Wednesday, August 27, 2014

how can EBC become more missional?


A common issue we face in the local church, as we attempt to orient ourselves toward a missional focus, is around the questions we ask.

Firstly, we ask the wrong questions.  Our buildings and our programs thrust us into questions like, "How do we fill our seats?" or "Where do we find the time?"

Secondly, we ask the right questions, but in the wrong order, or at the wrong time. An example of this is that we answer questions around where we meet, or how we do evangelism, before we've even familiarised ourselves with how God is at work among the people we're seeking to serve and love.

Probably one of the most helpful thinkers I've met around this topic is Peter Roenfeldt, who introduced me to the four fields model (see below).

Now, while I think there needs to be a conversation around this passage from Mark 4, and whether it's legitimate to build a church planting model around it - the questions are excellent, and the order in which they are asked are excellent too:

  1. EMPTY FIELD - the question to ask here is: "How do we enter?"  This question is built on the assumption that in the context of knowing the story of the "field" we are seeking to enter, (and the work of prayer); God has already been at work ahead of us -- tilling the soil... preparing a person of peace ... pre-arranging entry points for relationships to be built, and missional activity (cross-shaped deeds) to be established.
    I've been privileged to see this happen very well through what my wife has done with her recycled goods store - Junktion.  We see Junktion as a missional experiment of AccessTheStory.
  2. SEEDED FIELD - the question here is: "What do we say?" - this is where our understanding of the gospel is crucial.  "Whole story conversations" as legitimate presentations of the gospel mean that we can plant gospel (kingdom) seeds amongst the relationships that God has enabled us to establish.  Conversational prayer is a brilliant practice to engage here.
    The way I try and practice conversational prayer is to respond to people's needs that they have shared with me with sentences beginning with: "My hope for you is..." or, "My prayer for you is ..." ... I've found people (in a reasonably unspiritual culture) to be very responsive to this, and have often followed up with a subsequent conversation around that issue.  From my perspective, I can see how this practice "scatters gospel seed" in our mission context.
  3. GROWING FIELD - "How do we cultivate the growth of disciples?"  Again, this is the right question in the right place - discipleship is an environment, more than it is a follow-up plan for those who are "converted".  This discipleship environment could be providing spiritual formation for those who have decided to follow Jesus, AND for those who are yet to make a first-time decision to do so.  I've found that Chronological Bible Storying provides an excellent format for such an environment to be fostered.
    I've found that our VERGE experience provides a healthy discipleship environment and I've seen the youth ministries at Thornlie Church of Christ and Woodvale Baptist Church successfully integrate this type of environment into their weekly context.
  4. HARVEST FIELD - "How do we gather?" This is probably the question that's hardest for us to answer - not because we don't have lots of ideas - but because it's the wrong people answering this question at the wrong time.  Usually this question is answered by leaders well before the field has even been entered ... what would it look like to see those who are being discipled as the ones who answer this question?
    I'm excited that my home church is currently journeying with a team of young leaders, and releasing them to shape how our Sunday evening gathering happens
 So, how can a local church become more missional?  I think it begins by more people asking the right questions in the right order, at the right time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

what can practical everyday mission look like?



WHAT COMES TO MIND WHEN YOU HEAR THE TERM 'PRACTICAL MISSION'?

Some of the answers that came from our elective group tonight included:
"Supporting my mentor at work"
"Gardening for neighbours"
"A conversation about God in the library"
"Being vulnerable with a work colleague when they open up about depression"
"Samaritan's Purse emergency response unit"
"Green Team"
"Care for those in need in our local church"
"Intercessory Prayer"
"Smiling and saying hello"

That's a broad response if ever I saw one - and if we're honest, one of the questions that emerges for us as we look at a list like this is : "is it really mission? If we're coming from an evangelical background, then it's almost like there's a little voice on our shoulder saying, "make sure you present the gospel".

