Solving the U.S. Gun Problem

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is army-1835299_960_720.jpgSadly, the U.S.A. continues to protect gun ownership rights against the greater right to be free of the adverse impact of such weapons. This must now change. The leading cause of child death there – at more than 4000 annually – firearms! Last week’s Texas school shooting was finally one too many for all too many. This week, people finally began to turn on the Texas governor, the National Rifle Association, and other gun lobbyists, believing something might at last be done. This issue has stirred more than a little righteous indignation and the once too hard problem actually has some very straightforward solutions. Continue reading

Shaping the Church of the Future – Part 3

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cross-1772560_1920.jpgThis series of posts has us considering how to future-proof churches when we see COVID and other factors eating away at the resilience and viability of many. So far, we have looked at some overlapping elements of tailored discipleship, the development of systems, and the intentional generation of leaders, where usual biblical, prayer, and community foundations are assumed. In this final post, we look at two more of the essential practices of healthy churches, regardless of size, which will guard against demise and actually facilitate health. Continue reading

Shaping the Church of the Future – Part 2

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cross-1772560_1920.jpgYesterday, we began looking at the seeds of decline in churches sown over the last thirty years. Not all churches, mind you. Many have bucked the trends around them to maintain cultural relevance without cultural accommodation. I would suggested that there are five important keys that naturally assume prayerfulness, biblical foundations, and faithful commitment to a church family, but they are perhaps the intangible essentials that will future-proof any ‘centred’ church that is seeking to maintain or reclaim its edge. Continue reading

Shaping the Church of the Future – Part 1

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cross-1772560_1920.jpgIn 2008, Washington Post journalist, Julia Duin, wrote about why churches were experiencing decline. Her insightful conclusion was that ministers’ lack of leadership skills, diminished commitments to core beliefs, and an increase in consumerism, were exacerbating an exodus. To what degree are such observations still valid in future-proofing today’s churches? What have the last two years of COVID disruption revealed about way in which churches might best maintain their relevance and impact? Continue reading

Easter and our Renewed Optimism

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is oasis-67549_960_720.jpgThe start to 2022 has brought various sources of discouragement through the Ukraine invasion, the fallout from vaccination and reopening issues, and now the fall from grace of another megachurch leader. Our response to whatever may disappoint us becomes critical, though. Expectations of people can easily be dashed, so it is helpful to remind ourselves of the hope of Easter that fixes our eyes on Christ as a source of faith amidst difficulties. Some helpful lessons come from a timeless story. Continue reading

The Religious Discrimination Bill – Who Needs Protecting?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 24107509471_7cab0b8890.jpgThe religious discrimination bill was hotly contested in Australia last week, but social debate seemed to overlook some of the key reasons it was first proposed. Introduced to strengthen protections in the face of state-based discrimination laws, it has more recently become aligned to fears that school students who are same-sex attracted or gender dysphoric will be marginalised. A key to better understanding what is at stake here is been found in consideration of the various freedoms, rights and responsibilities that need to be balanced for all stakeholders, including people of faith. Continue reading

Tips for a Better ‘Now’

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is town-sign-1865304_960_720.jpgBeing ‘present’ is quite a challenge for our distracted generation. For example, our focus can become easily drawn away from surrounding contexts to the digital world in the palm of our hands. Of course, much of our daily lives is helpfully managed on our phones, but life’s intrusions can often rob us of many important ‘now’ moments, sometimes simply because we prefer, or feel constrained by, alternative ones. What can we do to become better at seizing the present so as to optimise our future? Continue reading

Four Causes of COVID Anxiety and How to Combat them

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is anxiety.jpgThe impact of a world-record 247-day COVID lockdown in Melbourne has clearly been unsettling and disconcerting, no matter how resilient any of us might be. People’s levels of anxiety are, however, a matter of degree. Contributing factors can include external stressors, health concerns, financial instability, relationship problems, and more. Identifying and remedying even the more controllable factors, though, is still not easy. What are some tell-tale signs that all is not well internally and what can we do about the anxieties we might not even realise we are experiencing? Continue reading

Vaccination passports: a ticket to freedom?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is virus.jpgAs the COVID lockdown continues in Melbourne, an understandable level of anxiety appears to have been rising. People without work for weeks or months on end, and businesses under threat, are just some of the many effects of the protracted measures testing everyone’s patience. So, what are we to make of vaccine passports as the possible ticket to the desperately-sought return to relative freedom, and something of the life we once knew? Continue reading

Tools for Greater Resilience

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is resilient-4899506_1920.jpgA famous song, ‘Tubthumping,’ written about resilience, was used several years ago to promote the Melbourne Storm rugby team. Do its words, “I get knocked down but I get up again,” depict your own capacity to rebound during successive COVID lockdowns? We may well ask what the alternative is, anyway, as we power on unflappably, working from home (yet again). But in our reflective and self-aware moments, we do well to recalibrate our capacity to endure beyond the limits of tolerance we might think we have already reached. Continue reading