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Ed Stetzer Visits Saddleback

Saddleback being the church planted by Rick Warren, of 40 Days of Purpose fame.
A few insights and photos that show how Saddleback does things.

I don’t know how to react to some.
For instance, how do Saddleback utilise a guest preacher when the church conducts 22 (twenty-two) services across the weekend?
“First, someone transcribed my message — instantly and accurately. This was then given to one of the pastors who then preached my message (live) Sunday night. I came by and listened to him do so, and he basically preached my outline and made it his own.”

Read the rest of Stetzer’s piece here.

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Faithful Women & Their Faithful God – Noël Piper

The Crossway Books blog has a weekly feature they call ‘Trackback Thursday’.
If you link to the article, which spotlights a different book each week, you could be selected to receive a free copy of the book.

This week’s feature is ‘Faithful Women & Their Faithful God’ by Noël Piper.
It’s a collection of historical reflections about Christian women.
Go and check it out.

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Haydn’s Testimony On Hungry Beast

Last night the ABC television show ‘Hungry Beast’ featured a piece on three men who have dealt with the temptation of homosexual behaviour while coming from a Christian background.
Three very different experiences are shown.
It would be understandable if you have not watched the show, it can be pretty rough going at times.
One of the three men, Haydn, gave a testimony about his committement to claim a heterosexual life, with his wife and baby appearing during the interview.
Haydn has posted a YouTube clip of the segment and made further comment about the experience in general, including his experience of the post-show online forum at his blog ‘Fields Of Zion’.
It’s well worth reading and watching.
I thought all three men presented positively, though I don’t agree with two of them. The journalist involved also seemed to allow each interviewee to put their point of view accross.
Haydn was clearly the one whose position is most at odds with the editorial position of the show, but I felt he was treated very fairly.


21 Questions For A Church And Its Leadership To Ask Themselves

I like these questions from Timmy Brister.

They are insightful, but don’t just set you up to bury your head in your hands and cry out: ‘I’ve/We’ve failed; I’ve/We’ve failed.’
They actually point to positive and constructive patterns of church life.

1. If our church would cease to exist in our city, would it be noticed and missed?
2. If all the pastors were tragically killed in a car accident, would the church’s ministry cease or fall apart?
3. If the only possible means of connecting with unbelievers were through the missionary living of our church members, how much would we grow? (I ask this because the early church did not have signs, websites, ads, marketing, etc.)
4. What are the subcultures within the church? Do they attract or detract from the centrality of the gospel and mission of the church?
5. Is our church known more for what we are not/against than what we are/for?
6. What are we allowing to be our measuring stick of church health? (attendance vs. discipleship; seating capacity vs. sending capacity; gospel growth, training on mission, etc.)
7. Are the priorities of our church in line with the priorities of Christ’s kingdom?
8. If our members had 60 seconds to explain to an unbeliever what our church is like, what would you want them to say? How many do you think are saying that?
9. If the invisible kingdom of God became visible in our city, what would that look like?
10. In what ways have we acted or planned in unbelief instead of faith?
11. As a pastor, is my time spent more in fixing people’s problems or helping people progress in faith through training/equipping them for ministry?
12. Are the people we are reaching more religious or pagan?
13. What can we learn about our evangelism practices by the kind of people are being reached with the gospel?
14. What will it take to reach those in our city who are far from God and have no access to the gospel?
15. What percentage of our growth is conversion growth (vs. transfer growth)?
16. How many people know and are discharging their spiritual gifts in active service and building up of the body of Christ?
17. How many people do I know (and more importantly know me) on a first name basis in my community and city who do not attend our church?
18. Am I using people to get ministry done, or am I using ministry to get people “done”?
19. Is the vision we are casting forth honoring both God’s heart for the lost (builder) and God’s passion for a pure church (perfecter)?
20. If money and space were not an issue, what is one thing we ought to dream for God to do in our midst where it is impossible for anyone to get the credit except for the omnipotent hand of God?
21. If being a church planting church is comprised of disciple-making disciples, then how are we doing?

As I wrote above, these questions flow from premises that our local leadership have pretty much embraced.
Part of embracing these premises is the notion that we can always improve, but we need to be thoughtful and purposeful about knowing where we need to improve; how we plan to improve; and if we are, in fact, improving.
I think these questions help identify that thinking in a practical way.

HT: Provocations & Pantings and Justin Taylor.

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Geek Map

My family are pretty close to having this one covered.
(Actually number one daughter and I cover about 75-80% with the rest of the family filling in the gaps)

HT: St. Eutychus & Ibo


Making Meaningful Conversation

Being a somewhat introverted personality, I’m not a great conversationalist.
I can talk the leg off a chair. If there’s something to talk about.
After we moved to Melbourne it was a bit easier. Mostly everyone will fall into a conversation about football or weather. Life in the country is a bit more challenging since you have to develop some knowledge of local life to engage people in their interests. Oddly, sport and weather are still good openers.
But I’ve long envied those who can walk into a room full of strangers and effortlessly fall into conversation with just about anyone there.

Joshua Harris refers to a post by Michael Hyatt about ‘Having Better Dinner Conversations’. In the post Hyatt expands on these points.
1. Consciously seek out conducive environments.
2. Have only one conversation at a time.

5. Draw out those who are reticent to speak.
6. Pay attention to people’s physical needs.
7. Do more listening than talking.
8. Affirm people, even if you disagree with them.

I especially appreciated his third and fourth points:
3. Ask open-ended questions. As the hosts, Gail and I have a singular goal: we try to ask interesting questions. We try to make these questions open-ended, so that people must elaborate and give us some insight into them as a person. For example,
* What is your idea of a perfect vacation?
* If you could design your ideal job, what would it look like?
* What is the best book you have read in the last 12 months and why?
* What is the most important lesson you learned from your father?
* When is your very favorite thing about your spouse?
* If you were by yourself, and could listen to any music you want, what it be?
* If you could spend a day with anyone on the planet, who would it be?
* What it is like to be your friend? or to be married to you?
* If you were suddenly the President of the U.S., what would you do first?
* Looking back over your life, what would you describe as your proudest moment?
4. Ask a second question. The most interesting conversations come after the initial answer. It takes extraordinary discipline to refrain from answering your own question and, instead. answer a second question. Yet this is where the deepest conversations occur. I like to ask questions like these as follow-up questions:
* How did it feel when that happened?
* Can you elaborate on that?
* Why do you think that is important to you?
* Do you think you would have answered the same way five years ago?
* What emotion do you feel when you describe that?

I know the key to all of this is to have a genuine interest in other people.
I just wish I could communicate mine a bit more skillfully.

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News For Those Interested In Presbyterianism In Malawi

The Presbyterian Church of Australia, particularly through its Victorian Assembly, has been developing links with churches in Africa, one of which, I believe, is the Presbyterian Church in Malawi.
Steve Salyards, at G.A. Junkie (yep, that’s what he calls his blog) has news about arrangements by which “the three synods of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian in Malawi have agreed to an arrangement that would end their dispute over having churches in each others’ territory. The synods have essentially agreed to become non-geographic or flexible synods.” ‘News From The CCAP: Synods Become Flexible And An Ecumenical Alliance To Monitor Democracy.’
The article provides lots of links to background materials for those who came in late.

Maybe someone from Victoria with some knowledge may comment on this in days to come.

This is also interesting on a global level since it seems to be yet another example of a continuing breakdown of the geographic principle for grouping churches together and a move towards networks based on theological or cultural affinity, not location.