Haven’t posted here for a little while.
Summer was spent preparing for and doing HEAPS of great ministry around the place. I had the great privilege of preaching through Philippians on SummerLife Kiama along with plenty of Christmas stuff with church.
Kirsty and I also managed to get away for a very short notice, week long holiday in Brizvegas. It was so excellent. We found the most amazing coffee EVER. We also managed to catch the last flight out of Brisbane back home when the bad weather started.
Here are some photos we took
I am a Christian, and therefore I care deeply when fellow believers stand up for their faith in Jesus. I care all the more when they are persecuted for doing so. This is a story that I saw yesterday.
Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is facing execution after refusing to renounce his faith during court hearings held this week.
In July, the Supreme Court instructed the Revolutionary Tribunal of Gilan Province to review his case to verify whether he was previously a practising Muslim. At the recent hearings, the court in Rasht ruled that Pastor Youcef was not a practising Muslim before becoming a Christian. However, he remains guilty of apostasy because of his Muslim ancestry.
According to sources, when Pastor Youcef was asked to repent in court, he said:
“Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?”
When judges told him to return to “the religion of your ancestors, Islam,” Pastor Youcef responded, “I cannot.”
Nadarkhani has used up all his chances in the court. “We hear some rumors that he could be executed literally this week – that he’s had now three days which is called for in Islamic law to reconsider his decision, and he could be executed at any time,” reports Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs USA.
Check out this news report for more information about Youcef’s case.
URGENT PRAYER NEEDED
Please share this story with your friends and family and ask them to pray for Youcef Nadarkhani and his family.
- Please pray that Youcef will be faithful even to death so that he will receive the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).
- Pray that Christians around the world will take swift and decisive action on Youcef’s behalf.
- Pray that all charges against him will be dropped.
- Pray for all Christians in Iran, that they will keep their eyes on Jesus and not be fearful. Pray that persecution will only increase their passion for Christ and their willingness to share their faith.
This fourth and final post will speak about some of the implications for ministering to this sub-culture.
For Christian Churches
The main implications that appear for Christian churches in St Ives is the issue that people in the sub-culture have a high level of denominational affiliation, but without the church attendance. Meaning that, a high proportion of people (41.6%) identify somewhat with the Anglican Church, but the church attendance at the Christ Church St Ives and St Ives Family Church do not even come close to this figure. The overall attendance of Christ Church could be identified as being closer to around 1,100 people.
The implication is that, those who are in the sub-culture who are not active Christians simply do not see it as being of much worth to them. Perhaps through their past experience of religious education, they feel affiliated with a particular Christian denomination but they feel that active participation in religion had a time and a place in their lives, and that time was in the past. Regarding this feeling came a few remarks from Richard, who feels like the religious education he received from Barker College taught him really good morals for how he should live his life. But apart from that, he never felt like he actually needed to become a Christian. So a solution for this would be to show the sub-culture the relevance of Christianity for their lives today. It would be effective to show them, it is not a thing of the past that taught them morals for how to live a comfortable and thought out life, but that Jesus is not really concerned with their morals, but more concerned with them accepting him as their Lord and Saviour.
Another barrier for this sub-culture could come from how Christianity is portrayed by the media; media that they are constantly consuming and basing their judgments on. An example of this came recently in the form of a tweet from a prominent Christian leader in Australia, Jim Wallace, the leader of the Australian Christian Lobby. His tweet, which was written on Anzac day said “[I] Just hope that as we remember Servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for — wasn’t gay marriage and Islamic!”. Even though he deleted the offending tweet and posted a retraction of the statement soon after, it still caused outrage within the Australian community, and was picked up by news agencies in Australia. Homosexuality is an issue that has been identified by younger demographics, but it could also have implications for the demographic covered in the study.
The individuals in this sub-culture are constantly basing their decisions on the things that they see and hear, and this is another area in which the Church needs to be attuned to when engaging with this culture. The Church, and the Christians in them, need to be ready to discuss and speak about these topics with individuals in this sub-culture. A failure to do this effectively could result in the Church being regarded as out of touch and unaware of what is happening in the world.
For Christian People
The implication for Christian people is for them to be making friends with the men in this sub-culture. This will mean going out of the Christian culture, and Christian structures to meet an engage with people. This might be a difficult thing to engage in because of time constraints, but this year the men in my church have been actively joining various, typically, secular organisations in the St Ives area in a hope of becoming genuine friends with men in the sub-culture. Real examples of these are.
- The P&C association of all the local public schools, in particular the school our church meets in, St Ives North Public School.
