Jun 252017

It’s so good to be part of a community that actively values people of all ages.  It’s precious and rare in our society today – even in the church.  It takes effort and intentionality and it goes against the grain of the norms of our society.  Thanks for the part that you play in making St Philips this kind of church community.

More than just valuing people of all ages, we want to see people of all ages coming to know Jesus and growing in their relationship with Him.  And we want to see this relationship continue to grow as people move through the different stages of life.  We’ve been focusing on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus with our young people this term.  It’s such a privilege to see our children and young people growing in both their knowledge of God and in their relationship with Him.  

The statistics of the number of people who leave the church (and their faith) as they hit teenage years and beyond are staggering.  There’s been significant research done on what the factors are that contribute to people continuing on with faith and staying part of church communities.  Ultimately this is the work of God’s Spirit and there are choices that individual people make along the way; but as well there’s lots that we as the body of Christ can do to build into young people (and all of us) the likelihood of continuing on in faith.

Information is important but it’s when that’s combined with formation that transformation happens.  According to Here2Stay, there are two Foundational Principles and eight Formational Pillars that help.

The two Foundational Principles are:

  • Generational Connections – Discipleship is about being intentional, relational and holistic in creating a culture of lifelong formation across the ages.
  • Family/household nurture – Families (households) are the primary faith communities

And the eight Formational Pillars are:

  • Encounters with Jesus – Be intentional about providing spaces to encounter Jesus.
  • Big Story of the Bible – Understanding the BIG STORY of the BIBLE is important in faith formation.
  • Mentors and Life Coaches – Take the time to listen, to be encouraging, to be available, to be accepting.
  • Anchors/Rites of Passage – Anticipating, honouring and celebrating our ‘transitions’ and ‘rites of passage’.
  • Peak Experiences (like camps) – A place where God meets you, stretches and inspires you … and transformation happens.
  • Positive Peer Community – We are not meant to travel alone in this life … true friends are important!
  • Respond with Compassion – Model the compassion of Jesus in response to the needs of the world around us.
  • Serving in Mission – Encourage the broad spectrum of ages to be involved in mission.

These things are key for all of us but they have been found to be of particular importance for young people continuing on in faith.  And these are some of the factors that we are aiming to ensure are part of the experience of our children and teenagers within and beyond our church community.  Family Gatherings, material for families at home, Kidschurch and Youth, church services, encouragement to participate in peak experiences and more all form part of this picture.

Thanks again for your part in shaping this church community as a place where many of those principles and pillars are actively experienced.




Jun 182017

The kingdom coming near, heaven touching earth, a falling of the Holy Spirit, the presence of Jesus, an over-realised eschatology – whatever you want to call it, we are experiencing it!

Here are some examples:

Alpha – Five people have made commitments to follow Jesus.

Healings: One of the members admitted that during the healing night at Alpha she was afraid to ask for healing prayer for her knee.  She confessed this week that she felt that a heaviness was lifted from her knee after that night six weeks ago and she can now straighten her knee with no pain for the first time in years.

Another participant has read the whole New Testament through one and half times.  When she came to faith she said “F**k it!  There is hope!” Not the normal response I usually witness when people come to faith but I tell you there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:10).

We have started a fortnightly discipleship group with the Alpha participants. 

School – Jared (co-pastor of the Common, who works at Palmyra Primary in the community garden) noticed that the principal of Palmyra School looked tired.  He was able to pray for the principal in his office.  I spoke with the principal this morning on my way out of school and I told him I would be praying for him.  He began to tell me how much he and the P&C appreciate what Jared brings to the school.  Just as he said this, Jared appeared.  As well as the principal encouraging Jared, Jared and I were able to let the principal know how much we appreciate him and that we pray for him.

Tuesdays @ The Common – We have been able to rent The Millers Bakehouse as a meeting place fortnightly.  We have 20-40 people attend with new people each week and some non-Christians attending.  We have a meal together, honour people, talk about our outreach to the flats and share life.  This week I shared that Matthew 5:16 is the Bible verse I believe God had placed on my heart for a long time.  Lainee, who has just given her life to Jesus, said excitedly that that particular verse was the verse of the day on her phone Bible and shared it with us:

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

The Flats – The Common is now going to a block of flats twice a month.  Recently, a woman there, who is a real person of peace for us, has been trying to get a community garden up and running.  Last week, the father of a teenager who lives there was found dead in his flat from a drug overdose.  The lady who is making the community garden is very close to the teenager and has been looking after her.  Last Sunday, about five of us from the Common helped empty a trailer of soil into some garden beds she has made.  During this time, some police arrived at the flats and commented how great it is to see some goodness and hope there.  I was able to encourage the lady with what the police had said – that she is bringing goodness and hope through her garden and I was then able to pray for her.  This week, one of the Common members shared that she had met that woman  in a park about 6 weeks previously and had prayed for her.  It seems God is on the move!

