Reflections from my Sabbatical (Part 2)

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... Read more →

Reflections from my Sabbatical (Part 1)

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... Read more →

Coming Back from Sabbatical ...

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,... Read more →

Mark Conner

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 →

Mark Conner's BLOG update

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... Read more →

Welcome to 2010 ...

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... Read more →

Merry Christmas!

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... Read more →

The Hooding Ceremony

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... Read more →

Doctor Mark!

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... Read more →

Back from Holidays ...

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... 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... 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.... 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... 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... 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... 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... Read more →

My Favourite Fun Things to Do

My favourite fun things to do include ... Playing basketball Walking our dogs with Nicole Hanging out with my kids Spending time with friends Looking after my tropical fish aquarium Reading Playing pool Watching a good movie Watching sport on TV - NBA or Geelong Cats Playing the piano Cooking Driving Nicole's red Mini Cooper with the roof off (when she lets me, which is not often!) Posting on my blog ... Read more →

My Favourite Foods

I enjoy eating ... At home, Nicole always cooks tasty food ... and I can cook a pretty good bolognaise (with bruscetta), thai curry or asian stir fry. Fast food ... can't go past a Whopper with Cheese ('the burgers are better at ...') BUT I'm trying to eat more healthily ... so my current favourites are Nandos (chicken wrap and/or BBG wings) or Subway Resturants ... I love Italian, Japanese (especially tepanyaki), Thai and Indian Drinks ... can't beat water, juice or a caramel thickshake Nibbles ... fruit, nuts and yogurt covered museli bars Did I mention Tim Tams?... Read more →

My Favorite Technology

I use a DELL laptop with Vista and Microsoft Office software. I also use an Asus Eee PC 1005PE for travel, which I love - because the battery lasts over 12 hours. It uses a started edition of Windows 7 as an operating system which I like even more than Vista. Outlook 2007 is my favorite program for keeping my life organised. I sync my Outlook files (email, calendar, contacts, and tasks) to my Nokia E71 mobile phone, so I can send and answer email wherever I am as well as keep in touch with other key information. I also... Read more →