Tag Archives: Brisbane

Brisbane needs more churches

A thing I wrote for the Bible Society about the impending arrival of City On A Hill went online last night. It’s in the print copy of this month’s Eternity newspaper. Eternity has just started a local Queensland section in print editions distributed up here that I’m excited to be writing for occasionally.

Here’s the last paragraph.

City On A Hill will change the church ecosystem in Brisbane. It’ll make life uncomfortable for existing churches. Any new animal introduced to an ecosystem causes disruption. I learned that in grade nine science. City On A Hill is a new animal. But if we want our city disrupted by the Gospel of Jesus, we need to keep welcoming new animals into the ecosystem. We want the ecosystem we live in to change – that’s why we’re part of God’s church.

It would be really easy to be anxious about City On A Hill coming into Brisbane’s CBD. Planting a church and reaching Brisbane is pretty hard and “competition” can be a scary thing. I had a recent experience on Facebook where someone moving to Brisbane was looking for church recommendations and heaps of interstate people who love and know Dave Miers were keen to recommend City On A Hill, and it could be disheartening for me, for other ministers, and other church planters in particular, to have a sense that people outside of Brisbane don’t know much about Brisbane’s church scene, but know City On A Hill and know Dave. It could be disheartening if our church strategies were built on securing transfer growth, not on telling people who live in our city about Jesus.

Here’s the stark reality facing the church in Brisbane.

Brisbane’s population is steadily growing. In the 5 year period from 2008 to 2013, the South East Queensland region’s population grew by 2%. If our churches aren’t growing at that rate, they’re actually shrinking. Between now and 2020, Brisbane’s population is projected to grow from 2.1 million people (2013) to 3 million people (2020) — there are some issues with population statistics in this document having different breakdowns between local government areas, and the area treated as “South East Queensland” which includes the Gold Coast, and the Sunshine Coast… but the stats all tell the same story. Our local governments — like the Brisbane City Council — are trying to figure out what infrastructure is required to facilitate this growth, and even just keep pace with it. The church in Queensland needs to do this too.

Queensland is growing faster than most churches in Queensland are growing. Brisbane is growing faster than most churches in Brisbane are growing. Which means we’re actually shrinking.

This new growth means higher density living in some parts of Brisbane, and upgrades to existing infrastructure and networks to keep pace with the growth — a shift in the make up of existing parts of Brisbane. But it also means new suburbs, new roads, new connectivity — new things being built to cater for growth.

Our existing churches should be keeping pace with growth, but we also need more churches to keep pace with this growth. Both more density in high density areas, and more churches in these green field developments.

It’s not rocket science.

Our church infrastructure — which is really a question of human resources, not building resources —needs to be constantly reinvented in order to meet the needs of our growing city and state. The status quo isn’t going to be sufficient if we want to keep pace with growth, or better yet, outpace growth.

That’s why we need City On A Hill, and many more workers for the harvest up here. There are plenty of great churches looking for staff — and the output of our colleges up here isn’t enough to supply the demand (yet). Check out, for example, this job that’s currently going at another inner city church plant. Village Church.

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Next year (part 2)

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we’re excited about our (potential) job for next year – starting a new church at South Bank (in Brisbane’s CBD) with Creek Road. And that is a big part of what we’re excited about for next year.

Check out this video about what’s happening at Creek Road.

But Robyn and I are also excited about something bigger than what’s happening at Creek Road.

Something that’s happening in Brisbane.

Something amazing.

Our friends the Cowlings are coming to Brisbane to work for AFES. Izaac and I grew up together in Maclean – on the New South Wales North Coast. It’s such a thrill for me that several of my friends from Maclean love Jesus. It’s a bigger thrill that Izaac and Sarah are coming north to share that love for Jesus with others – at Griffith University.

Griffith is a uni of 42,000 students. Almost a quarter of them are overseas students. It’s a huge mission field. Spread across multiple campuses. We’re excited about the idea of Izaac and Sarah joining up with AFES. We’re excited about more workers joining the harvest in Queensland. We’re very much looking forward to our kids growing up with their kids. In the providence of God our daughters and sons are the same age.

If you know Izaac and Sarah – you should stop reading now – and head over to their support page at AFES, and figure out how you can help them out.

