I'm on holidays and I'm loving every minute! My time off started just over 3 weeks ago. The difference in this break is that it began with me finishing employment at the same place for over 32 years. Needless to say, I have been gradually starting to relax and unwind, although it has taken discipline to not focus on what I have 'done' at the end of any particular day. My productivity bias is very strong! One thing I have noticed is how long and how deeply I have been sleeping. I guess you don't really know how tired you are until you slow down or stop for a while. I said to Nicole one morning this week that it... Read more →

What does one say in a farewell address? In biblical times, we have a record of parting words from people such as Jacob (Genesis 49:1-33), Joseph (Genesis 50:24-26), Moses (Deuteronomy 31:1 - 32:47), Joshua (Joshua 24:22-28), David (1Chronicles 29:10-20), Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20 and John 13-17) and Paul (Acts 20:18-25). In modern times, we can consider the farewell speeches of kings, presidents and prime ministers, as well as sports personalities, actors and entertainers. Whether it's Michael Scott saying 'goodbye' on the TV series The Office, Truman exiting The Truman Show (“In case I don't see you, good afternoon, good evening and good night!”) or Bilbo Baggins's speech in Lord of the Rings at his 111th birthday party ("I don't know half... Read more →

After you say goodbye, what's next? What’s Next for Me I’ve been on church staff for the last 32 years and led the worship ministry as a volunteer for 5 years before that … so that's 37 years of continuous leadership responsibility. You can’t question my commitment :) Now that I am finished with my Senior Minister staff role, I will take a few months off - a rest, a 'drinks break', a sabbath. On top of the full array of regular Sunday church services over the last 30-40 years, I've been involved in Saturday night church services for 18 years now and double services for about 8 years. That's some crazy busy weekends. And a lot happens between weekends.... Read more →

Last weekend was my final weekend speaking at CityLife Church as it's Senior Minister. It was a very emotional time for both Nicole and myself, but with a real sense of celebration of all that God has done. We are deeply grateful for the many words of encouragement, 'thank you' notes, gifts (I felt like a Christmas tree!), and the parting love offering from the congregation. Thanks to Peter Sheahan and the Board of Elders, as well as Peter Leigh and Daljit Gill for arranging all of this. We felt very honoured. It has been an honour and a privilege to be the Senior Minister at CityLife for the last 22 years. Nicole and I are very grateful for the... Read more →

Today was my last official day of work for 2016. I spoke at all 5 of our church's Christmas carols presentations this weekend. It was a lot of fun and it was great to see so many people there, especially so many visitors. It's now 2 months and 8 days till I finish up in my role as Senior Minister of our church. That's 70 days all up but once you take out holidays and some days off, I only have 31 days of actual work left. That's hard to believe! Especially after being employed for 32 years at the same place. Early this morning, I was thinking about and reflecting on the idea of a 'finish line' and wrote... Read more →

Sometimes in life we experience 'more of the same' as we deal with the familiarity of routine. At other times, there is the adventure of new things and of entering uncharted waters. That's my life right now. I am in the process of transitioning out of a staff role at CityLife Church where I have served in various roles for almost 32 years, and for 22 years as the Senior Minister. I'll take 6 months off when I finish at the end of February 2017 then see what new opportunities may present themselves. I am also living between our new home in the Sunshine Coast and my continuing ministry work in Melbourne. Talk about liminal spaces. It's a bit like... Read more →

At a Special General Meeting on 6th October, the CityLife members confirmed by an overwhelming majority the unanimous nomination by the Board of Elders of Andrew Hill as the next Senior Minister of CityLife Church (read my initial announcement about leadership transition back in February 2016, in case you missed that). I congratulate Andrew on this appointment and look forward to working with him over the next few months to ensure a smooth transition for him and the church. Good days are ahead. February 2017 will be a big month for our church as we celebrate our 50th anniversary (11-12th Feb), have my farewell (18-19th Feb), and have Andrew's official induction as the new Senior Minister (25-26th Feb). What's next... Read more →

