The dreaded ‘T’ word: training

Pastoral Ministry

This article is an edited transcript of a talk given by Phil Colgan at the 2014 Nexus conference in Sydney, written up and edited by Sam Freney. Personal references throughout are therefore applicable to Phil, not Sam.


Mentoring growth group leaders

Pastoral Ministry

Everyone needs encouragement. It’s pretty tough doing a job on your own without the support of others spurring you along. Growth group leaders are no different. They require training and resources, but they also depend on encouragement. In a church with many leaders, no one person can be relied upon to provide all the encouragement. (more…)

→ Deliver us from inconsequential successes


Tim Brister has written a great post about responses churches make to the Great Commission:

When it comes to the Great Commission, there are basically three responses a church can have. A church can do nothing, something, or one thing.


This is where we need to be brutally honest with ourselves. As a church, are we hitting the target? Are we making disciples of Jesus? More pointedly, are we making disciples who make disciples of Jesus? The sobering fact is that I don’t know of a single church who does not struggle with this. The difference is there are those who want to grow through their struggles while there are others who, unfortunately, are happy to substitute some other target other than the Great Commission that is easier to hit. A proper handling, or stewardship, of the struggle means that we deal honestly with our challenges that recognize our dependence on Christ and our determination to keep the main thing the main thing, even when we are not that great at it.

Where do you (and your church) land?

Has the personal evangelism ship sailed?

Everyday Ministry

When I first arrived in Sydney in 1981 as a keen young curly-haired Christian from country NSW, I knew nothing about expository preaching or house-parties or quiet times or the importance of things being ‘helpful’, or any of the other commonplaces of modern evangelicalism. (more…)

Discipleship teams

Everyday Ministry

“…there’s hardly a church I come across that does not have small groups. It seems that if you’re an evangelical ministry that doesn’t offer small groups, you’re not the real deal and you’re not going to be attractive. Sadly, very little attention is being given to small group leaders…” (more…)

In the footsteps of Ezekiel

Life, Sola Panel

Ezekiel: Michelangelo

When a man was called by God to be a prophet in Israel, he could be pretty sure he wasn’t in for an easy life. Jeremiah, marked out as a traitor by his own people, thrown into a cistern and waiting for his nose to slip beneath the mud (Jer 38:1-28). Ezekiel, his life a bizarre acted parable of Jerusalem’s fate, lying on one side for months on end and cooking his food over excrement (Ezek 4:1-17). Hosea, commanded by God to marry and be reconciled to an adulterous wife, to picture God’s relationship with his unfaithful people (Hos 1:2-11, 3:1-5).

All those words of judgement, all that rejection, all that sacrifice! I sometimes think how glad I am that God didn’t make me an Old Testament prophet.1  (more…)

Can The Trellis and the Vine be a Trellis?

Everyday Ministry, Sola Panel

In April I had the privilege of serving alongside Marty Sweeney at the Matthias Media booth at the ‘Together for the Gospel’ conference in Louisville, KY. In addition to improving my geographical knowledge (who knew you could sleep in Indiana and walk each morning to Kentucky?) and enjoying good fare (thank you Troll Pub!), the time at T4G gave me helpful and encouraging insight into the impact of Matthias Media and its resources. It will probably come as no surprise to this blog’s readers that the resource mentioned most frequently by those who stopped by our booth was The Trellis and the Vine. In fact many of the conversations I shared went something like this: (more…)

Grace: all the way down

Life, Sola Panel

A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.” The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, “What is the tortoise standing on?” “You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!” (Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time (2nd ed.; London: BCA, 1998), p. 1.)

All Christians should be like that little old lady. Not, of course, that we should insist on cosmic turtles. But there’s something that Christians should insist on, constantly, in every situation, to ourselves, and to everyone we see. It’s God’s grace. All the way down. (more…)

My twit’s view of Lent

Life, Thought, Sola Panel

Lent was trending on Twitter in my part of the world yesterday. Here’s a sample from the people I follow…

First the funny…

Which three books?

Everyday Ministry, Sola Panel

A pastor friend has some book money in his budget and wants to stock up on books he can freely pass out to people he is discipling or those who come through his office. He asks me about my choices. (more…)