Tag: mike o’connor

Great mo-ments in mo-vies :{

Possibly the most important series of movie remakes you’ll see this Movember. So important I felt the need to use an e-mo-ticon.

Great Moments in Movie History… with moustaches: Cast Away from sween on Vimeo.

Great Moments in Movie History… with moustaches: A Few Good Men from sween on Vimeo.

Great Moments in Movie History… with moustaches: Jerry Maguire from sween on Vimeo.

I can’t grow a mo – but my friend Mike can. You should sponsor him.

A concrete example of talking winsomely about the relationship between homosexuality and Christianity

So. I’ve written before about how wonderfully my friend Mike O’Connor in Rockhampton models using the local media to share the gospel with his community. Here is another example, and another.

I posted a picture of a story the Rockhampton Daily Bulletin ran on the back of an interview with Mike following the ACL’s unfortunate comments the other day. The headline was slightly misleading, and the story truncated one of his statements – but it was a great example of speaking lovingly about Jesus.

Mike decided to clear up some of the misconceptions with a follow up letter to the editor, written with grace, and dripping with gospel. I told him it was too long, so we put together a shorter version – but the paper went with the extended edition. Though with a similarly unfortunate heading (that Mike didn’t write)…

Mike O'Connor Facebook 2

Here’s the text:

Gays welcome, but not homosexuality

On Saturday September 8th, the Morning Bulletin ran a small article titled “Gay couples are welcome at Church”. In that article, I was briefly interviewed and extensively quoted. 

I’d like to take this opportunity to clear any ambiguity surrounding my comments. 

The church’s point of engagement with culture on every issue needs to be Jesus Christ. Our message to the world is a person, his name is Jesus. This is a message the church has at times, failed to make clear, opting instead to moralize and to dictate to the lifestyle choices of other people. Hypocrisy is a fair criticism of Christians when morality is the prevailing message heard rather than the good news of Jesus and the new life he gives.

The church needs to stay on message and not be misunderstood or open to misunderstanding when it comes the cultural issues of the day. I’m sorry if I’ve added to this confusion.

So let me be clear: smokers, homosexuals and all of Rockhampton need Jesus Christ. 

Rockhampton Presbyterian Church wants people to accept or reject Christianity on the merits of who Jesus is, on the things Jesus has done and over the things Jesus actually said. Our church welcomes all people, as Jesus welcomes all people – Jesus was regularly eating with tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners. 

We want members of every community to come and find a place in the new community God is gathering around Jesus – one that is not based on sexual preference, gender, race or religion but based on a personal acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

When people enter Jesus’ new community and put their faith in him many old things will need to be left behind; for some people, homosexuality is one of those things because Jesus makes us new. Again, this way of life is for those who confess to be followers of Jesus, they are not a prerequisite for investigating Christ’s claims nor an insistence to change for those who choose to have nothing to do with Jesus.

“Welcome” doesn’t mean ‘condone’, ‘tolerate’ or even ‘turn a blind eye’. ‘Welcome’ simply means that: welcome. We want everyone to come and hear about the Saviour we talk about at church every week as we open the Bible and consider together what it says about him.

Like all other sins, homosexuality is not consistent with the lifestyle of those who confess to be followers of Jesus Christ. However, we want all people to hear about Jesus and put their faith in him and we would invite you to come and do that with us this Sunday, or any other at 9am.

Mike O’Connor

Senior Pastor
Rockhampton Presbyterian Church

So, for anybody who says it’s not possible to be clear, winsome, speak against homosexuality (or at least call it sinful), and for Jesus – here’s a bit of published evidence to the contrary.

Being on Message for Jesus: Mike O’Connor Interview

Mike, also known as M-Dog, O’Connor is the minister at Rockhampton Pressy Church. He’s a top bloke who’s always on the lookout for ways to love his community and point them to Jesus. This means using the media a bit, and finding quirky angles to latch on to in order to get Jesus front and centre. I interviewed him because I wanted some regional balance because I think PR is more effective and a bit easier in the less crowded regional markets. Anyway. He says some good stuff.

1. How much media stuff have you guys done?
We’ve had fair bit to do with the media during my three years in Rockhampton. I was interviewed by TV and Radio during our church’s involvement with the Rockhampton Flood recovery and also during our church’s 150th Anniversary Celebration.
I’ve also written a couple of opinion pieces for the local daily newspaper “The Rockhampton Bulletin” about same-sex marriage and about a pizza franchise called “Hell’s Pizza”.

