matt had the window seat, then me and Thomas (on the aisle. Annette was on the next aisle across from us and Kate was next to her.
It's very muggy here (even with the air conditioning on). Hopefully I'll have another update when we land in Guangzhou.

Friday, December 22, 2006

5 Days Until China

Our whole family is flying to China on 28th December. We're travelling with 25 others from Balwyn Wesleyan Methodist Church to teach English, run medical clinics and help the churches in villages around Kaili and Jianhe (east of Guiyang in Guizhou province).
I'll try and give regular blog posts so you can hear what we're up to each day.

Christmas Day is Getting Close

It's so much fun celebrating Christmas with three young children. (See them proudly displaying their Christmas tree decorating ability) They get very excited about the family gatherings (they have nine cousins all around the same age), presents, and holidays. We try to keep the focus on the birth of Christ which is often difficult when they are bombarded with all the other aspects of Christmas from School and TV.
Each evening we go through an advent devotion called the Jesse Tree (from the root of Jesse will come...). We have readings from Creation (Genesis 1) through to the account of the birth of Jesus. Each reading, discussion and prayer identifies a key aspects of God's interaction with his creations and preparation for the coming of his Son. Annette made felt decorations (see left) with a symbol for each reading and each evening after our reading and prayer the children take turns to put the decoration on the tree. For those interested the 25 readings are:
1. Isaiah 11:1-2 Stump with branch
2. Genesis 1:26-32 The Earth
3. Genesis 3:1-19 Apple and Snake
4. Genesis 6:11-14; 7:17-18; 8:3; 9:8-13 Ark and Rainbow
5. Genesis 12:1-7 Camel and Tent
6. Genesis 21:1-7 Baby's Cradle
7. Genesis 22:1-14 Ram
8. Genesis 28:10-22 Ladder
9. Genesis 37:1-36; 50:12-21 Multi-coloured Coat
10. Deuteronomy 5:1-22 Tablets of Stone
11. Joshua 2:1-21 Rope
12. Ruth 1:15-2:3 Wheat
13. 1 Samuel 16:4-13 Horn with oil
14. 2 Samuel 5:1-5 Crown
15. Isaiah 9:2-7 Rose
16. 1 Kings 18:17-24, 36-39 Stones and Fire
17. Isaiah 11:6-9 Wolf and Lamb
18. Esther 4 Sceptre
19. Habbakuk 2:1-14 Watch Tower
20. Luke 1:5-25 Zechariah and Elizabeth
21. Matthew 3:1-6 Water
22. Luke 1:26-38 Love Heart
23. Matthew 1:18-25 Woodworking Tools
24. Luke 2:1-5 Sandals
25. Luke 2:6-21 Star

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Saving $180- on a Car Fix

I've been surviving the past week without any Air Conditioning in the car. Not only no air-conditioning but no air at all. Using my trusty Gregorys Repair Manual I narrowed it down to the Fan Motor Resistor (or because my car has climate control the Fan Motor Amplifier). I'm sure most of you (like me) didn't even know your car had a Fan Motor Resistor.
So I called the local Holden Spare Parts and they wanted $195- for a replacement. I said, "You're dreamin'" - I didn't actually but that's what I thought.
So, I jumped on the web and did a search for "VR Berlina Fan Motor Resistor" and found that this is actually a common problem and people far smarter than me had already figured out a work around that would cost only $12- (and some time).
It involved taking the Fan Motor Resistor apart and replacing the transistor (see picture) inside. This involved removing the old one off a circuit board and soldering in the new one. I've never really done much soldering but I thought I'd give it a go to save $180-
I called my Dad and asked if I could use his workshop and he ended up helping me out as we tackled the changeover last night (thanks Dad). Apart from breaking a bit off the circuit board and having a couple of small pieces leftover we cranked over the motor and the A/C works - amazing.

Another issue has been that the heater/A/C fan has been noisy for a while and I have to apologise to passengers when the fan is on high speed. I had time to remove the glove box and check out what was making the noise. It was a serviette that had slipped out the back of the glovebox and was rubbing on the fan. It took all of 5 minutes to fix and yet I've been putting up with the noise for about 2 months.

