Wednesday, November 30, 2005

So I go to the clinic

They tell me they are full for the day. I do to another clinic, they tell me I will have to wait an hour, or I can make an appointment for later. I make an appointment for later. I come back five minutes early for my appointment, and sit for an hour til I am seen.

Why is this such a hard concept for people to understand? I understand running a bit behind, but if you can't see me at 1:45 then don't tell me to come at that time.

the rev

I am crook, (sick to you americans)

I started coming down with something last Tuesday, felt really bad on Wednesday and worse on Thursday, but with my Thanksgiving dinner and trip to Perth coming I could not stop to whinge about it. I powered through, even felt better on Friday, and Saturday, but Sunday I wasn't feeling so good, and Monday I was getting it back. Now I feel like utter crap.

I have our intensive this weekend, and am having to make a lot of adjustments because I just can't seem to get the stuff done. I will be there, I will fulfill my responsibilities admirably I hope :) But man, why did this have to happen now? The busiest part of the year.

I know there are medical reasons why times of stress make it easier for us to catch a bug and harder to kick it. I also know there a spiritual reasons for the same thing. I also know that prayer sometimes helps and sometimes doesn't. Makes me wonder:

Have I been regularly having a sabbath? A time to allow my body to recover, for my mind to rest in the Lord? For my priorities to be re-instated and assessed? Well who has time for that? Not me?

I have decided that this sickness is God's grace on me, you see I couldn't play cricket these two weekends anyways, so God in His love and mercy has allowed all of my summer sickness to be compressed into these two weeks so I don't miss any matches.

God is good!

the rev

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

My trip to Riverview Church

I have been asked by quite a few people to give an account of my trip to Riverview Church in Perth. Many people were surprised I was going there, and I think some were even upset a bit. Being an advocate of house churches, an anarchist, an emerging church worker and someone very concerned about the poor and the marginalized, I can see how people would wonder about my trip there.

I am also aware that I will most likely not make everyone happy with my response here, I might not make anyone happy, but thats what I get for being such a big mouth. I would point out however that everything I am about to say is very superficial. I spent a couple of hours at this place and a couple more with Phil Baker. These were just my impressions from my limited time there.

Let me first say that I have been critical of the mega church for some time now. I realize that some of this comes from some of the criticism I have received from them, and my natural desire to fire back. I also have felt I need to defend my position, and that this defense will quite naturally result in some negativity towards the mega church. I think that recently, even in the last month or two I have realized a few things, and even felt a bit guilty about some things I have thought and said previously.

Okay, well enough lollygagging:

I met up with Phil Baker almost as soon as I arrived in Perth. I had actually met him once in Melbourne but didn't remember it. He was very nice, and very personable. He talked freely, and I enjoyed our time together. We talked a bit about my life, presumably to get some ideas for the interview on Sunday night as well as to learn a bit about me. And he shared a bit about himself. He shared some of his own issues, and problems that he had faced and seemed to be on the same page as me in some controversial theological areas. He talked with pride about some of the social justice things Riverview is involved in, and I was very pleased to hear about them. My first impression was that he was a very charismatic leader, very inteligent, and was honestly wrestling with some difficult issues. I did notice that he was very careful in the way he said things. I think my first impression would usually be that he was being a politician, but it did not seem this way to me. Rather it seemed he had learned to be cautious because of his position, not in order to attain it.

The next bit may be slightly out of order.

When I arrived at Riverview I got pretty much what I expected at first, friendly greeters, nice building, cleanliness, organization. All of the things that really big churches usually have. I was welcomed by one of the staff and lead to our seats, they explained that things fill up quickly so stay put. Someone brought be a bottle of water which was appreciated.

The service started and to be honest I was a bit taken by surprise. I had actually never been to a service like it. The stage was set up more like a concert, and the lighting and even stage smoke was very concert like, this I had seen before. The music was loud, and very upbeat to start with, again I am used to that. But what I wasn't used to was the stage full of people hopping up and down, dancing and wooping it up. The entire area in front of the stage was immediately taken up by a large group of younger people that were also jumping up and down. Everyone seemed to be very into it. And it was done very well, great graphics on the multiple television screens, the words were easy to read, the musicians were fantastic. My reaction? Well, to be honest, it just isn't my style at all. I felt it was a bit overbearing. I prefer to be lead in worship, but felt almost pushed. I prefer more meditative worship and this was definately not that. Now ofcourse that is what I prefer, I have no problem with others liking something different.

