Friday, 17 June 2016

Church Refugees

On one level using the term refugees seems weird. But on another level it's entirely accurate.

We're talking about people of faith who have fled the church. It's a place they'd perhaps like to come back to one day, but for now they've started a new life somewhere outside of churchland.


Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope have written the book Church Refugees. You can download a sample chapter and you can hear Josh being interviewed about it.

One of the big takeaway points is that these 'refugees' are often the people who are strongly committed to faith, and who have previously done a lot of work in the church.

Even now, living away from the church they pray more than church attenders do. They also find that by not being part of church they can live out their faith more effectively.

It seems to me that these are committed Christians who are frustrated with a church that isn't. A church that is more about keeping the wheels ticking over than in following Jesus.

Friday, 3 June 2016

What's wrong with this picture

This photo was made public by the Uniting Church. The man on the left was being thanked and recognised for his contribution in role of what is effectively a 2IC of the church in this state.


Except for lingerie, at the moment I can't think of a more feminine and inappropriate gift to give the man. Particularly a man who is 6 foot tall with broad shoulders and a shaved head. At least he didn't get the pink flowers. But that's kind of like buying a man black lingerie and saying is masculine because it's not the pink set.

I think we can do better.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Radical Chapter 3

The most memorable part of this chapter was right at the start. He tells a story of a church in Indonesia. Potential church leaders only graduate once they have planted a church and reached 30 new Christians. Remember that Indonesia is a majority Muslim country.

I wonder how we would go if we applied that here. I reckon there are many churches that haven't reached 30 new people in a decade - and that's in a majority Christian country.

I think it would be a culture shock. We tend to be focussed around just keep things ticking over, as if existence is the only goal.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Radical Chapter 2

In chapter 2 of Radical, David Platt asks if we are able to discern what parts of our faith are Biblical and which are just American.

He mentions our tendency to manipulate the Bible to our own comfort. In the Bible there is no verse about "praying a sinner's prayer" to "accept Jesus". But quite often that's what American culture reduces Christianity down to.

This "one time decision with no action afterwards", this "one-way ticket to heaven" is a road built on sinking sands. The actual gospel is far different from this (American) cultural version.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Church math

Not sure how a church established in 1870 can say 2016 is its 150th anniversary.


Of course there's probably a more philosophical question as to why a church (in an age when some people think the church is irrelevant to modern life) would go to such lengths to point out that it has been around since before Australian federation, the invention of the car or the Olympic games. But that point is probably for another day.

Today I'm just having a giggle at a sign that says nothing about the church except "we can't add up".

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Should we be like a plant?

So we've all heard of church plants. Where some church people decide to start a new church. Sometimes they're quite successful. So who goes to them? Here's some interesting data on that.


Turns out that about half the people were previously not part of a church. This is a far cry from mainstream church where only about 2% are new to church. Most have always gone to church, or have switched from another church to their current one.

So what's the big secret behind this ability to connect with people from outside? Well there's data on that too. Turns out that the most successful way to connect with people is to invite them.


So if it's so incredibly successful why don't we do it more? Why don't we invite people we know? Deep down I think we know it's because we know they wouldn't like it. Why? Because it's designed for us, not them. We make church this weird thing that only makes sense to people who go. Sure Jesus is great, but church is weird.

We say we'd like more people to come, but we know they won't. We know it would be awkward. So we're not going to invite people we know. Why would we put a friend through that?

So perhaps the first step is to make church less weird. Something we could invite someone to. Something that a normal person could come to. It might be hard, but it could be good practice at thinking less about ourselves and more about our neighbour.

PS. There's also the possibility that we spend so much time in church and doing church activities that we don't have meaningful connections outside churchland. if you don't know any non-churchgoers, who would you invite anyway. More on that another time.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

What's the difference?

Yesterday I summarised the first chapter of Radical, by David Platt. He wrote about how ignoring Jesus' words can result in church becoming quite self-serving, and a Christian lifestyle that is barely distinguishable from the secular lifestyle.

I recently read the following pastor bio on a church website (name deleted):

"____’s heart has been captured by the love of Jesus, who was prepared to lay His own life down [..] ____ enjoys spending time with his wife and young son, sharing a meal with friends, watching a good movie and playing pretty much any sport."

I'm sure the pastor is a great guy, but this bio is the kind of thing David Platt was talking about. First part: Jesus does something amazing for me. Second part: I live a life of family, friends movies and sport - precisely the same as millions of people who couldn't care less about Jesus.

Yes, I understand that these bios are designed to make the pastor look relatable; a person 'just like me'. But I think there's a case for balancing that with showing some sign of a life that is not 'just like mine'. Otherwise, what's the point?