A satisfying end to a few hours work. Not just saving the $180- but feeling good about actually making it work.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Simply Church

I've recently finished reading Simply Church by Tony and Felicity Dale who are part of House2House ministries. It's only a small book (around 100 pages) and a fairly easy read. Tony and Felicity have been involved in church planting and house church movements since the late sixties and have gathered their insights into this book.
A quote from pages 84-85 - "There is no question in our minds that God's intention is for the church to have a structure that enables each person to develop their full potential ... One of the consequences of this is that we have always had an emphasis on small groups. Small is beautiful! In the small group there is the potential for every person to tkae an active part in a meeting ... Does this means there is no place for the large gathering? Absolutely not! Big is beautiful too. There is nothing more inspiring than a large celebration of hunderds, if not thousands of people all worshipping the Lord together. We see in the early church the disciples not only met together from house to house but also in the temple. We know that the apostles taught not just in people's homes, but also in the larger context of the temple courtyard, the synagogue and the hired hall. Some may ask, with this emphasis on the small group, what becomes of the kids? Too often the children are kept out of church meetings as being the "church of tomorrow," when actually they are the church of today. In our experience, the kids play a vital part, particularly in any times of worship. The kids will frequently start a song, or pray for those needing prayer, when they are allowed to participate. We have often seen their contribution bring the Spirit of the Lord directly into a meeting in such a way as to totally change the course of that meeting. The Holy Spirit is no respecter of persons - not by age or gender."

Mimos Missional Church

My family and I have been part of a new church in Melbourne since the start of 2006. Mimos (which is Greek for imitate) seeks to be followers of Christ supporting each other in living out Christ's love in our communities. We come from all parts of Melbourne and meet together at a central location - the Stolberg Beer Cafe in Preston - twice a month. One of those meetings is a "service" where we gather for teaching, corporate worship, communion, prayer, and encouragement. The teaching is usually dialogical with discussion and application. We have a strong focus on scripture, prayer, involvement and accountability. We try to include a lot of tangible elements to our gathering times and although each of our services includes music we rarely have corporate singing. We are multigenerational and include the children as much as possible getting them to participate in discussion, reading, and prayer.
The other monthly gasthering is discussion based usually around one or more Scripture passages and includes intercessory prayer. Every time we meet as a larger group we have a meal together - this is intentional.
The alternate weeks we meet in our own neighborhoods (either with other Mimosers in our area or as family units) for worship. The weeks in our neighborhood have a missional focus either getting involved in community life or having a community family to your house.
We have intentionally minimised the amount of time we are together to place more emphasis on being incarnational in our local communities. New people will come into the group through the neighborhood meetings.
We want to support each other in being real followers of Christ seeking to honour him with our lives.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

FM Transmitter

When we bought our new Honda Odyssey (which we hope will last us 10 years)- it became Annette's Car and I was given the old workhorse - Holden VR Berlina. It's a great car, don't get me wrong - It was my parent's car originally and it has served us both well for over 10 years. But it only has a cassette/Radio and no CD player. So I was considering putting a new CD player into so I could enjoy my music while I do my 45 minute each way commute to work. However, I came across a more ingenious gadget to achieve the same purpose at a lower cost. It is an FM transmitter that plugs into the audio jack on my super duper PDA. I can play music direct from the PDA and it will transmit on a set FM frequency. I then tune the radio to that same frequency and hey presto - my music coming out of the car stereo. This is how I've been listening to Jars of Clay recently. Very cool!!

Redemption Songs

I've been listening to Jars of Clay: Redemption Songs over the past week or two and have really enjoyed coming back to this album after a year or so. It is a blend of old-time gospel songs - some sung with the Blind Boys from Alabama and a number of original tracks penned by the boys themselves.
My favourite tunes on the album are God Be Merciful to Me (Psalm 51), God Will Lift Up Your Head, I'll Fly Away and O Come and Mourn with Me a While.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

New Zealand

This is a picture of me, Jacob Powell, Robyn Small and Melissa Powell at the New Zealand Wesleyan Methodist Conference


Some time back I received a GPS (Global Positioning System) for my Phone. GPS uses signals from satellites to pinpoint your exact location. By connecting this signal to mapping software you can be given directions to any destination within the range of your maps. The mapping software I have is Co-Pilot and I have maps for the whole of Australia.
It sure beats having the street directory open on your lap while you're driving. Some other cool features are that it can tell you how fast you're going, your elevation above sea level, the direction you're heading and an approximate arrival time at your destination. You can set your destination to a street address, point of interest, landmark or a presaved destination.
It can also warn you of red light or fixed speed cameras or tell you how far to the next petrol station.