They had a skunk band that was out for a rock festival play a song. These guys were very very good. They had a great sound and I would enjoy seeing them in concert. They actually did play a set after church was over.

They showed a video clip of a church baptism, and Phil told us of another baptism that had just happened that week. Now I am a big softy when it comes to baptisms so I really enjoyed this. Nothing more exciting to me than people giving their lives over.

They took the offering. Now they probably did a bit more of a hard sell when doing the offering than I would be comfortable doing, but I was very happy to see them explaining how giving is part of maturity, and what we do with out money is part of our faith. There was no give so God will bless you, greed manipulation. It sounded nothing like the prosperity stuff that I have heard many times. They also spoke the now standard line, "if you are visiting, please don't feel obligated to give", which I like.

The sermon was challenging. Phil is definately a great speaker. He talked about one of my favorite verses Acts 2:42, and spoke a bit about the unity of the church. I ofcourse would have emphasized the meeting in homes more than he did. :)

He then interviewed me. He asked me some questions to be a bit entertaining, but also asked me some questions to allow me to talk about incarnational mission, and giving up your life to follow Christ. He asked me about luke warm Christianity and I was able to talk about giving up our own lives for others. I did not feel censored, or compromised at all. And it was fun.

Afterwards Phil wrapped things up, did an altar call, and took an offering for me and my ministry. They were very generous.

I talked with some people afterwards and they were very friendly, and inquisitive. Then Phil took me and my friends, one who is a member of Riverview, to dinner at a nice place. We had a few beers and some great food and I grilled him for a while about the church and its small groups and his philosophy of leadership. He was happy to answer all my questions and we had a great chat.

My overall impression: Most of the stuff I didn't like was merely style issues.

I am still concerned about the tendency of big churches to spend too much of their resources on maintaining the church rather than reaching out, but they look at the church as part of their outreach and appear to be very generous and supportive of outreach initiatives.

Community is so important to me that I felt their small groups should be given a higher profile and a bigger push. People would definately not consider their small groups church, but rather a church program or add on.

I think they are really trying to reach out to the people in Perth and beyond. I also feel that Phil recognizes that if they did everything perfect they still wouldn't come close to reaching everyone, and is happy to support and champion other initiatives.

I am scared of how much power a church that size has, and I suspect it would not be good for me to be leading one like it.

Overall I liked Phil, and I liked what the church was doing. I would never go to a church like Riverview, but I know many people obviously would. Infact my friend who has never gone to church, said he would like to return. I hope they will continue to be challenged to be more and more involved in social justice issues, and supporting incarnational mission initiatives. I am also very thankful for their warm welcome, and generous natures. Phil even went to the trouble to read my blog and by me a thoughful gift. I was blessed by Riverview.

the rev

Monday, November 28, 2005

This Weekend

This weekend it the final FORGE intensive. FORGE is a missionary training program for the Emerging church and my employer. The Victorian team director writes this:

Dear Friends,

I would like to invite you to come to our December intensive on Pioneering Leadership.
It will be an inspiring time around real stories of innovation, empowering leadership and looking at Jesus as a model of leadership.

The world is changing at an incredible rate. The challenge of effective mission in our time demands new thinking about leadership. History shows that people can be great ministers, but poor leaders. We must develop leaders with authentic vision, innovation and creativity.

Our December intensive is a shared learning experience with not just key note sessions but group work and innovative ways of learning with ministers, missionaries and leaders from across several denominations.

It starts:
Friday night the 2nd of December and goes to Sunday 5 pm.
Friday and Saturday night (7:30pm) are open (an offering will be taken for the missionaries presenting) for anyone to come & hear from two pioneering church planters and leaders (John Jensen and Mark Sayers).
Friday night and all day Saturday will be based at Northern Community Church, 81 High St Preston.

Sunday, you will have a choice of three pioneering communities to visit from three different denominations (Churches of Christ. Baptist church, CRC churches international)

This will be a great opportunity for a hands-on experience of their Sunday services as well as the chance to dialogue with their key leaders over lunch and wrestle with some real leadership questions.
Connection in Croyden. (
A church that meets in a Pub and explores creative ways of opening the bible and engaging people. It has a great relational feel that is reaching its community. Wayne Nebauer is the leader.

