Archive for July, 2014

LOVE REACHES OUT  #4AMLove Reaches Out 3 Screen


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Today we have seen an incredible promotion from the Gideons about reaching Melbourne. I know this church will be right in there supporting this call as we have exactly the same vision. To see as many Melbournites as possible experience the love of Jesus Christ. Here’s the vision statement of our church denomination or movement:  To Give every Aussie the chance to respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The other take home message of this Gideon presentation is the power of reading the bible. In this church we encourage each believer to read the word of God regularly. To understand the power in this see our website at this address. It’s important to understand that we have a great confidence that the bible is God’s word and is divinely inspired and infallible cover to cover. This can be demonstrated clearly with real evidence both scientific and literary. For more information on this please check out these specific messages on our church podcast at this link.

This year we are sharing the message of LOVE across the whole year. This month our theme is Love Reaches Out. We have heard the message in week one about the reality of heaven and hell and the incredible importance of sharing our faith with others. In week two, Rhys spoke of how in this world many people have an obsession with a celebrity and they know everything about them, want to look like them and be near them. He pointed out that as real authentic Christians we are to be obsessed with Jesus and experience the same level of life changing impact. In week three we spoke about how to actually share your faith effectively, and what is the gospel message essentially.

The main message today is that reaching people with God’s love is best done in a team work approach. Let’s look at how Jesus made an impact in peoples’ lives.

Luke 9:11-17 11 But when the crowds learned of it, [they] followed Him; and He welcomed them and talked to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed restoration to health.

12 Now the day began to decline, and the Twelve came and said to Him, Dismiss the crowds and send them away, so that they may go to the neighbouring hamlets and villages and the surrounding country and find lodging and get a [b]supply of provisions, for we are here in an uninhabited (barren, solitary) place.

13 But He said to them, You [yourselves] give them [food] to eat. They said, We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all this crowd,

14 For there were about 5,000 men. And [Jesus] said to His disciples, Have them [sit down] reclining in table groups (companies) of about fifty each.

15 And they did so, and made them all recline.

16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven and [praising God] gave thanks and asked Him to bless them [to their use]. Then He broke them and gave them to the disciples to place before the multitude.

17 And all the people ate and were satisfied. And they gathered up what remained over—twelve [[c]small hand] baskets of broken pieces.(AMP)

This was teamwork in action. We see that pretty much everywhere Jesus went He healed people and he also performed miracles of provision – feeding the 5000, as well as raising people from the dead. His approach to help people understand the message of the gospel, that God loved them and that they needed to be forgiven and know God, was to awaken them through the meeting of their needs. The reaction of people was huge! Mark 7:37 37 And they were overwhelmingly astonished, saying, He has done everything excellently (commendably and nobly)! He even makes the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak!(AMP)  By meeting their needs supernaturally, people who were open to God, would seek further understanding and begin to listen to Jesus as He preached the good news of the kingdom. If people were not open to God they were often offended by the miracles and became aggressive towards Him.

The same is true today. As we seek to reach people with the message of God’s love we can pray for people’s needs, be it healing or financial breakthrough or restoration of marriages or anything that concerns them. To a great extent the level of miracles we see is less than what Jesus experienced and this is due to a high level of unbelief in this nation; where people can scarcely believe that God exists let alone that He would heal them. This is not the case in many nations where ordinary believers like you and me can travel and see amazing miracles and healings right in front of our eyes.


In 1991-1993 I led three large teams into the Ukraine to do missions work. This took place immediately after the failed coup and the fall of the iron curtain. We preached on the streets with interpreters and saw hundreds of people receive Jesus Christ as their saviour and as we prayed for healing amazing miracles took place right out there in the street. This was team work in action. Some preached, some prayed, some played guitars, some shared their faith one on one with interpreters, and some translated our songs into Russian. Together we loved and served the Ukrainian people.


This video shares some of the story of what Red Frogs is all about. Red Frogs is a ministry of Christian young people who go to the schoolies week at 14 locations around Australia and look after tens of thousands of young school leavers who are living it up and making crazy life endangering decisions in an alcohol fuelled party at the end of their school life. The Red Frogs Crew help serve and love them to keep them safe and guide them to better decisions. This teamwork of loving and serving these young people gives them the perfect platform to share the real meaning of life as those who are open ask the red frogs team why they do what they do. Later these same Christian leaders go into the universities and serve at O week where again the alcohol culture is over the top. The Red Frogs teams keep working through the year loving and serving these future leaders of Australia (and indeed the world) and many of them end up in church because they see the love and the quality lives of the Red Froggers.

