Sacred Agents

Sacred Agents

Recent Articles

 

Hey Let’s Be Powerful

The Korean pastor handed his business card to me, and immediately two words jumped out from his vision statement: Powerful church. I found myself recoiling, the words grated on me. ‘How arrogant!’ I thought, judging before even thinking. “You will receive power when...

read more

Taking the Plunge

Let’s get the shameless plug out the way – I’ve a new little book coming soon. It’s called Taking the Plunge: Baptism and Belonging to Jesus, and it’s a guide for enquirers and new believers. Keep an eye out for it! Have you noticed, though, that for many people,...

read more

When the Walls Close In

We’re becoming familiar with confinement – in one way or another all of our worlds have become smaller. Our wings have been clipped, options limited, movement restricted and circles tightened. Most of us long to be beyond this, past the labour pains of this...

read more

In Praise of Rosters

I love a good roster. There, I’ve said it.

I know many Christians disagree, seeing them as a necessary evil, a secret shame. “Rosters seem so artificial. Why have some people ‘on duty’ and others ‘off duty’ at a gathering? Shouldn’t it be more natural and organic? Can’t we all just follow the inner voice of the Spirit and be prompted into ministry in the moment? Isn’t ‘organised religion’ what puts people off the most, and what Jesus himself fought against?”

No.

If you think organised religion is ugly, have a look at disorganised religion. Everyone simply following the ‘inner voice’ of the Spirit sounds great but fails on two fronts: Firstly, we’re not good at distinguishing between the inner voice of the Spirit and the inner voice of ourselves. We can find ourselves only drawn to ministries and situations that we enjoy the most. We can confuse the way of Christ with the path of least resistance. Secondly, the Spirit also has an ‘outer voice’ – when He speaks to us through others. This is a massive way in which God works, but time and again we miss it because we think it’s just Helen asking us to help out.

A good roster helps us to be the body of Christ – all different parts, well co-ordinated under the Head. It reminds us to work together in harmony, to submit to one another, to take turns stepping up or resting while the whole body moves on. All of this can itself be a witness – by this will everyone know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

So a good roster requires a lot of love, and not just from the coordinator. It’s a spiritual discipline to communicate promptly, clearly and humbly with the poor soul putting it together. Signalling flexibility, willingness for others to have turns at your favourite roles, and willingness to fill in other roles if needed; are just as important as making clear when you’re unavailable and the limits of your sustainable service.

Jesus wasn’t fighting against organisation and coordination, so that everyone might be free to simply be themselves and do whatever they want. That’s not the Spirit of Jesus, that’s the spirit of the age. One of the most radical things a sacredagent can do is to commit to a local Christian community and ask “What needs doing? How can I help?”

For discussion: (1) What was Jesus fighting against? (2) When some says they don’t like organised religion, what might they really be saying?

Responsibility Begins with Response

“In the unlikely event of an emergency, oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling.” If you’ve flown before, you know the drill. And the next part of the safety message: “Be sure to fit your own mask correctly before assisting others.” It makes sense, doesn’t it? The faster you get yourself sorted, the sooner you’ll be able to help others.

But it doesn’t seem to make sense to many of us sacred agents. When we share the gospel, we often forget that part. Calling people to a response – to ‘hurry up and get themselves sorted’ with God – seems a bit pushy to us. Aussies don’t like to be pushed. And Jesus isn’t pushy, is he? Is he?

Actually, the urgency of being reconciled to God is all through his teaching. “Reconcile quickly with your adversary, even on the way to the judge.” Won’t a king facing a stronger king “send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and ask for terms of peace”? And all those parables about being ready because we never know when we’ll face the Master.

Our news is not merely that God loves everyone. If our message can be met with “that’s good to know” or “that’s lovely to think about” then it’s much less than the gospel. Imagine Fred proposing to Helen over and over and getting that response … and then Helen’s agony when she sees Fred finally marry Susan instead! Jesus is not just the pilot announcing “It’s all going to be OK, go back to what you were doing.” He calls people to action – to come and belong to him and join his mission.

The people who do so – who emphatically and publicly say “Yes” to Christ in baptism,getting themselves quickly sorted with God – these are the ones who (masks fitted and breathing in the Spirit) will go on to help others also find life in Christ. For responsibility begins with a response.

