Contemporary Culture

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 →


Finding Happiness (Part 3): Financial Control

The third ingredient contributing to our everyday happiness (read part 1) is financial control. Money isn't everything but having enough to meet our own needs as well as to give away to others can create a sense of happiness and freedom in our lives. This has nothing to do with our 'net worth' or waiting until we get that next raise or bonus. It's about how we are managing the resources we currently have. Money is a terrific servant but it can be a cruel taskmaster if we allow it control us. Thankfully, we don't have to wait until we... Read more →


Finding Happiness (Part 2): Strong Personal Relationships

The second factor that contributes to our happiness (read Part 1) is Strong Personal Relationships. Each of us is born into a family and a desire for a sense of belonging is a part of what it means to be human. Although the introverts among us tend to be energized by solitude and alone time, most people enjoy meaningful conversation and are enriched by good friendships. In many ways, relationships are spatial. Most people have lots of acquaintances, many 'friends' or people they know more about or do life together with, but usually only a few close or best friends.... Read more →


Finding Happiness (Part 1): A Sense of Purpose

Are you happy? What does happiness really look like? Australia's longest running and most comprehensive survey on happiness is conducted by the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index. After 15 years of detailed research, the author of the survey, Deakin University Emeritus Professor Bob Cummins, says he's finally cracked the code to wellbeing, which he has dubbed the ‘golden triangle of happiness': A sense of purpose. Strong personal relationships. Financial control. Let's take a look at each of these: A Sense of Purpose Deep inside of each one of us is a need for a sense of purpose and meaning. What are... Read more →


Who have you been eating with?

One day Jesus was having dinner at the home of one of the top Pharisees (the religious leaders of his day). As always, there was some lively and interesting conversation around the dinner table. Near the end of this meal, this happened ... Luke 14:12-14. Jesus turned to the host. "The next time you put on a dinner, don't just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You'll be — and experience —... Read more →


Taming the Email Monster (Part 4)

So how do we manage all that incoming email? Here are a few tips: 1. Make Your Email Inbox an 'In' Box. Make your email Inbox a processing station, not a holding station. Imagine if you left all your paper letters in your physical letter box at the front of your house for weeks on end. What a mess it would be! See you email inbox the same way. How many email are there right now? 50, 100, 500, 1000, more? Learn to process items as soon as possible and get that inbox to empty. 2. Set Up a Simple... Read more →


Taming the Email Monster (Part 3)

Let's face it, we all send emails to other people and add to their inbox. So let's talk today about how to write effective emails. 1. Don't Over-Communicate by Email. As we have already noted, a big source of stress for people, especially at work, is the sheer volume of emails they receive. So, before you begin writing an email, ask yourself: "Is this really necessary?” Sometimes, it is better to speak directly to the person by phone or in person. Email is not as secure as you might want it to be, particularly as people may forward emails without... Read more →


Taming the Email Monster (Part 2)

Yesterday, we briefly referred to the exponential changes that have taken place over the last 500 years in the way we communicate with one another. Today let's talk about some of the challenges of email. 1. We often feel expected to reply immediately. Have you ever had someone ask you if you got their email - yesterday? Long gone is the era where it took 10 days for a letter to a arrive from overseas and you had a few weeks to respond and send a reply! 2. Online messages interrupt our day. Most workers dread the Monday morning over-flowing... Read more →


Taming the Email Monster (Part 1)

Let's do a quick tour of how communication has changed over the last 500 years. In Britain in 1500, only 5-10% of the population could read or write. Wow! What did they do. They probably talked to each other - sharing stories in person. Postcards took off in 1871, resulting in what TIME magazine called an ‘epidemic’. In 1840, the average American sent 3 letters a year; in 1900, that number rose to 69. The telegraph changed everything. A message could be sent across the Atlantic in a matter of hours rather than the 5 weeks it took for 'snail... Read more →


The Impact of Poker Machines in Australia

TONIGHT at 9.30pm on ABC TV, Ka-Ching Pokie Nation will screen across Australia. By all reports, it is a shocking report into the way that poker machines are placing a terrible cost on our society. There is stunning new evidence that pokie addiction functions in exactly the same way as heroin, cocaine or ice. This product has not just been licensed by the State but spread irresponsibly throughout Australia for the profit of the gambling industry, not to mention State Treasuries. PLEASE help us lift awareness about poker machines by: Watching Ka-Ching tonight and encouraging others to watch it to.... Read more →


How's Your Cultural Intelligence?