Why is the ministry of Red Frogs so successful? Here’s why…

  1. It’s focussed on a need
  2. There’s an expression of love through serving.
  3. There’s a team work approach.

In Plenty Valley Church, we use this same team work approach to love and serve people in order to gain trust and show them the love in action that stems from Jesus Christ. We do this through…

  1. Urban Connect Groups – loving and serving people in need
  2. Youth Foundation – loving and serving High schoolers
  3. Community Kitchen – loving and serving disabled, lonely, struggling and financially challenged people.
  4. The Autism Support Group – loving and serving families struggling with special needs kids.

I hope that soon we can begin a new team of passionate believers to start what’s called a Messy Church. Messy Church is a once a month church service on a Saturday afternoon that caters for young families with kids where the kids and their parents get involved in games, craft, art and singing as well as hear a message and share a meal while being all together. We will need about 7-8 new leaders to assist us to run this new outreach. If you’re interested please see one of the ministry team later.

So to summarise this month.

Every person who does not know Jesus Christ as their Lord and saviour is lost and we care deeply that they are not going to heaven. We will do all in our power to love them and serve them and so gain their trust and share with them the good news that Jesus died for them.

  1. We can share with others through personal sharing of our faith,
  2. We can invite people to church or Urban Connect groups or youth etc.
  3. We can be part of a team that loves and serves those in need just as Jesus did to find those open to the message of the gospel so that they might be saved.


1. Discuss the benefits of completing a task in a team environment.

2. What are the gifts you bring to the team – what are you good at?

3. Who is the best one in your team at sharing the gospel message? Who is the best host? the best practical helps person etc?

4. Who is your team (Urban Connect group) going to reach out to? Can you identify someone in need?

5. When will you plan ways to love and serve them in Jesus name?

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LOVE REACHES OUT #4PMreaches out



I was not found in church growing up. I had no knowledge of the gospel. When I was twenty and studying at uni, we had a team of people from the church I am now part of come to the uni and perform some musical items and someone preached. A friend, who was studying in my course, was a Christian and he was connected to this church. When they invited me to come along I considered the invitation and decided to go to the church that coming Sunday night. As I arrived with my friend from uni I was amazed at the size of the church (about 700 people) and the friendliness of the people. I saw other amazing things. People were healed and fell over under the power of the Holy Spirit. Others told their story of how God had set them free from alcoholism, drug addiction and broken marriages. There was something going on here!

At the conclusion of the service an appeal was made for people to respond and give their lives to Christ. Although moved and compelled, I resisted as it seemed too hard for my mind to accept it all so quickly. Later a wise person said to me, “Just pray and ask Jesus to show Himself to you. If He’s real then you will know, if He’s not real nothing will happen and you can get on with the rest of your life.”

Sounded reasonable to me; so I set about asking Jesus to show Himself to me over that next week. Well some things happened. Prayers got answered and as I considered if God was real, I thought that if He was real, then I believed He would be healing people and restoring marriages as I had seen.

The next Sunday I went back to the same church with my girlfriend with me; and I received Jesus as my Lord and saviour! A new life had begun!  I was born again. Over the next little while I joined the youth street work team and began to share my faith with others. The training opened my eyes to understand the reality of heaven and hell. It was frightening to consider the horror of hell. I became more passionate about reaching lost people. My girlfriend (who is now my wife) and I served in children’s ministry then teens group, then after about three years I began working on staff as youth leader. For me there was a very deep sense of being saved from a Christless eternity, and a gratitude for being saved. I wanted to give my whole life to Christ and serve Him forever because of what He had done for me.

Has this love of God gripped your life? Are you apprehended by God for something greater? Are you called? Do you say like Paul, “My life is not my own.”

Matt 20:16  So those who [now] are last will be first [then], and those who [now] are first will be last [then]. [a]For many are called, but few chosen.(AMP)

John 15:16 You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as [b]presenting all that I Am], He may give it to you.(AMP)

There is a call from God, and there is a response from you. How will you respond? In the parable of the marriage feast the servant goes out to ask who will attend the supper but many refuse to attend, finally the host says to the servant, go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in that my house may be full. (Luke 14:16-24.)

