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

When Corporate Thinking Fails the Church – Part 3

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is three-legged-stool.jpgIn concluding this series on the governance and some of its key structural problems in churches, it should be recognised that it is not always possible to adopt the ideal arrangement. Some people function as elders despite not being especially gifted for the size and scope of the role required. Similarly, boards might include certain people out of necessity, simply because a role has to be performed. The need for volunteerism (often from a small starting pool) means people serve for a time to facilitate a function. Some churches just prefer alternative approaches to those that others advocate and what actually works sometimes does so because it is adapted to the unique blend of people available and involved. Often, though, churches don’t question their existing structures and inherit avoidable problems. Continue reading

When Corporate Thinking Fails the Church – Part 2

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is three-legged-stool.jpgThe important ‘culture’ and ‘compliance’ work of church boards can sometimes be fulfilled overzealously. This can result in some church boards trending toward control rather than facilitation, often stifling the person most experienced, gifted and called to lead. This is why a third key element of the work of church boards, ‘championing,’ is needed. It ensures support, prayer, honour, and the resourcing of leadership is prioritised. While any system is only as good as its people, it is these particular people who often unintentionally make one or more of the ten governance mistakes that typically hinder church growth. Continue reading

When Corporate Thinking Fails the Church – Part 1

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is three-legged-stool.jpgBoards serve an important governance role, usually well defined in corporations, but less so in churches, where it is often confused with eldership. Regulatory requirements need to ensure that the activities of a church are safely and legally governed, but many board members also function as senior leaders in churches. Some boards therefore tend to adopt a leadership or management role which can create tension while also distracting from the task of governance. Continue reading

Building Hope in Lockdown 4.0

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is lockdown-5041623_1920.jpgWith an extended lockdown comes a sapping of momentum that can easily discourage us. Leaders are constantly seeking to build hope and therefore to cast a compelling vision for the future. When it feels that such hope is under threat our need for focus becomes even more important. The Biblical book of Lamentations offers some timeless wisdom that is very relevant to understanding the space in which we find ourselves. Continue reading

God is Still Good for You

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is resurrection-5019777_1920-1.jpgLast week’s Australian newspaper included a timely and welcome article on the relevance of the Bible in shaping western civilisation. Most pre-Easter media references to Christianity are typically laden with cynicism and reinterpretation. Drawing from his recent book, “God is Good for You,” Greg Sheridan showed that the writing of the New Testament actually did much to advance the cause of women in a patriarchal society. This became just one of the many virtues of a faith that, though imperfectly modelled by all too many, is still as relevant as ever. Continue reading

Three Reasons Why I Became a Christian

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is hands-5216585_1920.jpgI became a Christian at the age of sixteen despite growing up in a traditional church. The difference was in encountering God beyond – not even within – all the rituals. It wasn’t about induction into a community of belonging or acceptance of a particular religious tradition. It also wasn’t about running from the real world or finding identity as a cultural contrarian or wowser. Far from relinquishing reason, too, the journey to finding faith involved three steps of inquiry that changed my life and could perhaps change yours. Continue reading

How a Fulfilment Lens Helps to Understand the Bible

The often-mysterious symbols and rituals of the world of the Old Testament make more sense when we look at them through a ‘fulfilment’ lens. Rather than straining to find life illustrations, or perhaps puzzling over how a ‘then and there’ world could illustrate or direct our own, relevance becomes evident on every page when we understand the intent of the writers and the overarching theme encoded by God. Continue reading

An All-Australian Australia Day

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is uluru.jpgThe national holiday of January 26th is again being called into question. As much as we might want to identify it as a day to celebrate the unity and pride of all Australians in this nation, many will still see it as a distressing reminder of the evils associated with British expansionism. Therefore we should surely own up to our past, just as we eventually apologised for creating the pre-1970s Stolen Generation through the forced removal of Indigenous children in the misguided interests of ‘helping’ them and their families. Any advance of Christianity today will, for some, remain a similarly unwanted ideal while it continues to be associated with the invasion of 1788. Continue reading

Making the Most of Christmas in 2020

This Christmas has provided some heightened activity for Melburnians only recently released from a prolonged COVID lockdown. Record pre-Christmas travel, booming Summer house sales after Winter deferrals, and the unleashing of stockpiled savings have all accentuated the usual December commercialism. By contrast, unplannable carols events have not all been substituted, and churches have only gathered again in recent weeks. To avoid Christ being squeezed out of Christmas, here are some last-minute tips that might make the most of what is left of the season with a significant focus on its major message. Continue reading