Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Mid Week Musings

Had our leadership small group this morning. Good times. We're working through Andy Stanley's The Next Generation Leader (thanks to Deurty for sending me this book as a blessing - these things have a way of multiplying).

Today got me thinking again about a subject that I've pondered before (usually stimulated by other's comments which have stuck with me). I suppose the question is really this: What is it that we leaders are doing when we fail in our vision-casting? The point is: we are doing something...and while we don't always fail in the absolute sense of the word, we know when something doesn't connect. So here's my work-in-progress theory (which I'm trying to discipline myself to write on): Most of us run of the mill leaders have a default tendency other than vision-casting when it comes to communicating what we know to be a God-inspired direction - within these tendencies we have strengths (thats why we do it) but in that these tendencies take us somewhere short of vision-casting they can cost us. The tendencies include:

  • The Information-caster - We confuse the detail of execution for the stuff of inspiration - so there is a plan but no one gets excited about it
  • The Values-caster - We embody the vision so well personally we assume that others will get it by watching us and by adopting the values and practices we champion - so people will follow us because we have integrity and fruit but they're not always sure where we're going
  • The Ideas-caster - We get so pumped up by the beauty and purity of an idea that we short cut painting the picture for others - so there's a lot of excitement and passion but not always the same level of clarity
  • The Relationships-caster - We are so energised by the people we serve that we forget to lead them - so while relational currency is strong and people feel cared for, they don't always sense the momentum of where we're going
  • The Commitment-caster - We major on the cost of vision and minor on the outcomes - so people are realistic about the work required but unclear about the pay off and motivated by guilt more than passion

Then there's taking the points of strength that each of these defaults offer and moving towards becoming better vision-casters. This will be a different journey for each leader.

So - I'd be interested in thoughts out there as I write these ideas up for wider dissemination. Does this ring true for you? Are there other categories? Your learnings in moving from one of these paradigms into the true vision-casting mindset?

Or if its crap - just say so!


Monday, September 27, 2004


I've been struggling these past few days...its like someone in the family has died...or a friend has fallen away from following Christ...there have been tears...remembering and laughing...perplexed, at some things that still make no sense...even revulsion at some particularly nasty stories...yes I speak of the cessation of the Falcon8or as a blogging force within the Blogiverse which has become home to so many. And as Charon carries the now lifeless data across the Acheron to the Hades of deleted items, we will remember...

Right. Moving on.

Spent the weekend at a block course on the Wesleyan Doctrine of Holiness. Found it to be both personally challenging and intellectually stimulating. There is much to process - I think there is a sense in which many Wesleyan churches are underselling this as a distinctive. For example Wesley's starting point on sin - that the root of sin is pride - is far removed from the Augustinian view of corruption lying at the heart of sin and therefore the human nature. That makes a big difference in how you talk about sin to unbelievers. Anyways, I found myself analysing our practice against some of this stuff...we do not need to be "bapti-costal"...

Last night at cession was cool. Jacob Powell, our missions/community influence team leader, brought the message - he is a crucial part of the DNA of cession and brings a significant edge to who we are becoming in this area. He did a great job.

I'm looking forward to our new series: "Playing Hide & Seek? Genesis For Adults" starting this week with Adam and Eve: You Can Run, But You Can't Hide! We're promoting this as a big invite series. Also starting to finalise what we're branding as our "Summer Encounter Series" Basically a series of outreach events operating at different levels over the next 4 months. Includes targeted gatherings, social events, parenting courses, cafe events, seeker courses etc. Should be fun! Feeling particularly wowed with how God pulled this together in my mind. Cos I have been really feeling the need for something like this.

Well its time to get into the week - my Monday morning coffee, devotions and week planning @ a local cafe is a real oasis for me...better get moving: I'm walking down so I get an exercise benefit as well!


Thursday, September 23, 2004

Garfield State of Mind

I relate to Garfield. The love of food. The need for affirmation. The self-centred pursuit of pleasure. But I thought none of those thoughts as I watched this very funny movie with my nieces and nephew (these are the kids of late wife's sister). They are on school vacation for 2 weeks and I try to grab at least a half day with them. We then returned home to cook (what else) but Lasagne (for the uninitiated this Garfield's favourite food). We always have a great time cooking - each of them gets a job to do. Susanne and Ian then arrived for the meal, a nice red and some real coffee. Bill Murray is just perfect as the voice of Garfield - well worth the watch if you have to endure a kids movie!

