Preparing the way

Across large sections of Western Christianity young people are falling away from the institutional church in large numbers. However it’s not all doom and gloom. There are churches with lots of young people. Some of these are mega churches like Hillsong, others are small local churches like Fitzroy North. So what are some of the factors that drive people away?
Here are the top 5 reasons (compiled from several authors) why young people won’t come to a church.
1. The Church is too inward focused, creating “us and them” culture

2. The community isn’t real/deep enough

3. There is little or no direction and drive

4. The church is afraid to take risks

5. The church has no focus on mentoring and development

How do you think we do at these things? Are we the kind of community that is ready for an influx of young families? Are we even ready for a trickle?

Dedication to change

Today is Kaity’s Birthday! She is growing up so fast. It’s such a cliché, everyone says it, and I think I underestimated how true this is. Every day brings something new, some sort of change. Sometimes it’s minor (she has started dancing to the beat), sometimes it’s major (she can open the freezer; that’s practically cooking for herself).

Today we are choosing to dedicate Kaitlyn to God. We want to make a declaration that as parents and as a community we will do our best to influence her life for the Kingdom. That as thick and fast as change comes we will make time to remember the important things: being an example of God’s love; sharing stories of God’s glory; and growing together in faith. It is a marker for our family of something that has already begun, but is an important marker nonetheless.

Next week begins our 3 week workshop of change. And it’s not that we haven’t been changing as a church over the past few months, or for that matter few years. Yet this period marks a significant start of a new journey. These three weeks will focus on what we are becoming as a community and I encourage you to be there and be part of the process. You don’t want to miss this little church growing up.

–Brian Holden

Worship

Everything we do is an act of worship

That brings pleasure and delight when it’s done for God,

It touches His heart and is our God-given purpose in life

For God created everything that exists for His glory and His pleasure

And we, His children, have so much worth, more valuable than priceless treasure

For worshipping God is truly a lifestyle, affecting everything we do

It’s not just in singing spiritual songs, but in our everyday happenings too

As we minister to those we see in need, offering to them our service,

And even the mundane, everyday things, to God, they’re acts of worship

We need to be offering as a dedication every area of our lives

As an act of spiritual worship to God and a most holy sacrifice

For God cares so much about every detail no matter how great or small,

For God will walk in our everyday life as we establish Him as Lord.

 

–M.S.Lowndes

What role does worship play in our daily lives?

The next two weeks we are looking at why and how the Church worships God. The why may at first seem really obvious, because God is worthy of worship. Often we move straight onto the how. It is important to often remind ourselves what it is exactly we are doing when we worship. What does it mean for you to worship God?

Worship actually has multiple meanings in the Bible, we will explore some of these through our teaching but perhaps the most common used word for worship is to lay down. To lay face down and kiss some ones feet would be a good translation.

With this in mind reflect on how you worship God in your day to day life.

–Brian Holden

Little or Big c?

When we think about church we often think of church with a little ‘c’. Little c church is the Sunday church, our small gathering meeting together to worship God. So often we approach it as a day given to God, marked in our calendar every week as a duty of faith. We focus on the small ‘c’ church with programs and coffee and teaching and forget that there is so much more. If church is reduced to our meeting on Sunday and maybe one extra day then we are failing to live up to the fullness of our calling. The Church with a big ‘C’ is the whole Church, not just our gathering but people across the world. Not just on a Sunday in worship, but serving God and building his Kingdom during the week. Church is so much more than a Sunday, so as we start to explore with some questions ask yourself, Why Church?

The Body of Christ

Over the past 6 weeks we have explored what it means to be the body of Christ. This Identity is at the core of where we go as a church from here. This week is a reminder about a few of the things we have learnt and a time to share some stories moving forward.

12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink intoone Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.

Let us take a reminder of our identity as the body of Christ and carry it with us.

–Brian Holden

New Identity

Our journey in faith is shaped by many things. Our upbringing, our community, our family, and our own personality all affect our belief systems and the actions that stem from them. For the past few weeks we have been looking at what God says about our identity. It is important to remember that so much of what we think and take for granted about Christianity has 2000 years of being influenced in dramatic ways, both for the better and worse.

Jesus tells the story of the prodigal son where a son leaves home and is separated from his father only to return expecting to be made a worker, having no father, but rather a boss or task master. He would be like an orphan working for everything he gained himself and having no authority. The Father as a reflection of God not only forgives the son, but fully re-instates him into the family, giving him all authority.

As a Church we are walking together in a new identity, and yet we still wear much of the old one. When Christ died for our sins we became part of the family. What would it look like to start living like a son or daughter of God and leave the orphan spirit behind you?

 

–Brian Holden

Lemon Butter

Happy Mother’s Day!

As a young child in primary school, each year to celebrate Mothers’ Day there would be an art and craft stall. Each year, I would ask my step-dad for money, I would go to the stall, and I would find the lemon butter. My mother hates lemon butter. But, I didn’t find out for many years that when a mum says, “thank you so much! I love it!” it could be out of kindness to a young preppy trying to bring an acceptable gift. My mother’s gracious attitude shaped me in many ways growing up; being polite and accepting of others has become a foundation of my social interaction.

We as people are shaped by the things that we have grown up believing. Our identity is formed in our faith as we grow. And as we grow into maturity it can be important to look back at our foundations and to remember where they come from. God, the creator of all things, made us in his own image, deliberately, with a purpose. What does it look like to live from this foundation today?

 

–Brian Holden

Identity and the strongholds of God

In the ancient world strongholds were used to keep people safe in times of trouble. They are hard to get rid of and impossible to break into, but they also have an offensive point. If an ancient army had a stronghold they could come out and attack the lands around them without fear that they could be chased down. They would simply retreat to their stronghold and the other army would break on the walls.

It’s the same for the idea of a spiritual strong hold. If we have a stronghold in our lives that is hard to remove, that we continually fall against it is likely that this is where the enemy will come out from and strike at all aspects of our lives. With the help of the Holy Spirit we have to work to remove these areas.

And yet, imagine if we were able to be on the offensive.

What if we were to build a stronghold with God? So, building real experience of identity in him, of prayer, of scripture, of accountability and being constantly filled with the Holy Spirit. And God isn’t simply going to sit nicely in the fortress we built for him. God will go out from those strong areas coming into every element of our lives, building stronger foundations in more and more areas, breaking down those negative voices and fighting the giants. As we journey into our identity as believers and as a church I encourage you to allow that identity to become a Godly stronghold in your life.

–Brian Holden