Confession time ... Right now I am in the middle of serving a 3 month driving license suspension. Where I live in Australia, there is a demerit point system for driving offences such as speeding, driving through a red light, etc. If you accumulate 12 points or more in a 3 year period of time you lose your license for 3 months. I have been on 9 demerit points for a few years now and I have been driving exceptionally carefully, usually right on the speed limit using cruise control pretty much all of that time. Unfortunately, I received a red light ticket coming home from speaking to our Manningham congregation late December 2015 (doing the work of the Lord!).... Read more →

30 years ago today, Nicole and I were married. She was 20 and I was 24. You never know where the road of life may lead but I couldn't imagine a better traveling companion. Nicole is a person of deep compassion, courage and conviction. She is also heap of fun to do life together with and she is the best mother in the world to our amazing family. Most of all, Nicole is my best and dearest friend. As we come to the last chapter of this first book of our life, I am truly grateful to God and his grace. Now, I can't wait for the sequel. Here's to the next 30 years of life … together. Read more →

Nicole and I celebrate our 30th wedding anniverary this June. Nicole is my best friend and my life's climbing companion. I can't wait to see the joy that is around the next corner for both of us. To keep track of our whereabouts, check out our web site, which has been recently updated. [Photo taken while we were in Moscow last year where I was speaking at a pastor's conference for church leaders from all over Russia, hosted by the Word of Life Church, Moscow] Read more →

This weekend, I made the following announcement to my church family - CityLife Church. Obviously, it was a surprise to many, while not to others. There is a degree of sadness with any change like this but I am also encouraged by the amount of support I have received. [Watch on You Tube] I have given the matter of our church’s future, as well my own future, much prayer and reflection over the last eight months. As a result, I believe that it is time to start thinking about a successor – who will be the next Senior Minister of CityLife Church. I have been on church staff for 31 years now, 21 years as the Senior Minister, and I... Read more →

So what now? That’s another good question. 1. Personally, I need to re-engage with church life and ministry. I need to get back in harness and up to speed with what God is now doing. I’ll gradually ease back in over the next few weeks. 2. We want to keep the current spiritual momentum going. God’s Spirit is at work. We’re not going to press rewind and play. The church has moved on. I have moved on. I have changed and grown. Other people have too. It’s time to keep moving forward. The Lord said to Moses, “Get up and resume the journey, and lead the people to the land I swore to give to their ancestors, so they may... Read more →

What did I learn during my sabbatical? In many ways, I see this moment and season as a significant crossroads for my life and ministry. The Lord once said to Jeremiah, “Stand (stop) at the crossroads and look around; ask for the ancient paths (the old, godly path), ask where the good way is, and walk in it (travel its path), and you will find rest for your souls (Jer.6:16)." In many ways, I have tried to do just that - stop, look around, ask and then walk. I have had numerous thoughts about my life and ministry. Here are just a few of them: 1. I need to slow down the pace of my life. I need more stillness... Read more →

So what did I do on my sabbatical? Good question. The truth is that I determined not to focus on doing too much of anything during this season but rather more on simply being. The last thing I needed was another list of tasks or projects to accomplish. Nevertheless, here are some things that I did do: 1. I focused a large portion of my time on personal recovery. I desperately needed some spiritual refuelling, some emotional replenishment, some physical energy renewal, and some personal refreshing. Over 27 continuous years of church ministry life take its toll. Ministry is highly rewarding but it can be stressful too. I was feeling a "tiredness that normal holidays weren't fixing" (to borrow a... Read more →

Let's face it, most people don't look forward to their holidays finishing and I must admit I wasn't looking forward to my sabbatical finishing either. I had such an enjoyable time. But it is nice to be back … and to see everyone again. I realise that there are a variety of expectations that people may have as I return from my sabbatical: that I will bring revival with me, that I will have a new vision for the future of the church, and some may have thought that I wouldn't come back at all! The reality is that I had a very good rest, which is what 'sabbath' is all about. It was a rest that was much more... Read more →

