As Pastors and leaders our past hurts will flavour our reaction to present ministry situations.
If we have been criticised, betrayed, let down and disappointed by people, this will cause us to be insecure, reactionary and untrusting in present ministry situations.
If there has been a battle fought and won in a particular area of ministry, when that discussion comes up again we may very well be overtly defensive about it. The pain inflicted by fighting that battle may still be real and present. So we shore up our defenses. It feels like we are being attacked all over again, even if we are not.
The ability to reframe your perspective to your present situation is crucial. The past battles have been done. Its time to trust, hope and believe again.
My church is going through a significant time of growth at the moment. Every week we have people checking us out, coming in and enjoying our times together. We are even seeing people with little or no church background come to our Sunday services. It really is a significant period we are going through.
What I am keenly aware of though is that in order for people to become part of your community, they need to become part of your community. At Inglewood Church we believe we are offering real times of significant spiritual input and opportunities to worship and experience a sense of God’s presence together.
But in our increasingly marginalised and insular society people are still looking for what they have always looked for, friendship and community. Part of being a church is having space and time for relationships to deepen as we journey together on a spiritual journey. Learning, being challenged, serving.
The Apostles Creed is not scripture. However I believe it accurately articulates some important aspects of the Christian faith.
I think theology is important. There are some great theologians, and some that are perhaps less than great. However theology is important, it can inform our expectations of God and life.
Neither creeds nor theology are actually what is crucial to the Christian faith. Jesus Himself made this clear. Love God. Love others.
Love of God, knowing Jesus, having a relationship with Him with all that entails is crucial to our Christian faith. Hearing from Him, listening to Him, worshipping Him. This is essential.
Love of others. Caring about our neighbour, seeing justice on earth, caring for the poor, sharing our faith, helping people say yes to Jesus. This is essential.
If you haven’t seen the news there was a mistake made at this years Oscars when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were handed the wrong envelope and the wrong winner was announced for the most prestigious award of the night, best movie.
It reminded me of the many mistakes I have made from the pulpit. At times I have had the congregation in uproarious laughter for all the wrong reasons, and to my embarrassment. Sometimes I have had no idea why they are even laughing!
To laugh at oneself is human just as to make mistakes is human. All too often in Churches we take ourselves far too seriously. I have found self depreciating humour to be the best type to help people be at ease. With themself. With you. And with your church.
If someone finds it hard to laugh at themself it may be indication that they are not feeling that safe or secure. I am sure God loves me. I am equally sure that all my worries and insecurities will ultimately prove in the eternity of time to be perhaps something I shouldn’t have given so much emotional energy to.
Mistakes are part of life. I hope I can laugh at my own, and even laugh along when my church laughs at them!
Despite him playing for the team I dislike the most, I could not but help admire the way Ben Cousins played. I remember one derby , which was an away derby, when I was sitting in the stands with a crowd of West Coast supporters. Cousins had worn himself ragged chasing all day and was vomiting on the sidelines. Despite his best efforts his team came up well short.
Now I read the latest in his long line of misdemeanours which has resulted in serious charges being laid. It also appears he is almost destitute with hardly a coin to his name. How he has fallen from those rock star days when he paraded around town as the darling boy of the Perth media.
There is no question his fall from fame, wealth and influence is a result of his own bad choices. A gracious and forgiving father, perhaps too gracious, a fawning media and sublime skills were not enough to ensure he lead a comfortable and privileged life.
But how do we react to this. Do we say its his own fault, his own choice and he deserves what he gets. All that is true. No question.
Yet in the midst of the consequences of his own bad choices I feel sorrow for him. For the plight he finds himself in. It could have been so different. We all make bad choices, everyone of us. And the consequences are natural and our own fault.
But I still feel sorry for him. Just as I feel sorry for myself when I bear the consequence of my own decisions. As a Christian I want to be like Jesus. In the midst of the whole human race making bad choices He did not say, well suffer you lot, you are getting what you deserve. He came down, He cared, and he took on himself the consequence of our decisions. I have to have the same attitude He took to those who are suffering, even suffering because they have made foolish and irresponsible choices.
The Church and Christians are often accused of being judgemental and hypocritical, with good reason. Cousins is just one example of someone who needs grace, not sneering looks.
One of the values of our church is to be ‘generational’. We are a values driven church, which means our values determine our decisions.
I am convinced that this generation coming up will do greater things than the one which has come before. They are different. Anxious and in many ways not thinking they will have it better than their parents. Technology has in many ways failed to deliver what it promised, yet it is something they embrace and utilise with a far greater degree of comfort than any generation before them.
As a church we are committed to giving young people real responsibility, real authority and real weight to their ministry. I don’t believe in tokenism. There needs to be a sense that they could fail, otherwise what is the point?
And I believe they will rise up. They have a sense of justice and goodness and self awareness that my generation did not have. They believe strongly in authenticity and are not tied in any way to organisational dependency.
The flame will pass on.
I have been so blessed by the ministry of Hillsong Church. I have attended many of their annual conferences. They have been life changing and ministry changing to me. Brian Houston is a once in a generation leader. He has maintained his integrity, his marriage, his passion for Jesus and has continued to seek the next ministry opportunity as the years march on. He believes his own mantra, ‘the best is yet to come’ and lives accordingly.
Last night Facebook and social media lit up with the news that Hillsong will be planting a church in Perth. Having already planted campuses in every major capital city of Australia, except Canberra, it really was only a matter of time.
It is natural that a pastor may feel threatened by the news. Hillsong have an incredible brand and reputation for excellence. Wherever they have planted churches they have thrived, with only a few exceptions. There is no reason to suspect that Perth will be any different. But where will the people come from? Because to plant a church in the Hillsong style, you need Christians. The non churched will be reached. But that wont get them to the 500 or so they will have in the first month. If not more.
Personally I don’t feel threatened, nor do I want to. Another church planting in Perth? Fantastic. We need as many as possible. There are too many churches closing down and dying, The church in Perth needs each other. We need ideas, we need kingdom activity, we need people to come to Christ.
If people do leave your church, perhaps its because they are disenfranchised, marginalised or even consumer christians. Either way, they were on their way out. Perhaps Hillsong will be a fresh start for them, a challenge to them to commit, buy in, follow Jesus.
Welcome Home to Perth Hillsong. May God bless you.