Saturday, October 27, 2007

Organic Church

When I was younger I used to preach, "you say you want a revival, well good, God is not looking for a revival, he is looking for a revolution, a revolution of the heart and mind." It was like a prophecy. A prophecy that I did not fully understand. Over the years at different times I have thought that I understood what these words meant, and then, it slipped away again.

I was part of the embryonic forms of the emerging church movement back in Australia. I sat under the tutelage of Alan Hirsch for 6 years. I now think that many of the ideas people were throwing around in our community were a yearning. A yearning for what church is supposed to be. We all knew something was wrong with the church. The western church is gasping for air.

We knew that church was supposed to be about community. But some how, we inadvertently missed how much it is supposed to be about Jesus. It was like it was "on the tip of our tongues" but just not articulated well enough. As a community a church plant was attempted in the form of a restaurant. Sadly that went bust. But that is ok, I don't think God wanted people to come to that restaurant anyway.

I was also involved in a different church plant during those years. It lasted about 18 months in total, and then failed. We were trying to aim at community too, but some how we were still using old paradigms to attempt this.

I have just picked up a book called "Organic Church" by Neil Cole. Four chapeters into the book I already find myself saying "I want what they have, that is they way church is supposed to be." I don't want to go back to what I know church to be either.

Let me just throw out a few of my thoughts so far. These are not all well articulated yet as I am still reading the book and my thoughts are in process. But this is a MUST READ I can tell you. Please pick it up and tell me what you think.

Here are my thoughts and some quotes from the book (the quotes are from my head and so could be a bit paraphrased), these come from a Skype chat I was having earlier today:

i am reading a very radical book at the moment and LOVING it
it is called "the organic church" by Neil Cole
in six years their movement have planted over 700 churches in 23 states and 31 countries

sounds good

their church sounds so attractive, i want what they have, and a hole in my mind has been revealed about what i always thought was wrong with the church
i used to say to people "God does not want a revival, he wants a revolution"

that is?

i always wanted to know exactly what that meant, and some times i have thought i knew, but i think this is the revolution God wants

God wants peoples hearts

first: Jesus is not first in the church
people are playing church, building their own kingdoms and physical buildings

a few quotes:
"we lowered the bar on church and raised the bar on discipleship"
"delay your building project for 300 years"
"lives transformed and conversions are part of our ongoing experience on a weekly basis"
"i bumped into someone in the next street who had just started a new church, which happens to be in our same movement"
"he was converted before we even got to the "message" but then intimate fellowship with God and each other IS the message right?"

they have churches in parking lots, pubs, and even one started up in a strip club for the women who were working there, even though it would eventually move out of that location
churches are usually not larger than 15 or 20 people, not because there is a limit or anything, but because they are constantly reproducing
and it has naturally spread overseas
they wanted to start a coffee shop, when God spoke to him and said no, just go and spend time at the local coffee shop
they went there many evenings with their small team
played chess, checkers and dominoes with the regulars
just shared their lives and prayed for their new friends in their difficulties
then at home they would fervently pray for those new people they had met
their early meetings were almost entirely singing and prayer
someone asked, "when new people keep coming will they be uncomfortable if we keep praying for them?" they decided not to stop and people were convicted by the Holy Spirit

it just kept growing

i have long thought home church is the way to go, but he points out the essentials of how it should work, and does not say it HAS to be in the home, it can be anywhere

but I think it sounds like what christianity is supposed to look like and what was
looked inviting
at early church

but there are no real rules
just jesus, really

isnt that it all of it

More later.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

When was the world created?

Bishop James Ussher believed that he calculated that the world was created on October 23rd 4004 B.C. By doing this he created a lot of controversy and dogma. Was he even close?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

My country right or wrong?

I am sad, and for now extremely ashamed to be Australian. I usually find that when I am away from my home land that my Aussie character rises as I miss certain aspects of my home and culture. But recently in Australian news I find enough reason to disassociate myself from many of my country men. It is moments like this that I realise that I am a citizen of heaven more than anything else.

