The Joondalup Thing


I don’t often post on The Joondalup Thing these days based on a request by some for me to shut up :)

But in rebellion – I post!

TJT for those wondering, is our little church group in the City of Joondalup…It actually meets weekly in Currambine, not Joondalup, but Currambine is in Joondalup City…. so it counts :)

Starting a church intentionally sounds challenging. Accidentally starting one is even more so! What I mean is that when you set out as a pastor or a group of ‘sent ones’ from some church or denomination to intentionally start a church you usually have a plan, maybe some core values, theological imperatives and the like. Then you set out to a given area (that you have done some demographical study on) and hire a hall, set out your chairs, get a band and away you go. OK maybe you will operate out of a different paradigm to that, but yo uget my drift? This from all reports is hard work!

‘Accidentally’ starting a church, in my opinion is even harder. Trust me, I think we did this. A group of friends…well actually in reflection, not all of us were even what you would call friends, we had some connection with one another, some were very close friends, some had worked with others, some were friends of the friends of those guys. Anyway a group of friends over time were all  thrown together for varying motivations. Some came early when it was a small group attached to Whitford Church, some plugged in later on. Some said early in the piece “this constitutes ‘church’ for me”, others said, “I will go to ‘real church’ on Sunday and come here on Wednesday”. Some said “if this is Church we need more ‘stuff'”. Still others suggested that if we added more ‘stuff’ they would not be comfortable.

Four or so years down the track and it feels a bit more formal than it did back in the begining, yet many still hold to a flexible dream, a loose…dare I say “organic” approach to church. No set leader, no building or fixed liturgy. We have a loose plan of what we will do each week and recently we have gone away on a … again, dare I say … strategic planning weekend!!!

Well it was a weekend at which we dreamed about who we were, what we were about, could we continue with such diversity of theology and opinion and issues and if we did what would it look like?

Well, we did not get through all of those things, but we did manage to discuss some very deep issues, personal issues deeply embedded in the very fabric of what church is (should be?) about.

How is this for one topic;

If I say our church is about “eating food together” as it’s base core value – anyone can come an feel welcome so long as they eat food…at some point in their life :)  BUT it makes moving forward as a group and agreeing on some stuff difficult. Why, I might suggest we study the stories of Jesus, and ‘Abdul’ suggests that he came for the great food, not wanting to ever hear about Jesus.

So we lift the bar a notch and say our group is about loving God and loving others. Good, but what about the fact that any religious person could just about say ‘yes’ to that. So do we lift it higher? But the more we add, the more we restrict. We could go high and say we believe in a trinity God, that His will is revealed in the inerrant scriptures, that … you know?

So I am not telling where we ended, but I am telling you that it was a great ‘chat’!!

One thing that did come out of the weekend was a further 2 nights of discussion.

Night One - We asked on butchers paper the following questions;

  • What do you see as our strengths, Weaknesses, Threats and Opportunities?
  • At our best, what do we look like?
  • At our worst what do we look like?
  • What would you say are our core values? Practices?
  • In your wildest dreams what do you see for The Joondalup Thing ?

Some great discussion flowed from that night and since.

Night Two – We asked (all, including kids) What would you like to see happen on our fortnightly Sunday gatherings?

There was some wonderful and creative expressions brought forward for our ‘gatherings’ on every second Sunday.

There is still a part of me that wants to ‘package’ this whole thing. For two reason I suggest;

1. So I can have it all neat and tied up with a string to simply give me (others?) boundaries so we know why we are, what we are and where we are going…but maybe God has much of that in hand and I should trust Him more for that rather than making it all up for Him and pretending He led me/us to do as such :)

2. So I can replicate it. I would love to ‘franchise’ this. That is a secular term for multiply, plant, replicate whatever. I just feel that something in there that we have is too good, or could be too good to keep to ourselves, even if it is just ‘the love of God’…I guess people have been trying to ‘package’ that for 2000 years and look where that has got us!! But I would love to see small ‘organic’ relational groups/churches who are committed to loving God and others, following Christ and making a Kingdom difference all over the shop.

Anyway, where are we at? I think we all agree that we are a group of committed friends that dare take up the radical call to live out the Kingdom of God on Earth as taught by Jesus of the Gospels in the midst of the empire! [thanks Lance!]

We will keep working on something like that and see what happens hey?

