Hi fellow pastors and leaders,
In John 4:35 Jesus says to his disciples:
35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.
Having just had a conversation with the Samaritan woman which changes the trajectory of her life, Jesus reminds his disciples that when it comes to the Kingdom of God, it’s always a time for sowing, and always a time for harvesting. There’s an urgency about sharing the Good News of the Kingdom.
When it comes to mission in our local communities and into the world, part of our role as missional leaders is to keep this reality before our churches – and to model it ourselves. If your church participated in the National Church Life Survey last year, you would recently have received the results. One telling piece of feedback from our draft combined results is what people across our churches value in the life of the church. From 13 options, mission comes in 7th & 8th on the list, behind sermons, study groups, caring for one another, and even having a contemporary style of worship!
While there are undoubtedly great things happening across our churches in the area of mission, Jesus’ call is as important today as it was to his disciples: Lift your eyes and see – The time is NOW. Not in 4 months, not in a week…. today! It’s a challenge for us all.
This year our REVIVE gathering, speakers will focus on helping us identify the harvest and prepare the workers, as well as inspiring us to action with resources and experiences we can contextualize for our local settings. And we will be encouraged as we engage with others to learn, support and pray.
Revive is on 19th and 20th of May at Dural in Sydney, and a week later in the Western NSW region at Bathurst Baptist, which is an exciting development. We also have 6 Revive youth nights this year, starting on 19th, in different locations around the state.
I look forward to us coming together at Revive so that we can encourage each other to see how the fields are ripe for harvest in our world and communities, and be inspired and equipped to respond.
2017 Federal Budget
Click here for the Baptist World Aid Australia Prayer Resource
Links to info and resources on these issues:
- Baptist Association Public Engagement Group: https://nswactbaptists.org.au/public-engagement
- Baptist World Aid Australia: https://baptistworldaid.org.au/2017/05/11/fear-love-and-budgets/
- A Just Cause: https://ajustcause.com.au/refugee/
2017 Budget, advocacy and praying for our government
As you are probably aware, earlier this week the Federal Government released its annual budget. It’s an important moment in the year for Australians because the decisions made can have a significant impact on the lives of individuals, families and communities.
As I reflect on what was announced and how these intersect with our agreed values and priorities as a movement, it has been encouraging to see a commitment by the government to some important measures that support vulnerable Australians. In particular, the commitment to deliver promised funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and the allocation of $375 million over the next 3 years to crisis housing for the homeless, with priority given to young people and victims of domestic violence.
The number of people in our communities struggling to pay for a place to live is a real concern. Some measures to address this issue of housing affordability were announced in the budget. It remains to be seen what effect these will have, but what is clear is that there is still much work to be done in this area.
One area of real concern in the budget is our relationship to those beyond our national borders. I believe our actions as a nation say something about who we are as Australians. And I believe that generosity and hospitality, which are two key components of the Christian story, should also be at the heart of our Australian story.
We are saddened to see that the Australian aid budget has again been cut. This decrease in real terms of $303 million comes at a time when our levels of generosity are already at an all-time low.
We currently find ourselves in the midst of a global crisis with regard to refugees and displaced people. It is good to see the government deliver on their commitment to an extra 2,500 refugee placements in the coming year, yet it still seems strikingly inadequate in the light of the magnitude of the crisis.
Our Association’s Public Engagement Group, Baptist World Aid Australia, and our National Baptist justice group A Just Cause all have resources online to assist churches and individual to engage and respond to these issues. The links are in the article in this enews.
Finally, let’s continue to be praying for those who govern our country, as the Apostle Paul encourages us to do, for wisdom and discernment in the important work that lies ahead of them.
In 2011, Olive Tree Media released the Australian Communities Report, carried out by McCrindle Research, to inform the series Towards Belief. While the research was originally completed for the series, it has become a very significant resource for a number of ministries in understanding what the Australian community thinks of Christianity and the Church.
At the end of 2016, several ministry leaders approached Olive Tree Media and McCrindle Research with the desire for this research to be repeated to provide an updated perspective.
This new research, Faith and Belief in Australia: A national study on religion, spirituality and worldview trends, is now completed and has generously been made publically available. The material is downloadable at http://faithandbelief.org.au/
I commend the material to you and for distribution through your networks.
Defeat of Abortion Law Reform Bill
On Thursday 17th May, the Abortion Law Reform (Miscellaneous Acts Amendment) Bill 2016 was defeated in the Upper House of the NSW Parliament by a vote of 25-14. It was good to see a conscience vote allowed, and the clear outcome.