The apostle Paul worked hard to relate to a wide variety of people. Have a read of this from his letter to the church at Corinth in the first century: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose–living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized––whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ––but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point... Read more →


Global Megatrends: Seven Patterns of Change Shaping Our Future

We live in a time of rapid change. Yesterday is gone. Today is momentary. Tomorrow is never far away, though never guaranteed. We are called to live in the present, while learning from history and yet looking toward a better tomorrow. Our God is the one who was, who is, and who is to come. The Great I AM - past, present and future are all one to Him. Futurists study the future, yet no one can fully predict what it will be like. Stefan Hajkowicz has been thinking for the last twenty years about how people plan for an... Read more →


Mars Hill - The Marketplace

Paul at Athens The apostle Paul gives us an insightful example as to how to engage with our culture during his time in the pagan city of ancient Athens as recorded in Acts 17. He spent time in the synagogue, in the marketplace and then was invited to the Areopagus to engage with the philosophers there. These places can represent three different environments or spaces in our own world today. The first space is the synagogue, which is where Jews and God-fearing Greeks gathered (vs.16-17). These are people who believe in God and share a common language, experience and belief... Read more →


Mars Hill - Engaging Culture

We live in a rapidly changing culture that often seems at odds with the character of God's kingdom. Some Christians choose to reject the surrounding culture, escaping to live separate lives. Others seem to embrace the culture uncritically and end up no different than the world around them. Could it be that a better approach is to engage with the culture - to be in the world but not of it. The apostle Paul modelled this exceptionally well during his time in Athens, especially at Mars Hill - a place full of idols, altars and pagan philosophers. Where is your... Read more →


Minimalism - the Power of Simplicity

Life left to itself tends to become more and more complex and cluttered. It takes a concerted effort to reverse the trend - to simplify, to become a minimalist. Some thoughts worth reflecting on: Could the best way to organise your stuff be to get rid of the heap of it? How might your life be better if you had less? What would it look like to get rid of your excess and enjoy the remainder more? Our physical world represents our internal state. Dealing with the external can affects the internal. Do you suffer from mental clutter? Is it... Read more →


Looking for a Baby Name?

Looking for a baby name? In 2014, around 1 in 10 Australian babies were given one of the Top 10 most popular baby names; a total of 30,581 babies. There were more than 2,189 boys named Oliver and 1,796 girls names Olivia last year. Keeping the top spot from 2013 is Oliver, the top boy baby name in Australia for 2014 having overtaken Jack and William which were 1st in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Oliver was the top boys’ name in all 6 states (NSW, VIC, QLD, SA, WA, TAS) while William was the top boy baby name in the... Read more →


Life is not about ME!

Every year a new word is added to the English dictionary. In 2014, it was 'shirt-front', thanks to our Prime Minister, Mr Tony Abbott. In 2013, it was 'selfie'. Yes, taking a self portrait. Doesn't that capture the spirit of our age! We even have selfie sticks to get a better view of ourselves and the latest technological invention is selfie drones who can fly around and give us an even more 3 dimensional experience of ourselves. Yet, the truth is that life is not about ME! It’s about GOD and OTHERS. I am happiest when those priorities are the... 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 →


Year-in-Review: Barna's Top 10 Findings from 2014

Every December, Barna Group compiles its top findings and trends from research conducted in the USA in the past year. From legalizing marijuana to increasing secularization trends to America’s complicated relationship with sports — 2014 was an interesting year. 1. Bible Skepticism Is Now Tied with Bible Engagement. 2. Young Adults Question the Value of Their College Degree. 3. Global Poverty Is on the Decline, but Almost No One Believes It. 4. Millennials Want a Church to Feel Like a Church. 5. Protestants Like Pope Francis, Too. 6. Americans Favor Legalizing Pot but Believe It’s Morally Wrong to Use It.... Read more →


Christianity, Christmas and Consumerism

As we head towards the crazy Christmas season, it's a good thing to pause and think about consumerism and the follower of Christ. At CityLife, we have a social justice LifeGroup and they have put together a paper designed to be a thought provoking series of questions and comments exploring some key issues which confront us in our Western, first world culture. We hope that it can be used to start discussion and to promote action in your family, your LifeGroup, your social network and your work colleagues! 1. On the Issue of “Stuff” When is enough, enough? Or we... Read more →