Annual Baptist Pastors Conference 2018

I help organise the annual WA Baptist Pastors Conference.

I was reflecting on over 13 years of helping organise this conference. There used to be under 70 Pastors and leaders who attended when I first started.  It was a conference where the worship team was assembled from whoever rocked up to conference. Different Pastors may present a paper they had worked on. The food was very ordinary and the organisation was adequate.

This year we had over 248 delegates attend over the three days of conference. The services were planned to the minute with great production values and elements designed to inspire, challenge and encourage. Our main speaker was Pastor Stu Cameron who heads up Willow Creek in Australia and is the Senior Pastor at New Life Church on the Gold Coast.

Pastor Stu Cameron

We had as a session speaker Karen Siggins who is the Senior Pastor at Lesmurdie Baptist Church. She challenged us to listen for the heartbeat of God, to love God, to love others. It was a memorable message from a skilled communicator.

Pastor Karen Siggins

Mark Wilson is our Baptist Director of Ministries in WA and sets the vision for the retreat. He has brought a wonderful culture into our movement and his session is always a highlight.

Mark Wilson

It is a challenge to have something which goes very well. Whenever something is effective and significant, different people want to hitch their wagon to the success. Keeping the main thing the main thing is always a struggle with any event such as this. My heart is and has been for Pastors. A few years back I received a prophesy which in essence said that encouraging Church Pastors was something God had for me. A number of different people and situations have confirmed this for me. So I see the Annual Baptist Pastoral Retreat in this light. It is for the encouragement and blessing of Pastors. That is its core value, and something I jealously guard.

Its also a wonderful event for developing team and many of the churches bring along their whole team. Its fun, encouraging and there is lots of space for team bonding and a great laugh.

Inglewood Church Staff Team

I also see Retreat as a space for creativity and new ideas to be given space. For different churches to see what works and what is effective in the area of worship and the arts. The Worship Team for retreat were in planning for about 8 months prior to retreat. Yet there is also space for spontaneity and last minute changes. If you plan well, you can respond well.

Pastor Jess Magowan Singing ‘New Wine”

Us pastors have a difficult role at times. We also have a joyous role at times. It is an incredible privilege, blessing and responsibility. All at the same time! Our Retreat reflects that. Perhaps the best part is in having the opportunity to share a meal, share a table, share a laugh, share a prayer, share a warm moment. To be together. Its a strange and unique journey at times. So the Baptist Pastoral Retreat is a precious time.

Competition amongst Churches

I am a competitive guy. Come down on Thursdays when I play squash and you can see that for yourself. As I often say with a smile on my face, I am not here to make friends I am here to win.  Of course I play for a number of reasons including fitness, fun and friendship. But we keep score.

When Pastors gather together for social and networking reasons this competitive spirit is under the surface. Like farmers enquiring about how much land another farmer owns, Pastors want to know how many people the next guy has in their church. Its natural. At some level it goes to their significance and place in the room.  And like a farmer, its not something we normally ask, but we find out somehow.

Its also ridiculous.

This has been happening ever since Paul the Apostle wrote this in 1 Corinthians 3

“4 When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?

After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.”

There is a number of things here. Paul points out that when we ascribe loyalty to one particular leader, pitting them against each other in some sort of church contest, we are following worldly values, not Jesus values. Both those leaders are serving the same Jesus, the same Lord. They are both preaching the same gospel.

Furthermore those leaders are doing work which the Lord gave them. Like talents, some are given 2, some 5, some 10. The mission, target and focus did not originate with them but rather with the call of Jesus and perhaps their skills, gifting and placement.

When another pastor, leader or church sees significant growth, people coming to Jesus, Churches growing…it is a cause for celebration. We are all actually on the same side. And when we are at our best we are winning, and so is everyone else on our team, the Church of Jesus Christ.

Billy Graham and his musical legacy

A great evangelist has passed away. Billy Graham was an innovator. A clear speaking Gospel message interlaced with humour, emotion and story. So many people I know can trace their spiritual lineage to a Billy Graham Crusade.

He used modern music to the mission he was involved in. From Johnny Cash to the Gaither Music crew.

At his funeral of the songs he picked was written by Paul Baloche in 1999. Billy would have been 80 years old when he heard this song…at the earliest. Years later he had Michael W Smith perform it at his evangelism rallies.

It goes nicely with this little newspaper response that has been floating around for a while.

I most love what Billy says here… ‘Sometimes Im afraid, a hymn can become so familiar to us that we sing it without thinking about the words’. In my words, sentiment should never replace spirituality. Worship has never been about us, its about God. Its about us being challenged to deeper spirituality, deeper connection. Its not about what we are familiar with.

So often we go back to the songs and the music that were present in our own spiritual formation. But God has moved on. What He was doing then was good. What He is doing today is better. Billy knew this.

I am going to listen to something new today. I hope to be like Billy when I am 80 years old.

Conflict and running to the funk

You know that heart wrenching feeling in your gut. The type that stays there and fester as you realise you are in conflict with someone. You have upset someone. Or someone is just plain angry at you.

You either rip the bandaid off quick or you let if fester. Its almost simplistic to say don’t let the sun go down on your anger. However the Biblical principle is true for a number of reasons. One of them being our own emotional health.

For me, I have learnt the pain of dealing with a conflict quickly is better than the pain of letting it fester. I am a run from conflict guy, but Ive learnt to run to it for my own hearts sake.

Lets not just shuffle people around

There has been a lot of movement in church planting in Perth recently.
It is quite exciting to see so many churches being planted. Statistics will tell you that on a percentage wise basis new churches will see more people become Christians than established churches.

Many of these churches are vibrant, young and relevant. They are being planted out of more established churches in new areas with energetic and passionate leaders. Its great to see.

One thought of caution though. I believe as Church leaders our primary focus should be on seeking and saving that which is lost. Finding ways to reach those who are far from Jesus and far from Church. That is difficult. Yet that is our mission.

Suzuki Grand Vitara 2006 12v Outlets

I have had my Zook for over ten years now and its safe to say with the numerous dings and scratches from 4wd adventures it is no longer shiny like it once was.

However in one regard at least it is better. After getting back from some 4wd adventures down South of WA I decided to finally find out what was wrong with two of the three 12 volt outlets on the vehicle. The passenger ‘cigarette lighter’ was not working and the rear one had never worked. That was a pain because the Engel fridge is normally in the boot.

I had also installed a secondary 12v outlet with twin outlets for rear seated passengers to charge their phones or whatever. That also had stopped working.

I took apart the whole assembly surrounding the gear lever and discovered the wiring I had used was past its used by date so I rewired the secondary outlet. A couple of fuses were gone so I replaced those. That was harder than it sounds because the GV has micro blade fuses and they are difficult to replace, even with a fuse puller. A small screwdriver was actually far more helpful.

Then to the boot outlet which has never worked. Imagine my surprise when I dissambled the surround and discovered the wiring was not even connected. I reconnected it, checking first that the wires had power, and I found out the 12v outlet was unstable anyway. So I replaced that with a good marine grade outlet. Then I fitted a fuse tap in the front fuse box so I could run the rear socket with its own circuit. Standard it runs on the same circuit as the passenger 12v outlet. Thats not a great idea when running a fridge as well as 2 or 3 iPhone chargers through it.

The satisfaction of seeing the blue light come on with my tester was immense. Having owned the car for ten years, I finally have fixed that minor annoyance.

The outlet from the rear with no wires going into it.