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself in Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation … We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5)

The Justice of Evangelism

There’s two words you don’t see together very much: Justice and Evangelism.

Each of them is a buzz-word, a shibboleth (a word from the Book of Judges that helps you know who to kill and who not to).  If you go around using the “E Word” you’re this kind of Christian, and if you go around using the “J Word” you’re that kind of Christian. But sacred agents need to be savvy enough to rise above that false dichotomy.

Because the two are deeply, indeed perfectly, connected.

If you have plenty of water, and a neighbour is thirsty, is it justice to not give them some? (We get that, don’t we?) But if you know the source of plenty of water, the location of a Spring – is it justice if you don’t tell thirsty people where to get it? So with the Living Water we know comes only from Christ.

Justice calls us to evangelism. When we sit on the explosively great news we have, we’re not only doing the wrong thing by Jesus (who said “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory”), we’re doing the wrong thing by our neighbours and the wrong thing by the world, which will never thrive whilst estranged from God.

And as justice calls us to evangelism, so our evangelism calls people everywhere to true Justice. Like Paul’s message to the Athenians, ours points people to a coming Judge, and therefore to a real repentance and new life that goes far beyond sitting around with our friends in delightful echo chambers. It calls people to follow Jesus and join his ministry among the poor, the marginalised, the oppressed and the overlooked.

No one wants change more than Jesus does. But He shows us that the world is not improved through nagging, shaming and propaganda. These things perpetuate the ‘fight’ and bring a self-satisfying sense of struggle, but they don’t result in the lasting just-peace people claim to be fighting for. Real, lasting transformation, from selfish to responsible living, comes when people meet Jesus, find peace with God, and have their hearts and minds transformed by the Spirit. Have we not known this for some time?

So if you love Jesus, or if you are concerned for this dying planet and its suffering inhabitants, or maybe possibly even both, then live by the Spirit and give as freely as you have received: openly point others to the Source of life and Key to lasting change.

Slowing Down for Faster Roads

I’m a frustrated commuter. In Adelaide it seems that around every corner is a new set of road works, and the dreaded signs telling you to slow down to 40 (by displaying the number 25*). Sometimes it feels like you just can’t get anywhere. Traffic jams can reach back for miles and run thousands of people late.

Why all these slow-downs? Because we’re making our roads faster. Why is it so hard to get anywhere? Because we’re making it easier to get places.

It’s counter-intuitive. What would happen if we stopped doing roadworks? It would be wonderful … for a few months. But after that, increasingly disastrous. So I’ve been using stuck-in-traffic time to do some theological reflection.

Sacred agents can be the most idealistic of people. We have a vision for God’s kingdom and we want to see it now. But there are the road-works of disciple-making. The frustration of ministry development. We dream of having a church entirely made up of mature Christians. Wouldn’t it be heavenly … for a few months.

But God is choosing to pave the road to his fulfilled kingdom with future generations of sacred agents and given us the glorious job of being his road-workers. Churches need to be training centres and not just teaching centres. We should ask pastors to be star-players less and coaches more. And whilst it’s counter-intuitive, more responsibility needs to be given to those who aren’t quite ready for it.

But this will only pay off if we’re intentional about it. The most frustrating driving of all is when you slow down for road works and find that there’s no actual work taking place. Fines now apply for road crews who do that. And if we just delegate ministry without deliberately and efficiently building up others, we too should be fined rather than rewarded.

So next time you’re stuck in a roadworks jam, bless a road-worker. And prayerfully consider the wisdom in a slower ministry that intentionally prepares a holy highway for many others.

*That was a joke. Sacred Agents should never speed.

Who is Your Evangelist?

Just the word ‘evangelist’ seems to spook so many people. We can handle some people being called pastors, elders, deacons, worship leaders and administrators … but the role descriptor evangelist seems especially loaded. It’s in sore need of some demystification.

Scripture calls God’s people the body of Christ. The ministry of Jesus, the mission of God, continues by the Holy Spirit through us collectively. We have each been entrusted by God with a unique role to play and contribution to make to the whole, which is why I’m constantly emphasising that there are no lone sacred agents.