Why I Like Mimos

My whole family is involved together in our gathering times
We have been able to ask ourselves - what will our church look like if we are to be authentic followers of Jesus?
Our focus is on imitating Christ in every area of our life
We only meet twice a month as a whole church which gives each of us time to focus on our own immediate communities in the alternate weeks
We hear from each other every time we meet
Lots of people get to share from God's word
We eat together every time we meet
Our corporate worship is interactive and unpredictable
Mimos encourages involvement in community groups and recognises this as a valid form of worship
Our gatherings are informal and engaging
Mimos involves everyone according totheir gifts and passions
Our gatherings connect with our everyday relationship with God and are a culmination of our 24/7 worship as we live together as individuals, families and in our communities
There is an excitement with a new church
People are free to discover new and relevant ways of expressing their faith in God
We hold each other accountable for our faith journey

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Flight of the Conchords

While in New Zealand and staying with my mates Jacob and Melissa and Frank and Melva I was introduced to Flight of the Conchords. They are a New Zealand Musical Comedy Duo. Some very funny clips including the following: Frodo

Business Time (A take-off of Barry White)

Rhymenoceros vs Hiphopopotamus

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Weird Photo

Annette and I were taking passport sized photos for our Chinese Visa applications and I was printing them out on photo paper on my printer. I put the paper in upside down and this was the result - pretty scary!! (Annette threatened unspeakable acts of violence upon me if i published hers.)
We are getting excited about our time in China. It is only two months away now. I'm heading to Brisbane early tomorrow morning for a week of National Wesleyan Church Meetings so I should be back this time next week with more posts. Bye for now

Two Great Aussie Movies

On my trip to New Zealand over the weekend to attend and speak at the New Zealand Wesleyan Methodist Annual Conference I had the opportunity to watch a couple of great new Aussie movies. I flew over on a 747 which was stopping at Auckland on the way to LA. I had my own personal screen with remote and could choose form a range of media for my "in-flight entertainment." I thought I would choose a movie that Annette would probably not want to watch with me and Kenny appealed to my sense of humour. It is a mock-umentary about a guy (Kenny) who works with portable loos (toilets). I reckon it will rank up there with Muriel's Wedding and The Castle as classic Aussie comedy movies.
The second movie that I watched (on the way home) was Footy Legends. It was a comedy-drama about a bunch of guys from Sydney who loved palying rugby. It revolves around a Vietnamese guy called Luc who is the captain of this team of misfits who were a champion high school team. Luc is raising his sister after his mother and father have passed away and he struggles to provide care when out of work and focused on rugby. I really connected with the characters in this movie and the strong story line was assisted by some clever comedy.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Engaging Australian Culture

We've had the pleasure of hosting the lovely (she paid me to write that) Miss Katie Brown for the past week. Katie is in Australia studying at Kingsley College for a Semester as part of the Houghton Down Under program. Because she is an inter-cultural studies major at Houghton she is required to do a homestay with an Aussie family. She's been an honorary member of our family for this week and has accompanied us to extended family dinners, birthday parties and school and kinder pickups. We've loved having her in our family for this week. Annette has been giving Katie some cooking tips as she is a confessed non-cooker. She's now got a couple of recipes to impress her flatmates.

Current Flowers in our Garden

This is the first weekend in about six that I've been home so I had a good cleanup in the garden. The daisies and pansies needed deadheading (taking off the old flowers to encourage new ones to grow) and the various climbers needed trimming and training. Unfortunately I was away during the peak of the wisteria flowering over the swing set - it put on a great show this year. These photos are of the clematis (purple) and the crepuscule rose on the arbor.

Matthew Turns Seven

Matthew, our adventurous and sport loving second child, celebrated his seventh birthday on October 15th. He got a Kangaroos AFL jumper, AFL football (have you guessed he likes AFL) and lots of toys and clothes form all sectors of the extended family.