Ok I know, as my wife reminded me, I did not want a 4×4. I spent my driving life in 4×4’s and have trashed the environment and spent enough money fixing expensive parts and replacing expensive off road tyres… but sometimes it’s all just too attractive! Our church crew had a day in Gidgie yesterday and the boys went off for some male bonding ! jack ran like a dream. Thanks Dave R for the video, love your work. (Sorry about the scratches on your new car Christine :(

Our group (The Joondalup Thing) has many ongoing conversations. In fact one thing I love about our group is the ongoing nature and feel of the group between our more formal (?) gatherings. I would be a rich man if I got a dollar for every email sent during the week between our small group of friends. This week 2 themes have been thrown around at least by a small handful of us.
1. Is God a sexist? (Gender struggles)
2. Do we ‘bring people’ to something, an event a meeting to hear a preacher to meet the pastor? (Is our event any more or less sacred than when I go to my neighbours for coffee?)

David Timms who speaks into our group often via his weekly writings speaks well into some of the issues in this weeks thoughts.

“The Reformation principle of ‘the priesthood of all believers’ … teaches us that ‘the plow boy and the milk maid’ can do priestly work.
But even more profoundly it teaches us that the plow boy in his plowing and the milk maid in her milking are in fact doing priestly work.”
~ Richard Foster, Streams of Living Water, p.266.

Our Priestly Calling

The debate over women in ministry, the practice of only clergy baptizing converts, and the inordinate reverence attributed to the ordained, generally ignores the priesthood of all believers. Gender struggles, class distinctions, and specialist ministries create strange complications for this simple kingdom truth.

More than that, misunderstanding our vocation—our calling—robs us of the rich life Christ intended. Whoever submits to the Lordship of Christ and commits themself by faith to Him has a priestly calling.

The folk who officiate at our worship services and read Scripture at weddings and funerals play a valuable role among us. But if we insist that they alone are “ministers” or “priests” we deny our privilege and neglect our responsibility.

The implications reach far beyond this short reflection, but I suggest at least the following few points to consider.

First, the priesthood of all believers—biblically speaking—has no hierarchy among the believers and no distinctions between young and old, male and female, race, class, or heritage.

Second, the world is our sanctuary for ministry—not a building on Third and Main Streets that we open on Sunday mornings.

Third, it’s not that we sometimes do priestly things (pray, preach, or pastor) but everything we do becomes sacred. Whether we’re balancing budgets for large corporations or babysitting the neighbor’s kids, cooking meals or manufacturing ball-bearings—whatever we do in word or deed is now done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Colossians 3:17)

Fourth, every one of us, at all times, in all places, with all people, function as priests. This is the dream of God. “And I shall make them a kingdom of priests.” (Exodus 19:6; Revelation 1:6; 5:10) That means we constantly highlight the Presence of Christ among us, our hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27) Just as the ancient Jewish priests gathered around the Holy of Holies and helped the people connect with God, so do we, whether we’re driving trucks, tutoring school children, or selling insurance.

We are priests in our work and as we work. If we can grasp the glorious significance of this truth, it will dramatically change our view of ourselves and those around us. The Lord has not called us to occasional sacred tasks. Instead, He desires to sanctify every task in our lives, from writing to wood-working, from plumbing to praying.

The artificial barriers between paid and unpaid kingdom-servants hinders our appropriation of this truth. Every follower of Christ brings the holy place to the world. May we do so more this week and grow in this grace.

In HOPE –
David

Yes we had Nuts and Bolts today. I had a few things on in the morning, but was part of a panel and then did a session in the arvo.
You know, the more I talk about the Joondalup thing, the less ‘sense’ it makes. There is little order, or collective mission, core values written etc etc.
BUT – I do think we have… something, it is unique and every time I out pen to paper so to speak, in order to share about our thing, I get a sense that there is something good in this thing, something of God in it.
Some thing real.

Well before all working together in our own project, The Joondalup Thing practiced on someone else’s garden!
We all did a backyard blitz on a lady’s house around the corner. It was a contact through one of Hamo’s many blitz’s up the road at Upstream, in fact I noticed he had been busy doing similar in one of his recent posts! Our was less…elaborate though!
So, mainly for the benefit of our crew here are some of the snaps – (Click on to enlarge)

Temenos (τέμενος) is a Greek word meaning “Sacred Space”.
I desire our new community garden to be just that, a sacred space in which our lives intersect with each other and with God as we journey together.
Not everyone in our little group in the northern suburbs will be keen gardeners, but my prayer is that we all might discover a safe, even sacred space in this dedicated block of land in Joondalup. Maybe a place of prayer, work, worship, mate-ship, a place of service and community – who knows!

Presently it is a pile a weeds, black sand and rubble.
Presently we are a confused group of dreamers not too sure if this dream will become anything like we have dreamed about, but willing to give it a go and willing to make the construction stage just as important as the ongoing seasonal stages of sowing and reaping.

We have decided to create a separate blog mainly for people connected to the garden in some way shape or another.
So if the community garden thing presses you buttons have a look.


Our group is still doing this as a study, but today I finished the read. It was an easy read as far as getting through it, but a tough read as far as applying some of the changes recommended to make to make a difference to our environment.

Our group has taken one or two things very seriously and have a major project in mind, I will share some of this later.
But also we have shared many things that we can do as individuals in our own homes and lifelstyles that really can make a difference.

I suggest that this is a good read for Christians who believe God still loves our planet, our eco systems etc as well as our people.

Well, it’s been been a while since I seriously blogged anything. I have had a crazy month.
I am working for GMP the Churches of Christ missions group for 2 days a week. This group is trying to go through major change and restructure. As to the success of this change or even if the group embrace the full picture the suggestions entail we will wait and see. I went to Adelaide (Head office) for some meetings over the weekend of 14 – 16 Sept. It was short and sweet.

I had a week at home before a quick wedding rehearsal on the Saturday and flew out to Sydney on the Sunday to spend a few hours at the ACOM retreat en-route to Queensland for National Youth Ministry Convention.
I flew with Mark O’Brien of Lowercase fame. We chatted extensively about the ‘biblocentricity’ (love that word? I think I just made it up…not sure) of our Joondalup thing. A conversation coming out of a long discussion on his blog.
I came to a couple of conclusions;
1) What we are doing is different and challenges some of the ‘come and see’ models of church. We are a church that is low on ‘event’ and high on ‘just live it out’. If you hang out with our crew, intersect with out group’s web of relationships, you have ‘come to our church’.
2) What we are doing does indeed lack some sense of biblical missional/evangelical type drive that seems to be present in the New Testament from my (and Mark’s reading). It also lacks, as I have always felt, a common set of beliefs.

Anyway, we chatted lots, not just about that, but lots of stuff, all the way to Stanwell Park in the south of Sydney. Caught up with Neale Meredith that night and all the ACOM crew the next morning before heading back to the airport for a 3pm flight to Coolangatta.

I checked into my flash hotel (Watermark) right on the Gold Coast, managed to wangle a free room for the week! Nothing like saving money for Youth Vision!
The next day was an all elective day at conference. I elected to have the day to chill. I was a bit peopled out and needed time to me. (A new thing I am finding I value a lot!) But with people flying in from all over the place I found myself spending the best part of the day catching up with people. By about 3pm I realized I was getting rude, argumentative and sarcastic so took myself to my room for a couple of hours reading and rest – getting old I think :)

We had dinner on the beach with most of the WA crew that night, nice.

Wednesday saw the start of the NYMC proper. Tim Hawkins jumped in as main speaker #1. He is probably Australia’s premier youth pastor. Brenton Killeen and I had the privilege of being MCs at the conference so we had the chance to banter a bit with the speakers and get to know them a little, this was great stuff.
Duffy Robins spoke that evening and Tony Campolo the next day morning and night. I lead an open space technology session on Thursday on youth ministry issues which was fun.

Friday I headed to the Sunshine Coast for the day and evening with Gary, a great mate. He and I have become friends through working with ACOM together, but as our lives (our ACOM lives) have gone separate ways, we have retained some contact, mainly through blogging really. We have some differences of belief and understanding about who God is and the way he works, and we have some deep similarities about the way we think about the earth, family, peace and lifestyle…and red wine, Guinness and cigars!
I enjoyed a relaxing day with Gary and his amazing family, Catherine, Christopher and Tamara Gary’s great wife.
I got on particularly well with Christopher their 11 year old, he and I have some common interests; 4WD videos, the bush, naughty jokes, and identifying cars a long way off!! He is a champ!
Gary has a great little electric scooter, it only does about 60km/h and only travels about 50km before needing a recharge but is great for around their area, just ducking to the shops etc. It is completely silent but for the wheels on the road, felt odd!
Sadly I said goodbye and headed to the airport after a great night’s sleep in their guest house in the forest.

A long day traveling took me, 2 hours on a freeway, 2 hours to Melbourne, 3 hours to Perth and finally in my own bed!

Sun 30th Sept is Animal Sunday according to the new insert into the traditional church calendar “A Season of Creation”. So we celebrated this day as a church out at Landsdale Farm. We explored what, at the farm, stood out and made us this of God the Creator. It was a great sitting together on the lawn surrounded by goats, sheep, horses, pigs and rabbits discussing our creator.