Has the saviour called you? How have you responded? When God has touched your heart with His great love you are marked forever. This world cannot offer the peace and the joy that serving Him can give. All this world has is temporal and will one day pass away, but what is eternal will endure forever.

With His love on board you see the world differently. Ezek 9:4 And the Lord said to him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in the midst of it.(AMP)  How do you see your city?

When you’re called, you have a one track mind – God’s purpose, His kingdom comes first at all times. Nothing puts you off the glorious task of serving Jesus and winning lost people to Christ. I love the single mindedness of Paul in this story in Acts 21:10-14. 10 While we were remaining there for some time, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.

11 And coming to [see] us, he took Paul’s belt and with it bound his own feet and hands and said, Thus says the Holy Spirit: The Jews at Jerusalem shall bind like this the man who owns this belt, and they shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles (heathen).

12 When we heard this, both we and the residents of that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem.

13 Then Paul replied, What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart like this? For I hold myself in readiness not only to be arrested and bound and imprisoned at Jerusalem, but also [even] to die for the name of the Lord Jesus.

14 And when he would not yield to [our] persuading, we stopped [urging and imploring him], saying, The Lord’s will be done! (AMP)

Paul knows what he’s called to. The prophet was right, and Paul would indeed be bound in Rome for the gospel, but did not interpret the prophecy to mean don’t go. He had a higher purpose. He intended to take the gospel to the heart of the empire! What are you called to?

Don’t choose Role or title, choose to serve – choose to go for souls. Choose to place yourself under a teacher or mentor or coach who will help you grow.  We Australians have a very independent mindset. It’s unhelpful and anti-biblical. It stems from our nations roots in growing out of a penal colony where there was a disrespect for all in authority. You will need to push that aside if you intend to be a disciple.

Consider the call of God for your life. To what are you called? Can you see the plight of the unsaved in your world and ask what can I do about it? Would you lay down your life for God and His great passion – to reach people with the gospel?


1. How do you know if you are called

2. Can you be called and not be called to a ministry such as pastor teacher etc?

3. Is your life and the result of your years to be more than just family job and pleasure?

4. What do you believe you are called to do for God?

5. What is your next step in your mission?


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LOVE REACHES OUT #3AM Love Reaches Out 3 Screen

What do I say?

Right through this year we have been sharing about God’s love. It’s the biggest subject of all! We have been made aware of His loving kindness, His intense desire to forgive, restore, heal and bless those in covenant with Him. That’s you, if you have bowed you heart and your knee to Jesus Christ. But this great love isn’t just for those who currently know Him. The harvest is ripe Jesus said, and we must go out into the highways and byways and tell them of His love.1 Listen, what if no one bothered to tell you? Then where would you end up? Yes, just like anyone who has not turned to Jesus with all their heart; you would be lost for all eternity in hell.

Week one we shared about the reality of heaven and hell. The stark cold hard facts about the horror of hell must surely motivate us to do all we can to save others from the fire.2 As the famous preacher Charles Spurgeon said “If you care not that others are not saved, then you are not saved, be sure of that.” 3

Week two Rhys shared about the great obsession – a love for Christ so large we can’t help share it. His passion for the lost was very evident. Today I want to answer the question – What do I say? What is it that we are to share with others about Jesus? How must one convey the gospel? – I’m glad you asked….

The first thing is that we must have a heart for the lost. I have been praying much for us that God will pour out His fire upon us and He did to the early church.4 Having a heart for the lost is the most sensible thought you will ever have. After all if you have been saved from a burning building, wouldn’t you want to save others if you are able?

Secondly we must be led by the Spirit. Listen to Jesus’ advice the day He departed from the disciples and leave them with the task of filling the whole earth with this message: Acts 1:8  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.(NLT)     So often in our insecurity we worry about what to say. What if I say the wrong thing? What if I don’t know the answers to tough questions? This insecurity is out of place. If you were about to rescue someone from a burning building, would you worry about what to say? There are no end of methods employed by people. So many tracts, formulas and so called fool proof methods about how to witness; but Jesus said when you receive the Holy Spirit, then you will be my witnesses. So church, be led by the spirit. What does that mean? Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you; then when you are with people, say what comes to your heart. The more you do this the more you will learn what His voice sounds like.

Here is some great wisdom.

