CategoryChurch & Mission

No, You Cannot Pray for Me

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“Can I pray for you?” It’s a question I am often asked. Just once I’d like to say “no”. I preach and teach at a lot of different churches and there is always someone moved by the sight of my Parkinsons driven tremors to seek me out to pray with me. Some are very confident, others are very nervous. They have often just completed a course on healing prayer and...

After Hellfire & Brimstone What? Regaining Confidence in the Gospel

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I grew up with a gospel built on the pillars of love, sin, fear and certainty. I was overwhelmed by the knowledge that God loved me so much he sent Jesus to die for my sins; fearful of going to hell and anxious that my friends avoid that fate; assured that people were morally decrepit and deserving of hell and; absolutely certain about what I believed. This was a potent mix that left me with a...

The Corinthian Principle

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One of my favourite comments on the church is found in Eminence, a novel by Australian author Morris West, which tells the story of Luca Rossini, a Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. Luca who now serves in the Vatican, lives in the shadow of a terrible experience he suffered as a young priest in Argentina. It was the 1970′s, a time when the military junta that ruled Argentina acted with...

Why Every Church Should Pay Attention to Its “Brand”

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Five years back if you had asked me what I thought of the idea of branding the church I’d have scoffed. Branding to me was little more than marketing spin, something to be strenuously avoided by anyone interested in authentic community. Having been through a rebranding process at Baptist World Aid I’ve changed my mind. Here’s why. First, branding is not about logos. I always...

Australian Churches – Losing More People Than We’re Gaining

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The Church in Australia appears to be in decline. Yet between 2001 and 2011, the number of people identifying with a Christian church grew from 12.8 to 13.1 million. I belong to the Baptist denomination. In the 2001 census 309,205 people identified as Baptist, but in the 2011 census this had grown to 352,499, a gain of almost 43,000 people. Other churches that increased in number of Australians...

The Heart of the Gospel

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In 1971 the Sydney Anglicans produced a report that revolutionised my understanding of the gospel. Now out of print, Move in for Action, a report of the Commission on Evangelism, contained a chapter by Paul Barnett that examined the preaching of the gospel by Paul and Peter as recorded in the book of Acts. He showed that not once do Paul or Peter focus their “evangelistic” preaching...

Christian Horror Movies. Scaring and Scarring Kids in the Name of Jesus

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It was during the 1970’s that I saw my first horror movie. I was still in primary school and it scared the life out of me. Bizarrely, it was a Christian movie, A Thief in the Night, and I saw it at church. The movie centers around a woman named Patty Knight, a half-hearted Christian who wakes up one morning to discover her husband, along with millions of other people, has disappeared. They...

Belief Enablers. What Turns Australians On to Christianity

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In my last post I reported the findings of research into what blocks engagement with Christianity for Australians. The research also provided insight into what fosters engagement. First, while half the population are not open to changing their religious views, half are, including a significant minority (7%) who are very open. Second, the methods most likely to engage those who do not currently...

Belief Blockers. What turns Australians Off the Church

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This week I came across a piece of brilliant market research into Australian attitudes to Christianity and the church conducted in late 2011 by McCrindle research. For those Christians inclined to think of creation and evolution as the key ideological battleground, to assume the Church commands respect, and who are worried about the influence of prominent atheists like Richard Dawkins, the report...

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