It’s good for us to have the words to describe the different kinds of ministries and ministers of the body in order for us to operate together well. The evangelist, in simple terms, is the mouth. Evangelists are the spokespeople of the church to the world. They tell the good news. Again, I emphasise that the whole body is on mission, that we all are called to be missionaries together. We’re all called to demonstrate God’s kingdom, but we’re not all called to articulate it.

So how do you know who is? Here’s a simple test: If your church was having an Open Day and inviting the whole neighbourhood to come for a look-see, who among you would you choose to say a few words of explanation of what your church is on about? For such a day you have a sense for who is better to be positioned behind the scenes (equally essential) and who is better out in front. Good evangelists have a knack for speaking to those with little knowledge of God, using words and ideas that they can relate to.

Evangelists come in many shapes and sizes. Our Queen is one of the world’s foremost evangelists. But closer to home, take my test and jot down some names. Who would you ask to say a few words explaining what your church is on about? Do they need some encouragement, support and development? And do they need to be released from other duties to grow more in evangelism?

Being a Tool

I’ve been thinking lately about how our prayers give away our real theology. The words we use to God can say not only a lot in themselves (especially if it’s one of those long prayers), but a lot about how we view God and relate to Him.

Sacred Agents should talk to God a lot. I mean, we want to represent Him well, don’t we. We can’t be witnesses to something we haven’t experienced, so we want to know Christ well not only for our own sakes but also to be able to introduce others to Him.

But I’ve noticed how much my own prayers begin with “Lord, help me to…” Do yours? When we pray like that we’re really putting ourselves at the centre and seeing ourselves as the prime movers. And God as our helper. He is, of course. It’s definitely not wrong to ask God for help!

But so many of my prayers are shaped like this, I think it gives away that I see prayer as a tool to help get things done, and truth be told, I can treat God’s Spirit as a tool to power my mission. But it’s God’s mission. And far better for us to see ourselves as instruments surrendered to God for His use.

Am I just playing with words here? No, I think our words reveal our hearts. So a simple spiritual discipline for me as a sacred agent is this: To try to ask the Lord open questions. Instead of requests that basically require a “Yes Andrew” or “No Andrew” – or possibly “Wait Andrew”, I’m trying to ask Him questions like “Lord, how can I be of service to you today?” “Who do you want me to particularly notice?” “What are you wanting to teach us, Lord?” And hopefully, through the discipline of the words, the heart is gradually shaped.

Can you be a good sacred agent without being a complete tool? Well, not in that sense.

The Ministry of Inreach

You can’t reach those you don’t love. Sacred agents find this out sooner or later. If our calling was just to drop off a message from God, we could simply find a nice efficient way, get it done and move on. But we’re called to embody a message from God, to represent Christ to others. Like Jonah, we need to learn not only to obey and go, but also to actually care. Our mission is not just to win arguments, but to win people.

But all of this is Mission 101. Basic principles of outreach that most sacred agents get. But do we get that the same principles apply to inreach? Do we even think about inreach at all? What even is it?

Have you ever felt let down by your church family? That you’re on mission, alone in a massive harvest while everyone else stays in the farmhouse playing games and having petty arguments? That’s a picture of estrangement in need of reconciliation. If left to run its natural course, it turns into bitterness and abandonment.

Now here’s the thing: If you’re feeling abandoned by less-mission-minded Christians, I think you’re largely in the right. But you’re still responsible to help bridge that divide. I call it inreach. And you won’t reach those you don’t love, and you won’t win people over by winning arguments.

This might seem mightily unfair to not only face a daunting harvest but also to love and minister to those who should be relieving you! But it was good enough for Peter, who after the Gentile Pentecost in Acts 10 goes straight into explaining and debriefing with the believers in Acts 11. It was good enough for Paul, who worked hard to connect back all his mission work with the ‘home church’. And it was good enough for Jesus, who should have been able to take Israel’s support for granted as their Messiah, but reached in to the nation that should already have been on mission to the world.

So next time you sense the pain of that support-gap, don’t roll your eyes. Don’t let resentment grow. Love your church family with the patience, kindness and gentleness of the Spirit. You might be surprised how many become willing to have a go at the harvest with you.

Where Do I Sign?