It is hard to believe that my 12-week sabbatical is now history (click here to read some background to my sabbatical). I had a very enjoyable and refreshing time. I am truly grateful to God and our church for this season. I am feeling so much better and look forward to re-engaging with our church community and leadership team this week, as we continue to move forward into all that God has in store for us. In the Old Testament period, God's purpose for the Sabbath was to help his people avoid making 'productivity' into an idol. It's a reminder, that while we rest, the universe still runs - and without our contribution! That's something I sure learned. Our church... Read more →

Okay, so since this is my BLOG, there are a few things you might be interested to learn about me. Click here to begin reading. Posts cover topics such as my favourite food, the music I love, my studies, my favourite technology, and my experience with journalling. You can also read about my sabbatical, which finishes soon. Once I'm back, there will be some new BLOG posts coming your way. Enjoy your day! Mark Conner Read more →

By the time you read this, I will have started my 12 week sabbatical. During this time, I will be doing a bit of a technology detox - so no work email, Facebook, Twitter or BLOG activity. Yes, I'm expecting severe withdrawal pains! During this time my BLOG will have a variety of posts which I have written ahead of time that will post every few days. However, the Comments section will be closed, as I won't be checking my BLOG. There will be plenty of content to enjoy. Happy reading! Mark Conner Read more →

My Upcoming Sabbatical

This year is my 28th year on staff at CityLife Church and my 18th as Senior Minister. It's been quite a journey and I am thankful for all that God has done during this time and for the support of our congregation and leadership team. In discussion with the Elders and our senior staff, there was agreement that I would benefit from taking an extended sabbatical this year. A sabbatical isn't a holiday. It's a time of disengagement from the normal aspects and pressures of ministry life in order to spend time in replenishment, reflection and learning for the next stage of life and ministry. [Click here for more information about the concept of a sabbatical] I will take a... Read more →

Well, it's hard to believe - the first month of 2010 is almost history. It just seems like yesterday that we were about to head into the new millennium and everyone was talking about Y2K. Maybe I'm getting older but time does seem to be moving faster. Here we are another decade on. What a decade the last one has been. TIME magazine called it 'The Decade from Hell' - one of the worst ever ... and when you reflect on it - a lot of bad stuff happened. But we're still here and God is at work continuing to extend his kingdom in obvious and also subversive ways ... all over our world. On a personal note, I trust... Read more →

Joy to the world, the Lord is come ... With Christmas only a few days away I'd like to take this time to wish each one of your a blessed Christmas. Thanks for your interest in this blog over the last year. I am taking a few weeks holidays now so there won't be any new posts until the end of January. With over 500 posts so far on this blog, there is plenty of interesting and inspirational reading material. Click on the categories to the right and have a browse through ... and of course, the comments section is always an interesting read. Grace and peace! Read more →

The day before my graduation at Fuller Theological Seminary I attended a Hooding Ceremony. I wasn't sure what this was all about until I got there. Here is a brief history of the tradition of the 'doctoral hood' ... According to Nancy Stiehler Thurston and Hendrika VanDeKemp, "In the Middle Ages, lecturers and students at European universities were so impoverished that they wore gowns to cover up their worn clothes. The lecturers also wore hoods that indicated which universities they had graduated from. In those days, lecturers were paid by their students. The students would toss coins into the pocket of the lecturer's hood. The hood would also be used to carry books to and from the university. While doctoral... Read more →

Well, I did it. I finished my Doctor of Ministry degree at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Yesterday, I attended the graduation ceremony which was held at the Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, where over 400 people graduated with various degrees (80 from the Doctor of Ministry program), cheered on by friends and family members. It was a really enjoyable occasion. It's great to stop and celebrate the milestones in our lives. For me there was a sense of joy, fulfillment, closure, and a bit of relief for finally being finished. I'd really like to thank my wife Nicole for supporting me during my years of study, my kids for putting up with dad frequently having his nose in... Read more →