- The local Lions Club.
- The Local soccer team.
- Running the school féte during government elections.
Though there are plenty of other opportunities that present themselves, these four focus areas that our church has concentrated on have reaped returns for the kingdom. We have had numerous people, not just from this sub-culture, come to Christ through becoming friends with Christians in these groups. This exciting reality brings another implication for Christians. This implication is a pastoral one.
When someone from this sub-culture becomes a Christian, it is not just enough to leave him to be a Christian. These men have already lived large parts of their lives, and will probably have things that they now regret doing. This new guilt is mixed up with the new joy that they now feel because they are now one of God’s people. The more mature Christian person is in a good position to care for the younger Christian.
Another area of pastoral awareness that Christians should be aware of is the family of the man. This is especially relevant if the man has a non-believing partner, and even more complicated if they have children. The man will need support as he develops as a Christian, women in the church will need to get to know, and invest time into becoming friends with the wife, and the kid’s church leaders will need to welcome the children, and also introduce them to the same Jesus that their father has recently come to believe in.
During this study, I have been reminded of the importance of interacting with non-Christian people in this community. There are many ways that my Church is currently interacting quite well with the community around them, but there is always more work to be done. St Ives is a growing suburb, with new units being built all the time. Due to this, the suburb is facing a large culture shift. The hardest job of the Christian church will be to keep diversifying the way that they operate evangelistically in this change.
This third post will mostly speak about the education and the influence of religion of 6 men who I had the pleasure of interviewing for this study. Their names have been changed so that they remain anonymous, because of this I wont be able to post the complete interviews.
Education and Learning
The worldview of this sub-culture also highly values education and the pursuit of knowledge. This was observed in the high value that they place on providing a good education and opportunities for their children. Example of this were observed in the sending of their children to private high schools, providing after school tutoring for their children in the area of Mathematics and English, the importance placed on learning other languages and external music lessons with professional musicians. In the interviewees, this emphasis on education came directly out of their own experience of being educated, as 4 out of the 6 interviewees attended a private education institution.
Influence of religion
The influence of religion on this sub-culture is a large one, although there is no concrete information as to why this is the case. The clue comes in the form of identified religious affiliation in the 2006 census data. There are 4 main religious positions that people take in the suburb of St Ives; and unfortunately we have to examine the entire male population as there is no breakdown by age. The influence of Christianity is quite large in proportion to other religious groups in this sub- culture. In St Ives, 57.2% (3,912) of the male population identify themselves as having Christian affiliation. The other main groups are Judaism (14.2%) and no religious affiliation (16.3%).
With this large percentage of individuals indicating that they have Christian affiliation, you need to ask why this is so. Through my experience, there is nowhere near 50% of the male population walking through church doors each week.
The answer might come through the surrounding religious schools that surround the area. Within a 15 minute drive you can easily get to Barker College at Hornsby, Knox Grammar at Warrawee, and Covenant Christian School in Belrose. Not to mention the Catholic run, Brigidine Girls College, a high school, and Corpus Christi, a catholic primary school; both located in St Ives. These five schools are all Christian run, with Barker being Anglican, Knox being Uniting and Covenant being interdenominational, along with the two Catholic run schools.
This method could account for the high number of identifying Christians in St Ives, but where it runs into problems is when you break the numbers down from the large figure of 3,912. The Anglican and Catholic numbers are a lot more that you might anticipate when compared to the Uniting percentage.
The percentage breakdown is as follows.
- Anglican 41.6%
- Catholic 32.2%
- Uniting 9.8%
This second post will mostly speak about the worldview and hierarchy of 6 men who I had the pleasure of interviewing for this study. Their names have been changed so that they remain anonymous, because of this I wont be able to post the complete interviews.
The worldview of this sub-culture is as diverse as the people who make it up. The range of men that were interviewed made this evident with their different verbal responses. Another strong indicator of worldview, was how they go about living their lives.
In the interviews that were conducted, a theme of work being integral to their identity kept coming up for each of these men. But what was surprising to me was that it wasn’t just the work that they were doing that was important to them. The question of how they went about doing their work was also hugely important.
William and Richard are both from a working class background and therefore have a strong worldview and work ethic of success coming mostly from your own hard physical work. This is contrasted by the worldview of James, Tim and Anthony in which you gain success mostly through good decision-making. Completely different to these two groups is Tobias, who measures success, not by the possessions that he owns, but by the impact he has had on the world around him.
Ultimately, a prevailing worldview for this sub-culture could be described as an “improvement” worldview. This improvement worldview means that they are constantly striving to improve themselves and their achievements. This can be professional improvement or personal improvement, working towards their ideal job, or training for a marathon. Irrespective of area, they do these things with all their energy until it is completed. After completion, they will find something else to “succeed at”, and then work towards its fulfillment.
The hierarchy in this sub-culture could be easily classified into two different spheres of life. These two spheres could be thought of as being a Professional sphere, and a Social sphere.
In the professional sphere, the hierarchy is easily defined. In each work place there is a set hierarchy in place. This hierarchy is based on both or either, length of employment and the level of qualification attained by the individual. Individuals in this sub-culture like this system, because it gives them a framework for their self improvement worldview. It also gives them set achievements in which they can work towards.
The social sphere is a little more difficult to describe. While the sphere is still concerned with achieving success, there are many different interests and hobbies with each individual involved in the sub-culture. Outside of the professional sphere, individuals prefer to do away with the rigidity of their Monday to Friday work structures. This might be because of their desire to be involved in activities that they find enjoyment from; training for a marathon, attending football games, playing sport or just spending time with their immediate families. Ultimately they wish to have the freedom to enjoy these activities in a less rigid way than they are used to at work.
It has been a little while. Just over two weeks in fact. I didn’t die, and there isn’t anything wrong. Ive just been super busy with a few things.
Last week I preached at church on Genesis 11:1-9, about the city of babel. Another thing I have been doing has been a project for college titled “Reaching Men, aged 40-54, living in St Ives, with the message of Jesus Christ”. It was 3,300 words of analysis of the sub-culture, and how churches can reach these people with the gospel of Jesus.
This project is something that is close to my heart, and close to the heart of my church. I had a few people express interest in reading what I had come up with. So I thought I would share some of my findings over the next little while, but first I wanted to share some stats with you about this micro culture.
One of the problems that is encountered with using this census data, is that the last census was conducted in 2006. Seeing that there has been no new data collected since, this 2006 data is still the most reliable. The following data is not the only means by which this sub-culture can be analysed, but it also shows us a few important facts that we should be aware of.
- The median age of the suburb is 43.
- The overall population included in this sub-culture is 1,606 people.
- This figure of 1,606 is 23.5% of a total male population of 6,839, and 11% of a total population of 14,210.
- 55.5% of males living in St Ives were born in Australia, with the next two significant places of birth being South Africa at 11.7% and the United Kingdom at 8%.
I hope you will come back in the coming week to see more of my thoughts. And hopefully engage with them.
Today we had the privilege of meeting with the senior minister from St George North Anglican. This was the church that I did mission with a little while ago.
It was great time of hearing back about what kind of impact our mission had in St George North. I didn’t know what to think about mission while we were doing it. We were so busy all the time that we just powered on, not really having time to properly debrief. So it was great to be able to hear about all the great things that have been happening because of our week on mission. The last little while has been exciting for the church, and ive written them in point form.
- 21 people are involved in Christianity Explained directly because of mission. An additional 14 are in this course external to our mission, bringing the number up to 35.
- One woman about to finish Christianity explained, and wants to be a Christian.
- One man became a Christian, directly because of a sermon he heard on Luke 24 at Bexley North.
- A new youth group is about to be planted at Bexely North.
- 10 new people coming to church for the first time.
- A new congregation has been planted, with another 15 new people. They are already having the problem of reaching capacity, and might need to find a larger place to meet.
I’m so thankful for the impact that the gospel is having in St George North, and that we were able to be a part of it. Ill keep praying for them.
My time last week down in St George North was a blast. St George North Anglican is a church that I suspect is going to go on to achieve great things in and around St George North. They have a great staff team working there for Jesus. That being said, I don’t think I have ever packed so much into one week for a long time.
This week everyone is back at college, and the assignments are starting to pour in again. I thought I would lighten things up with some random photos I took last week. Enjoy.
p.s you can check out St George North Anglican Church, here.
Yesterday was a really good day here in the south. The day kicked of at 7am, with the whole team stationed at various train stations inviting people to come to Church on Sunday and the Easter services of St George Anglican. The ladies of our team then kicked on, and ran a training event for the Christian women of the church on “Spreading Jesus Through Friendships”. By all accounts it went really well, with lots of women realising that they were already doing everything that was spoken about. Which was encouraging for the ladies on our team.
The day then rounded out with 2 hours of door knocking. Lots of stories came from this also. Lots of conversations were had with people from all different backgrounds. Please pray for all the people we shared the gospel with. We can’t go into specifics about the people we met. Mainly because we don’t want people to be afraid to speak to us because of fear that we will then go and blog about them.