It’s a massive decision to submit yourself to Jesus and become a Christian. Just think about the sheer magnitude of that event: It impacts one’s work and career choices, family and partner relationships, one’s finances, calendar, and deeper still, one’s very sense of identity. Indeed, If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come!2Co5:17

As sacred agents move among those to whom we’re sent, we can sometimes despair that any of them would be willing to make such a giant leap. They seem so entrenched in their way of life. This week has reminded me that people do make giant life shifts, and more often than we think. A daughter of one friend is leaving home and across the continent to move in with her boyfriend in a new city. Another friend has a job opportunity on a Caribbean cruise ship and could fly out any day. And another friend (who knew I had three?) is eyeing off a career in the armed forces.

I’m not saying any of these are good choices. But they’re all giant choices. Leave-behind-life-as-you-knew-it choices. Each one is rather sudden. Each one is leaving family and friends scrambling to come to terms with this seismic shift. So I’m reminded that just because someone is entrenched doesn’t mean that they like their trench; many dream of a new start. In these three cases, the dream has come within reach, and they value it so highly that they’ll pay the price of giving up their old life. Cheerfully, even.

It’s all raised one more big question for me. In each of these three cases, the new life can be quite clearly imagined. They might be starry-eyed, sure, but they pretty much know what’s involved, what needs to be organised, and where to sign up. It’s challenged me, as a recruiter for a greater adventure than the military, a deeper peace than the Caribbean, and a better lover than the interstate boyfriend – do the people I’m reaching have a clear idea of the phenomenal thing that is a Christian life, and how to access it, and where to sign?

A Tale of Four Tables

Just as the Kerrigans at No.34 were sitting down to dinner, in that moment of silence before saying grace, a knock was heard at the door. Their eyes opened wide in surprise, and they looked to each other. “Did you invite anyone?” “No, were you expecting anyone?” Considering it such a rude moment for someone to interrupt the family, they decided to ignore it and continued their dinner.

The Ridleys at No.42 had just called their kids to the table, and they were jockeying with one another for their favourite chairs when the doorbell chimed. The youngest, Jenny, was still on her feet, having been beaten to the end seat by Simon. Tentatively going to the door, she opened it to find Josh, the teenager from two doors down. “Um, come in, I guess,” she stammered, and he stood in their kitchen, shifting from foot to foot. “Good thanks Mrs R,” he replied to the standard question that was put – although the mother’s eyes said to her husband’s, “Who drops in at this time?” Sustaining conversation with teen boys can be difficult at the best of times, and eventually some leftovers and scraps were put on a plate for him, and he picked at them while sitting on the kitchen bench, to the Ridleys’ further annoyance.

It was after dark before the Sampsons at No.23 finally sat down for their meal, and they too were startled by a knock. This will make us even later. It turned out to be second-cousin Ruby, from way out in the country. “Ruby, what a surprise,” said Mr Sampson. “We’re just having dinner, we can probably make some room.” After an awkward sideways shuffling of chairs, plates, glasses, cutlery and Sampsons, Ruby was perched at the end corner of the table with an almost-matching dinner set. The food was served, and politely, no one complained of the slightly smaller servings. “This really is a surprise, Ruby,” Mr Sampson reiterated. “What brings you here?”  “Oh, I’m sorry, she said, but remember, you’d said when I started uni to drop in any time? The front gate was jammed, and I see your outside light is broken. But I thought I recognised the house and luckily I was right … I guess.”

Hours earlier, at No.5, the Walters had enjoyed some quick toasted sandwiches together around the kitchen bench. They’d need the energy for the next few hours. “OK, are we all set?” asked Janet for the third time. “Yes Mum! Stop fussing!” said Darryl. “I’ve got the BBQ, Susie’s on drinks, Pete’s made the playlist and will watch the volume.”  “But we’ve invited so many. Do we have extra…”   “Yes Mum, extra chairs are in the storeroom, extra meat is in the fridge, extra drinks are in the mini-fridge. The front lights are on, and the balloons on the letterbox are still intact.” The whole family rolled their eyes as they saw Mum’s motto coming. “Hospitality is making your guests feel right at home, even if deep down you wish they were.” But deep down they smiled, knowing that strangely, these nights were when their family was closest.

Is your church family the Kerrigans, Ridleys, Sampsons or Walters?
God sets the lonely in families.
was a stranger, and you invited me in.
In my Father’s house are many rooms … I am going there to prepare a place for you.