John Smith at Philip Island

Last weekend our family went to Philip Island for the Wesleyan Methodist Church Southern District Conference. This is the annual gathering of Wesleyans in the Southern states. We had the usual business sessions to hear reports and elect boards, committees and directors for the following year but it is also a family camp that included children’s and youth activities. The guest speaker this year was John Smith (of God’s Squad fame). John gave two messages that challenged and provoked in his inimitable prophetic style. His general topic for the weekend was “Real Holiness” – living the way God intended us to live. He talked about our call to personal and social holiness. He began one message with an illustration of a tree that got chopped down in his backyard and he and his wife argued about how old it was. John decided to count the rings on the tree to determine its age – and he won the argument! He then made the point that the tree is always sustained by the outer ring of bark and that if that outer ring is damaged (ringbarked) the tree will die. This is true for the church, if the current church dies the whole church dies. He also identified that the inner rings support the tree and that the tree would not actually be a tree without it’s history . He encouraged the emerging church movement to consider the support that the church of history has provided for it. I agree with him in criticising those who don’t see anything good in the church of the past 50, 100 or 1000 years. We have to learn from and appreciate our heritage. I’m mindful of this as we (Mimos) seek to be an authentic church for our time and culture. We have to reject those things that do not help us be a real expression of corporate faith while at the same time embracing those practices that have stood the test of time for the church.

Changing the Way I Watch TV

A few weeks ago I purchased a PVR. PVR stands for Personal Video Recorder – see more info here. I’ve been following these machines for about six months now because we were using a VCR on the kids TV for recording and it was a real pain to record stuff and then I had to watch it on the kids 51cm instead of the 68cm TV in the lounge. I had a few options for our TV recording including a DVD recorder but I settled for a twin digital tuner PVR with a hard drive. There are a few on the market to choose from but I settled for the Mediastar 920PVR. It was not a company I had heard of before but on the recommendation of many on the DTV forum I took the plunge and haggled Harvey Norman down from the RRP of $699- and got it for $550-.
I must say that it has changed the way I watch TV. The digital tuners mean that the picture quality is perfect (DVD quality). It can chase play, which means you can pause live TV (like when you're interrupted by the kids when they should be in bed)and then continue watching in delay (catching up by fast forwarding through the ads). This means that now we often start watching a show 15 minutes after it starts and then skip through all the ads and by the time the hour is over you’ve caught back up to real time.
The Mediastar is a true twin tuner which means you can record one channel and watch another live at the same time or you can record two channels at once and watch a recorded show at the same time. The Digital tuner gives acces to ABC2 and SBS2 and these are actually broadcast in the same ‘channel’ so you could record ABC, ABC2, SBS, and SBS2 at the same time while watching a recorded show.
Because it has a Hard Drive you can also store MP3s on it and play them through the TV (or, in my case, the home theatre system connected to the PVR).
So, while Annette still says it was an unnecessary purchase she has to admit that it is a great way to watch TV. It is now easier for TV to be our slave rather than our master.

Monday, October 09, 2006


I've been travelling a lot lately - which is why there has been little action on the blog. Townsville (twice), Sydney (twice) and Brisbance in the past 3 weeks. Also I've had a week of intensive study on Research Methods for my DMin.
All the travel has given me lots of time to read.
Among the many books I've partially read is Exiles by Mike Frost. Just released in July it is Frosty's (i think I can call him that - I spoken with him twice) latest.
It includes a lot of stories and thoughts I've heard Mike speak of at conferences previously but it is well written and engaging. Heere is a quote from page 63 that particularly resopnated with me.
"If I'm busy several nights a week and all weekend with my church activities, how can I possibly develop a commitment to such frequent proximity? Our churches, under the guise of doing work for Christ, are inadvertently sucking us away from the very people that Jesus would want us to hang out with. . . Exiles have figured out that churches don't value people who won't turn up for every meeting, attend every event, and locate all their significant friendships within the congregation. They have decided to slip away from the ever-spiraling vortex of so-called Christian fellowship. It sucks you in, demanding everything of you, leaving you completely socially disconnected from your neighbours, your community. . . Exiles, having read the dangerous stories of Jesus, have decided that the best way to do the Lord's work is to follow him out into the third places in their community."