If you don’t. Then here’s my pitch for you to support Izaac and Sarah.

I don’t normally include what is called, in marketing terms, a “call to action” in my blog posts. I especially don’t try to leverage my blogging into anything like a financial benefit for myself (unless you somehow manage to find an affiliate link for an amazon book I’ve reviewed in the past – but I can confirm that I have made less than $20 from that in a few years).

I’m not on about money.

But if you enjoy St. Eutychus, or if you don’t, but you love the idea of supporting some people who want to see uni students in Brisbane getting a chance to hear about Jesus, then can I ask you to consider throwing some cash to Izaac and Sarah? Can I urge you to pray for them as they make the move, with their young family, to Brisbane?

If you’re in Queensland, and you would consider supporting these guys, but feel like you need to learn more about them – come and have a coffee with me. I’ll make it. And we can talk. Shoot me an email. Tweet me. Text me. Let’s make this happen.

Support Izaac and Sarah using this link.

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John Piper in Brisbane…

Everybody’s favourite tweed jacket wearing preacher – John Piper – is coming to Brisbane. August 25. The Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Don’t waste this opportunity. You should totally book now. I’ll be there.

Here is the page to watch, book, register, and tell your friends about.

Do it.

Who is John Piper? John Piper has written about a million books. Good books. About what he calls Christian hedonism. He is a minister and scholar in the states. He looks like this:

Pretty awesome and grandfatherly.

He runs a great website called Desiring God where you can get billions of free resources.

He seems like a lovely guy, and I’m really looking forward to being in the same room as him.

Here’s a video.

You can register at the qtc website. Do it. Go on.

We have arrived

We’re “home”. Well, home for the next four years. After two days of exhausting driving we have arrived safely in Brisbane. We’ll be unloading the truck at our new house in Grovely tomorrow morning if anybody reading really wants to swing by to help.

Moving day

We left Townsville at lunch time today. We were going to leave first thing this morning, but our removalist no showed yesterday (they called to tell us at 3pm).

It’ll be sporadic blogging only today and tomorrow.

I used my phone for this post.

Five things I’m looking forward to about Brisbane

I’ve only got four days of work left. And we’ve only got 10 days left in Townsville. Which is sad – and worthy of much reflection.

But there are some things I’m really looking forward to about life in Brisbane (even though we’ll be living in Student poverty). You should assume that most of these include the addendum “with my hot wife“…

  1. Studying the Bible (and other stuff) with other people at QTC.

  2. Working with Andrew, Simone, Pete and Mel at Clayfield Presbyterian.

  3. Living in Grovely close to my three sisters*, parents and grandma, and next door to the Lyndons.

  4. Playing (outdoor) football with (rather than against) Pete.

  5. Exploring the Brisbane coffee scene and trying out my new roaster (which I still haven’t used because we’ve got so much coffee left over from Stable on the Strand.

* For those who don’t know yet – little sister number 1 just got a job as a dentist in Brisbane (today) having been in Toowoomba. I don’t think she reads my blog – but congrats anyway little sister number 1. It’ll be fun having the whole family together.

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Everybody’s changing

Sometimes there’s a real synergy between a number of different topics that fits nicely under the one blog heading. In a brief synopsis today’s blog will feature a mention of my trip to Brisbane, the Labor Leadership change, the Ashes, and whatever else occurs to me in the course of penning – or typing – this entry. Oh, and I recently became the proud owner of Liberia.

I’ll start with the known knowns – and move towards the known unknowns, ignoring completely the unknown unknowns.

I spent a few days in Brisbane last week. That was weird. It was a work trip and I was doing all sorts of official things demonstrating my competency and learning lots about tourism in the process. I’ll start the account from the beginning, which is, as we know courtesy of Rodgers and Hammerstein, a very good place to start.

I flew into Brisbane on Wednesday night, having spent most of the plane trip playing “eye spy” with the inquisitive six year old seated across the aisle I was ready to collect my bags and make a mad dash to the front of the taxi queue when suddenly there was a loud bang (well more a muffled whrrrr sound) and the lights went out. The baggage carousel shuddered to a stop and I was stranded waiting for my rather large, brown, antique suitcase to appear. It did. I got a cab. It drove me to my parents house. I disembarked (got out). I had dinner (cold steak). Wrote some of my sermon (which I will be preaching at church up here this Sunday night). And went to bed. I’m now tired of the blow by blow account – no doubt you are too.