  1. Share your God story. We used to call it your testimony, but that word seems old fashioned now. This is your story about what Jesus means to you. It’s the story of how you know Jesus is real and/or what He has done for you. Never be ashamed of your story. It is your eyewitness account and it’s irrefutable! Some people may say they don’t believe the bible but very few people will ever say to you that they don’t believe your story.
  2. Ask questions. Ask people, “What do you think about Jesus?” or “Why don’t people go to church?” Then Listen. Really Listen. You value people when you listen to them. Then they will give you permission to speak to them and they will listen. Listen for the personal stories. When people share their pain, you know you’re on the right track. They are opening up. You care about them and you have the answer! Jesus is always the answer.
  3. What is the Gospel message? In one word – Jesus. In one sentence: Jesus died for you. In one brief explanation it is this: God is Holy. That means He is perfect in every way, without any sin or wrong doing. Also He is just and that means He must make a judgement to punish any and all wrong doing. Imagine if an earthly judge were to let someone off from murder because they had done good things as well. It’s unthinkable, and so we see that God being good and just must punish us also for the wrongs we have committed. Romans 3:23 says we have all sinned and come short of the glory (standard) of God. And further more Romans 6:23 says the wages (or the penalty) of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life. But God so loved mankind that He sent Jesus, His only begotten Son, to die in our place, instead of us so that our penalty would be carried by another.  At his point it’s helpful to share a metaphor – a story in modern context to illustrate how this works. – For example. Say you went through a red light and you received a ticket in the mail and your fine was $300. But you don’t have the money, and so you might be forced to go to gaol. Then I come over to your house and I notice the ticket and I take a note of the number. Later I call the Police or Fines Victoria and pay the fine for you without you knowing. Later again, you call the Police and ask is there any way to pay off the fine and you are told, “No, it’s paid! Someone called Craig came and paid the fine for you. You’re free to go. Now you’re happy! You were guilty and you didn’t pay. Craig was innocent of that crime and he did pay. It’s like that with Jesus.    Repentance is an old fashioned word that means a change of mind. A person must have a change of mind first before they can believe in Jesus. They must change from saying, “I don’t need God.” to “I am a sinner and I need God’s forgiveness.” There must be a realisation that I can’t make it on my own. Without Jesus I am done for. This realisation is a free gift of God as a revelation and is granted to people in order that they can believe. We must pray for people we are sharing with, that God will touch them with His grace and give them this gift. The message of the gospel must include the advice that only by faith can this free gift of salvation be received. A person must believe that Jesus died for them and that He rose again.5 When a person has changed their mind, then encourage them to believe that Jesus died for them, and lead them in a prayer surrendering to Jesus. The words are not as crucial as the intent of their heart to leave the old life and come to Jesus and begin a new life.
  4. In general sharing with others may graduate through these various kinds of communication:
    1. Use teasers. For example, drop into a conversation statements like, “My pastor is a tremendous communicator.” Or “Have you ever wondered how some people can be so evil like these ones that shot down the Malaysian plane?” or “No I can’t go to that event on Sunday, I’m going to the most exciting place in town.”
    2. Give the gift of prayer. “Can I pray for you?” Whenever a person shares a problem or trouble or pain, then ask this very innocuous question.
    3. Use tracts. There’s one we have given out to day and it’s also available on the website and the face book page.
    4. Use an invitation card. Be inventive and use those in lots of different ways.
    5. Tell your God story. Tell it often, tell it in short and long forms.
    6. Share the gospel message as outlined above.

Next month we will be sharing about prayer. It is so very important to pray for your lost friends and loved ones. It is God’s work of the Holy Spirit to draw people to the Father. Yet here must be a preacher to communicate His message. This month is all about communicating this message and next month will be about praying for them.

How are these messages affecting you? You are either moved or unmoved. I am praying for you and for myself that God moves us to reach this community around us because the majority of them are truly lost. Will you join me?


1. Does the plight of lost people get to you?

2. Have you ever felt like you were not getting through to someone? What can you do about that?

3. How much are you relying on the Holy Spirit to assist you?

4. Still it does take a long time for some; right?

5. How much is God’s work and how much is our work?

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LOVE REACHES OUT #2PM Love Reaches Out 3 Screen


In 1996 Two members of this church and I travelled to China to preach the gospel. It was my second trip to China. That was a tough job as we didn’t speak Chinese. But we had thousands and thousands of gospel tracts. So as we went from city to city doing what was illegal in that country, we placed tracts in letterboxes, on car windshields, on top of walls, in bicycle carry baskets etc. until we got rid of about 5000 every night. Then one night we got caught, the police interrogated us and detained us under house arrest in our shabby motel for two days. Finally they deported us with stern warnings.