The Dobsons are Going to China

Annette and I made the decision a couple of weeks ago to join others from the Balwyn Wesleyan Methodist church on a two week mission trip to Southern China. We'll be focsued primarily on ministry in schools and churches around Guangzhou and Nanning.
We're taking the whole family so that kids are really looking forward to it. Annette and I had planned to intentionally expose our kids to other cultures so this is a great opportunity.
We are doing some preparation with the rest of the team and we're involving the kids in that too. We had our first training session on Sunday and when we had nearly finished Thomas (our 4 year old) asked me when the training was starting. I said we had nearly finished. He then said "but I haven't done any running!"
We're looking forward to our time away and hopefully we'll have losts to post on the blog in January

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Dandenong Ranges National Park

I grew up in the foothills of the Mt. Dandenong. For those who live in Melbourne or who have visited here, Mt Dandenong is where the television repeater towers are. Mt. Dandenong is in the Dandenong Ranges National Park which covers over 3000 hectares. There are great bushwalks and loads of picnic spots. The Dandenong Ranges National Park is one of the most popular tourist attrations in Victoria. Our family hosted four US students who are part of a group studying at Kingsley this semester. We spent half a day going from Belgrave to Mt.Dandenong. We drove up Mountain Hwy past my parent's property at The Basin and then headed along the Mt. Dandenong Tourist Rd to Kallista to feed birds at Grants Picnic Area. We drove to Olinda and had meat pies at Pie in the Sky for lunch. From there we drove to Sky High and and looked out over Melbourne. An enjoyable day out that concluded with a gathering of Mimos at our regular haunt - the Stolberg in Preston.

Spring is Almost Here

I love Spring. It's my favourite season. Our garden is starting to come alive. Buds are starting to burst, the daffodils are showing their smiling faces and the boronias are sharing their fragrance with the world.We have three boronia bushes near our clothes line and Annette loves the perfume as she hangs the clothes. Here's some pics of the front and back garden. I can't wait for the wisteria to start flowering over the swing set. Stay tuned for more spring garden photos

Monday, August 21, 2006

Young People with Old Names

I was listening to my favoutite radio program - at the moment - Hamish and Andy on Friday and their talkback topic was young people with old people's names.
They had a few callers with relatively old fashioned names but nothing completely out of the ordinary. Then Beryl called in - she is 21 and she has a 24 year old brother called Noel. What was more weird is that their parents are called Luke and Hannah. Hamish and Andy suggested that they should swap names with their parents.
Hamish and Andy are always good for a laugh on the way home from work!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Warranwood Primary School - Science Fair

Our two oldest children, Kate (Grade 2) and Matt Grade 1) participated in the Annual Warranwood Primary School Science fair. Our experiement (that we worked on as a whole family) was to test to see if plants grew better with plain water, soluble fertiliser or salt water. To our surprise the plain water won out over a 4 week period. It could be that the plants already contained fertiliser and that applying soluble fertiliser everyweek was too much. We measured height, number of flowers, number of buds and general condition. The picture on the left is the first week of our experiment with all plants looking reasonably healthy. The photo to the right is the results after four weeks. On Thursday this week the projects from the whole school were displayed in the school gym. Well done Kate and Matt - good job

Book Review - Emerging Churches - Gibbs and Bolger

Gibbs, Eddie and Ryan Bolger, Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005

Emerging Churches is a follow on from Eddie Gibbs’ previous book called Church Next which was originally published in 2000 and republished in 2001 with additional information from Ian Coffey which added a UK perspective.
Emerging Churches has similarities to Chruch Next in the content it covers, however, the research methodology is markedly different. Gibbs recognised that he needed to engage face to face with Emerging church leaders across the world in order to define first hand the common characteristics of this movement. Ryan Bolger co-authored the book and used this research as part of his own doctoral studies.
Gibbs and Bolger limit their study to 50 communities in the US and UK and while recognising the existence of similar communities in Australia, New Zealand and continental Europe, they cite a lack of budget (p. 8) for excluding them from the study.
I hope that current doctoral research being undertaken by Darren Cronshaw and the pending releases of Mike Frost’s Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian World, and Alan Hirsch’s The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church will give us an up to date picture of the emerging (or as most prefer down-under – missional) church in Australia.
Gibbs and Bolger’s intention is to describe what an emerging-missional church is rather than providing a critique of the methodologies or practices. However, they conclude most chapters by identifying the challenges that are presented by these approaches.
Gibbs and Bolger analyse the data collected over a five year period from interviews, forums, discussions, and case studies to identify common characteristics of the emerging church in the US and UK. Nine common practices are identified as “missionally significant” (p.9) and from my perspective they reflect accurately the identified pratices of emerging missional churches in Australia from my own experience. Three core practices are identified as being characteristic of all emerging groups: (1) Identifying with the life of Jesus, (2) transforming secular space, and (3) living as community.
The remaining six practices “are derivitave of these three core practices” (p. 43) and many are evident in each community: (4) Welcoming the stranger, (5) serving with generosity, (6) participating as producers, (7) creating as created beings, (8) leading as a body, and (9) taking part in spiritual activities.
Gibbs and Bolger offer a succinct definition of the emerging (missional) church as “communities that practice the way of Jesus within postmodern cultures (p. 44).” While this may be true of the current movement, I see it more as a new way of being the church that reaches into culture. (fullstop) and while postmodernity is the prevailing mindset of our culture, that may change and I believe the missional approach to being the church is an essentially Biblical approach that can be adapted to any changes in culture.
Overall, a very helpful read. It will be most suitable for those who want an overview of what the ‘so-called’ emerging or missional church is all about. The vast collection of first hand stories from people involved in emerging communities gives confidence in the thorough research that has produced this comprehensive assessment.