The Smile of God

It can be pretty stressful being a sacred agent, a missionary, ambassador, priest or whatever you call it. Sacred agents are used to never quite having the right words for things, you see, it’s all part of the difficulty of being caught in between two worlds. Representing one kingdom whilst inhabiting another. Speaking two languages, never feeling like you’re quite pleasing anyone, caught between a Rock and a hard place. If that’s you right now, step back for a minute. I want to show you something. Two things actually.

Firstly, I want to show you a little smile. Travel with me to the future and see the faces of the people you’re currently serving. They are so grateful. Not now, perhaps, but in the future. If you don’t believe me, travel back to the past – take a minute to look back on the people whom God sent to you. Did you ignore them, take them for granted or even despise them? But now you consider their feet beautiful; you’re so glad for every step they took. (Why not tell them?)

But now let me show you a bigger smile. I want you to get a glimpse of the delight that God takes in you and His pleasure in your earnest efforts to represent Him. If you feel inadequate, never quite nailing it, or even a complete failure, you’re actually standing in a long line of God’s masterpieces. If you feel caught between a Rock and a hard place, I want you to remember that our Father is not that kind of rockcertainly not impassive. He delights in you. Your efforts and your sacrifices are an incense of worship to Him. Picture him beaming at you, so pleased that you would take the same hard road as His Son. Let his Spirit come alongside you once again and comfort and encourage you.

Be spurred on by the words “Well done, good and faithful servant! Come and share your master’s happiness” and indeed these ancient ones: May the LORD bless and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you… Can you see it?

Walk tall, sacred agents. Even when you feel you’re wasting away, do not lose heart but be renewed day by day.

For meditation: 2 Corinthians 4

From the archives

To Put it Bluntly

There’s an awful lot of talk out there, but how much of it makes a difference? With so many voices and messages in our lives every day,

Re-membering the Body

If we want people to see Christ, we should show them the body of Christ. Of all the ways that we manage to stuff up the mission God has

Vision and Vocation

Some years ago I posted here about Vocational Discernment as a vital piece of intentional discipleship. This is the ongoing ...

When Too Easy is Too Hard

Many years ago I was chairing a committee that was tackling a complex problem. As far as committees go, it was a good one, well stocked

Hey Let’s Be Powerful

The Korean pastor handed his business card to me, and immediately two words jumped out from his vision statement: Powerful church. I ...

Taking the Plunge

Let’s get the shameless plug out the way – I’ve a new little book coming soon. It’s called Taking the Plunge: Baptism and Belonging to ...

When the Walls Close In

We’re becoming familiar with confinement – in one way or another all of our worlds have become smaller. Our wings have been clipped, ...

Chaos, Tumult, Upheaval and You

Often the life of a sacred agent is simply ‘a long obedience in the same direction.’ (Eugene Peterson) There’s much to be said for ...

Working for Jesus?

Ten years ago, the driving idea behind this blog Sacred Agents was to remind ourselves that to be a Christian is not merely to be a ...

Better Than Jesus?

How can I put this? That’s the big question of every sacred agent, every missionary, every evangelist. We have such good news, such a ...

Are You Expecting?

It’s the question no man should ever ask! But the season of Advent just sidles up and drops the question shamelessly. Sacred agents, ...

Are Autonomous Vehicles Safe?

It’s the question everyone’s asking. They’re asking it about cars, but I’m asking it about churches. The world’s been talking about ...

A New New Deal?

We should measure spirituality by flow, not volume. It’s not “How much of the Holy Spirit do you have?” but rather “How much of you ...

Great Number of Expectations

I’m a fan of the 19th Century missionary William Carey – to the extent that we named our son after him. (I now realise that was a

Looking Down on Jesus?

They must have been difficult words for the Messiah to hear: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” They ...

Where Do I Even Begin?

It’s wonderful to receive the good news of the gospel. But we get to be bearers of it too. What an honour … and how daunting. What if ...

Frank Reflections on the Graham Tour

On February 21st nearly 10,000 people overflowed Titanium Security Arena here in Adelaide to hear Franklin Graham’s message. About 400 ...

The Shame Spiral

For fourteen years Margaret from Accounts had admired Geoff from HR but felt unworthy. For the same fourteen years he felt she was out ...