Still in spite of being caught we distributed multi thousands of gospel messages in the language of the readers. I wonder how many people read a tract and heard the gospel and found Jesus Christ? In China today, this is what is happening: The Nation has 1.3 billion people living there, The Christian population of this strongly communist nation is approximately 12% or 163 million. There are now more Christians in China than in the United States, and the growth rate is 5% per annum.



When you leave a bible, a tract, a testimony, a conversation with someone who is not saved; it is a seed and that seed has power to grow.


Mark 4:26-29

26 Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. 28 The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. 29 And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.”

One night in Brisbane we were witnessing on the street and we approached an aboriginal man who unleashed a tirade of swear words at us. Just then two plain clothes police came along and arrested him for indecent language and took him away. We could have thought that that was strange and the event was over, nothing was accomplished. However one of our team, Brian, was of aboriginal decent and he happened to come across this man some weeks later and asked, “What was all that about?” The first man explained that his four year old son had just died and he felt anger and pain and blamed God. Brian explained what we were trying to say that Jesus is the answer to this kind of pain and this man received Christ as his Lord and saviour.  Sometimes your attempts to share your faith may seem fruitless, but every word is a seed and it may bear fruit later.

Drop seeds into conversations, if people react negatively don’t feel you have to argue the point. Spend time with hungry open people. If people are belligerent and offensive just keep the conversations brief and do acts of kindness.

My neighbour across the street was resistant to the gospel, I began sharing with him 12 years ago. He followed a religion practiced by Native American Indians. I would take him meals my wife had cooked. Sometimes I went over and mowed his lawn. He would get mad and say stop mowing my lawn and try and pay me back with a box of chocolates. So when I knew he was away I would mow his lawn anyway. If he never came to Christ I would still love and serve him – it would not matter if he thought I was just a sucker doing his work for him; to me it was a seed of love. However recently when he became very sick we visited him in hospital and shared the gospel with him. We prayed for his healing and he also prayed to receive Jesus as his saviour. His response was amazing!


In my very first outreach I organised as a new Christian, I ran a coffee night at uni where I was studying. It was a Friday night and I had about half a dozen Christian friends from church come along and we served free coffee to students and shared our faith with them. At the end of the night I was a bit disappointed as no one seemed to get saved. Being a new Christian I was really into instant results!! Later as I was chatting to one of the friends from Church, Vincent Bonici, He said he had prayed with a guy called Rob and led him to Christ. Get an address? No! How can I find him to help him grow in God? I don’t know God will look after him I guess. I was a bit annoyed. All I knew was Rob was a mechanical Engineering student and he was Malaysian born. I waited outside the Mechanical Engineering building every lunchtime for weeks to try and catch someone who looked like Rob. Guess what? I found him! Later he came to church. Now he’s an INC pastor in Adelaide Hills. But the story doesn’t end there!

Rob led a friend to Christ who is Mark Hands, later Mark became part of our youth ministry in Brisbane (as did Rob) and later again Mark became the principal of one of the INC Christian schools and now has a Christian business and coaching ministry at the Gold Coast. Mark led Andrew to Christ who became a big part of our youth ministry in Brisbane also. These are just the ones we know about….. I wonder who has been saved and touched by God’s love through all these people who have experienced major life change because of the coffee night that I thought wasn’t very successful.


What are you going to do this week to reach out to people who need Jesus?

Sometimes we have all given up trying to share about Jesus because we got a negative response or we just thought it’s all too hard. One time I when I was new Christian I drove past a man who I knew was a father of my school mate loading up a trailer with furniture at his office. I heard he was going bankrupt. It was midnight and I was tired and I sped off home. God prompted me to go back and tell him Jesus loved him, but I was too tired and it was late. The next day he committed suicide! It took me a long time and many tears to get over that one.

Listen to the Holy Spirit and try real hard to obey Him.


  1. Have you ever felt like giving up when it comes to sharing your faith?
  2. Have you ever thought your sharing about Jesus was a complete waste of time?
  3. After hearing some of these stories and learning about seeds from God’s word do you think any differently now?
  4. Will this change the way you approach sharing your faith?
  5. Did you ever think how many lost opportunities you have missed?

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Going to church certainly looks different now compared to what it used to be years ago! Here’s the latest outlook for Australian church going at the moment.