And we carry this complex that if we havn't given people an opportunity to make a decision to follow Jesus everytime we "do mission" then somehow, our missional activity isn't legitimate.  Unfortunately when we operate out of this guilt complex, we tend to emit an odour that smells of "ulterior motive".

Of course, the other problem we face in our attempt to not serve with ulterior motives is that we finish up not telling the story that is transforming our lives.  Ironically, in our desire to operate with integrity we end up not being true to who we are.

SO THEN, HOW DO WE DO PRACTICAL MISSION?

Well, before we answer that one, let's cover another question:

IS IT REALLY MISSION IF THE GOSPEL ISN'T PRESENTED?

The answer is 'no' as far as I'm concerned - but let's be clear about what the gospel is.

WHOLE STORY CONVERSATIONS
The gospel, the good news, is in fact the entire story of God (you could even argue that the term 'gospel' might be interchangeable with 'mission'!)  

If the gospel is the whole story, then any conversation that intersects people with a part of this story is a legitimate presentation of the gospel.

CROSS-SHAPED DEEDS
Not only is the gospel the 'whole story' - it is also our story.  Our activity.  Our good deeds.  Our lives and our interaction with others under the reign of God is good news to God's broken creation, and in particular, human beings.  I think this is what Jesus was referring to in Matthew 5:14-16.   

If the gospel is good news through our activity, then my "good works" (cross-shaped deeds) are a legitimate presentation of the gospel.

SO THEN, HOW DO WE DO PRACTICAL MISSION?

To be honest, the possibilities are endless!  A simple start for me has been to think through how Jesus equipped and sent the 72 in Luke 10.

I use three words from verse 8&9 to help me discern the work of God's Spirit as I participate in His mission activity:


  • EAT - having been invited, a joining in community with those already at a 'table'

  • HEAL - having noticed brokenness, a seeking to bring or speak God's healing through conversational prayer

  • TELL - having built relationship, a telling of God's kingdom and His story through my own story 


It might be that more can be said here - but for me, this is a starting point.


Next week - "How can EBC become more missional?"



Thursday, August 14, 2014

How can we engage Australian culture with the gospel?



ANSWERING THE QUESTION WITH SOME QUESTIONS

A good starting place to be able to answer this question is with a couple of more questions:

- "when you hear the term "Australian culture", what comes to mind?"

- "when you hear the term "gospel", what comes to mind?"



(Another good starting point would be to ask the "average Aussie" the same questions!)



The trouble we have upfront is that we unwittingly carry our own mixture of both church and Australian culture into these questions - and as long as we do that we will always struggle to be able to answer them.



Nonetheless, here's two things I think we can start with:



EXEGETING CULTURE

When I was in New Zealand a couple of months ago, I was struck by the nature of engagement between Indigenous and European Kiwis - it wasn't until I saw a contrasting story to that of the Australian story that I was able to gain a deeper insight into our own culture.  And as I reflect on it,  in order to understand our culture, I needed to change where I began hearing the story ... (ie. not with me).



To exegete is to "draw out", and I like what Ernest Goodman has to say on this subject: "cultural exegesis means discovering why people in a particular culture do what
they do by observing them and viewing their cultural influences from
their perspective rather than interpreting their behavior through our
own cultural lenses." 




RE-IMAGINING GOSPEL

I remember the day when I presented a book concept of the whole story of God to a ministry leader, and after walking him through the content, he asked me, "So where do you present the gospel in this story?"

Now I know that he was talking about the message of salvation being explicitly presented, but my initial internal response was one of disbelief - I couldn't fathom that he couldn't see that the whole story was in fact "the gospel."

When we become so focused on starting "the gospel" with "God loves you and created you to know Him personally" we deliver an incomplete version of the good news.  As I reflect on it, in order to understand the gospel, I need to change where I begin telling the story ... (ie. not with me).




The whole story of God IS the gospel.  When we understand and proclaim the gospel in this way, it enables us to more fully discern how the gospel intersects with culture.





EXAMPLES OF INTERSECTION


  • DESIGNED - the episode of creation intersects with narratives around origin and heritage.