New Communities Ringwood. (
This church meets in the Arts centre and has a desire to be the kind of place that allows others to explore meaningful ways they can connect with other people and ultimately with God. Their fresh approach to worship, teaching and allowing people to engage with God is worth experiencing. Troy Arnott is the leader.

Urban Life Ringwood. ( )
A church that has reinvented from being a middle class Pentecostal church in the suburbs to renovating a night club and opening a cafe on the main street of Ringwood. Anthea Smits is the leader.

Register now,

Invite your friends & come and be part of this innovative learning experience.

All Forge intensives are fully accredited with most colleges.
Stay for two more days and do the intensive for College Credit.
Email for more info.

Birthing and nurturing the missional church.
Kim Hammond
Forge Victoria
ph: 0411 104 443

I will be sharing on leadership Saturday night and Mark Sayers will be sharing Friday night, there is no charge for Friday and Saturday nights but an offering will be taken.

Hope to see some of you there.

the rev

Back from Perth

What a great time I had this weekend, despite being sick.

Started getting sick on Tuesday, was pretty bad on Wednesday. Then we had our thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. Had a bunch of friends over to eat some traditional American thanksgiving food and share what we were thankful for. Was a lot of fun, and a lot of work. I felt pretty bad.

Well then I had to run around Friday morning, jump on a plane and go to Perth. But I love Perth and my friends there so I was looking forward to it. Met up with Phil Baker right off the plane, and discussed what we would be doing at Riverview Church on Sunday night. He seemed like a good guy and we talked about art, and bullfighting, and cricket and a few more things.

Then I went to do a postcards event for Andrew Hamilton, and FORGE Western Australia. This is the second time I have come out to speak to some of the emerging church crowd in Perth, and I always feel so at home there. It was very easy to share my heart, and to explain what I felt was the mission of the emerging church. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did. But afterwards I was wiped out.

The next morning we had a bit to eat and then off to teach some Brazilian jiu jitsu, and mixed martial arts. Six hours of teaching later and I was again feeling a bit wiped out. We went back to my mate Gerald's house. We had a great barbeque, and a lot of laughs. But not too much sleep. My codral cold medication was running short.

Sunday morning we got an early start. I did a bjj lesson, and then another seminar with both bjj and mma. There was a good turn out and a great bunch of guys. I only managed to injure one person and that is always great. Another barbie was fired up, had some nice snags and then off to shower and change for Riverview.

Riverview was a big church. Not really used to them anymore. The level of excellence they obviously strive to uphold was easily apparent. The service was full of energy, great music and Phil Baker was inspiring. I smiled as he started his message talking about Acts Chapter 2 and one of my favorite passages. He interviewed me for about fifteen minutes and the church was very generous in an offering, and then a nice dinner with some fantastic beer. I was now praying for death, and strange green bubble gum seemed to be coming from deep in my chest.

The next morning I got up early, packed, got a ride into the city with Gerald, and had breakfast with my friend Stacy. I met up with internet acquaintance and radio celebrity Lance for a coffee overlooking the river. The conversation was compelling, and I think I learned a lot and was challenged a bit. The coffee was bad and I drank just a bit. Stacy picked me up and we grabbed a quick lunch while watching a bit of the cricket, and I jumped on a plane.

Landing when your sinus cavities are swollen and filled is kind of like sticking knives in your ears. Trying to sleep while an avalanche of flesh is slowly pouring over the armrest and invading your personal space is even less fun. Taking a cab ride home at one o’clock in the morning with a wanna be formula one racer is the best way to settle into a nice sleep.

It was a full on weekend but I am so blessed to have went. Thanks to everyone that welcomed me and to those who were so generous with their time, their homes and their money.

the rev

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Echidna rat

We were warned. We went up the middle of the north island, from Wellington. We wanted to see some Lord of the Rings stuff. So off we went to a national park where Rivendell had been. They removed all signs of the movie set, but we did see the place where it was at one time. Very beautiful, but not really that "Lord of the Ringish". We saw the river Anduin, which again, wasn't that impressive. We walked a half hour round trip trail, which was amazing. New Zealand is very very lush.