Our family has been on holidays for the last few weeks, which was really nice. A good holiday for me is one where I don't wear my watch and I've forgotten what day it is! We had a really relaxing time - eating, playing, laughing, swimming, reading, and sleeping. I even did some water-skiing, something I haven't done for a long time. I still managed to get up - the photo is proof :) No holidays are never long enough (another week or even another month would have been great!) but even good things eventually come to an end. So we're back at it this week - looking forward to another year of walking with God and his people, and... Read more →

BLOG Update

Hi everyone ... My family and I will be taking some holidays during January. I have scheduled regular posts for the blog so there'll be lots of good content coming your way, at least every few days. This includes ten great questions to ask yourself as you start another year. Because I'll be taking some time off, I won't be able to answer comments on the blog so I have turned this function off just for this month. Take care and God bless you! Mark Conner P.S. Some blog trivia ... since starting the blog just over a year ago there have been ... 417 posts 1664 comments over 225,000 page views an average of almost 460 page views per... Read more →

An Amazing Oma

Nicole's mother, Renate Meyer (affectionately known as 'Oma', which is German for grandmother), passed away earlier this week, after an intense battle with cancer. Yesterday we held a thanksgiving service for her life. We sang a few of her favourite songs - What a Friend We Have in Jesus, Praise the Name of Jesus, and Amazing Grace. Nicole gave the eulogy (click here to read a copy of it). We watched a DVD photo montage of her life. We listened to tributes from Rene Conner, Lisa Wotton, Samia Sedhom, Lynn Moresi, and the grand kids - Ashley, Josiah, and Natasha. Psalm 116:15 says, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints (his faithful and loved... Read more →

My Encounter with Grief

Seventeen years ago tomorrow (October 20th, 1990), I had my first real encounter with intense grief. Yes, I had seen other people grieve. Yes, I had played the piano and sung at funerals ... but nothing this close to home ... It was the day my mother passed away - Joyce Conner. My parents had flown to the USA and my dad had left my mother in the LA airport where she was waiting to catch a flight up to Portland, Oregon to spend time with my sister, Sharon. My dad flew on to Chicago for some meetings. While alone in the LA airport, my mother had a massive heart attack. She was rushed to intensive care. My dad had... Read more →

My Favourite Music

I am thankful that our family grew up with a love for music. I studied classical piano (completed my 8th Grade exams) and dabbled a bit with saxophone and guitar too. I also studied music theory (completed 5th Grade exams) and arranging. Over the years I've done some song-writing and some recording too. In fact, my first ministry role in church was with worship and music. I thought I'd do this the rest of my life ... but God had other plans. Nevertheless, I still enjoy music very much. Here are some of my enjoyable musical styles and artists: Worship Music - Michael W. Smith, Hillsong, Delirious?, Israel Houghton and Lincoln Brewster Contemporary Christian Music - currently I enjoy listening... Read more →

A Journal Begins

August 10th, 1978 was a tragic day for our family. I was 16 years of age. We had a Bible College student named Robert Muthman living with us in our home in Portland, Oregon (USA). Robert was swimming with some friends and he tragically drowned. We were shocked, as was his family and our whole church community. We couldn't believe he was gone - so young, so much potential. Why? We didn't know. We couldn’t fully understand. Robert was passionate and 'full on' about his relationship with God. At his funeral they read from a journal he kept. It was almost like he had a premonition that he was going to die. He said things in his journal like, "If... Read more →

My Studies

One of my passions is personal growth. I want my life to be a life of 'progress' so that I develop my full potential (see 1 Tim.4:12-15). I want to be the very best I can be - for the glory of God and then benefit of other people. Growth happens through personal study, learning from others, and through life experience. I have also found great benefit in formal training. Right after I finished high school, I completed a two year Certificate of Theology at Portland Bible College in the USA. I wasn't sure about my future back then but this course, and the experiences I had, provided a very good foundation for my life and ministry. Since then I've... Read more →