  • BROKEN - the episode of rebellion and disruption intersects with narratives of pain and suffering.

  • EXPECTANT - the episode of the nation of Israel intersects with narratives of struggle, community, deliverance, longing and exile.

  • PRESENCE - the episode of the life and ministry of Jesus intersects with narratives of priorities and influence.

  • SATISFIED - the episode of Jesus' death and resurrection intersects with narratives around fulfilment and meaning.

  • MISSION - the episode of the new community of God intersects with narratives around family and vocation.

  • RESTORED - the episode of the age to come intersects with narratives around hope and future.


If we're going to be able to answer the question, "how can we engage Australian culture with the gospel?"  then we need to be able to become recognisers of how the gospel intersects with culture.



Next week we'll be looking at a practical framework for missional engagement.





AN EXERCISE FOR YOU TO TRY

What is something you've noticed in Australian culture ?





What is the story behind that element of culture?





In what way does the gospel intersect with this example of culture?









Thursday, August 7, 2014

what does it mean to be missional?




I know, it's a well-worn question, but one worth wrestling with - and its the question I tried to cover at my local church electives last night ... but I ran out of time to cover what I wanted to.

So, this post is partly to try and get my group up to speed, but also to get my unfinished talk out of my head!

To be able to answer this question, a good starting place is for us to be:

FACING UP TO OUR JARGON

It's probably no surprise that when asked to give a word association for the words mission, missions, and missional, people give a variety of responses.  The one response that stands out to me is that the word missional is commonly considered to be a buzz-word that no-one really understands.

One of the reasons for this is because we tend to carry a couple of misunderstandings about the mission of God with us into this conversation.

1. WE MISUNDERSTAND WHERE MISSION COMES FROM

Not just the command in Matthew 28, but also the model of Luke 4. 
While the Great Commission is pivotal for our mission activity, if it comes at the expense of the way in which Jesus did mission, then our activity is incomplete.

Not just disciples OF all nations (Mt 28), but the blessing TO all nations (Gen 12).
While the making of disciples is central to the content of our mission activity, if it comes at the expense of expressing the heart of God (being a blessing), then our activity is incomplete.

Not just the blessing of Abraham, but the blessing of Adam (Gen 1:26-28).
God dispensed His blessing before AND after the fall.
God's blessing (and therefore His mission) is as much about Him expressing His heart and character to His creation, as it is about restoring humanity and creation to it's intended wholeness.

Mission doesn't begin with OUR activity, or preaching, or good works - it begins with God.
God's mission begins with God's heart to express all of who He is through His creation and particularly through humanity.  He invites us to participate in HIS mission.

2. WE MISUNDERSTAND WHERE MISSION GOES

Not just ends of the earth, but Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria (Acts 1:8).
We need to recognise that somehow we tend to limit mission to far away places at the expense of exploring what mission looks like next door.

Not just ends of the earth, but all of creation (Eph 1:10)
We need to come to understand that God is doing a work that goes beyond individuals, communities, people groups, and nations.  He is at work to once again bring all things under His rule, that He might express all of who He is.

And so, in order to help release us into the activity of the mission of God (to be missional), it's helpful for us to be:

"DEFINING" MISSION

"Any activity in word or deed that reveals the heart of God to people."
That means that my small words of encouragement, or my small acts of service are just as much a part of God's mission as my leading someone to a first-time faith decision.

That means that a person who works in state records, a youth pastor, a young mum, a grandma, an office manager, a media advisor, a medical researcher, a person looking for employment, a CFS volunteer, a youth worker, a nurse, and a student teacher can all be involved in God's mission in some small way today.

Monday, July 14, 2014

a blank page


At our Verge experience we provide a journal to participants that is completely blank.

Now, we do prompt them with questions that they can write in it, but we began the camp today by drawing attention to the first page - asking them "what they noticed?" - and we had three responses: "it's blank"  "it's white"  "it's undamaged".