I have many more stories about God’s kingdom coming near through the ministry of the Common; just ask me.  I’m delighted to share.  Thanks for partnering with us.



Jun 112017

Last week’s pewsheet article ‘Pray for the Persecuted Church ‘ was timely!  Many will remember the support this parish offered to those Sudanese who found themselves stuck in camps in Kenya following the long civil war in their country.

Through the WAKIMBIZI GROUP St Philips provided clothes, bibles, English classes and spiritual support over the desperate years 2008-2012.  We also sponsored the training of several community leaders and pastors with the intention of helping to rebuild South Sudan when it was safe to return.

Alas, the hopes of a peaceful South Sudan have yet to eventuate.  Poor governance, tribal conflict and a severe drought continue to  beleaguer this young nation.

Recently, a young pastor whose training we  supported, wrote to St Philips seeking assistance to establish a Christian ministry in the bleak and isolated UNHCRR camp at Kalobeyei where he finds himself with his young family.  He wants to bring hope and encouragement to a dispairing community through the gospel.

In response, a small team led by Graham Whitley is co-ordinating with the Anglican Diocese of Kitale (Kenya) and CMS-Africa to establish a church within the camp.

This is not a building project, simply the very basics of a place of prayer, fellowship and teaching: some bibles, MP3 player for those who cannot read, a few plastic chairs, a keyboard and amplifier, speakers and a generator.  As well, maybe, a small refrigerator to chill the bottled water so desperately needed.

Approximately $3,000 will fund these modest requirements and it is proposed to enlist support from the S. Sudanese communities both within Australia and the USA.

So, in addition to your prayers for the Persecuted Church, please consider contributing in this tangible way to the spread of the Gospel in the camp at Kalobeyei.  Or perhaps you can think of other ways in which you could support this outreach.  If so, we would love to hear from you.

Graham Whitley 0401 530 909
John Pearman 9336 5510 and
Sherilee Macready 0419 337 251


Jun 042017

I have just finished a fascinating chat with Malcolm around ministering and working from our wounds, compared to working out of a healthy identity in God.  I am far from an expert in this field but I thought I would share some of my thoughts.  I know of many theologians, psychologists and philosophers who are far more insightful on this subject but here we go. As I reflect back on why I stepped into ministry, I can clearly see it was [continue reading…]

May 282017

Last Sunday I reflected on the wisdom of the men and women of the Midweek Communion community, the simple yet profound responses they gave to the questions, “How does Jesus impact your life day to day?”,  “What does knowing him actually do for you?” Their answers, you may recall, included three basic elements.  Firstly, they said, he is present to them.  As Jesus said in John’s gospel, “I know my sheep, my sheep hear my voice”. Secondly, having grown to [continue reading…]

May 212017

Mums are truly special.  Last Sunday in Australia we celebrated Mothers Day, an opportunity to give thanks for our mums and mother figures.  This week Malcolm and I have had our own mums on our mind.  It is great to have Malcolm back from Geelong.  It wasn’t the easiest trip for him as it involved moving his mum (Joan) from her home and into an assisted living facility.  I’m sure he will share more of his experience with us in [continue reading…]

May 142017

We live in a world of suffering.  By the time you have finished reading this musing at least one child in the world will have died from abuse or violence.  Tens of thousands of people die every day due to unexpected tragedies.  Shakespeare seemed to understand this when he wrote: Each new morn New widows howl, new orphans cry, New sorrows strike heaven on the face. We all experience suffering in this life.  For those who are currently not, but [continue reading…]

May 072017

Last weekend twenty blokes from St Philips or closely related to St Philips went away together.  I know I am supposed to say this but I will anyway,  “It was fantastic”. It was fantastic to be away with men.  It was fantastic to room with other men.  It was fantastic to joke with other men.  It was fantastic to cook and eat and wash up with other men.  It was fantastic to walk up a very steep hill with other [continue reading…]

Apr 302017

Let me preface this musing by saying it is just that, a musing.  I hold much of what I have written lightly but I have never been so serious in my short life about hoping it gives you a laugh or at least a smile. I often relax by listening to different Christian apologists and theologians.  I even listen to them before I go to sleep.  I recommend you give it a go if counting sheep is failing.  Ravi Zacharias [continue reading…]

Apr 232017

Recently I listened to the book Grit by Angela Duckworth.  It’s well worth a read.  She (and others) have concluded that ‘grit’ comes about through a combination of passion and perseverance.  As I listened, I pondered the relationship between this and our walk with Jesus as disciples. I reckon the Bible lines up with these ideas in lots of ways.  We are called to be passionate about Jesus and to embrace His rule and reign.  Jesus calls us to love [continue reading…]