Archive for August, 2021

What about Mound Building?

Posted: August 27, 2021 in Uncategorized
Photo: Rob Douglas

I love the termite mounds of the Kimberley. They are a familiar sight throughout the north of Australia. When we first got to Derby I did a video, as I do, about the termite mounds and I reflected on what they may teach us about the church. I talked about the way the termites worked together to produce these amazing mounds and how the termites can be a great example to us of working together and producing great results together.

Then I thought about what I said, and realised that there is probably another, and maybe a more important message for the church. As I looked at these mounds all across the environment, I pondered on the fact that the church is busy building its own termite mounds. Like the termites we work away creating amazing structures that protect our colony and everyone can see what a great job we do. Unfortunately, all our feverish work is only to make a comfortable environment for ourselves and all people can see is the outward structure.

That sounds very critical and I know it’s not typical of all of Christ’s followers or his church, but it’s intended to prompt our thinking.

In these COVID times I wonder if it is time for us to look beyond some of the things that have been important to the church in the past and to re-think about our role. The purpose of this video is to encourage followers of Jesus to think more about this, and to start a conversation about what the church may look like in the future. I’d love this site to be a place where people feel free to discuss their ideas and help us to look beyond termite mound churches, and discover God’s calling in a fresh new way.

Check out this video and let me know your thoughts.

Faith: A Risk Worth Taking

Posted: August 26, 2021 in Uncategorized
Photo by Rob Douglas

On going back to Derby, I couldn’t resist checking out the rodeo, one of the popular annual events right across the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

There was plenty of action, lots of dust, and more Akubras than a plague of rabbits trying to get over the rabbit proof fence. There is a risk involved in getting on a horse or steer and racing the clock to stay on longer than the next person. Falling off at some stage is without question, it’s simply a case of when … and how hard the fall.

Photo by Rob Douglas

Check out my latest video where I talk about risk and the way in which we take on a whole lot of risks in life, often with the knowledge that it’s going to end with a nasty fall. But despite the dirt in our eyes, the bruises, and sometimes, broken bones, we go back and have another go. Often our use of drugs, alcohol and other addictive substances and behaviours are accompanied by a thrill akin to riding a wild steer, and in the moment, we revel in the experience and this justifies the inevitable fall.

But there’s another risk that’s definitely worth taking. Faith in God is a risk because we can’t see God and we often don’t want to take someone else’s word that it’s OK. Like many, you’d rather sit on the outside of the fence and watch everyone else, rather than getting on that steer yourself. Even the Bible itself tells us that faith is the evidence of things we can’t see (Hebrews 11) but there are thousands of years of people who have attested to the wisdom of faith as a risk that far surpasses so many of the other risks we are prepared to take every day.

Photo: Rob Douglas

There’s a major difference between faith and the risks that are common to humanity. Faith involves trusting in a God who, unlike a desperate horse or steer whose main goal is to get rid of its rider, wants us to stay in the saddle. He invites us to give up control of our own lives and to allow him to lead us in directions that may take us out of our comfort zone, but which have eternal rewards.

The great apostle Paul put this this way: For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

Now that’s a risk worth taking.

Spreading my Wings

Posted: August 25, 2021 in Uncategorized
Photo: Rob Douglas

I am delighted to advise that from September 1 I will start a new position as Presbytery Minister for Mission with the Uniting Church in Western Australia. The three year appointment will involve working across Uniting Church congregations in WA, resourcing and assisting congregations to undertake deliberate, wise and prayerful missional planning and assisting in exploring fresh expressions of church.

Robyn and I have already had the opportunity to connect with some of these congregations over the last few years in our role as regional coordinators for Messy Church in WA. 

Early last year as COVD19 hit, I began to think more deeply about the future of the church and how we might emerge from this time of change. I have observed how healthy fresh expressions of church are being explored in many parts of the world, and have sensed that God has been leading me to become an encouragement and support to those who are open to discovering unexpected spaces where the Spirit is already at work. 

The last 18 months or so have been a time of seeking God’s will and discovering more about the path ahead. Robyn and I have valued the opportunity to briefly serve the Perth and Riverton Baptist Churches and to spend four months as locum pastor at Derby Baptist Church. This has been a time of waiting and learning to relax into God’s timing and purpose, and we have found peace in knowing that a new door is about to open, along with all the opportunities it brings. 

I am appreciative of the Uniting Church in WA for taking on an “almost rusted-on” Baptist and giving me the opportunity to spread my wings in this exciting area of ministry. Thank you to all those who have encouraged me and prayed for Robyn and I as we have been seeking God’s leading for this next stage in our lives.  

People have asked me from time to time if I am retiring, but I have been convinced for some time that God had something more for me to do. God is a “sending” God who sent his Son; together they sent the Spirit, and Jesus sent his disciples with these words: “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.This is my command: Love each other.” 

As one who is aware of having been sent my desire is to serve my Lord wherever I am sent, and be faithful in making disciples who will in turn, become disciple-makers. 

The Boab Speaks

Posted: August 24, 2021 in Uncategorized
This grand old Boab tree on Gibb River Road may be 2000 years old. Photo: Rob Douglas

The iconic Boab tree is a feature of the environment of the Kimberley region of West Australia but the Boab tree featured in the environment of my preaching during a recent locum pastorate in the remote Western Australian town of Derby.

Holy Habits was my theme over a period of 10 weeks, concentrating on the activities of the early church as recorded for us in Acts 2:42-47. There’s a tree along the Gibb River Road that scientists say could be 2000 years old. This got me thinking. If the dating is correct, this church was just a tiny sapling at the time the church was born. As a result that grand old Boab tree became a symbol for me of the church – starting from those seeds of holy habits as recorded for us in Acts, and growing to be a grand old lady that is still surviving in a harsh environment.

As I thought about the Boab tree I felt that it had so much more to speak about. Check out this video to find out what the Boab has to say about the church and how we can be a part of helping the church to grow into the future and to continue to influence our society. Enjoy

Photo: Rob Douglas

Hope and a Future

Posted: August 23, 2021 in Uncategorized

We have those moments from time to time when our history comes back in the most surprising way. The story in this video is about one of those moments. We’ve just come back from Derby where I’ve been working as a locum pastor with the Derby Baptist Church. We first went to Derby 35 years ago and it was a privilege to get back to the old town and see what has changed and what hasn’t.

This is a story that speaks of God’s hand in history and is a joyful reflection on how something fresh and new can emerge from what has been discarded. Enjoy.

Expect the Unexpected

Posted: August 23, 2021 in Uncategorized

I just had to do this video. We’ve just spent four months in Derby, in the north of Western Australia where I have been a locum pastor at the Derby Baptist Church. We lived on site and I loved the wildlife we encountered while there.

But some surprise visitors that we had each morning at 6am were completely unexpected in the harsh Kimberley environment. They were fairly timid so I had to set up a camera on a tripod and use a remote to start the video. Here’s the outcome. Enjoy this short video.

There are a few more videos that I have prepared during our time in Derby which I’ll be posting in the near future. Make sure you click “follow” so you get notification when I publish next.