In Praise of Rosters

I love a good roster. There, I’ve said it. I know many Christians disagree, seeing them as a necessary evil, a secret shame. “Rosters ...

Responsibility Begins with Response

“In the unlikely event of an emergency, oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling.” If you’ve flown before, you know the drill. And the ...

The Justice of Evangelism

There’s two words you don’t see together very much: Justice and Evangelism. Each of them is a buzz-word, a shibboleth (a word from the ...

Slowing Down for Faster Roads

I’m a frustrated commuter. In Adelaide it seems that around every corner is a new set of road works, and the dreaded signs telling you ...

Being a Tool

I’ve been thinking lately about how our prayers give away our real theology. The words we use to God can say not only a lot in ...

The Ministry of Inreach

You can’t reach those you don’t love. Sacred agents find this out sooner or later. If our calling was just to drop off a message from ...

Where Do I Sign?

It’s a massive decision to submit yourself to Jesus and become a Christian. Just think about the sheer magnitude of that event: It ...

A Tale of Four Tables

Just as the Kerrigans at No.34 were sitting down to dinner, in that moment of silence before saying grace, a knock was heard at the ...

The Smile of God

It can be pretty stressful being a sacred agent, a missionary, ambassador, priest or whatever you call it. Sacred agents are used to ...

We Come in Peace

“Don’t be afraid!” It’s the most frequent command in the Bible. God’s messengers – angels and other agents – are all ultimately on a ...

Measuring Mission

I meet a lot of down-hearted Christian leaders – passionate for Jesus and his kingdom, diligent in sharing the gospel message, but ...

Detonator Touching

Sacred agents need to be alert and ready for action. This is the fifth and last in a series on having our senses heightened by God’s ...

Rat Smelling

Sacred agents need to be alert and ready for action. This is the fourth in a series on having our senses heightened by God’s Spirit. So

Eavesdropping

Sacred agents need to be alert and ready for action. This is the second in a series on having our senses heightened by God’s Spirit. ...

Peripheral Vision

Sacred agents need to be alert and ready for action. This is the first post in a series on having our senses heightened by God’s ...

Social Focus is Your Frenemy

Many churches have two mission contexts: A local neighbourhood (mostly strangers who happen to live close to the church building) and a

Flat Pax and Take-Away Nuggets

We have lived through an era of unusual peace, compared to the rest of human history. These patches of peace across history have ...

Whose Side Are You On?

We live in a barroom brawl. A time of big arguments. Old assumptions are being challenged, and some old challenges to even older ...

Learning Greek Learnt Me to Learn

I’m clearly no scholar, but many moons ago at Bible College they tried to teach me New Testament Greek. Twice. I haven’t retained a ...

How Not to Change the World

In a boat, on a lake, Jesus leans over to his disciples and tells them to be very careful. It’s a captain’s safety warning, but it’s ...

Just Common Scents

Jesus sure asked some tough questions. But he also asked some really easy ones, like “Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs ...

Speaking of the Spirit

If you were asked to explain the good news of the kingdom in one minute, would the Holy Spirit get a mention? What if you had two ...

Mending Our Nets

We don’t think of fishing as a team sport. When I think about fishing, the image that first pops into my head is someone standing alone

Cat Whispering

I have worked my cat out and I’m just trusting that he’s not reading this. Whenever I call Ossie he goes in the other direction as a ...

How Does It Go Again?

Some things are very difficult. Ranking right up there with licking your elbow and contacting a government department is this: Trying ...

What Dennis Rodman Taught Me About Evangelism

When I coached my daughter’s basketball team, the first thing I wanted to teach them was how to get rebounds. Having the ball makes a ...

The Story of Hiramais Endmie

When we think about church planting there’s often a particular story that plays in our imaginations. It goes something like this: A ...

Embryonic Church

We all lie about our age. Since we only count our years since birth, rather than conception, those first 9 or so months of our life end

That Perfect Opening

One of the thrills of being a sacred agent is knowing that any moment may be an opportunity to represent Jesus. For me, some speaking ...

Halloween – Diabolical Trick or Missional Treat?

Suburbs can be tricky places for mission. Neighbours barely know neighbours. Families are securely locked up behind high fences and no ...