We ran into a couple of Neufoundland dogs. They were big, beautiful creatures that were swimming quite easily in the river. Unfortunately, dispite the fact they were all black, no roaring torrent of water shaped like horses carried them to their doom. We walked back, listened to some birds, took some pictures (I'll share later) and were on our way.

We were cutting across to the Western coast, and the road was insane. Like I said we had been warned. There were many switch backs, and blind turns, yet only room for one and a half cars to pass. Very scary. I was absolutley exhausted at the end of it, yet my wife was the driver. She is actually a better driver than I, but I am still a bad passenger. I was twitching, and recounting my life over and over. But through it all we saw some of the most beautiful country in the world. And a few sheep. When I wasn't fearing for me life I was in awe.

Then we saw it. I looked kinda like an echidna. It was curled up on the side of the road, and appeared to be in one piece. Raquel stopped the car at me request so I could run back and see if it was alive. It wasn't. And it wasn't an echidna. It looked like a small echidna, with the spikes and all, but its face was more like a rat. Raquel, sure we discovered a new species dubbed it the Echidna rat. We returned to the car and made it to the coast and eventually back to Wellington.

Oh, the echidna rat...

its just a hedgehog

the rev

Aussies go to the world cup!!!

Well, I am not a huge soccer fan, but tonight was awesome. I went to a pub with a friend of mine and we watched the game, the socceroos against Uraquay. What an exciting game! What an exciting night.

It is different being in a public place, being with the people who live and die with the team. The whole pub sang the national anthem. They shouted, cheered and chanted through the whole game. Many beers were consumed. Then when we won the shoot out, it was magical. Grown men jumping up and down, hugging each other, singing together. I was caught up in the sheer jubilation.

Some things I learned:

The refs hate Australia

Keanou Reeves is not the worst actor in the world, there were atleast six examples of worse acting on the football pitch

Taking off your shirt is somehow good luck

Drunk Aussies show affection to complete strangers when their team is winning

Spewing is always sad, and disgusting, but more so after such an awesome event

I still feel a bit like an outsider, though I am still accepted

I don't know the words to the Australian anthem, and I can't really fake it

My friend texted me right after the game and said he has been waiting for this his entire life. The last time the Aussie team qualified for the world cup was in 74. I was very happy for him, but still think soccer is boring. Unless you watch it with a hundred insane, drunk fanatics. Would have been perfect if we had a few fights :)

the rev

Monday, November 14, 2005

Good people, good times

So as many of you know I train a little Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and have done a bit of mixed martial arts. I have had a few pro fights, trained with some great fighters and generally spent time in a sub culture some have never experienced. It has been a very important part of my life for the last ten years, and is often quite a blessing.

I spent the last weekend in the beautiful city of Wellington New Zealand. Grappling Specialists Wellington invited me to come out and do a seminar at their Brazilian jiu jitsu school. Not only that but they decided I would be in a better mood if my wife came with me. So through some incredible generosity, my wife and I got to have a nice weekend away.

The place was absolutely beautiful, and I will write more about specifics, but we went and saw a few Lord of the Rings filming sites, we met up with one of my friends Darryl Gardiner, (a guy I want to be like when I grow up), and his wife for dinner, had the first decent Mexican food and margaritas since I moved to the pan pacific, and just soaked up some of the local culture and scenery.

On sunday I did a seminar on bjj and taught a few private lessons. I hope the guys enjoyed it, and learned a few new tricks for their martial arts training.

It is amazing to me how many amazingly good people, I meet along the way. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with these kiwi's, hearing their stories, telling my own. Being changed and challenged, and blessed by new friends. God in the creation story looks down at the pinnacle of His creation, man, and utters His first negative critique (though more follow :) ), "it is not good, for man to be alone"

I'd like to thank Geoff, and all the guys and girls from Wellington, for reminding my wife and I that the ultimate gift of God is people.

the rev

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Rediscovering Church

While fasting from TV and internet I read this book by Bill Hybels and his wife.

I must say that I am ashamed of the way I have judged Willow Creek, and churches like them. We have called them attractional churches, and suggested that they stand back and call people to them. Well though I cannot speak for other "willow creek" type churches, reading this book has really challenged this perspective.