I did a wedding in the afternoon…a 15 minute service, almost my shortest on record…one I did was 11 minutes long!! Hey, there is only so much you can add to a wedding in which the couple don’t want too much at all!

The next day was a public holiday, our whole extended family went to Super Golf in the Swan Valley and then for a picnic lunch. A great day was had by all, Super Golf is worth the effort.

Tuesday2 Oct saw me back up in Lesmurdie for another day of “Life Skills” with Roger tan and the Churches of Christ crew, not bad stuff, good PD.

Trip to Northam Thursday for a meeting about an outreach we are doing their next year. We met in the old hospital which is slowly being transformed into a conference centre of sorts…long road ahead!!

I took the kids south with me on Saturday for some work meetings;
Sunday – preached at Busselton Church of Christ, good crew there. I caught up with Greg, who thinks a bit like me in terms of Church. He has done some Forge units and indicated maybe I would be a good fit for the Senior Pastor’s job going there… hmmm I love the church, Greg seems great, we do think a like, I would love to go country one day, but for now I think we are where God wants us. I do often wonder how I would fit into an ‘normal’ church these days. I entertain the thought from time to time!
I caught up with some of their new youth leadership team, a great bunch of young adults willing to make something happen for their High School Youth Min. I think something great could happen there!

Sunday night dinner with Dave Cohen from Dunsborough along with Gavin R my long time mate. Gav is a Dr in Busso, Dave the Pastor at one of the Dunsborough Churches. Great night of chatting until the kids were ready to move, could have talked all night with these guys…Gav and I eventually did!!

Monday morning saw us driving further south to catch up with the Youth guys from Rivers Church (the CofC in Margaret River) Steve and Jaylene live right down towards Augusta on a big eucalypt plantation. He is a timber mill dude…no I did not set up a Gunns Pulp mill protest sign at his front door :)
They have just built THE most amazing house on the bank of the Blackwood river. He has done the rammed earth himself as well as most of the timber…in fact it has almost been all done by Steve. These guys are great and are doing brilliant work with young people in and around the South West.

On to Bridgetown…a big contrast to our Rivers Church (pentecostal)!! Bridgetown is typical of most small country churches. We met in the pastors house, a very traditional looking country conservative pastors house with morning tea laid out on the table in the dining room and all the chairs set in a circle ready for our meeting of key members of the church to discuss youth and children’s issues in the church and town. They were a really wonderful bunch of people with a passion God and for their town, a stunning town I could really live in, seriously this place is a picture.

The kids and I camped out next to a beautiful lake not far from the little town of Franklin. Nice break in the rain for our camp, even when it did rain we had a picnic shelter under which we pitched the tent and swag.

Tuesday saw an early visit to the Mt Barker bakery to pick up a nice bun before dropping in to visit Paul and Deb Ritchie. Deb was a ‘Michaels’, a kind of relative of mine in a round about way!
These guys are ministering to youth in Mt barker, they are part of the Baptist Church…but, hey, I’m not fussy about who I coach :)
We chatted extensively about ACOM study, Forge, missional living, Christian community and other stuff…if I told you I would have to kill you :)
These guys are champs, seriously they have a house full of kids on Wednesdays after school for homework club, fun, games and dinner, they deserve a medal!

After almost a half a day at their house me and the kids drove to the Stirling Ranges, my favorite spot in the world…ok Tasmania is but the Stirls comes in close.
With so much rain around we took a cabin…cheats!!

We headed up to a cloud covered Bluff Knoll first thing the next morning the kids did brilliant, they climbed all the way to the top with no complaints.

Even Amy after falling and giving her knee a big whack got up and made it to the top and back. Girls going to wee in the bush is not an issue I have experience in! I found myself pondering ways in which to invent some pipe system in which to simulate the same ‘system’ boys have…ok, I didn’t spend a long time thinking about this, but seriously, there has to be a better way girls!

On top of Bluff, we did not see much at all, the cloud was too thick, but the buzz of being on the top was brilliant.

I took some video on my phone, see below. The girls made lots of crazy video once they discovered how to use the phone video thing, see here.

We headed home in time for Church last night, a great few days of combined ministry/life/family/work/play/recreation/mission/whatever you call it…it was fun!

Coupla new books I have my hands on -

Serve God Save The Planet – Sleeth (We are going to study this book together as a group on Wed nights, looks very challenging!
and

Why Warriors Lay Down and Die – Trudgen (Follow that link, it’s worth having a read)

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