At our leaders debrief tonight we heard of one camper who had chosen to leave the first page of their journal blank as a reminder of the beginning of camp - starting on a fresh page.

I'm grateful for that.  A young person choosing to remember the importance of a fresh page.

I'm not very good at that.  Being able to leave a page blank is not my strength.  I carry this urge to fill it - fill it with my projections, my assumptions, and my answers to how I think God should be writing my story.

So, I'm choosing to remember the camper who chose to remember a blank page.  It might help me remember to resist the urge to hurry God into how I think He should be working.

Monday, May 26, 2014

tackling patriarchs & cooking breakfast

 Launching something.

Vision.  Structure.  Team.  Stakeholders.  Finance.  Governance.  Promotion.  Website.  Events.  There's a lot to think about when you're launching something.  For me, over the last few months, it's been a new organisation ... and it's only now as I look back (and into the echoing cavern of the path before us) that I'm beginning to appreciate the magnitude of launching something.

This Saturday I'll be in Rotorua, NZ - presenting a talk around this topic - notsomuch as a lesson on how to launch something, but as a question:
"When you consider the lengths we go to in launching something, what can we notice about God's priorities in starting something new?"

There's much to learn from two signficant launch events in the story of God - that of Israel, and that of the church.  In one we see God throwing himself headlong into a scrap with Jacob, and the other we see Him serving breakfast to some of his closest friends - including Peter.  Both are about bringing change to the heart of a leader - one who needs breaking (Genesis 32), and another who needs restoring (John 21).
Whether He's tackling patriarchs or cooking breakfast - God's heart is to shape His people for His story.  In fact, He knows that His story will be told, not through the program called "Israel" or "the church", but through the transformation of His people who happen to be known as "Israel" or "the church".

Friday, May 9, 2014

a new logo

http://www.accessthestory.com/wp/sample-page/flagship/
A NEW LOGO.  It's had me thinking.  

One of the texts I've been using for my youth ministry class is Andrew Root's "Taking the Cross to Youth Ministry", and he says some challenging things about how we treat the cross as a logo:
"Youth Ministry is littered with images of the cross - on T-shirts, book bags, bracelets, and boxer shorts.  The symbol of the cross is everywhere, and it has lost its shock value."
I agree.  Somehow our consumptive default cheapens the "very revelation of God's nature" into a logo we brandish, a product we consume, a brand we identify with ... but the cross was something very different to the first-century Jesus-follower:
"They knew the cross as an instrument of violence, torture, and execution. ... The cross was a very real and graphic reminder that God takes on the foolishness of suffering and death, that God acts by being weak."
What would it look like to see a generation re-capture this?  Where following Jesus shifts us from wearing a cross, or walking through the doors of a building that displays a cross ... to seeing the cross as:
"... the doorway into a new reality - an altogether new way of seeing self, world, and God - for the cross is the fulness of God's action."
As I reflect on this, my preparation for our new week-long experience in July makes me hope for something...  

Yes, I hope that people are able to explore the Bible in a way they've never known before.

Yes, I certainly hope for transformation in communities that can only come from the story and activity of God.

But I also hope for a generation who will recapture God's heart to see His "cross activity" multiplied with unstoppable momentum, where:
  • we discover that our imperfections are the means through which His perfect love can be made known; and
  • we decide that our suffering can be the conduit through which His victory is revealed; and,
  • we determine that our weaknesses will be the most powerful mechanism for His strength to be displayed.
The cross is more than a new logo that identifies us, it is an event that births a new identity - one that multiplies itself in ongoing "cross activity" ... I see an emerging generation who are getting this - God's people on the VERGE of something new.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

billionaire

What if Keller is right?  ... where the riches I have in this relationship with Jesus are simply inexhaustible - like I'm a billionaire who loses $10.

"What are you going to do?  Are you you going to get all upset?  Are you going to disrupt the rest of your day?  Are you going to the police and demand they search the city for the cabdriver (who you think may have it)?  No, you are going to shrug.  You're a billionaire.  You lost ten dollars.  So what? You are too rich to be concerned about that kind of loss."