Thursday was a day filled with meetings – well there were two – I met with our two PR companies who are largely responsible for sourcing the travel journalists I host in the region – and thus largely responsible for my free steak tally. It pays to be nice to the people who provide you with free steak so I duly told them what a wonderful job they were doing sourcing (and saucing) my free steaks. We established the parameters of our working relationship for the next year (with a steak quota now firmly entrenched in their contractual obligations) and moved on. Thursday was also my pseudo birthday – the day my family arbitrarily sets aside to endow me with gifts. So we celebrated in splendid fashion with noodles, waffles, and friends.

I also used my time in Brisbane to walk past the new State Library and its infamous balls of steel – which I’ll admit to finding mildly aesthetically appealing, while also admiring the skyscrapers which have been added to the CBD’s skyline since I left in March. I didn’t get to check out GoMA but I’ll save that for my next trip south. I did however, manage to visit JB Hifi, where I spent way too much of my hard earned wage purchasing a number of CDs I’ve been unable to locate in Townsville to date. Gotye, Bob Evans, and a few other JJJ favourites including Keane have now taken their rightful place in my CD collection. Keane segues nicely into my next topic – the lyrics from their song “Everybody’s changing” are quite apt when considering the Rudd takeover of the Australian Labor party.

So little time
Try to understand that I’m
Trying to make a move to stay in the game
I try to stay awake and remember my name
But everybody’s changing
And I don’t feel the same


Queensland’s second most famous Dr Death, Kevin Rudd, managed to wrest control of the party from the grasp of Kim Beazley, taking a caucus majority of 49-39 and “uniting” the party room behind his partnership with Julia Gillard. The more things change, the more they stay the same – Rudd’s Labor party will face the same challenges the Beazley party faced. He still needs to convince the public that he’s not too academic for the top job – with criticism of his extensive vocabulary already airing. I like Rudd – and he’s got a solid base of experience and expertise behind him. Solid enough to convince me that he’d be a suitable Prime Minister – I’m just not sure I prefer him to Howard or Costello. They all look like politicians to me.

It strikes me that 10 months out from an election is not an ideal time to be changing leadership – it also strikes me that with Labor polling ahead of the government this change was fairly unnecessary. Although I’m not sure anyone really wants Beazley to be prime minister – it’s more a case of public sentiment turning against Howard following the IR laws. I’m yet to be convinced the IR laws are a bad thing – but equally – I’m yet to be convinced they’re a good thing. There have been a number of issues that just haven’t registered with me as anything more than standard bureucratic incompetence – the AWB scandal, Children overboard – and in fact anything that has gone wrong in the last 10 years – seem to me to be the cost of the democratic process and not a compelling reason for governmental change. My biggest issues are with things like health, education and water – which all seem to be state government babies.

By the time you read this post Australia’s fate in the second Ashes test will be well and truly sealed, I’m predicting a win for the Aussies – and have been a believer all day.

Cole’s Red Spot Specials

Terence is not a name I’d choose for myself or any of my future children. Nor is it a name I’d ascribe to a dog, a cray fish or a cockroach. One must, when one meets a Terence, enquire as to why they chose not to adopt the more acceptable Terry – or even Tezza… but I digress.

Terence Cole was the man responsible for the “Cole Report” the document produced following a $10 million inquiry into the so called “AWB scandal” – the biggest piece of politically charged controversy since the children overboard fiasco. The Australian Wheat Board – or the wheat mafia – is the organisation which represents Australian farmers to ensure they get the best possible price for exported wheat. The AWB decided that the Iraqi wheat market was particularly lucrative due to UN imposed trade sanctions – and sought to secure the Iraq contract by providing “payments” to the Hussein regime. These payments were worth $290 million and were reportedly used to supply Hussein’s soldiers (heretofore referred to as Moustache Petes*) with weapons of individual destruction (ie guns). (Sidenote – if I was going to start selling miracle weightloss pills I would call them weapons of mass destruction). Somebody flipped the lid – blew the whistle – or revealed what was going on and the whole thing created a public furore… well actually it didn’t. It should have. But the whole issue hasn’t really engaged with the public at all. The Australian gradually moved the AWB scandal coverage from the front page to the middle – in a surefire sign that the issue wasn’t moving any more papers. It hasn’t had an adverse affect on the government’s popularity – which should be at record lows according to the media’s protests over changes to industrial relations laws, media ownership and this scandal.

