As I write I am sitting aboard the Spirit of Tasmania II after a whirlwind visit to Victoria to celebrate my daughter’s 22nd birthday.
We came across on Tuesday evening and spent much of Wednesday driving as we visited the Mornington Fusion centre where we had lived for five years before travelling up to Bendigo to be with Maddi.
Seeing my little girl now all grown up and returning to Victoria, where I led the Fusion team for five years put me in a reflective mode, particularly in light of what I have been thinking about as I prepare for Sunday.
There has been a lot written about the church and what it is, or what it isn’t and mostly people are responding to the institutions they have encountered.
One of the features of institutions is that they are built for permanence. They were initially established in response to an idea or vision someone had, and then they take on a life of their own, and sometimes the idea or vision can go missing but the institution trundles on.
In order to lead we need to take a look at the original visions or ideas that built our institutions. This is definitely true of the institutions of church.
Choose your enemies carefully ’cause they will define you
Make them interesting ’cause in some ways they will mind you
They’re not there in the beginning but when your story ends
Gonna last with you longer than your friend
While Donald McGavran is not exactly my enemy, the paradigm he proposed definitely is because it produced institutions shaped by quite a different vision than I understand what the church is meant to be focussing on.
My son Josh will be waking up in Australia for the first time in four and a half years.
That is now two of my children living more than thirteen thousand kilometres away.
That reality certainly has had me reflecting.
I am realizing that there are two distinct phases of being a parent.
In the first phase you are completely responsible for the teaching, care and nurture of your child.
In the second phase your only responsibility is as a cheer squad, willing them to win the race of life that lies ahead of them. The problem is that there isn’t really a line you cross to say you have moved from one phase to another… its a day by day transition that happens so gradually that you don’t really notice.
As Josh waved goodbye and walked into airport security I remembered my own experience of waving goodbye to my family as I stepped onto a coach that would take me to the Australian outback town of Broken Hill. …
Yesterday I sat in a room with a bunch of pastors as we tried to work out what it meant to genuinely be in fellowship. For a number of years we had met and been warm and polite, but yesterday something shifted, just a little bit, and we were starting to be more real than we had ever been.
Later in the afternoon I sat with another pastor as we reflected on the Christian church, and together we agreed that one of the biggest challenges we faces is that we are generally isolated as individuals. We agreed that this was largely because we avoid the potential for the pain that conflict might bring.
I am increasingly convinced that the big challenge facing the church is not theological so much as relational.
Jesus said that the relationships between the members of his church would be so different to the norm, that people would believe just on the basis of what they were seeing:
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:35 NIV)
“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
(John 17:20-21 NIV)
The corporate life of the Christian church was to be the main argument for the truth of the gospel.
Our problem is that we don’t know how to cope with difference and still be one. We don’t know how to allow room for individuality because we don’t know how to have the right kinds of conflict.
I believe there are six sick practises we have developed specifically to avoid conflict, that are like cancers eating away at the very life that is meant to sustain us. …
I love teaching about love and sexuality, both because it is such a huge issue that is largely avoided in the Christian church and also because l have spent the last 21 on a journey trying to learn what it means to be married.
I have written before about how I love Leeanne. Loving someone though doesn’t mean that the relationship will be simple. I haven’t yet met a person married for more than 6 weeks who would say their relationship was simple.
Marriage is complicated and marriage is a commitment.
One of the big ideas I am always keen to communicate in a discussion about relationships is the difference between what the movies call love and what love actually is. Movie love can kill a marriage.
Movie love is primarily a feeling, which is not necessarily a bad thing… in fact at the time it feels wonderful: the air smells fresher, the grass is greener and everything is wonderful. Movie love, though, comes and goes and is primarily based on your own unfinished psychological issues.
Rather than my normal blog today I thought I would simply share a passage of scripture from this morning’s quiet time.
I was up to Ephesians chapter 4, and these words have been going round in my head all day.
I have my quiet times using the message so these verses are from that version:
No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything.