Church

God's Story Building Project

Most churches I have been a part of over the years have undergone a building project or extension at some time. Of course, a church is not a building nor is a building ever meant to be the vision or the focus. After all, buildings don't change people's lives but what happens in them can and does. When the building project is finished, it is easy to think that the work is done. But in reality, the work is only just beginning. Buildings are a tool to continue to carry out the mission of the church. Not only do churches... Read more →


Church Life AFTER Marriage Equality: The Questions No One Is Asking

Right now, Australians are deliberating about just one question - “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” A majority of conservative Christians (as well as Jews and Muslims) are campaigning for a 'No' vote, while less are saying it should be 'Yes'. A majority of society in general seems to be campaigning for a 'Yes' vote, while some are saying it should be 'No'. Whatever your answer is to this one question, the work of discussion and deliberation doesn’t end on the 15th November (or whenever the government makes a decision); it just begins. Regardless of... Read more →


Pass the Baton: Successful Leadership Transition

CityLife Church, located in Melbourne Australia, had three Senior Ministers in the first 50 years of it's history. Richard Holland was the founding pastor and led the church for 20 years, followed by my father, Kevin Conner, who led the church for the next 8 years. I was the Senior Minister for the next 22 years before passing the baton in February of this year to Andrew Hill. [Read my announcement on 28th February 2016] Like any relay race, passing the baton effectively is vital for any organisation, including a local church. I wrote about this a few years ago,... Read more →


The Stresses of Church Work

I would never suggest that pastors and church leaders work harder than other people ... but church work has its unique challenges and pressures. Here are five of them: 1. Ministry work is never done. It is open ended. There is never full closure. There is always more to do. It just keeps coming at you - day after day, week after week. There are no finish lines. Finish one counselling appointment and there's another one coming. Get through last weekend and there's another one coming. Preach that sermon and you'll need to start preparing the next one - and... Read more →


A Church United

John 17 is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus and it reveals what was important to him. After praying for himself (vs.1-5) and his disciples (vs.6-19), he prayed for all who would believe in him – for the church yet to born (vs.20-26). Nearest to Jesus’ heart was his concern for the unity of his followers. So how are we doing at being “united”, as Jesus prayed? The Centre for the Study of Global Christianity estimates that there were 34,000 denominations in the year 2000 rising to 43,000 in 2012. These are all “Christian” denominations, not those of other faiths... Read more →


Navigating Transitions

At a recent conference, I shared a message about "Navigating Transitions". Here is a summary of the main insights I shared: 1. Trust God for the Future. Life is a journey with many seasons. We can have a sense of where we have come from, where we are now and where we are going. Seasons are marked by endings and beginnings. Occasionally, there are unexpected turns in the road. Some things are within our control while many things aren’t. Placing our trust in God is based on a belief that his providence is undergirding everything (Romans 8:28). Trust is active... Read more →


Transforming Your Church

When I became the Senior Minister of CityLife Church back in 1995, I invested extensive time in prayer, study, research and reflection about principles for building a healthy and effective church. As a result, I was prompted to lead our church through seven "strategic shifts" over the next few years. This has resulted in much positive change and impact. Over the years, I have taught this material to many pastors and church leaders. Eventually, these principles were put into a book called Help Your Church Change and eventually an international version titled Transforming Your Church: Seven Strategic Shifts to Help... Read more →


The Supper

As we move towards Easter, let's take a look at the supper from Mark 14:12-26. Part of our God-given humanity is the instinct to celebrate significant moments with significant meals (e.g. Christmas, birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries). Sharing a meal bonds a family, a group of friends, a team, a collection of colleagues together. The meal says more than words - about who we are, how we feel about one another, and the hopes and joys we share together. It’s not just about the food; the meal says something, it does something. We become a people who shared that meal together,... Read more →


Jesus' Ministry

The Gospel of Matthew tells us this about the ministry of Jesus: Matthew 9:35-37. Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a d shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers... Read more →


Four Kinds of Churches

There are four kinds of churches in the world today: The Museum Church. They are old and beautiful but empty (like the picture above). No one goes there. They are showpieces of past. Sadly, there is no spiritual vitality within their ancient walls. The Maintenance Church. These churches are a little better. They are almost empty ... but hanging on. Their mission is to survive, to maintain amidst the many drastic social changes. They refuse to change, members are dying off. Sadly, they too will soon become a Museum Church. The Ministry Church. These churches pursue Christian ministry to people... Read more →


Church Attendance in Australia (McCrindle Research)

Australia has more churches (13,000) than schools (9,500), and more Australians attend a church service each week (1.8 million) than there are people in South Australia (1.6 million). And while the latest Census results show that Christianity is the religion with which most Australians identify (61.1%), well above the second most popular religion in Australia, Buddhism (2.5%), less than one in seven of the Australians who ticked “Christianity” on their census form regularly attend a church. Easter is a time of the year when church attendance increases, but what do the 92% of Australians who are not regular church attendees... Read more →


Creative Ways to Give Generously

Whenever you are prayerfully considering giving to a project of any kind, here are a few creative ideas to consider: 1. Give of what you already have. That could be something from you personal savings and investments or even a loan redraw. 2. Sell some of your assets. We see this occuring in the first church at Jerusalem when Barnabas sold a block of land and donated the proceeds to the work of the church (Acts 4:32-37). Put everything “on the table” making it available for God’s use. Maybe have a garage sale or put some unwanted items on eBay.... Read more →


Giving to God's Work

A lot of organisations conduct various types of fund raising today, including churches. I value the Bible as God’s Word. It is inspired by the Holy Spirit and beneficial for every aspect of personal and church life. We know the Bible has a lot to say about “giving”, but what about “fund raising”? Interestingly enough, the apostle Paul, along with the many other things he did, spent many years raising funds from his churches for some needs in the church at Jerusalem. This is referred to in his letters as “the collection”. He gave some detailed instructions to his churches... Read more →


LEGO - the Exponential Impact of Connection

Yesterday we talked about some lessons from LEGOLAND. LEGO is so simple yet when individual bricks are joined together with others, they can contribute to the creation of something quite amazing and complex. Think about this: Two 8 stud LEGO blocks can be combined in 24 different ways (remember that LEGO bricks can connect at the top and the bottom). Three 8 stud LEGO blocks can be combined in 1,060 different ways. Six 8 stud LEGO blocks can be combined in over 102 million different ways! Like LEGO, we have different capacities but yet with endless possibilities. Connect with God... Read more →


Lessons from LEGOLAND

LEGO was invented in 1947 by a carpenter from Denmark by the name of Ole Kirk Christiansen. Before this breakthrough idea for a plastic toy, he suffered many challenges and setbacks, including his wife dying, a factory fire, and navigating the depth of the Great Depression. Today, LEGO is one of the top 50 brands in the world, it's a word in our dictionary, it's now a major movie, and most homes would have a few LEGO blocks laying around somewhere. LEGO has become a timeless toy for kids of all ages. Interestingly, Ole Kirk was a Christian and said... Read more →


Love Your Pastor

A good friend of mine sent me this earlier in the week. I thought it was quite funny but had some good points. Let's always seek to love and encourage those who lead us, in whatever capacity. Pastors have a tough job. They get more kicks than kisses. If a pastor is young, he lacks experience; if he’s grey–haired, he’s too old. If he has five kids, he has too many; if he has none, he’s setting a bad example. If his wife sings in the choir, she’s being forward; if not, she’s not dedicated enough. If he preaches from... Read more →


A Place Called HOME

Lost and Found I heard an amazing story recently about a young boy in India who accidentally got separated from his brother and ended up lost. His name is Saroo Munshi Khan. He survived on the streets for weeks then was eventually taken into an orphanage where he was later adopted by an Australian family and grew up in Hobart, Tasmania. He was happy yet had this longing for home. Twenty-six years later, he found his way back to his hometown with the help of Google Earth where he was re-united with his family. In many ways, we are all... Read more →


Celebrating Pentecost

Last Sunday was “Pentecost Sunday” (8th June), a significant day on the Christian annual calendar, yet one that tends to receive little attention, compared to Christmas and Easter. Pentecost Sunday occurs 50 days after Easter and is a celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church of Jesus Christ. Just like your personal story is much bigger than the time between your birth and death, in that you have roots and heritage reaching further back in time and hopefully a future legacy lasting beyond your lifetime, so our story as a church reaches back... Read more →


Church Greeting Teams - The Search for a Friendly Church

When in the USA recently, one of our church staff members visited two large, well-known churches. The facilities and church services were first class, but at both churches ... no one spoke to him. Sadly, this is all to commonplace today. Have we become high-tech and low-touch? Here is a great article by Will Mancini called Smiling is Not Enough: Top 10 Mistakes of Church Greeting Teams. The team at Auxano enjoys playing the role of “secret worshipper” when we take a church through our visioning process called the Vision Pathway. We call it a guest perspective evaluation. As I... Read more →


What do Protestants think of Pope Francis?

A recent article from the Barna Group: March 18, 2014 — He was the most talked-about person of 2013 and winner of TIME’s “Person of the Year” award. Google Translate coders have set his name to translate as “a better world.” Yet Pope Francis insists that he is “a normal person,” and has no desire to be “a superman or a star.” Some religion columnists and commentators attribute the public’s esteem to his humble insistence that he is ordinary. In fact, humility may just be the pontiff’s paradoxical trademark. The Washington Postsummed it up in one headline: “Like Pope Francis?... Read more →