I also use facebook for ministry, I have lots of non-christian ‘friends’ and I’ve taken up twitter again recently.

2. What benefits do you see from engaging with the media?

There are many benefits – I struggle to think of any disadvantages.
In a technological age, the media provide another platform, if not the greatest platform for the church to proclaim the gospel news about Jesus. The media access more people than I can ever reach on a Sunday with the good news about Jesus. We have a message – they have the medium. Our culture is media saturated and so the church needs to engage with the media if we still want people to take seriously the claims about the person and work of Jesus Christ.

3. What do you think stops churches engaging with the media?

It’s hard to speculate accurately, perhaps it’s a matter of not knowing how to use the media or not knowing what things might be in the public interest where the church’s voice would be welcomed into the debate or expected to be heard?

I wonder if there is still a ghetto mentality amongst christians when it comes to the media. The idea of ‘secular’ and ‘sacred’, ‘clean’ and unclean’ still shapes a lot of church thinking and the media is seen as ‘part of the problem’ in an ‘evil world’. I think a more helpful way of viewing the media is seeing it as a platform where we can reach people with the the message of Jesus. This must be done in an intelligent and respectful way, by which I mean, knowing what battles are worth fighting for and the kind of voice or tone we bring to the debate.

4. What do you think it looks like when Christians do media engagement badly?
It’s embarrassing! I think bad engagement means picking the wrong battles and speaking with the wrong voice. There have been a number of examples lately across all mediums concerning same-sex and religious education in schools where we’ve spoken with the wrong tone or picked the wrong battle. What happens is that people think the church is about rules and regulations because essentially that’s what we are telling them. This only perpetuates the stereo-type that Christianity is becoming more and more irrelevant as our culture seeks to be morally progressive. We lose our right to speak about anything intelligently, we’re no longer being invited to the discussion. Bad engagement means no-one is listening when we want to talk to them about Jesus and we’re left wondering why people want nothing to do with the church!

5. How important is it, from your perspective, for us to talk about Jesus and the cross, when we’re appearing in public?

I would see it as essential. If the message that God has given the church to tell the World is about the death and resurrection of Jesus and the forgiveness of sins, then surely that’s what the church needs to be communicating at every opportunity. If we aren’t talking about Jesus we are irrelevant and an out of touch organisation with strict and exclusive morals. Problem is we’re too busy attacking the issues demanding the world listen when really our job is to show them how Jesus is relevant. Its not the role of the church to make Jesus relevant to the world but to show the world how he is relevant.

I wonder if we’ve lost that distinction?

6. Can you tell us a little bit about the Hell Pizza thing?
Sure, an article appeared in our local newspaper about the opening of a pizza franchise in Brisbane and a local Pentecostal Pastor outraged that such demonic activity was taking place in their area. The Pentecostal Pastor was calling for a boycott of the store and for it’s closure.

I made a comment online about how the Pentecostal Pastor was over-reacting and being unhelpful. It was a Pizza shop and if they opened in Rockhampton, I would take my church youth group there. The local paper contacted me the next day and asked me if I would do an interview or write an article as a follow up to the story and if they could send a photographer around to my office.

I told the photographer that he needed to put his trust in Jesus and this was the point of the article I wrote. That while Hell is a real place – this was just a pizza shop and that church needs to be talking about Jesus and not what people can and can’t do.

How to serve a community during a flood

I was talking to my friend Mike O’Connor on Facebook today. Mike is the minister of the Presbyterian Church in Rockhampton. And I love the way he thinks about how to serve and engage the Rocky community. He’s got a good eye for a media story and keeps Christianity on the agenda in a positive way.

I’ve been watching on Facebook as the Rockhampton flood situation unravelled. Mike has been on the front foot the whole time. And the stuff they’re doing up there, with help from his network of friends around the country, is pretty phenomenal.

Here’s a little video they put together:

Here’s what they’ve got on the agenda as a church so far as Rocky continues to deal with current flooding, and future clean up. From Mike:

What they’re doing
1. We have become the child care facility for anyone wanting to have their kids minded during the clean up
1.a We are going to do evening BBQ to feed people when they pick up their kids
2. We were GIVEN 5 chest freezers (new) yesterday to freeze meals to give to people and when we’re done we can give the freezers away.
3. We are still organising a team of people who can just labour – door knocking an area to assist people in the clean up.
already in place and set to roll when the waters go down.
4. Obviously helping people from church flooded in.