Let me explain this nasty tragedy of political and societal errors for you. As far as I am concerned, Australia does not have a very good record with refugees in the first place. I really couldn't care about comparing Australia to other countries. I am talking about comparing Australia to the highest ideals possible- that which Jesus has taught us. Jesus gave a famous speech- "I was a stranger and you took me in, I was naked and you clothed me, I was hungry and you fed me..... when ever you have done these things for the least of me, you have done it for me..." Australia has turned away many refugees in recent years, and when they have been allowed on to our shores they have often been placed in "detention centres," which are a modern sanitary version of a concentration camp.

Well the issue has gotten worse. I was quite shocked to read recently that the Immigration Minister has shut down the quota on all refugees from Africa, citing that "they have trouble integrating into Australian society." This has been conveniently disguised as a "shifting" of priorities, to accept refugees from other countries. I can think of no needier refugee situation in the world than the plight of the Sudanese.

Have a read of the news article, here. I decided to write a comment on this issue. These were my comments:

"This saddens me deeply. Requirements for immigrants are logical, but for refugees they are completely unfair. The only test case for a refugee should be what they are running "from" not "to." The Howard government may be able to boast a long period of economic stability, but on the issue of race, it has failed dismally and shown itself as racist. Sudanese people find it hard to integrate because of the severe trauma they have been through. They would find it hard to integrate anywhere in the world. We have a responsibility to show them compassion and help them integrate, or else we are as bad as the regime that persecuted them in the first place."

Many people have made comments on the issue and most have disgusted me:

Our refugee program, like every refugee program in the Western world, has brought nothing but disaster.Transplanting people from war torn countries and brutal cultures to prosperous and peaceful nations has never worked.

I always thought it was ludicrous that refugees come from so far away, surely if they are seeking refuge, they go to the nearest safe nation. There's a couple of possible places they could go in Africa not least South Africa, failing that there is Europe of course or Asia.. Australia is further away than all of these places, since when are refugees in a position where they are able to pick and choose which coutnries they will take refuge in? Good call Kevin Andrews.

After working in several african countries (currently in Angola), I get a bad taste in my mouth when we talk about refugees from Africa. There is no doubt that there is problems in many of these countries, but if their own governments would use some of the moneys earnt from the oil, gas or mining industries which is nearly all of these countries earn, on the people of their countries, their lives and their lifestyles would be undoubtedly better. Instead the leaders line their pockets and foriegn bank accounts with ill-gotten gains and live in splendour, while the majority of their people suffer. It is sad for the average person living in these countries, but a thing to consider is whether it is the down trodden that are trying to get into australia, of the rich looking for somewhere better to spend their money.

My comments on this one: We are talking about Sudanese people being brutally slaughtered by Muslim persecutors here, they are not people just seeking a place to get rich, HAVE SOME COMPASSION!

Australia should not accept any refugees. We should withdraw from the UN agreement on refugees and stop accepting any refugees. It is far better to accept educated skilled migrants from stable peaceful countries than to take troubled refugees from troubled countries.

There are many, many more comments from the average Australian that are simply quite racist. This decision on the part of the current Australian government is racist. People have argued that Labour has supported these policies in the past and I would have to agree with that too.

I find it so hard to understand how the majority of Australians can be seeking reconciliation and forgiveness from Aboriginal Australia yet carry a racist attitude to people from cultures different to our own. After all, our ancestors were immigrants too.

This comment from another reader sums it up nicely for me:

Unbelievable!!! I don't recall African refugees harassing people on Cronulla beach..or organising revenge attacks....or having their leaders preach hatred At every opportunity, Australians shows themselves for the xenophobic racist biggots that they are!!

Racism is a sin. Like all sins we are tempted towards them first. In previous years I have heard the majority of people in Australia speak out against racism. Why the change now? I believe it is because we have a government who is giving people an excuse to allow racism into their hearts. It is a temptation of all human beings to want to only associate with people like ourselves and to reject the outsider. As the Australian government upholds racist values, Australian people are feeling justified to do the same and the attitude of the Australian population is spiralling downwards.

Am I an Australian? Yes. Do I want my country to do the right thing? Yes. Am I proud to be Australian? Sadly,today, no.

Please forgive my nation for the wrongs we have done- to Aboriginal Australia in the past and now in refusing so many people in need in today's world.

God have mercy on our nation and help us to do the right thing.