What if its true that the criticism I receive, or the investment loss I've experienced, or the unmet expectations I carry, are my $10?  Genuine losses - reputation, wealth, hopes - but miniscule compared to what is truly mine.  

"You are forgetting that the only eyes in the universe that matter see you not as the 'phony little fake' you have sometimes been, but as a person of captivating beauty."

What if the role of the Holy Spirit in my life IS that of the 'second Advocate'?  Where Jesus, as the first Advocate, speaks to God the Father for me... and the Holy Spirit, as the second Advocate, is speaking to me for me. 

"If you're that upset about your status with other people, if you're constantly lashing out at people for hurting your feelings, you might call it a lack of self-control or a lack of self-esteem, and it is.  But more fundamentally, you have lost touch with your identity.  As a Christian, you're a spiritual billionaire and you're wringing your hands over ten dollars.  It's the job of the second Advocate to argue with you in the court of your heart, to make the case about who you are in Christ, to show you that you're rich.  And it's your job to listen."

(see Tim Kellar - Encounters with Jesus - p141, 144-145)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

In the wake of our launch ...



I've never aspired to start an organisation. My own self-consciousness would typically scream at me to run and hide at the thought. It's not just the logistic and operational challenges that scare me (though they do!), it's the putting of myself out there.


The only way to explain the reason why my wife and I are launching AccessTheStory has been to tell our story. And in the telling of our story comes vulnerability; the wondering if our story is of any value; and the fear of incurring the wrath of the tall-poppy syndrome.

Nonetheless, we set up a series of interactive stations on Saturday night at our launch event, and watched 90 people journey through our story. It was a little harrowing to witness at first, but my self consciousness dissipated - not because of the encouraging turnout, or the encouraging words, or the surprising social media engagement - it was because of one conversation.

A local baptist pastor looked me in the eye as he left and said, "thank-you for telling your story - the questions you have asked of yourself are the ones I've been avoiding. And God has shown me that I need to wrestle with them."



So, here I sit, the morning after one of the most significant weekends in my ministry life - it's been worth pushing through the vulnerability, as it's been replaced with a feeling of overwhelming encouragement by the reminder that God wants to speak through my story.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Friendship with God




O Chambers arrested my cynicism again today. It seems that being a friend of God is more than grooving to Israel Houghton's song.

"To be so much in contact with God that you never need to ask Him to show you His will, is to be nearing the final stage of your discipline in the life of faith. When you are rightly related to God, it is a life of freedom and liberty and delight, you are God’s will, and all your common-sense decisions are His will for you unless He checks. You decide things in perfect delightful friendship with God, knowing that if your decisions are wrong He will always check; when He checks, stop at once."

This thought draws me in to wonder about the relationship Jesus had with His Father, and it encourages me when I consider the way Abraham bumbled through His friendship with God.

There's no doubt that my days are punctuated with fear and failure - but this friendship thing - I'm finding it to be true.

And it's actually pretty good.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

noah, 'word' & 'image'


Well,  the story of Noah seems to have spun interested parties into "social-media overdrive." 

Of all the pre-release protests against the latest interpretation of a biblical story, there is one that perplexes me.  In one thread of comments I noticed this:

"I am often reminded that 'image' can never replace 'word.'  Image is great for entertainment.  But is innately, essentially, ontologically deficient."

I get that our image-driven culture tends to subvert our worship of the unseen.  Instead of responding in faith, we clamour for what we can see - and whatever image we create to understand God tends to become the object of our worship.  It happens all the time.

But, I wonder if it's really true to say that image is only ever for entertainment.  Is image always deficient?

Perhaps not, if we consider that humans are created in the image of God.  The WORD, this STORY, is one which is always pointing to the image of God - reflecting what He is like.  And when we, as humans, allow this story to capture our imaginations, then the pictures (moving or otherwise) that we produce may well be a source for our discovery of who this God is, and how He is interacting wth humanity today.