Beyond Aspirational

Every church says it’s a missionary church. The mandate for outreach will be right there in the Core Aims section of the constitution. ...

Moby Dick Mission

Imagine a room. There’s a table, there’s nearly always food, and it’s a safe, friendly place for people. There’s often laughter. It has

To Infinity and Beyond!

Why is it so hard? Reaching Australians with the great news, I mean. Every sacred agent knows more than a few people that just seem a ...

When Mission Goes Pear-Shaped

Sacred agents have a great message. The good news of God’s kingdom stirs us, Christ’s love compels us, and sometimes … our wonderful ...

For the One Who Has Everything?

Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist most famous for developing his “Hierarchy of Needs.” Often presented as a pyramid, it says ...

Catchment or Catching Churches?

How do you feel about a new church opening just a kilometre from your church? We all like the idea of church planting in general – just

Are the Fish Biting?

I remember the stares and smirks on people’s faces as we walked past. It was the middle of the day, I was about 12 years old, and we ...

Where Do the Evangelists Go?

“What would you do if Jesus came to Hawthorn?” read the sign outside an eastern Melbourne church in the late 1960s. Graffiti soon ...

A Multiplying Method

The Hope Chapel movement has planted 700 churches over the last 40 years, so they know a thing or two about multiplying in a Western ...

Second Best Tomorrow

They are three words that changed the course of history. In the summer of 1940, Adolf Hitler was desperate to quickly subdue Britain ...

The Things They’ll Say

How do we know when we’re doing our mission well? What’s our rule of thumb for “good evangelism” over “bad evangelism”? If we judge our

Making Disciples at the Speed of Life

It’s happening everywhere. In lounge rooms and cafes, along beaches and bush trails and in boardrooms. On any given day it may be ...

Missional Straightforwardness

One of the most challenging tasks of sacred agents is contextualization. (Oh the irony, I’ve used a 19-letter word and a 17-letter word

Missional Proximity

Have you ever attempted the Coke-Can Challenge? The idea is to hold a full can of Coke (or indeed any other beverage that is willing to

Bring Him Home

There are deep, strong, and many connections between evangelism and hospitality – far more than I can go into here. One of the ...

Are You Safe to Ask?

It’s a tricky game we’re in. As agents for God’s great resistance movement, just mentioning the movement is frowned upon by the ...

A Deaf Culture? Eh?

I came across someone this week who was talking about the kind of evangelism needed to reach “a deaf culture”. That phrase really got ...

Is It Explosive?

When we think about what the gospel is, quite often we get fixated on the details of how people can be saved. How to get into the ...

Preparing the Village

A remarkable thing happens when a grandchild arrives. The house needs to be “baby-proofed”. It’s been quite comfortable for adults for ...

Knocking the Knockers?

I had a rude awakening last week. It was the height of the December rush, work was incredibly busy, the kid’s end-of-school week was ...

Walking Taller

Anyone who takes seriously their role as a sacred agent – a representative of God’s Kingdom in the here and now – will know the feeling

Getting the Band Back Together

What’s the role of an evangelist? What do they look like and how do they fit in to the church? These are some of the most pressing ...

Easier to Flee Than Follow

They say that we all need heroes, and I suppose that’s true. But in many ways we seem also to be motivated by anti-heroes – ...

Plan It Like a Robbery

I want to tell you about something God told me directly. Now, I’m not normally one to sprout “God told me this” and “God told me that”.

Sunday Morning Evangelism?

Last century many Baptist churches offered two services each week – usually Sunday morning and Sunday night. The morning service was ...

Does Exercise Work?

I need to exercise. Power walking, riding, exercises, weights, even (gasp!) running. Nearly all of us need to take time for exercise – ...

Missional Specificity

It’s been 4 years since Kevin Rudd dropped the phrase “detailed programmatic specificity” to bamboozled translators in Berlin. But I ...

2013 Resources of the Year

The highly recommend Outreach Magazine has just announced its 2013 Resources of the Year. Here are the category winners: Evangelism ...

Personal Exegesis

If you’re a preacher or a regular afflictee of sermons, you’ll know what exegesis is. It’s the practice of very ...

O Soldier, Soldier, Will You Marry Me?

I remember learning this song in primary school choir, do you know it? O soldier, soldier, won’t you marry me With your musket ...

Time to Split?

