Category Archives: SPCH

Announcement that I am leaving St Paul’s Castle Hill

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The Price of Admission – the new cost for being heard …

admitoneHappy New Year everyone. I thought I would kick 2014 off with a little document I penned on the back of napkin in 2011. It’s a short reflection on why our church (SPCH) no longer had a voice in the community and a suggestion on how to get it back again.

Interestingly, I only had the guts to send it to the Senior Minister and to a kindred spirit on staff. However, under God, it actually has formed the basis of much of our “forward facing” strategy and given many opportunities to serve and preach the Gospel.

Well here it is…..

As a church we seriously have a public relations problem and because of this, the church has lost the basic right to be heard.[1] There is no doubt that Christ’s followers will always be hated and be the fragrance of death to those who are perishing.  This will always be the case when we preach the Gospel and stand for Christ.  However, we are to live lives that make the Gospel attractive, give an answer to the hope we have, pray for and make the most of opportunities with outsiders. Even though the latest statistics show that the church is seen to evoke a neutral response by unchurched people, the problem is that they don’t think the Christian church does not have the right or reason to be listened to. Just ask yourself (or the average unchurched person) the following diagnostic questions.  If the average unchurched person were asked “What would be missing in our suburbs if Christian churches were wiped of the face of the planet?”, most will answer “Nothing”. If the average unbeliever were asked “Is the local church a necessary part of our community?”, most would answer “no.” We as a church (the corporate identity) have a PR problem.

We lost our right to be heard because we lost the position the church once enjoyed.  In Australian history, the church has traditionally enjoyed the position of being quasi-established and had a high rate of weekly attendance and affiliation. For this reason, the church enjoyed the position where her ideas were given heading and even adhered to.  Furthermore, the church was at the forefront of schooling, aged care and even social change.  However, now is a very different environment.  With the rapid decline of nominalism the position the church once held was then lost.  The rapid secularisation of society accelerated the church’s decline in public standing. Where the church used to be the forefront of social change, now she was seen as the anchor holding it back; where the church was at the forefront of aged care, now she is just seen as a shrewd commercial operator; where the church was the provider of public education, now she is seen as the creator of religious ghettos. We know that our secular society forms opinions and impressions by primarily judging externals. The problem is that for right and wrong reasons, in our postmodern and utilitarian society opinion, the church certainly comes up short.

Although, ultimately God’s in control of our image, our public “right” to be heard can be regained.  We lost our right to be heard so I assume we can get it back again.  If our church comes up short for those diagnostic questions, I propose we ought to do the following to change that:

  1. Get seriously involved in Community Care.  For St Paul’s the best way for this to make a significant difference in the ARV Rogan Hill Campus.  If we actively participated in the pastoral care of 1500 elderly people in our parish, this mitigates some of our society’s concern that we do not care.
  2. Get seriously connected in our Community.  It is important to capitalise on current fledgling projects like LELJ and JAMA.  If we are seen to actively connect with our community then this mitigates our society’s concern that we are “out of touch.”  Moreover, from these projects many new opportunities for the gospel ought to arise.
  3. Get seriously ready for the next natural disaster to hit the Hills.  A catastrophic bush fire is only around the corner for the Hills Region.  If we’ve learnt anything from our experience in Healesville and Gatton/Grantham, the church must be ready to be on the forefront to provide emergency material relief and pastoral care.  In the time of a major crisis, if our church became the operational centre and our people were the key emergency volunteers/workers, then this would be invaluable for future mission.

This is the price of admission that we must pay in order to gain the “right” to be listened to in our society.

 


[1] A public relations problem is very different to a marketing problem – although it is related. Let me explain … marketing has to do with getting your brand known; PR has to do with getting your brand accepted and liked. In the last few years, the church has started to make progress in our marketing. Yet in the many conversations I’ve had with unbelievers not much has progressed in the PR department.  I acknowledge that if we preach the gospel, the church will probably never be “liked”, but I think we could go a long way to remediate wrong PR issues.

3 things to say to me after church that freak me out!

I was at the gym yesterday and my partner asked what type of things freak you out at church? Well here are three things that do that when said to me after the church service:

3) That was really good, but …..
– well thank you very much Mr GoodButt!
2) I really want to know what you think about [insert what the sermon was on] …..
– ummm didn’t you pay any attention to anything I said?
1) You really touched me today
– I hope not!

No really, preaching is one of the great privileges we have as ministers. It’s a mighty responsibility to handle the word of God and in Christ’s name and by His Spirit, feed his flock. I love the preaching spots I get at SPCH as much as I love God’s people there. So thanks for giving your time to listen to me ramble on Sundays. See you this Sunday!

An evening with Jackie Stoneman

Mission Month Events

Along with four weeks of special Sunday Church services where we aim to present Jesus clearly and call people to respond to him, during May our church is putting on 3 other special events for your unchurched friends and family.  The last of which is our evening with Jackie Stoneman.

Tuesday 21st May in the SPCH CEC — from 7:30pm till 9:30pm

“Who do you think you are” – is an evening with Jackie Stoneman. An opportunity to invite friends and family to hear Jackie speak about “who we are in Christ”.

This event is for women of all ages.

This event would be great to bring your unchurched friends and family to.

For catering purposes please RSVP to cameo@spch.org.au

A QnA Night with John Dickson

Mission Month Events

Along with four weeks of special Sunday Church services where we aim to present Jesus clearly and call people to respond to him, during May our church is putting on 3 other special events for all people.  One which is worth highlighting is our QnA night with John Dickson

Monday 20th May at Event Cinemas (Castle Towers) — 7:00pm till 9:00pm

John, a leading expert in ancient history, will present his recent historical documentary which will give you front row seats to the facts behind the Western world’s most influential story. After that, John Dickson will answer questions from the room regarding anything of Christianity.

Jointly presented with the Bible Society, this event is for all people and all ages.

Entry is via ticket only (we only have a limit of 242 seats)  – you can purchase tickets here

An evening with Justine Toh

Mission Month Events

Along with four weeks of special Sunday Church services where we aim to present Jesus clearly and call people to respond to him, during May our church is putting on 3 other special events for your unchurched friends and family.  The first of which is an evening with Justine Toh

Wednesday 8th May in the SPCH Church Foyer — 7:30pm till 9:00pm

Justine will lead an interactive seminar on “Sex, Travel, My Body, My Life”.  She is an expert social commentator who will help us understand our world better and point us to why following Jesus is the best thing we can do.

This event is for all people and all ages.

There is a free event and there is no need to RSVP.

This event would be great to bring your unchurched friends and family to.

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