So then, when I battle the crowds and get to actually watch Noah, it won't just be for entertainment.  As with any story, I'll be looking for what I can discover about the person of God - no doubt I'll be testing the accuracy of how the story is told, but I'll also be asking:
- 'what is the artist saying through the telling of this story?'
- 'Is what he is saying true?'
- 'Is there something that God is saying about Himself as this story is told at this point in history?'

And then, as God enables, I'm hoping to discuss my answers to these questions with someone else.

Because it might be that image carries with it a great capacity to draw me to the word. (John 1:1)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

could this be true of me?


I had to read this slowly, and out loud.  And when I did, I had to stop.

"It is easier to serve God without a vision, easier to work for God without a call, because then you are not bothered by what God requires; common sense is your guide, veneered over with Christian sentiment. You will be more prosperous and successful, more leisure-hearted, if you never realize the call of God. But if once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of what God wants will always come like a goad; you will no longer be able to work for Him on the common-sense basis." ... read the rest of Chambers' 4th of March thoughts here ...

You might need to stop.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

AccessTheStory


(Continued from previous post)

"WHERE ARE YOU UP TO WITH YOUR NEW ORGANISATION?"

Well before we began with Youth Ministries Australia, I developed a way to engage with the Bible story using the brand AccessTheStory. We have made the decision to utilise this name for our new organisation.

OUR VISION: to see a story-formed generation released into communities of faith for the mission of God.

OUR MISSION: to engage people in story-formed discipleship so their understanding and proclamation of the gospel is changed.

WHAT WE DO: Bible engagement and discipleship through the lense of STORY.

WHAT WE VALUE:
  • The scope of story - engaging with the whole story of God provides a greater context for following Jesus.

  • The power of story - storying through the biblical text provides a greater opportunity for personal and community transformation.
  • The pathway of story - a genuine space for discovery provides a greater sense of ownership of learning.
INCORPORATION
As of the 19th December we became an incorporated body after submitting our constitution to the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs on the 18th of December.

OUR BOARD
On Saturday the 11th January we held our first board meeting. The members of the board are Grant Burgess (WA), Steve Byard (SA), Ellen Beasy (SA), and Tim Beeck (WA).

TRANSITION
We are currently in the midst of seeking to finish well with CCCA, while we establish the logistics for AccessTheStory - our prayer is that transition might be as smooth as possible.

LAUNCH
We are aiming to launch AccessTheStory formally on the last weekend of March in 2014. Our hope is to confirm some other members of the team by that time as well. We would love it if you could mark 7.30pm, Saturday the 29th of March in your diary!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

COFFEE WITH A MATE ON THE GOLD COAST



(Continued from previous post)

"AM I BEING STUPID?"

"Am I stupid for entertaining the idea of birthing on organisation around Story-formed Discipleship?"

That was my next question. It was helpful to be able to say it out loud, and Rowan isn't unfamiliar with this kind of territory. Both he and I are avid supporters of the local church, and we both have asked the question more than once around the numbers and necessity of ministry organisations.

But as I told the story, and shared with him how I'd made enquiries with three other alternatives and none of them seemed to fit, he gave me a great picture that helped clarify things.

"God's kingdom is like a rainforest." He went on to explain that God will use different people and organisations at different times to provide the environment for kingdom growth. He also encouraged me to take responsibility for what I believed God had given us, and if that meant starting something to see it further in its scope, then that's what we should do.

My conversation with Rowan was one of number at the National Youth Ministry Convention on the Gold Coast late in October 2013 - ministry leaders - all of them affirming of what I believed God was calling us into.

So I returned home from Queensland, confident that God was leading us to start something new - we will most likely be doing the same activity, but from March 2014 it will be under a new banner.

(More to follow)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A YIROS WITH MY NEW BOSS IN MELBOURNE






(Continued from previous post)

"AM I IN THE RIGHT PLACE?"