From the McCrindle Research team – The proportion of Australians identifying Christianity as their religion has been declining over the last century – from 96% in 1911 to 61.1% in the 2011 Census. Over the last decade, Christianity in Australia has declined from 68% to 61.1%.  And while the latest Census (2011) results show that Christianity is the religion with which most Australians identify (61.1%), well above the second most popular religion in Australia, Buddhism (2.5%), less than one in seven of the Australians who ticked “Christianity” on their census form regularly attend a church. Australia has more churches (13,000) than schools (9,500), but only 8% of Australians attend a church service each week. Although Easter is a time of the year when church attendance increases, we see that many who say that they are Christians do not attend church.[4] Therefore for every Australian who nominates Christianity as their religious identity, just 1 in 8 (12.5%) of these participate in attendance activity (that’s monthly or more). The reasons are outlined in this graphic.[5]

Graph 1 Sliding Attendances

The decline in church attendance that has occurred in Australia over the past few decades is explained in the following chart which tracks the religious journeys of Australians. While around 1 in 4 were not raised as religious and still are not, and just over 1 in 4 were raised in a religious household and still are, the largest group of all (29%) are the “not now religious” category who were shaped in a religious household but are themselves not religious.

Graph 2 Sliding Attendances


National Church Life Survey (NCLS) data shows that over the last four decades the proportion of Australians attending church at least once per month has more than halved from 36% (1972) to 13% currently. However this is still a significant proportion of the Australian population and indeed twice as many Australians attend church at least once per month (3.495m) as attend all AFL, NRL, A League and Super Rugby games combined per month (1.684m) during the football season.[1]

A survey of 1718 Australians, conducted by the Christian Research Association at the end of 2009, found that 16 per cent attended a religious service at least once a month, compared with 23 per cent in 1993.[2]

In 2014 Roy Morgan Research announced that they had surveyed 4840 Australians between October and December 2013 to poll religious affiliation, and found that 52.6% of Australians were Christian, while 37.6% had no religion.[3]

From NCLS research:

Graph 3 - Sliding Attendances


The other trend in attendances is that regular attenders are coming less regularly. For example the percentage who attend weekly is dropping and the percentage who attend fornightly or once every three or four weeks is rising. This trend has shown up continuously over the lat 15 years. No doubt the busyness of people’s lifestyles and activity has led to “committed Christians” being part of a church but only coming once, twice or three times a month instead of weekly or even twice a week which might have been the norm in the 70’s and 80’s.


Quote. “It’s not that fewer total members attend church. They just don’t attend as often,” explained an associate pastor of a church where attendance has dipped.

This phenomenon reflects a change in what Christians mean when they say they’re “regular” church attenders. Not long ago, that meant attending church three or four times a month, and certainly half the time. Now, it can mean showing up once a month or even once every six weeks. This poses multiple challenges for churches.

The deepest is spiritual growth. That’s not to say a Christians cannot mature spiritually on her own. But as with other disciplines, Christians excel in the company of others. When church members skip small group and worship, they miss out on opportunities to be challenged and inspired – and mutually encouraged.

The writer of Hebrews provides wise counsel:

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another …” (10:23-25).

Other challenges are practical: Many Christians do not give when they do not attend, so budgets suffer when folks skip church. This can have a big impact on how the local church can provide staff and services and cover building costs.

Also, churches run on volunteers, and when members don’t attend, operating vital programs and ministries is difficult, if not impossible. And don’t forget morale. Empty pews are depressing.

Members miss church for myriad reasons. You know them. They range from kids’ sports, to work, to aging parents’ health, to the lure of leisure. But the bottom line is assembling together at church isn’t the priority it once was.

So, what do we do?

Guilting people back into the pews won’t work. In fact, it’s more likely to drive them further away.

Entertaining them isn’t the answer, either. If attendance depends upon entertainment, then it will slide faster. Churches shouldn’t even see themselves as competing with big media presentation or Hollywood or major sporting events, however consumers are used to a high level of impact in the visual sensory media.

