Category Archives: Church

The bigger the church

The bigger the target.

For the Pastor, the church people, the ministry.

It moves me when I see Pastors and churches fail. Moral failure, burnout and conflict can all toxify a church to the point of its demise.

Bad decisions lead to conflict, staff unhappy, people leaving.

Some churches demise is a slow burn, others is an explosion that rips the community apart.

I’ve been part of a church where moral failure led to the thriving and growing church basically disintegrating. The ramifications from that are still felt in the town it is in, 20 years later.

A church is ultimately a community of people. And moral failure, other types of failure, burn out, depression and just plain boredom can destroy something which was good.

There is nothing new about this. But it is Christ’s bride. It is the hope. It is still something which thrills me, challenges me and spurs me on toward personal and corporate growth.

Skinny jeans, tenure, perseverance, millennials and the future of the church

The blogosphere is reacting to a fairly interesting post on Senior Pastors age. It basically states that only 1 in 7 Senior Pastors Is under the age of 40. (Article) Stephen McAlpine has a typically theological response, decrying the direction of the church here. After a long discussion with a minister from another denomination today I have to say I think Stephen may have a point. The absence of ‘Jesus’ and ‘mission’ in the denomination of my friend (not Stephen) left me feeling depressed and my friend concerned for where his movement is going.

Where Jesus is being preached, the Holy Spirit relied upon, and the people being mobilised for sharing their faith, churches are growing. Where churches rely upon their own human wisdom and disregard Jesus and the Bible, the church is shrinking. Thats reality. (Just one source of many)

I did want to comment on succession and my hope for this coming generation. In my generation of Pastors I have seen so many go. So many fall to the perils of internal church conflict. The pain of expectations of growth and revival shattered. Ministry is not easy. Its like trying to maintain the strings on a guitar. If one of the strings is frayed or broken, the tune does not sound quite right. Having an effective church means understanding that at any point at least 20% of any aspect of your church is probably ineffective. Leading a church takes heavy doses of prayer and intimacy with God, but also takes Godly wisdom and discernment, and human skill.

Some who felt called to ministry are just not suited. They do not have the skills or stubbornness to continue. That is just reality. I do not want to sound arrogant, as though I have it all together. I feel like I am only just starting to grasp at what I need to do.

My hope for the next generation is that they will persevere and pray. That they won’t expect ministry, churches and even opportunities to be handed to them. My fear is that for some of this generation so much has been handed to them that resilience is not something they acquire. For many, knowledge is a click away, music is something to be consumed, and if something does not work it is thrown away. That is not their fault. It is the environment they have inherited.

Church, mission and community does not just get handed to you. The spiritual battle is real. People are unreliable, contentious, have ungodly desire for power and they are sinful. It has always been that way. The expectation of ministry needs to be realistic but not shattering.

My experience of Church is that it has been bruising, wounding, exciting, thrilling, wonderful, terrible, exhilarating, scary and fulfilling all at the same time. I have felt like quitting on Monday more times than I can remember. I have also felt on top of the world on more Sunday nights than I can remember.

The Church has continued for 2000 years and my faith and belief in Jesus and His mandate and presence in this world means I think it will continue until He returns. Young leaders will do more with the next church than what I have ever done or could imagine. They have authenticity, passion and an innate ability to understand culture, peoples emotions and what works far better than the generation that came before. They are innovative and have a sense of what works. They have a strong sense of justice and care for the world and the people they are inheriting.

The best is yet to come.

Budget Principles for a Church

Some thoughts on important values in a Church Budget

Budget not to survive the year but to save for future years

We must spend on things important to our values and goals. If we don’t spend on these things, we decrease our chances of achieving our goals. Therefore, ensure we are investing in that which will help us achieve our goals

Each dollar spent justifiable to achieve our goals

Spend with thrift and creativity. Do not take the easy route. Don’t make unresearched spending just because it is easier. 

We do not always need the best, we need what will achieve our goals with maximum result and minimal spend. 