This part of the story is when the ball begins to curve - we never saw it coming - we weren't to know that my questions we're bringing us to a point of stepping away from Campus Crusade for Christ Australia, and birthing something new.

My next question to wrestle with was: "Am I in the right place?" If God's calling on our lives was to see change in how the Australian church understands and proclaims the gospel, then it was right to query the context in which we were serving.

At the same time I was wrestling with this question, CCCA announced a transition of National Director, and after a series of events and conversations I found myself in Melbourne enjoying a Yiros ('kebab' for non-South Australians) with my new boss, Allan.

So I popped the question, “am I in the right place?"

After asking me what I meant, I explained to Allan the journey of the few months prior, and suggested that my personal calling might complement the focus of CCCA, but may not be aligned with the stated organisational objectives.

We talked further - it was a long lunch - then we eventually came to a point where he agreed with my assessment of the situation.

I didn't want to be hasty, but for the benefit of all parties involved, we needed to be decisive, so Pixi and I resigned from CCCA, and therefore YMA - giving 4 months notice.

Not an easy decision - but as we begin to reflect, it was the right one ... and Allan and others have been incredibly supportive as we navigated the pathway of finishing well.

(More to follow)

Monday, February 3, 2014

BAPTISMS IN A WESTERN AUSTRALIAN DAM



(Continued from previous post)

"AM I ASKING TOO MUCH?"

The answer to the question, "what do you want?" kept bugging me as I led a team from Adelaide to WA for YMA's annual IMMERSEWEST event in July.

Another question had formed, "Am I asking too much?"

Surely the stated goal of being a part of equipping a generation for a broader gospel paradigm was overstating the perceived need, if not, then perhaps it was just plain arrogant.

Then Ethan showed up with the words: "we should do that baptism thing."

Ethan was a young man with very little grasp on the Bible or the person of Jesus before his IMMERSE experience. On the second last day as he walked with some friends by the creek, after having made a first-time faith decision the night before , Ethan suggested that he and his mates should do what he'd heard in the story that morning - demonstrate his faith through baptism.

No-one told him that's what Christians do - he initiated the idea through what he'd heard and experienced.

The next day, after some conversation with the local youth pastor and phone calls with parents, five young men were baptised in the freezing cold waters of a dam in Logue Brook, Western Australia.

After seeing this kind of transformation, I had an answer to my question, "am I asking too much?” What was the answer?

"No - Bible engagement and discipleship through the lense of story is bringing significant transformation ... The sort that needs to be released into a broader scope."

But this answer raised another question.

(More to follow)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A PLANE TRIP TO SYDNEY





(Continued from previous post)

WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT?"

The words of a good friend rang in my ears as I travelled the familiar flight path to Sydney, "what do you really want?"

It was a 'calling' question - and it bugged me - not because I didn't know the answer, but because I didn't want to name it.

By the end of the flight, the answer was clear, "I want to see change in how the Australian church understands and proclaims the gospel."

The grandiose nature of the statement still gives me shivers, but the impact in people's lives through IMMERSE and the timeliness of this kind of impact amongst a generation who resist institutionalised religion are both undeniable.

Something else that's been hard to deny is the timeliness of the subsequent events and conversations.

(More to follow)



Saturday, February 1, 2014

Clarity comes through a curveball ...




Every year, Pixi and I have a theme that shapes our thinking for serving in God's work - our theme for 2013 was CLARITY. As we look back, clarity never really came until the last minute with the decision to step out and initiate the birth of an organisation around Story-Formed Discipleship.

"Are you guys out of your minds?!”

No-one has asked us that point blank, but we've asked that of ourselves ... And we'd probably think that if friends of ours said that God was calling them to birth a brand new mission organisation.

So, this series of posts is an opportunity for you to decide whether or not there's a sheep loose in the top paddock, as we see AccessTheStory become a not-for-profit organisation.

Our hope is to answer the questions we would ask of friends of ours if they were doing the same things as us!

Stay tuned for the next few days as we tell the story of the last few months ...

(More to follow)