Last night we had the 7pm service here at St George North. It was a great night spending time with a truly great group of Christians. After the morning services, a team meeting and some walk up evangelism/flier drop most of us were pretty tired, so the smiling faces at Church in the Bank were really encouraging for us as a team. The stories this morning of conversations had last night were a testament to this encouragement.
Today was a much quieter day. Today we spent most of the day planning for this coming week, along with a tour of St George North. Because nothing much happened today, I thought I would let you know of some stats.
St George North is a vastly multicultural area. Looking at Census data from 2006 for the suburb of Kogarah the population sits at 11,715 people with a pretty 5,810/5,905 Male/Female split.
- The 25 to 54 age group is the highest represented with 5,703 people.
- 2,697 people were born in Asia, with 1,325 of them being born in China.
- Because of this, Mandarin and Cantonese speaking homes are high in proportion with a combined 16.6%
So with a quick look at these stats, it is evident that St George North is a very multicultural area. Sadly this is not the case within the Church here. But it is something that they are spending time and energy trying to change. We have been really thankful that there are a few people on our Mission team, who can speak both Mandarin and Cantonese. Meaning that we are able to make vital contact with these groups in Kogarah.
This morning the St George North mission kicked off with 3 services in 3 different buildings in Bexley, Bexley North and Carlton. St George North Anglican Church is a multi site church, with a total of 4 services over 4 different sites in and around Bexley.
This morning our mission team was split between these 3 different services with 3 people from the team preaching. Tonight we will all combine for a 7pm service in a bank in Kogarah.
If you are the kind if person that likes to pray, we would love it if you would pray for the beginning of our mission here in St George North. Pray for the churches we will be working with over the next week, and that this mission will only be the beginnings of a wider and longer lasting mission here in St George.
I really love my little sister. 20 months ago, she packed up her life and moved to Dhaka, Bangladesh to be a missionary to the Bangladeshi people and to teach primary school kids. She is a real inspiration to me personally, both as a woman and a Christian.
She works at Grace International School, and also teaches music on top of that.
Living in Bangladesh is really hard for a westerner, and even harder for a Christian. Bangladesh is primarily a Muslim country. And the differences in these beliefs have their challenges.
My sister is a volunteer in something called Badda Disability Centre. She helps in giving clothing and food to homeless children in Dhaka. It is a really a great thing that she is involved in. You should check out all the great work they do.
This last couple of weeks have been exciting. But first a short story.
A couple of years ago Kirsty and I stopped leading on Kiama Beach Mission. Kirsty led on it for two years, and I led for eight. Finishing up mission was both a sad and happy time. Sad to be finishing up in a ministry we had loved, with people we loved and sad at the prospect of not being able to keep in touch with the churches in Kiama. But also happy because we were getting married, and felt that the leadership had passed on to new people with fresh ideas. KBM was in safe hands.
Why would I share this story? Next week Moore College mission for 2011 begins. It has been great being able to be part of plans for a new mission. Even if there will be considerably less beach involved. The whole college is splitting up for the week to tell people from all over Sydney about Jesus. With a few other groups heading to places like Hong Kong and Port Macquarie. Personally I will be heading to St George North, around Carlton, which is near Sydney airport.
If you want too read about what is happening during the week. Ill be contributing to a combined blog over the course of the week. My posts will be the ones with less text and more fun stuff like photos, and possibly a video or two.
But if you are reading this, then I want to invite you to be part of our Moore Mission street team. We need people to spread the word that Moore College is having a mission. There are 4 basic things that you can do.
1) if you have a blog – get the word out! let people know about mooremission.wordpress.com
2) if you’re on twitter – tweet about us. if you have mission related tweets, use the hashtag #MooreMission
3) if you’re on facebook – share the love.
4) if you have family, friends, churches that would be interested in following Moore Mission 2011 – let ‘em know!
One large focus of my subjects at college is the question “How can I use what I am learning to reach communities with the story of the Gospel”, meaning that just having knowledge about the gospel is useless unless it is also matched with some kind of action in sharing it with others.
I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce to you some friends of ours. Their names are Derek and Beth. I’ve been friends with Derek for a few years, we served together as leaders of a men’s Bible Study a couple of years ago.
At the end of last year Derek and Beth moved from the comfortable north shore of Sydney, to Santiago, Chile. They are doing the Chile equivalent of MTS, with a focus to UNI students in Santiago, working in a church plant and some work with kids that live in an orphanage.
Anyway, they have a blog running. If you would like to know more about what they are doing, click the image below.