How you can help

This sounds like a CMS ad – but you can help by praying, giving, or going.

  1. Pray for the Rockhampton Church as they seek to serve their city.
  2. There was a team from Brisbane lined up to come to Rockhampton to help – their status is now “unsure.” If you’ve got some spare time in the next weeks or months, and would consider travelling to tropical North Queensland to help out – let me know, and I’ll pass your details on to Mike. They’re particularly interested in hearing from tradesmen of all varieties. Especially electricians – who need to certify each house. But they’ll take anybody.
  3. Give money…

You can give money to the Presbyterian Church’s Flood appeal by Direct Debit:

Presbyterian Church of Queensland
Westpac Bank
BSB 034 010
Account No 131237

Atheists v Jesus: a question of perspective

Sometimes I despair over the impact the new atheists are having on the public sphere. I thought this little comic (which I found on Mike O’Connor’s most excellent blog at the most excellent Pastor2Pastor) was a refreshing perspective.

Hell’s bells

My friend Mike is a minister in Rockhampton. He made the local news today for being generally awesome. You can read the story here.

Hell, the pizza chain, created a stir in Brisbane this week which led to a story in the Rockhampton paper, which Mike commented on online, this comment led to an interview, and a great story. Featuring this little gospel presentation that simultaneously showed that Christians are a bit normal.

This is a great example of how churches should be using the media. I thought I had written a post on that before, but I can’t find it. So I’ll write it today.

Ordained eight years ago, Reverend O’Connor said he did not find Hell Pizza offensive, irreligious or blasphemous.

“I find it amusing and would probably use it for sermon illustration,” he said.

“Christianity is not about rules and regulations, it’s about having a relationship with Jesus.”

Reverend O’Connor said St Andrews was a growing church with a number of young adults among the congregation.

“It’s important to interact with cultures that surround us, not standing back and labelling everything as evil.

“I’m just a normal bloke who likes having a beer, watching the footy and who loves Jesus,” he said.

“Hell is a real place, but it’s unhelpful for Christians to be jumping up and down about a pizza shop. We’re on about Jesus, not about being anti-everything,” he said.

Movin’ to the country

Life in country Australia is pretty peachy. It’s just a shame that we can’t seem to convince Sydneysiders of that fact…

This topic of conversation always gets me in trouble in Christian circles – so I apologise in advance for the offense I’m about to cause you city dwellers. I know some of you know people who are going to regional Australia. I know some of you are keen to go overseas. I know some of you have good reasons to stay in Sydney and feel “called” to do so – but if everybody is “called” to be in Sydney you’ve got to start questioning where the calling is coming from…

My friend Mike, a minister in a regional centre in Queensland, posted a fairly innocuous appeal to city ministers as his status yesterday. And he got in trouble.

I’m going to play the role of cavalry.

This is what he said: Mike wants to remind my friends that the mission field is bigger than Sydney!

He copped a bit of a comment flogging. He was accused of empire building. Which I thought was odd. Mike is from Sydney. His family live there. He’s traditional Sydney staying fodder. And he left. Much respect to him…

And this old chestnut came up:

Australia’s population is not evenly spread – almost 1 in 5 Aussies live here. It would make sense then that 1 in five workers is here also. (There may be more than that I’m not sure).

Newsflash – that means 4 in 5 people in Australia aren’t in Sydney. Sadly two out of four of Australia’s reformed evangelical training institutions are in Sydney. I would suggest that more than 1 in 5 reformed evangelical workers are in Sydney.

Someone somewhere should do some research – but anecdotally speaking – I’d say there are only a handful of graduates from either Moore College or SMBC in Queensland. I’d say the case is similar in other states.

Off the top of my head there are only about 15 graduates from these colleges operating in Queensland (but this is largely limited to Presbyterian circles). That’s a rough head count.

According to this site Sydney occupies about 2100 square kilometres. According to this site Australia is 7,686,850 square kilometres.

I know there’s this big “theological” push to do city based ministry – but really, our regional towns are the size of Biblical cities in some cases.

Can someone tell me how we’re meant to reach the other 4 in 5 people in that sort of space with the concentration of good ministry stuff we’ve got going on in Sydney?