Some Christians have been thrown to the lions. Some disciples have been burned at the stake. Some sacred agents have been imprisoned ...

There’s No ‘I’ in Msson

The mission of God is, wonderfully, a team sport. Jesus is never recorded as sending out his disciples individually. And yet somehow so

Making an Entrance

Can people get into your church? Bear with me. I am aware that mission is not just about getting people to come to your church. It’s ...

Australia Loses Faith? Seems Not!

The headlines screamed “Australia Loses Faith”. But is that what the recent census data really tells us? I had a conversation with ...

The Road Trip That Changed the World – Book Review

Why is it that on some road trips, time slows down and you think you’ll never ever arrive, and on others you seem to blink and ...

A Fish in Hand…

Sue and Brett were fisher-people Keen as keen could be Spending every waking moment With their net dipped in the sea They’d been doing ...

Sowing Seeds or Wild Oats?

How often have you heard it said about evangelism: “We just sow the seeds, and we’ll never know how they might grow. We may never see ...

The Curvature of the Earth

Here’s an easy little diagram I’m finding useful when trying to explain the kingdom of God – you might too… This is the shape that ...

When There’s Nothing Happening

The life of a sacred agent isn’t like the movies. It’s a lot slower. (And more expensive.) Great Christians and great churches take a ...

Popcorn Theology

Evangelism – articulating the gospel – might not the biggest part of our mission (remember 90% of success is showing up), but ...

Ninety Percent of Success

This Sunday our church will commission our dear friends John & Amanda Bethell, with their family, to plant a church in Port ...

Christougenniadendraphobia

It’s the fear of Christmas Trees. And it’s more serious than you think. This week North Korea warned its southern ...

Can You Point To Your Country?

Former US Secretary of State George Shultz had a tradition for commissioning new ambassadors. He would call them into his office, stand

Knowing the Gospel by Heart

Nearly all of us have trouble expressing the good news about Jesus. I’m often asked to recommend tools or to teach evangelism ...

Getting the Message Across

There was a time when “evangelism” was all about getting some certain information across to people. It was the era of the ...

Stealing Your Identity Back

The value of identity of course is that so often it comes with purpose – Richard R. Grant* Every church wants to be more ...

Boogity! In Appreciation of Pastor Joe Nelms

If you have an internet connection (and I’m taking a stab that you do) it’s likely that you’ve seen this prayer by ...

A Laughable Gospel?

[I was called upon at the last minute to write an article for PRAC magazine about the use of humour in mission. I dashed out to the ...

The End of Church Planting?

In his blog “Reclaiming the Mission”, David Fitch recently posted this provocative article: STOP FUNDING CHURCH PLANTS and ...

Quote of the Week

The value of identity of course is that so often with it comes purpose.  – Richard R Grant Do we see ourselves as Sacred Agents?

Structural Engineering for Churches

In 1943 Winston Churchill said “First we shape our buildings, and then they shape us.” How true. Politicians who moved from

Quote of the Week

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.  – ...

Know Your Neighbourhood with Mappage

My friend Eric Love has developed a really – really – useful site called Mappage. Eric is a brilliant Sacred Agent ...

Less Fuzzy Evangelism: Kids

This is my final post in the series “Making Evangelism Less Fuzzy”. In the introductory post I suggested 3 broad contexts or “fishing ...

Church Planting the Nike Way

[Robin Carter passed on to me this article from Evangelical Alliance blog – thanks Robin!] The plans for planting Northside ...

Less Fuzzy Evangelism: Neighbours

This is my third post in the series “Making Evangelism Less Fuzzy”. In the introductory post I suggested 3 broad contexts or “fishing ...

Less Fuzzy Evangelism: Friends

This is the second post in the series “Making Evangelism Less Fuzzy”. In the introductory post I suggested 3 broad contexts

Making Evangelism a Little Less Fuzzy

Leading a church into more effective evangelism is no easy task. Many church members have strong feelings (inadequacy, fear, confusion,

A Benedictine Prayer

All mission begins with God and any fruitful missionary will have their roots deep down in God. Here’s a great Benedictine prayer

The Signals We Send

When Jesus first appointed the Twelve he gave them a title. We call them disciples (followers), and our mental picture is of 12 blokes ...

%d bloggers like this: