Does your church believe in the clarity of Scripture?

Pastoral Ministry

I’ve noticed in recent years that, although we can make good and well-intentioned ministry decisions, when combined with other good ministry decisions, these decisions produce a poisonous gas that threatens the wellbeing of our churches. In other words, the way we’ve chosen to work out the implications of our theological commitments can come at the expense of other theological commitments. (more…)

Of trees, trains and Christian growth

Life, Sola Panel

There’s a stand of huge old oak trees in the park where I walk. They have a slightly surprised air, as if they’ve been transplanted from a genteel English landscape and are wondering how they ended up here, surrounded by scruffy wattle trees under a burning Australian sun, with graffiti tags on their trunks and white cockatoos squawking from their branches like rowdy antipodean visitors. (more…)

Silence about the Spirit

Thought, Sola Panel

I’ve been enjoying Paul’s series on lousy arguments. At the risk of stealing Paul’s thunder, I’ve got another argument to add to the mix: the Argument from Silence. The Argument from Silence is rather simple, often wrong, but sometimes spot-on. The Argument from Silence happens when you listen to a speaker, or read a blog or book or article, and notice that they don’t mention some particular topic. You conclude that, since they didn’t mention that topic, they are ignorant of it, or it’s not important to them. To give an example that I’ve been thinking about recently, what should you conclude when you don’t hear much about the Holy Spirit in your church’s preaching program, your Bible Study series, your favourite podcast, etc.? (more…)

Australia’s first Acts 29 boot camp: An Aussie review

Pastoral Ministry

I’m sitting on a plane at Brisbane airport. I’ve just spent two days at the first Australian Acts 29 Church Planters boot camp. I went because I was tired of hearing about Acts 29 (and Mars Hill Church and Mars Hill Global) second-hand. I wanted to meet the people leading the movement face-to-face and hear ‘from the horse’s mouth’. Let me share with you what I thought, and let me tell you about the who, what, when, where and how of the conference.

Diary of a ministry apprentice (Part 1): January 2008

Pastoral Ministry

Guan’s story so far, in four sentences: He is currently a writer for The Briefing—since, at least, the start of this paragraph. As of the time of writing (2008), he’s 26, looks about 13 (blame the Asian genes), is married to the amazing Mary,1 and is about to start MTS at the University of New South Wales (which, in keeping with Aussie colloquialisms, is referred to here as the ‘Uni’). Prior to this, he’s worked in web design, publishing and doing the most lonely job in the universe. He wanted to start MTS before, but a long up-and-down struggle with the black dog of depression prevented him from doing so—that is, until this year.

Something Grimmo said: “On MTS, failure is success. And success is failure.” Keep this in mind: it’ll be important later.

A spot of gardening

Resource Talk

I want to be frank with you, so I’m just going to say it. I don’t want any argument, okay? There is nothing—repeat, nothing—more boring on television or radio than shows about gardening. If you disagree with me, then I’m sorry, but you just need to be corrected.



Up front

Of all the addictions, one of the worst is gambling. Most chemical addictions are stopped by unconsciousness, but gamblers know no stopping: there is always one more throw of the dice, one more hand to play, one more person to borrow from. Their lives are filled with expensive thrills and deep desperation. (more…)

Enshrined adolescence

Up front

I have a friend who has an adolescent daughter. Surprisingly, there are moments when the relationship is more rocky road than dairy milk, if you follow me. As he described his current set of frustrations, it suddenly occurred to me that adolescence is the new black. (more…)

Choosing the right move

Up front

When thinking about euthanasia recently, I found myself also thinking about the samurai of ancient Japan. In particular, my thoughts turned to a book titled Hagakure (‘hidden leaves’) written in 1716 by a samurai called Yamamoto Tsunetomo.1 (more…)