My Throat is Poisoned

Not like the reference in Psalm 5:9 "their lungs breathe out poison gas. Their throats are gaping graves, their tongues slick as mudslides." I have tonsilitis. I know that by posting this I will only perpetuate the myth that every 30+ male is a raving hypochondriac but for the last four days I have been bedridden with some shocking symptoms. It started on Tuesday at Kingsley with headaches and bodyaches that I controlled with the trusted panadol but that night the headachess got worse and with every cough I thought my head was going to explode. The headaches, bodyaches, fever,and cough continued all day Wednesday and the sore throat started to come Wednesday night. The throat got worse on Thursday - and for some consolation the headaches disappeared. The sore throat unbearable on Thrusday night and after goiung to the doctor on Friday and starting antibiotics, it continued all day Friday and still this morning. It hurts constantly, but especialy when I eat, drink, cough or swallow. Did you know we involunrarily swallow every 15 seconds - I do now!! So hopefully I'll start to turn the corner soon

Monday, July 31, 2006

National Tree Day

Mimos joined with many others around Australia to plant trees on National Tree Day. We went to the Strettle Wetlands in Thornbury. Mimos (around 25 of us) along with a few others planted 300 trees and grasses. It weas great to work together and contribute to making a great community park even greener. Mimos then went to our regular haunt - The Stolberg - and ate lunch together. After lunch we moved to the function room and reflected together (through music, readings and Scripture) around the theme of God the creator, the creation and our responsibility toward the creation.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Matt's School Concert

Matthew Monkey performed in the Warranwood Primary School Grade 1 play on Tuesday night. The concert was called "Lifecycles" and each of the 4 grade 1 classes dressed up as different animals (Crocodiles, Robins, Butterflies, and Monkeys) and sang 2-3 songs about their animal. Also some of the students gave some information about the animals and their lifecycles. Matthew was one of the spokespeople for his class and he did a great job. A long but enjoyable evening.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Personality Self Test

I came across this Personal DNA Personality Self Test on my mate Chris's blog.
I came out as an Animated Leader

Try it out for yourself and post your results in the comments.

My Personal Dna Report

The Basics of the Church

Some years back, Annette and I were taking a couple through pre-marriage counselling. In one of our sessions we were talking about vows and I asked what they would like to do for their vows - i.e. did they want to use traditional wording, make their own personal vows etc. The groom-to-be then asked, "What is the minimum?" Obviously not the response I expected. We should be looking to ask - What would be most meanigful? What is our commitment all about?
Some people ask the same question of the church. Maybe people who are disenfranchised with traditional models of church will get together with a Christian friend over a coffee and say "we're the church!!" But is this the church??

This raises questions about the essential nature of the church. I've been tossing this question around for about 10 years (since I started pastoring) and it has been the topic of discussion at Mimos as well as we've tried to identify the essential characteristics of the church and remove those things that are purely cultural or hangovers from a previous era.
In preparing to teach Planting and Growing Healthy Churches at Kingsley this Semester I have re-read The Shaping of Things to Come by Mike Frost and Alan Hirsch.
They identify these three core aspects of the church
1. Communion (In Relationship with Christ)
God’s Word
2. Community (in Relationship with One Another)
3. Commission (in Relationship with the World)

Gospel telling/Sharing
They comment that,
“many people accept church as it currently happens because they assume their local church service is somewhere prescribed in the pages of Holy Writ. As long as these three Cs are present and being maintained, any group of Christians can legitimately be considered a church in any place.”