The problem – perhaps epitomised best by the actual report – is that no mud from this situation is sticking on John Howard’s Teflon ministers. Once upon a time ministers were called on to resign at even the whiff of a scandal. Now the government prefers to take to the trenches and sit out the public furore before making any moves. The fact that the memos made their way to Alexander Downer’s department – but were not read by the minister – suggests a gross failure on behalf of the bureaucrats involved. Labor tried laboriously to labour home the point – but failed to score – with John Howard now winning the PR battle by calling for apologies to all the senior ministers who were so spuriously burdened with the weight of the opposition’s aspersions. But really – who cares? Nobody. And we should – on one hand we’re off liberating the Iraqis (a concept I’m not entirely opposed to provided the traditional interpretation of “liberating” is adhered to and not the Bush government’s – which requires the carpet bombing of “liberated” areas to truly ensure the “liberated” state is reached.) – and on the other we’re putting guns in their hands. Surely we could have supplied them with water pistols, or something slightly less deadly. Perhaps water pistols should be standard issue weaponry in all wars – then Pte Kovco’s mother would not have to attack the government for any form of cover up over his death in Iraq.

And finally, I’ll be in Brisbane from tomorrow until Monday – if you’d like to see me please contact my agent to negotiate an exorbitant appearance fee.

* I’ve never mentioned the moustache Petes before – I just wanted to use the word heretofore – I will also hereafter refer to said shady characters as moustache Petes – particularly in this month of “Movember”**
** A stupid concept.

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home page

I’m home. Or am I?

I’m sitting at mum and dad’s house, which hasn’t actually been my home for about 3 years, trying to figure out where home is. I’ve used my time in Brisbane so far to catch up with people who I hadn’t realised I missed as much as I think I might realise when I go back to Townsville.

Unfortunately some of these people (hello Mel and Sara) said my blog was too wordy and complex for them to understand… so for the rest of this post I’ll try to use words with one bit part (syllable for the uninitiated or ignorant, I figure I can write longer words in brackets and maintain consistency).

My small girl tribe mate (sister) plays her valved horn (trumpet) now (syntax is going out the window with this one syllable thing). She is quite good.

My flight on the day before the day that was (yesterday) was late by four hours. They had to send a new plane from this place to the place I came from due to bad stuff in the first plane. I had to sit at the plane place for what seemed like a long time (it was a long time) so I bought a thing made from trees with words in it (a book – that’s a tough concept for the ignorant reader to get their head around I guess). I think the plane group should give me my cash back for the book – they did give me six bucks to buy food. That is a rate of one and a half bucks per hour. I’d be paid more for my time if I worked in a sweat shop (technically one word I think).

I went to the pub last night and then to a shop that sells flat bread things with meat (pizza), I was with Nat and the guy whose name is like the nut group (Knobby). Those boys make me laugh more than any one else. It made me think of the game I want to bring in to the world. For the purposes of describing this game I’m going to use some two and three syllable words. I think people should play restaurant taboo – where you have to order without using the name of the thing you want or any words they use in the description – funny how stylisticly this would tie in with some of the sentences above, eg the pizza sentence. So you have to walk into maccas and order the thing with three bits of bread (big mac) or the bird burger (McChicken), or the tiny pieces of rabbit (chicken McNuggets), or the frozen pig fat with brown sauce (chocolate sundae).

The challenge is now out there. Sorry about all those big words.

I went back through some old posts to see if there were any comments I’d missed – Leah has made some interesting comments to some posts. Particularly her stance on chequebook journalism which I’ll address in my next “journalistic theories” type post. She also bagged out my headlines for my press releases. That wasn’t very nice Leah. I cried.