CategoryChurch & Mission

The Greek means… No it does not!

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When I was at theological college I was at a gathering of young adults from my church when the discussion focused on the consumption of alcohol. This was a big taboo for Christians in my church tradition. One of the young adults had recently started attending a different church and confidently declared that when the Bible says Jesus turned water into wine it was non-alcoholic. “It’s...

I’m still here and loving It. Where did everyone else go? Why do so many drop out of church?

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Belonging to church has always been and continues to be a really important part of my life. Yet according to the 2008-09 International Social Science Survey, seven out of every 10 Australians who attended church monthly or more when aged 11 drop out of church life once they become adults. Why is it that we retain so small a proportion of childhood attenders? The question is quite pointed for...

How to change the world

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Sociologist turned historian Rodney Stark has written a number of volumes devoted to the rise of Christianity. He points out that Christianity took off not because we got people into churches and preached Jesus to them, but because we got out of our churches into the community and showed Jesus to them. In fact Stark notes that most churches were closed to non-believers in the first three...

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...

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