I chaired a mayoral debate on Tuesday - we had over 150 people show up and it appeared to go very well. I don't much like those sorts of things but its a way to serve the community and connect with people. Afterward an older lady came up to me and aggressively cajoled me for allowing the chairperson of the local ministers association to pray to close. She told me she was disgusted at being "exposed to prayer". I wondered whether she had in her universe been exposed to anything more than empty words as she clearly didn't subscribe to the efficacy of prayer, but held back this commentary. I politely explained to her that the LifeGrowth Community Trust is a Christian trust serving the community and that we had taken the initiative. She said she would never come to one of these again. I encouraged her in that decision. Pray for this embittered woman who obviously carries some deep wounds.

Father and baby are doing well. I have been offering all sorts of audio advice on picking up chicks, playing rugby and so forth. Kristen is concerned "it" may be a girl. She is doing better these days - having a cold has not helped all the other usual symptoms.

Better run...


Monday, September 20, 2004

The God of Surprises...

A couple of blogs ago I wrote about my church employment situation. I confessed my growing desperation at dealing with multiple jobs (going on 5 years now), my largely unacknowledged resentment towards church leaders at their (apparent) standing by and did my best to pass this back into the hands of a God who has always provided for me financially. But. Honestly, I didn't expect anything to change fast. And that was OK - after all, its the nature of church planting in a country like New Zealand - there just isn't the money.

Well. I was wrong. Last night our finance guy rang to say they are in a position to adjust my salary closer to full time. God is nice. I'm still going to have to honour the law contracts I have but the extra money may mean we can end the year without the dreaded overdraft. I am still slightly shocked! God is very nice.

Last night was cool at the cessioncommunity - we started a missions mini-series and had a great panel discussion with a variety of people from various walks of life - a school principal, a Christian radio programme director, a Christian social worker and a recently returned overseas missionary. It was very revealing talking with them about call, the hardships, the rewards and the impact of a life lived entirely for God's purposes. We wanted to demonstrate a wide definition of "missions" and I think our guests achieved this goal for us. Rob Bell was good as well - he was almost as good as the DVD version of the message I saw the other day...

We had 5 people join us as Partners following the Plugging In seminar I ran on Sunday afternoon.

Anyways, better head into the day. Fun times.


Saturday, September 18, 2004

Sleepy Saturday

Ahhh...the joy of not having to preach this weekend! We have Rob Bell helping out this week. He was remarkably OK about it - told him we were doing something on Missions and he said he had just the message. Apparently he made it into a DVD called "Trees" so for those of you not lucky enough to actually have Rob Bell squeeze you into his schedule I thoroughly recommend it...

It has meant a relaxed Saturday! Lunch with a good friend. A couple of games of rugby. Overgrown lawns tamed once more. Home made pizza and movie on the couch with the wife. Contentment.

Had a good catch up with Grant - a good chance to connect and "ground" each other - we have that kind of friendship where we can check in on each other. He was more assertive than is his usual style which makes me think I should pay attention to his advice. Came away with some good ideas building on a Hybel's DVD the team watched last night at our Leadership Dinner.

Speaking of which...this was just phemomenal - 20 great people gathered at our home for a meal and leadership training. I looked around the room during dinner and thought: wow, what might God do with this awesome team? I think we made a bit of a breakthrough in doing some paradigm shifting. My fave part - Pete, the guy I baptised back in April, comes up to me and tells me he's ready to take a next step on a great idea he had a while back for a sports ministry initiative. He's already recruited someone for his team and they are meeting tomorrow to lay it out. Amazing. I asked Pete to come to our leadership small group as well, so I'm thinking this is all gooood.

Well its coming round to bedtime. I have a ton of reading to do for my Wesleyan Holiness block course next weekend. It amazing what you can find online though - with what I have here already and a bunch of old stuff which is full texted online I have all I need. Now, I just have to read and write a couple of short essays. Think I might just schedule some time in tomorrow afternoon - no last minute message prep :)

Have a great Sunday whenever you are


Thursday, September 16, 2004

In Review...

Phew, what a day yesterday was...I started running at 6am and didn't stop until small group finished at mother asked me an interesting question (as I cooked her dinner): "So has it been a productive day?" Well yes and no was the answer. There were some things in my day that you just have to do: like go to the local Ministers Association to do the community thing. I got to meet a pastor or 2 and catch up with a couple of friends but otherwise it was wholly unproductive. On the other hand, I started a leadership small group over coffee at 7am which was really great, checked in with my church planting buddy Mike Yates for our fortnightly session, conducted a mentoring session with a somewhat direct flavour (!) and hung out with our Wednesday small group. But there are some things that now need some attention....urgently...

National Council meeting tonight - I've been on the Council the past 2 years and its sometime been frustrating - mainly because we haven't had the depth of people for this to be a really high calibre group. Well over the past 2 years the church has grown and we now have 18 churches - its meant that there is a greater depth of leaders to draw from and discussions have now started over the likely composition of the new Council. There are some exciting nominations! There may be a vote for the first time - previously everything has been uncontested - this is one of the few things we vote on so it will be an interesting process. It has been suggested that I will nominated for National Secretary. I am in 2 minds over this - first because I've always thought it ridiculous to have a Secretary as an office holder. Second, because of the time commitment if I am still bi vocational next year. On the other hand I do a fair bit of the secretary's job already. Something for further reflection. Maybe there will be another nominee?

On the bi-vocational issue. I'm feeling more and more desperate about this. I start a part time law contract again in 3 weeks and the dread is already starting to build. My life generally becomes unmanageable for 7 weeks. I have also agreed in principle to a full time stint for 1 month in November-December. I have real reservations about this. When I put the situation to the church leadership I left it wide open for them to say, "Don't do it! We value your sanity!" But rather, they very kindly agreed to me working 60 + hour weeks. Bottom line we need the money. I'm not going to tell you what the overdraft is right now but in recent weeks the squeeze has come on while I haven't had the law contracts and I feel like we're sinking fast! Anyways, even blogging this has made me realise a few things: 1. I'm more anxious than I thought about this ("Cast all our anxiety on Him..." 1 Peter 5:7). 2. I'm more resentful than I thought towards the church leadership on this. Neither attitude is likely to help much! I should probably delete this stuff now...maybe I edited it before posting and maybe I didn''ll never know...I will say this: God has never let me down financially. So, I guess I need to reflect in praise on the reality of his faithfulness!

Psalm 36

5 Your love, O LORD , reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. 6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O LORD , you preserve both man and beast. 7 How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. 8 They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. 9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.


Tuesday, September 14, 2004


Well call me a Falcon, I haven't blogged for a natishly long time...

Today is midwife day. I enjoy these trips...generally. The one thing that gets me is how the mid wife can often, unconsciously, assume the woman is doing all the work with the pregnancy. I want recognition for my hard work. Does she think conception is just a matter of lying around and waiting for...hmmm

Seriously (slightly) though, there is a lot of adjustment for the man even in these early stages - its all very well to experience nausea but whats worse: Spewing or watching someone spew? Not eating cos you feel sick or changing your diet for no reason? Having an over developed sense of smell or having to eliminate all odours from the house even the ones you can't smell? Then there's the assumption about certain medical choices that affect both the woman and the child - I think the guy gets a vote...anyways its not so bad, I just felt like being dramatic...

We had a combined worship celebration with our sister churches on Sunday. We filled the new venue with around 300 - it was very cool because when we started 4 years ago we had 187 to the same event. The growth of the morning congregation, the launch of the Mandarin church and now the growth of cession has seen our numbers swell. Great food as well and we did some cession programming following the service which seemed well received. I had Rob Bell preach. He did OK.

We used the "Luggage" nooma DVD and built around the luggage concept as a metaphor for unforgiveness and revenge. It was fun. If you haven't seen this you should grab a copy. Great production values, strong message and an excellent twist at the end that will have you replay it over and over again to work out if it was real or not...

Starting a new small group tomorrow morning - a leadership circle for my benefit as much as anything - with 2 cessionlcore leaders and a third guy with potential who currently works as programme director for our main Christian contemporary radio station in NZ. Should be interesting. We're thinking of mixing accountability with studying Andy Stanley's The Next Generation Leader. I'll keep you posted. All 2 of you ;)

Alright - better get into the day...the sun is shining...its a good start!


Thursday, September 09, 2004

Lets try that again...

So, we all know what happens when you blog and it never appears...and the awesome thing about yesterday's blog was that it was all in ebonics. Ah just wanted ta write muh ma blog in uh different way slap mah fro!

Last week was a great time away in the north of NZ - its the tail end of winter here so the weather was mixed but the company was first rate. I was very pleased with myself keeping this secret from my wife - here is just some of what was required (all without her knowing):

  • Cancel 2 days of nannying work
  • Find a replacement for Bible in Schools teaching
  • Cancel a piano teaching session
  • Cancel a mentoring session
  • Rearrange 2 small group meetings
  • Pack a bag - this required arranging a friend to come over Sunday and take her out for the afternoon
  • Load the car

She sprung me on the morning - well, I spring myself: as luck would have it, she wanted to wear an outfit that I had packed and was going slightly crazy looking for it. I think though that there is credit to me in that actually packing something she would want to wear! So, the "Holiday Voucher" was delivered a little early (rather than in the car as we went past her usual exit for work). Actually it worked better as we then went out for a leisurely breakfast. Managed to get all free accomodation - a relative's apartment and accomodation using a credit card loyalty scheme! In the end we paid for one night's motel accomodation on account of the heater not working in the apartment. We did touristy things as well as just laxing out with a book. Nice.

Yesterday I was in Wellington attending the NZ Heads of Churches meeting. Now before you congratulate me on my promotion - I was WITH the National Superintendent. It was a very interesting occasion. Really apart from the Methodists, the Quakers and sections of the Anglican church the gathering was 80% orthodox and probably 60% broadly evangelical. I especially enjoyed meeting the Elim church guy (a British Pentecostal denomination) and the Catholics - a Cardinal and a bishop. Both very down-to-earth, intelligent and generally bible-believing guys (except for the bit about Mary...) Had a very stimulating address from a local seminary professor on what he described as the myth of secularisation. People may not belong, but they still believe (albeit that they believe lots of things). The point being that organised religion has increasingly given way to spirituality and gone underground or private. The interesting thing was he had the research to back up what I think is anecdotally accepted. All this in the face of predictions that religion would die by the turn of the century as it became increasingly implausible.

Meanwhile, thanks to all who offered their congrats on the pending arrival (well March is hardly pending I suppose). Kristen is still feeling a bit sick but seems to be on the improve - I think she's like 14 weeks now. We're excited at visits already being planned by her parents next March. Funny thing is their visit is timed to the day after the baby arrives - surely they would want to come see us first? I suspect the focus of attention may be elsewhere...

Anyways, better get into my day. I'm reading a book on holiness by Steve DeNeff - I'll tell you what I think when I'm done. I'm not sure he'd like cession - he seems suspicious of relevance. But I'll let you know what I think when I've finished the book - undoubtedly there are some important insights on the nature of holiness in people and its root in the concept of a holy God. So its forcing me to critique what we do and don't do which is good.


Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Hi dere brothas I'm back what sup now? I had uh great holiday away wiff muh wife in the hood. We jet ta da northern part o' New Zealand. Had uh relaxing time: reading, watching movies, getting massaged an' visiting historical places ya'll is mad stupid.

Yesterday I wuz in Wellington at da NZ Heads o' Churches meeting slap mah fro! I met uh real live Cardinal! you know das right! It wuz very interesting being in dat environment wiff quite uh bit o' diversity in da room Jus' like Orenthawl James.

Anyway, just saying Hi really an don't make me pull mah gat! I'll blog some mo' tomorrow just like mammy. But 'bfoe I jet da answer ta da pop quiz: Who iz da current Olympic champion in Rugby? The answer is: The United States Of America slap mah fro! And dey did it without da girly pads an' helmets sho 'nuff! I should add dat only three teams entered an' France wuz one o' dem... what 'chew trippin foo'

Bye fo' now Ya' dig?