Tag Archives: mission and ministry

Lady Preacher

In less than a month I begin maternity leave and hit the pause button on my (paid) ministry career. I am expecting lots of things to be different, so I am taking some time to thank God for what this last season has looked like.

I’m especially thankful that I have been given so many opportunities to teach people from the bible, especially as a preacher. There is a broad spectrum of evangelical opinions on women teaching, but I’m thankful that so far, my story of training as a teacher has been filled with very supportive people – even among the institutions and personalities that I least expected, and even among people who may disagree with what I do.

So, a month and bit out from having a kid, with no more scheduled sermons or SRE classes to give, hardly any kids church lessons left to run and only a handful of bible studies left to lead, here is a collection of thoughts on what it has been like to train as a lady preacher.

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Frideswide’s Place

Usually when I engage with Oliver O’Donovan I am either standing wide-eyed and open mouthed in response to his amazing ideas or gently mocking his inability to communicate with normal people. He is a very smart man, and if you are a Christian you should really listen to what he has to say about ethics and politics. It’s just that it’s hard to actually listen to what he’s saying when his writing and speaking is intellectual to the point of inaccessible. I honestly have no idea what he’s saying almost all of the time – most of what I understand from him has been translated into normal English by other people.

I’m not sure what compelled me to pick up his book The Word in Small Boats: Sermons from Oxford. I was looking for some inspiration for a talk I am writing on mission, and there were fifty other books, not written by O’Donovan, that I could have picked up first. Oh my goodness. I am very glad I did! This book is full of tiny treasures. There are thirty sermons, each no more than a few pages long and written in such beautiful and evocative language. I don’t think I’d ever bother hearing him lecture again, but I would definitely listen to him preach if I could!

One of the sermon’s Frideswide’s Place is a perfect three page excursion into the idea of place and space. It asks how Christians engage in the local community: when do we move? When do we stay put? How do we engage with the place we are in. My heart fluttered wildly as he explored the geographical implications of the gospel, and it set on fire again a deep conviction in my heart – that Christians should always be ready to move, to belong to many places and to take the gospel into new and unfamiliar communities.

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The sermon was given in 1991, reflecting on the patron saint of Oxford, St Frideswide, and the relationship between her history and the Oxford of today. I wish I could replicate the whole sermon here but I’m pretty sure that counts as plagiarism. Instead I will point you to the book and encourage you to read it there.

In the meantime, to stir up your appetite, here are some of my favourite quotes.

Fieldwork

This semester’s subject at Moore is Christian Communication and Mission. It’s been pretty neat so far, a bit of cultural studies, a bit of Anthropology 101 (Community, anyone?), a bit of missiology. Our assessment is to spend time with a community from another culture and get to know their worldview. If I can be completely honest I feel like the task is way too big and complex to be addressed in the timeframe and word count given for this assessment. But I guess that is what undergrad degrees are all about, right? And nevertheless I am having a fun time working on it!

Thanks to the generosity of my supervisor and boss (and organisation! I love you Anglicare!) I have been allowed to take Friday mornings off as study leave for the last few weeks to do some fieldwork. The community I have chosen to spend time with is the mothers and children group run at our church (MOCHA), which is predominantly attended by Indian and Bangladeshi women who don’t actually come to any other church services or outreach events. Basically there’s a large group of recently arrived Hindu mothers regularly meeting in my church building. All I had to do was think of a reason to be there (a helping hand for the team and informal English conversation practice) and get time off work (thanks again, Anglicare!) and I was set.

Cross-cultural adventures under the cut

Awesome tools for ministry

During the Census conference lots of people showed off the innovative ways that they were using census data to provide unique resources. Two in particular stood out as potentially very useful for ministry.

1. Spot Stats
Aim: To provide easy stats about local areas at the touch of a button.

Spots Stats is a phone app that provides quick, on the spot demographic statistics for whatever postcode area you are in. Load http://www.spotstats.com.au on your phone, upload your currently location and Spot Stats will deliver you a suburb name, postcode and a street map. It will also give you a breakdown of key demographic information like an age profile, most common languages, median income and hightest levels of education. You can also enter addresses to see quick stats for otehr locations!

Probably developed for: Nerds, people who are curious about social trends in a new area, people buying real estate in a new area.

How could Christians use it? Quick prep before walk up or door knocking, equipping and resourcing a mission team or a church.

2. Local Intelligence
Aim: To help people settle well into regional and rural areas, with a long term vision of creating thriving country towns.

At the conference, the founder of Local Intelligence described her organisation as a kind of dating service between people and rural towns. Using census data and an extensive network of knowledgable locals, they help urban and/or migrant families to resettle in the bush. Take, for example, a family who wants to move out of the city. Local Intelligence will take all the skills, qualifications, interests and needs of the family to provide them with a selection of towns where they will be able to settle comfortably. They will make sure that there are available jobs for the working members of the family, and make sure that there is also a soccer club, or the right kind of church, or a karate class, or a piano teacher – whatever the family is interested in knowing about.

And that’s just the first part. Once a family knows where they are going, Local Intelligence will welcome them to the town after they move and introduce them to all the important members of the community. They will stay in touch with the family after the move to make sure everyone has settled smoothly.

Probably developed for: Tree-changers, sea-changers, mining families, families that dream of living in the country.

How could Christians use it? Support for individuals and families moving rural for ministry and/or work, information for people who are considering rural ministry but don’t know where to go, helping Christians to connect to the local community.

Stumbling my way through cross cultural ministry

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Church girls at Werri Beach, Gerringong

Our church had a weekend away together last weekend. One of the things I loved about it was the huge number of people that came, especially a heap of people from our fellowship group. We weren’t expecting that many of them to show up – but they did, even some who haven’t actually come to fellowship group this year. It was nice to have everyone together again.

Stumbling my way through cross-cultural ministry