Contemporary Culture

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 →


Leading in Changing Times

Back in 1964 Bob Dylan sang, "The times they are a changing." How true and the changes haven't let up. One business writer put it this way: Winds of change are barrelling in from all directions. Competition is tougher than ever and coming from places you least expected. The customer is more sophisticated and demanding. Technological changes are incessant. Government regulations are tougher. And everyone is restructuring, reorganising, reinventing, downsizing, outsourcing - all at an ultra sonic pace. Don't look for a safe place to wait out the storm, because these winds are unrelenting. If anything, they're getting stronger and... Read more →


Noah: The Movie

Last night, my family and I attended a preview of the new movie Noah starring Russell Crowe [trailer]. Without doubt it is a well-made movie, with amazing affects and some star actors. However, the treatment of the storyline was disappointing from my perspective and I came away feeling like the movie was a combination of themes and ideas from Lord of the Rings and Transformers ... with a big double rainbow finish. No doubt it will generate a lot of discussion and that's a good thing. Reviews so far indicate that those looking for a fully accurate biblical story are... Read more →


Are you listening? Is it time to put the mobile phone down?

We live in an age where attention deficit affects all of us. We are bombarded with information and messages, each trying to gain our interest. In the process, we tend to skim from item to item, from matter to matter, from person to person ... never really slowing down enough to go deep ... to really listen and connect. I visited a cafe recently where there was a sign that said: "No, we do not have wi-fi. Why not just sit and talk with your friends!" Watch this video. How did it affect you? I was personally challenged. Which scene... Read more →


Reaching Millennials

Research in America shows that 59% of millennials (also known as Gen Y) drop out of church after attending regularly as a teenager. For the past decade, Barna Group has been working to understand this important age group. After interviewing more than 27,000 millennials and conducting 206 studies of this group, they have amassed a significant body of knowledge on millennials. Now they are sharing that knowledge via a special section of their web site that contains research, articles and carefully curated information on this elusive and often confusing age groups. Check it out at barna.org/millennials. In many ways, Australia... Read more →


Engaging Culture

When it comes to culture, including media (TV, movies, etc) and politics, there are three different approaches that Christians tend to take: 1. Reject Culture. Some Christians see the world as ‘evil’ (and at times, rightly so) and therefore all culture is to be rejected. Christians are called to be ‘holy’ which means to be ‘separate’ from the world. Christians end up living in their own sub-culture – with Christian communities, Christian bookshops, Christian TV, and even Christian jewelry! The danger with this approach is that Christians end up very ‘different’ from the world but because of their isolation they... Read more →


Dealing with Overload

Ever feel overloaded? Overwhelmed? Ever wish there were a few extra hours in the day or maybe even an extra day in the week? If you are anything like me, there are so many things to do and hardly enough time to do them in. This requires us to determine our priorities. Today and the coming week will most likely be busy but what will they be busy with? It takes discipline and focus to ensure that we keep first things first and not get swept up in the urgent or the trivial. Here is a helpful article by Tony... Read more →


The Changing Shape of Temptation (Barna Report)

It’s that time again — the beginning of a new year when people resolve to make some changes in their lives. New Year’s resolutions are certainly nothing new. In fact, for many people, they are the same year after year. Making and breaking resolutions is something of a tradition. A new study from the Barna Group examines the temptations Americans say they most commonly struggle with — and how they resolve to deal with these moral and ethical lures. The research reveals some new, and not so new, aspects to the temptations facing today’s adults. The research was conducted in... Read more →


Religious Belief in Australia (2011 Census Results)

Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on the evening of August 9th last year? It was census night here in Australia, a day every five years where the government requires every person living Australia to complete a survey (conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics). It includes questions about personal details, the people we live with, our education, our employment, and any significant changes that have taken place in the last few years. This helps to provide a snapshot of our nation, which becomes useful for the government as well as many other organisations. One... Read more →


10 Ways Your Phone is Changing the World

In this week’s special wireless issue titled, “THE WIRELESS ISSUE. 10 Ways Your Phone is Changing the World,” TIME explores how mobile phones have become a super-extension of ourselves, altering in fundamental ways how we approach everything from education to politics, from medicine to romance. The issue includes an exclusive TIME Mobility Poll, conducted in cooperation with Qualcomm, that highlights the increasing significance of mobile technology in our lives. TIME‘s Nancy Gibbs writes, “It is hard to think of any tool, any instrument, any object in history with which so many developed so close a relationship so quickly as we... Read more →


Engaging our Culture

Jesus told his disciples to be IN the world but NOT OF the world. Maintaining that balance is a constant challenge for Christ-followers. We can more easily lean towards either extreme, resulting in and isolation or immersion, both of which lead to minimum impact for Christ. On my BLOG, I have written some posts about engaging with contemporary culture. You will find articles on topics such as: engaging our culture, global trends, generational issues, creativity and innovation, as well as on the issues of tattoos and gambling. Click here to being reading. I hope you find your reading insightful! Read more →