The following questions are given to clarify their point:

  • Do you need to meet in a church building? Not necessarily.
  • Do you need to meet weekly? Not necessarily. The first Christians met every day. A church can meet as often as it needs to fulfil the above commitments.
  • Do you need a minister? No necessarily. The New Testament is clear on the need for accountability, admonishment, and learning. It does speak about leaders (elders) exercising humble and loving care for a community. But you don’t need an ordained minister for that.
  • Do you need to sing hymns? Not necessarily. There is mention in the New Testament of the value of singing spiritual songs. But if the goal is that worship and learning occur when you meet, you can use as few (none?) or as many songs as you need.
  • Does someone have to bring a sermon? Not necessarily. As long as people have an opportunity to hear from God through his Word and other means, it doesn’t matter if one person speaks for thirty minutes or thirty people speak for one minute each. Learning, worship, and the opportunity for God’s Word are essential. How they play out is entirely open to experimentation.
More about these matters some time soon. PD

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Church @ Home

The new missional church that our family is part of is called Mimos (which is Greek for imitate). We have been meeting together since February and have just finished 12 studies going through the book of Acts and identifying the missional nature of the church.
We are now transitioning into a new phase of Mimos. Up until this point we've all (around 35 adults and children) been meeting together each Sunday evening @ The Stolberg Beer Cafe in Preston to learn together, encourage each other, celebrate God and pray.
We are now going to start meeting twice a month in our own local communities (mostly houses). For some it will just be their family; others who live close enough will join together. Once a month we'll gather back at the Stolberg to worship, learn, and share in each other's lives. The fourth week we'll all gather at one of our local communities so we get to see where everyone lives, works and share's life with people. This way we can be better informed to pray for them and the people God is leading them to.
So, today we are having church @ home. We've done it a few times before. Annette and I and our the three kids will read God's word together, pray together and worship together.
Also this week the people of Mimos will be intentionally meeting with people in their communities to build friendships and have an opportunity to speak Christ into their lives.
We had a family from Thomas's kinder over for tea last night. It was great to spend time getting to know them and sharing our lives.
More on the nature of church in another post.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Where Would I Be Without My Jasjar

Jasjar - wierd name, great device.
As I mention in my "likes", I am a gadget man. But most of my gadget interest is limited to looking and drooling because of my limited budget and the wise counsel of my financial manager (wife).
However, I got my Jasjar for Christmas in 2005. It replaced my Imate Pocket PC which I'd had for nearly 2 years.
It's an all in one PDA/Phone/Camera/MP3 Player/Game Console/Video Player/GPS with built in WiFi, Bluetooth and it's 3G enabled. I carry it everywhere and use it all the time. It's my Bible, Calendar, Address book, Calculator, Street Directory, Dictionary, Remote Control, E-Book Reader, Note Pad, News Service and more.
It saves me time (or maybe it wastes time - depends who you're asking).
Anyway I'd be lost without it!

Apples and Following Jesus

After reading blogs, blogs and more blogs and being a member of a number of forums. I've decided to take the plunge and toss my humble thoughts out into cyber space.
Apples are one of my passions. I grew up on an apple orchard and I gathered a lot of information on growing apples in the first 30 years of my life.
As I have journeyed through life and have sought to become an authentic follower of Jesus, I have realised how many metaphors growing apples has for understanding ourselves and our relationship with God.
Let's start off with one.
The first apples to come ripe on our orchard were Gravensteins. Gravensteins have a green/yellow base with red vertical stripes. They have an amazing flavour which is heightened by expectation because it's usually been 8 months since you've tasted a tree ripened apple. We usually ate them before they were ripe and the tartness would cause us to screw up our faces but as the days progressed the Gravenstein got sweeter and more flavoursome. It's a bit like that as we walk with Jesus. At first, the life that Jesus calls us to live makes us screw up our faces - it's daunting, it's challenging! But as we walk with Jesus, our life as a follower becomes sweeter and more flavoursome. Jesus provides flavour that is sometimes smooth to our spiritual palate and sometimes it's sharp. But the expectation of what Jesus can offer to our lives - meaning, hope, and contentment all comes to the fore as we mature in him.
Lots more we could say here - but one of many great apple metaphors!!