I think that the emerging church is in many ways doing exactly what Willow Creek atleast purports. What we have discovered is ways of doing this in different cultural contexts. I believe that is exactly what Willow Creek advizes. I do have concerns still about very large churches, and the power base that they create, I also have some concerns about the leadership philosophies that some adopt. But one thing this book really challenged me on is my judgementalism of what is basically style.

To greatly oversimplify it would seem to me that the "stategy" of Willow Creek is that their members would go out and make friends with their neighbors. They would invite them into their lives, and share their faith with them. The church then "helps" these relational missionaries by providing a service that their talented, and gifted staff create. Through this "team evangelism" they lead others to CHrist, and then through small groups they disciple them. I was very profoundly blessed by the intentions and heart of these two people. They want to take completely unchurched people and turn them into fully devoted, missionaries.

It would seem that is my goal exactly. It would seem that I employ very similiar methods. I have just recognized that Willow Creek would not appeal to my friends, and the people I desire to work with, and have developed a different way of "team evangelism".

Now I might share some of my concerns about their model, but also, recognizing the similiarity of the emerging church ideas, I have these concerns for myself and friends as well:

I have been to a service like Willow Creek, it was my impression that many did not move from the "seeker service" to full discipleship, and infact were content to be entertained by the professional "performance" of the church. and i must recognize that there are many that come to emerging churches that come for the cool mystic worship, the discussions, the community, yet are not called to full discipleship.

I have tried to do similiar things in the past and have wound up having a church full of other CHristians wanting to come to a church that is "cooler" though I care for these people, I was desirous of providing a church for my nonChristian friends not a new service for unsatisfied Christians we must watch that we don't build churches only of discontent Christians

I believe that whenever we create power bases of this incredible size we cause corruption. That the politics of this power, will always cause us to compromise in some way. I do not believe leaders should be put under this strain. I believe we can and should seek to remain free from the stain of power. the emerging church is now developing the credibility, and the notoriety to become a significant power structure, I as a leader must seek to become not a power weilder, but a servant of all.

I do believe that the increasingly post modern world requires a more relational style of outreach, as well as a more relational structure. But I applaud the efforts of all of my friends to make the truth of Jesus love known to all.

the rev

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Cricket on the weekend

We won!!!

We batted well last weekend. I held up my end of the tail. Got eight runs, and wasn't out when our innings were over. Those eight runs included my first boundry, so I was pretty excited.

I was also very glad we were batting instead of fielding. I attempted to adjust my bowling action a bit to be quicker and a bit flatter, wanting to cut down on my bounce. The results were, I completely lost my form. I was all over the place, I was worried if the captain gave me the ball, I wouldn't have been able to hit the pitch. But we batted. What a relief!!!

Over the week I didn't get to the nets because it was raining a bit and I was very busy. But I started to pull it back together at training on Thursday. Yesterday morning I bowled a few before the match and I felt pretty good, I wanted the ball.

I fielded energetically as I usually do. Saved a few runs, but dropped a catch. Luckily my drop didn't cost us much. Late in our innings they gave me the ball, and I was hoping things would go alright. The ball was coming out really well. I bowled two overs and they only scored three off of me. I was dropped once at slip but it was a very difficult catch. But the ball was really turning, bouncing nice and high, and I even bowled a wrong'in that completely fooled the batter. The other bowler wound up taking the eighth wicket, but they didn't have the last two batsmen, so they were all out for 120 and we won by ninety odd runs. I was disappointed though, because I really wanted to keep bowling.

Made me very anxious to get back out on the pitch, I love this game

the rev

Well, I am back

Well this last week as you may know I had an internet and television fast. This week has actually not been very hard at all. It was refreshing to be away from things, and I have recognized a bit about myself in the process.

Over the next few days I will write down some of my insights over the past few days, but the biggest things in relation to the internet were...

I find myself being very reactive online. Although I think I am like that in real life to some extent online it seems much more so. It would make me appear unbalanced I am guessing. I tend to fight against things so hard that I don't present a balanced world view, though I atleast feel I hold one.

I spend entirely too much time on forums, where most people would rather argue, than stretch their own minds, and be challenged. This taps into my "warrior nature" which is probably not the part of myself I need to be nurturing at the moment.

If I were to spend less time online, but actually used it more creatively and inteligently I could probably accomplish more, and enjoy myself more.

And, it is very cool how many real life friends I have made through the internet.

I am glad to be back. I am planning on posting more often, so please stay tuned.

the rev