On Sunday afternoon we had a ‘Nuts ‘n Bolts’ session from 2pm-4pm in the Education Centre. It was a preliminary run-in to our soft launch this Sunday at 10am. The sound team got busy unpacking all the fancy new sound gear, the musicians plugged all the new cables into their gear, the Kids ministry teams and Youth ministry teams checked out the rooms they would be using and organised their materials for the term, the ushers and welcoming teams roamed the property looking for the best ways to welcome people, and the hospitality team organised afternoon tea!
It was a real buzz to have so many people around the place getting excited about the opportunities that are now only a few days away! It was also great for us all to see how many people it takes to just get a Sunday gathering to happen – it explains why we were keen to start with a starter group of more than 50 people, rather than exhausting 20 or 30 people in the first month!
One of the other exciting things was that there was a Youth group rebellion, before the church even started to meet! Some of the youth were there and between them and their leaders, they decided that the room we had allocated to them for youth group wasn’t good enough, so they found a better space. It was a great result and showed some great ownership! I was thinking we would have to wait until October until there was a mass mutiny… no, it came in January! They even found a pot plant and named it ‘Alf!’ Apparently this stuff is important for youth groups!
The hospital where Trinity North East is meeting has suffered some pretty bad press over the last decade or so. It was changed from being a good solid public teaching hospital to being a private hospital, back to being a public hospital but with decreasing services – no maternity, not enough/no ED consultants etc etc.
So… I thought Trinity North East would be a great opportunity for some positive press! I rang the SA Health Media Department and was very helpfully given contact details for a reporter in the local rag. Half an hour later, I was at the hospital for a photo shoot! It all happened very quickly!
I look forward to see what they come up with in this Wednesday’s local paper (27.01.10)… if nothing better takes up the space!
Sorry about the delay between posts… obviously I haven’t had trouble with whooping cough or insomnia! Anyway, I thought I would close the year with some thoughts about where we are up to with Trinity North East.
Most importantly, I am staggered at God’s goodness to us. He continues to open doors for us to be involved in evangelistic conversations with people who are keen to investigate the gospel. There are also stacks of people who haven’t been in church for years who are looking forward to ‘re-engaging’ again in a Bible teaching church that isn’t teaching the prosperity gospel or propping up a local Amway chapter!
We also continue to build a positive relationship with our landlords at Modbury Hospital. Each meeting is more and more positive. They have even offered us additional rooms for the children’s ministry which we are over-joyed about. We need to keep praying that God would enable us to be a great blessing to the hospital community. It has at least 700 staff and 270 international students on site. Not to mention patients and their families and support people.
In terms of technical things, our new look website is coming together, due to be released at Christmas time. Thanks to technology at Animoto, we have even included a video/slide show thing! (you can view it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhdriwhfOgA)
We have also ordered our sound system for the auditorium and a trailer to put it all in. (BTW we are looking for a laptop to use for powerpoint presentations, so I am happy to take any offers!)
The plan now is to finish up a few more logistical things like getting signs ordered and other crucial ministry issues(!), but then to take a break from Christmas for a couple of weeks. 2010 is going to be a huge year, so I am encouraging everyone to slow down for a bit of January, so that they don’t all mutiny on me come October!
Inevitably when you start a new church the question comes up: ‘But what version of the Bible will we use?’ Usually I just quote ‘Southpaw’ and say ‘NIV with a ribbon bookmark) … see the youtube clip above.
But seriously, this is an important question. In the end we have decided to go with the NIV. This was largely a recognition of the need to increase the biblical literacy of people and would involve encouraging people to bring their own Bibles to church. Whilst bringing your own Bible to church is nothing new for many congregations around the place, in our context we need to work harder at helping people to be able to read the Bible for themselves. If they use their own Bible at church, we are hoping it will make it easier to check up what was going on at church when they get home. Also, having a common version across the church will make it easier not just in church, but also in small group Bible studies.
However, obviously there are some downsides. Personally, I don’t think that the NIV is the best translation we could use. In terms of dynamic equivalence it is great, but loses a bit in comparison with the more literal translations like the ESV or HCSB. Further, if we have a influx of overseas students, maybe we will move to using the NLT or something similar.
But at this stage we are going for the NIV. One hundred black hard cover copies are on order for those who don’t have or bring their own… $12 each from Bible Society. Great price… thanks for the great discount!
I was about to head out of the office to get my six monthly haircut when someone asked me to go and try a new place that had opened up. I got a sob story about how this lady had been in the country for a month and was worried about getting her business off the ground. So I went… (nothing to do with the $15 price tag!). It was a really interesting time. Kristina had moved to Adelaide from Poland 4 weeks ago with her husband and 3 year old daughter. Her husband was studying English and she was trying to keep them afloat financially by cutting hair. The only problem was … she didn’t speak a word of English! Luckily I have pretty low standards for my haircuts, so we muddled along trying to communicate as best as we could.
But it got me thinking…! What are the obstacles in the North-East for us sharing the gospel with people? If it is hard to explain to a new Australian how to cut my hair, what barriers to I need to overcome to share the gospel with someone in post-Christian Adelaide who has had little if anything to do with Christian things before? Here are my initial top 5:
Obstacle #1: Most people in the North East don’t know any Christians, so are never going to hear unless we raise up local missionaries (Romans 10:14).
Obstacle #2: Most people in the North East have been blinded by the gods of this age, and worship these false idols rather than the living God (idols in the North East = work, family, sport?).
Obstacle #3: Many Christians feel too time-poor about meeting and befriending their neighbours, let alone sharing the gospel with them. Someone said to me the other day, ‘the problem is, I don’t really see the need to make more friends. I have enough as it is’.
Obstacle #4: The Christian ghetto is pretty comfortable. Christians friends, Christian schools, Christian sports clubs…
Obstacle #5: Many Christians do not feel suitably equipped or trained to do the work of an evangelist.
So what is the answer? The apostles Paul’s response to the Christians in Colossae was to keep tell them about Jesus:
We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
I was watching one of those ‘Behind the Scenes’ bits of a DVD recently. It was amazing! I was blown away by the incredible amount of detailed planning and precision that was necessary for the smallest of scenes. As someone who is a ‘big picture’ person, I am incredibly thankful for all the details people who are on the team for Trinity North East. It is true… there are just so many things that need to go into organising a new church community deliberately focussed on reaching people with the gospel of Jesus through the faithful proclamation of God’s Word. And more often than not, I feel completely out of my depth!
So far my strategy has been simple! I have tried to build a core team that contains lots of details people. They are amazing. Yes, they keep me honest by asking lots of annoying questions! But … I love you guys! As much as it pains me to say this, I know that their attention to details will ensure that Trinity North East is much much more welcoming, loving, prayerful, hospitable and generous than I could ever imagine. Again, thanks for coming for the ride! I know you aren’t interested in glitz, glamour or Oscar awards, but your faithfulness is much appreciated!
I am trying to get my head around what happens at Judgement Day. At the moment all I have is lots of questions. Who does God judge on the last day? Everyone? (2 Corinthians 5:10 – all face the judgement of God; cf also Jude 15)
Some other questions: What is the basis of God’s judgement (of Christians – grace or good works or both? How do you make sense of Revelation 20:12 and still hold to justification by faith?
Also, in what sense has God’s judgement begun? 1 Peter 4:17 reminds us that God’s judgement begins with the family of God. How does this work?
Lots of questions, would appreciate your thoughts and/or hints for further reading.