We acknowledge the extremely difficult situations facing women whose pregnancies pose significant threats to their lives or wellbeing, and the importance of providing quality support to women in these situations. However the provision in this bill for, among other things, the removal of protections around the life of unborn babies that would have resulted in unfettered access to late-term abortions, meant it deserved strong opposition.
It is good to be able to thank our parliamentarians when they take steps consistent with gospel values, including the protection of human life. I have emailed a number of our upper house members thanking them for their work in preventing this Bill from passing. If you feel so inclined, I invite you to do the same. You can find details here .
New Australian Christian Media Initiative
Would you use Aussie-made media and visual resources in your church?
Zenos Media is a new NSW-based Australian Christian media initiative, currently in development. Jenny Hanslow, wife of one of the pastors at our Taree church, is one of its key leaders. Zenos hope to provide a database of non-denominational Christian resources such as short films, animations, interviews, programs, worksheets, photos, sermon introductions, testimonials, etc. that will cater for the Australian ministry setting.
Their team currently draws on the talents of Christian professionals from several areas, such as film-making, animation, teaching, ministry, performing arts, creative arts and media.
They are seeking to gauge interest in the production of these resources as they determine how to move this project forward. I encourage you to provide your feedback by watching their introductory video and completing their survey, which would help them in planning and in helping determine the validity of this project. This should take no more that 10 minutes and can be found on the home page of their website.
Jesus the Game Changer – Revive
Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the “Jesus the Game Changer” outreach course at Revive! In 2018 Olive Tree Media will be partnering with the Baptist Association to run a 6 week church campaign based on Jesus the Game Changer. Revive is the perfect opportunity to become more familiar with the course and ask any questions you may have. Jane Faase and Ainsley Freeman from Olive Tree Media will be presenting the material in a workshop on Sat 20th May, 3:30pm. You will be able to see for yourself the quality of the course and the discussion guide and sample a few of the topics.
Ainsley writes: “Jesus is widely considered to be the most influential individual to have ever existed. His words, His example and His values have shaped our Western world in ways that we are often not even aware of. This seminar is based on the series Jesus the Game Changer and it will look at how the life and teaching of Jesus changed the world and why it matters. From our pursuit of equality, the status of women and children through to the foundations of our health and education institutions, the progress of science and our perspective on leadership, Jesus and his followers have been game changers throughout history, weaving these values deep into the fabric of our society.”
After you have registered for Revive look for the “Jesus the Game Changer” workshop on your Saturday Revive Programme.
You can join the churches that have already registered their interest in the campaign here: https://nswactbaptists.org.au/gamechanger/
Pastoral Development Seminar: Breathing Life into Dry Bones
|When:||Thursday, 15 June 2017|
|Time:||Arrive at 9:15am for a 9:30am start, finishing at 4:30pm|
Includes morning tea, a light lunch and materials
Webinar is $45pp
|Venue:|| Baptist Ministry Centre
Lvl 1, 3 Carlingford Rd, Epping 2121
|Parking:|| There is 2 hour parking in Coles
Alternatively, there is free all day street parking
in the surrounding streets
|Register:||Register online before Fri, 9 June|
In a rapidly changing world, the church in the West is becoming increasingly dry and irrelevant in the perception of large portions of society. Young adults in particular are abandoning the church. How do we as pastors engage the whole church (including the millennials) in moving forward with God’s mission? Appreciative enquiry involves a positive approach to evaluating an organisation’s situation, focusing on it’s strengths and affirming features as a starting point for involving it in self-determined change.
Cameron Eccleston – Presenter
Now working for Baptist World Aid Australia, Cam was previously a local church pastor for 15 years. His D. Min thesis, completed at Morling College, examined how churches may be revitalised using a tool called Appreciative Enquiry. Cam is married to Cassie, also a local church pastor and they have two children.
Last Chance – REVIVE 2017
Come and join us at Revive this year as we See: Local and Global. Everywhere we look, there are people crying out to God, longing for the piece (and the peace) that will make them whole again. There are so many opportunities for us to share Jesus. With our families. Our friends. Our next door neighbours. Our sporting clubs. Our backyard and our global yard. We hope you will join us as we are challenged on how we can more effectively see and reach our neighbours, both near and far.
Revive is on 19-20 May 2017 at The Centre, Dural.