Spontaneous Baptism

On the Sunday just gone we had a Baptismal service at Inglewood Church.

Two months ago our pastoral team set a date for Baptism and said if we get one baptism, we will do it. One person came and said they wanted to be baptised so we started advertising the date. We had a further 4 people come and say they wanted to be baptised.

On the night before the Sunday I had someone ring me and we chatted and they too wanted to be baptised, so that made 6.

The service was amazing, a real sense of joy and God active in peoples hearts. After I had baptised the last person I felt really convicted to ask if there was anyone else who wished to be baptised. Two more people, on the spot said yes they wanted to be. I asked them to come forward and they shared their testimony. It was amazing.

I also said to people that we still have the baptismal (we hire a spa) and if anyone wanted to be baptised at our evening service, come and let me know. Two people did. Their stories were authentic and wonderful. So at our evening service I baptised them.

It was an incredible, spirit filled day. Probably one of the best in my 23 year Pastoral ministry at Inglewood Community Church.

Twelve Months, a transfiguration

Today someone reminded me that 12 months ago my Church, Inglewood Church, held its last service at the Bob Daniels Centre.

Our Worship Pastor Jess sung this song at our opening service a few short weeks later.

It was a wonderful occasion. This song is a beautiful rendition of the story of Jesus’s transfiguration, when the disciples were fortunate enough to have a peek of Jesus glory. How awe inspiring it would have been to experience that.

Our churches transformation over the past 12 months is obviously nowhere near as dramatic as that incredible moment. Still, it is worth celebrating and remembering. God is good.

So many church plants

There is a plethora of church plants occurring in Perth at the moment. It seems like every week on Facebook there is a new shiny church springing up at a community centre or high school near you. The websites look good, the worship team seems fully formed and the pastors are passionate about reaching our city for Jesus.

Studies tell us that percentage wise more people become Christians during the formative years of a church than at any other time. So perhaps this is a good thing.

Some in church leadership have the gifting and the charisma to be effective in church growth. One easy measure of effectiveness in ministry is people on pews. This measure is not to be disregarded. Generally speaking we count what is valuable to us. Indeed the early church was well aware of the number of people who came to know Jesus on a particular day (Acts2.41).

New churches springing up is something we should celebrate, just as we mourn the passing and closing down of churches. Unfortunately  in a dying churches history they have moved from vision and growth to management. Once a church has moved away from the upward scale of mission they plateau and move into the downward cycle of maintenance. Creatives move from such churches and are naturally attracted to the new, the fresh. They take their energy with them. Those who stay in dying churches decry this but only have themselves to blame. For them, the pain of change is too much to bear, so they choose the pain of slow painful death. Without change, a church will die. And the life will go elsewhere.

Likewise though, we cannot only keep moving from the new thing to the next new thing. That is exhausting and a waste of hard gained resource. Instead, somehow, the vision and the mission must be kept in the drivers seat. Creativity and passion must be stoked.

Character is actually the answer for balance. Character will cause you to make decisions which are contextual and yet have the same result. In some case, new life must rise from the ashes. In other cases strength will push new life out in new ways. In other cases the little strength you have will be able to be harnessed through deep painful change.

Ministry with friends

Yesterday was a great day in the life of my church, Inglewood Church.

I had some good friends come and do ministry at both our services. Afterwards we shared some food and laughs together.

It reminds me of a principle another good friend always reiterates. He leads the Mighty Mens Conference in Australia, and I help with promotion and web support. Like me, he is a pastor. One of his favourite sayings is that he chooses speakers and people to minister with on the basis of relationship.

As people we are made for relationship. As a Pastor and leader I choose to minister with friends and people I enjoy being with. I choose those who will come and share the platform I have been given with those I like and know.

So often when you have a platform, people want to come and be given it. With no understanding of the work and trust they are just asking you to give them. Because they have something they feel is important. Often times that ends in disaster.

But when you minister and lead with friends, with those who you know and trust, there can be true joy and trust. Like yesterday.

A good day.