CategoryChurch & Mission

Why Churches Should Be a Safe Place for LGBT Oriented People to Come Out

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Young people who are same-sex attracted (SSA) experience victimisation, harassment and abuse because of their sexual identity. Those who are open about their sexuality frequently experience abuse and rejection by family and friends. Consequently they do not feel safe about ‘coming-out’ and instead prefer to keep their feelings hidden. This silence can lead to self-harming behaviours including...

Five New Year Wishes for the Church

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1. A mature debate on same-sex marriage Within the Christian world there are a variety of principled perspectives on same-sex marriage, including diverse views within the conservative wing of the church. Yet it seems that this discussion is surrounded with hysteria. The moment anyone urges anything other than opposition to same-sex marriage they are pilloried. It is my wish for the church that we...

Pursing the Common Good. Where Christians are Getting It Wrong and How They Can Get it Right

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In the last few years I’ve noticed a shift in the language of politically engaged Christians. Increasingly rare is talk of Australia as a “Christian” nation whose heritage must be preserved and increasingly common is talk of “the common good”, with Christians asking how they can contribute to it This is a welcome change. I don’t think it’s possible for a...

Why We Need to Preach Less on Sin and More on Possibility

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A number of years back a group of women from my church started attending the Colour conference run by Hillsong. Every year most of them come back with a bigger vision of who God created them to be and a determination to be those women. While those of us outside Hillsong often stand back and take potshots at its theological and ecclesiological weaknesses – and like every church there are many – we...

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...

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