Several approaches come to mind:

  • Help parents to think about the example they set for their own children. Let’s face it, our kids will end up living the life we set by example for them. We communicate values to them, not by what we say, but by what we do. As our children are growing up if we are only in church monthly due to sport, visiting, grandma, doing the yard, a day at the beach etc. etc. then what we are communicating to them is that God’s House and worshipping with God’s people is less important than all those other things that you as a family do on the weekends. Later when they grow to become teenagers they will more than likely make a choice not to attend church at all because they see no value in it. The tragic results of this poor choice of values is that our kids may not make it to heaven because we did not live out the values we once held to.  It’s true that following Jesus is more than attending church, however, it’s all about who you associate with. If you hang out at children’s ministry, then church youth group, then young adult’s ministry; you’re probably going to form friendships and alliances with people who have godly values and aspirations. Or would you rather all your kids form strong friendship groups with non-Christian secular and humanistic groups and learn their values?
  • Make the links for members high value. Coming to a service might be the obvious connection, but so is attending a small group, or being part of a regular business breakfast etc. Whatever connection a person makes, endeavour to facilitate discipleship within that context so that the member keeps growing in their walk with Christ. If giving is not normally a part of that connection then be intentional about helping them to see that value and give either on line or through an app or donation page so that their faith in giving is following a growth pattern also. If families are working Sunday and are time poor then other ways of connecting can be provided and valued.
  • Feed aspirations. The reason many people say they attend church more often than they actually do is because they want to attend more often. (See the first part of this article) Affirm that aspiration. Call people to a higher spiritual level – not because you want them there, but because God has placed that desire in their hearts. Help them see their longing is God’s way of loving them, drawing them close.
  • Think outside the (Sunday morning) box. Provide other options for “being” church besides parking in the same lot and converging on the same building for one or two hours every Sunday. Create and bless other times and places and opportunities for church members to assemble to study the Bible, pray, fellowship, worship and minister.
  • Harness technology. Chances are, practically every member of your church age 13 and older carries a personal connector with them wherever they go. It’s a smart phone, and it can provide bountiful spiritual applications. Brad Russell, senior editor of Baptist Standard Publishing’s FaithVillage.com, has written a fascinating paper “tracing the trends and issues that inform how the church can leverage new technology.”[6] Unquote. (Words in italics are the blog authors writing)

Our heart for this nation of Australia to experience God’s love and His salvation through faith in Christ is always going to lead us to prayer and also to a strong confidence that God has His plan for this nation. My observation is that church leaders are working harder than ever before, and showing  a high level of innovation to bring the message of the gospel to this new world that is ever changing. Let there be a renewed vision for prayer, a bigger challenge made to church members to lead in ways that show Australians that we have the answer in Jesus Christ; and also deepen our love for the church and remember it will become His bride without spot or wrinkle. The trend of sliding attendances may be a trend that’s hard to arrest but let’s be innovative about making church relevant to this generation and also renew the call for deeper commitment to the great commission. – Pastor Craig Anderson, a pastor within INC with 34 years of fulltime ministry experience.

[1] http://www.mccrindle.com.au/the-mccrindle-blog/a-demographic-snapshot-of-christianity-and-church-attenders-in-australia

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreligion_in_Australia

[3] “Christians in Australia nearing minority status as religious affiliation declines sharply since 2011”

[4] http://blog.mccrindle.com.au/the-mccrindle-blog/church_attendance_in_australia_infographic

[5] http://mccrindle.com.au/the-mccrindle-blog/calendar/2013/3/

[6] http://abpnews.com/opinion/commentaries/item/28852-how-do-we-respond-to-slumping-church-attendance

[7] http://www.mychristiandaily.com/index.php/feature/10974-how-do-we-respond-to-slumping-church-attendance#sthash.fbEcWjoe.dpuf

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LOVE REACHES OUT #1AMreaches out

In this life, how do you see yourself? As a pilgrim? As a foreigner journeying through to a better and eternal future? a Or does this world so fill your vista that you hardly think of eternity? Listen to this amazing verse: Eccles 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

Ultimately what matters is people. Everything else is temporary. 2 Cor 4:18 Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting. All your stuff that you worked so hard for, all the possessions, the house, the cars, the clothes etc. will all vanish in a puff of smoke one day; and all you have left is you and your loved ones.

What will you be doing in a million years from now? Seriously! If you say, “I’ll be in heaven.”, then how glad are you about that? You could be in the other place. Eternity is such a long time!! It’s all a bit hard for the human mind to comprehend; right?

What we have been learning in the messages preached all year is that God loves you so much and His magnificent loving kindness has come and rescued you, redeemed you and set you free. It’s a natural step to see that God loves each and every person on the planet and some know that and some don’t know that yet. John 3:16  For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.(AMP)

All around us are precious people who are perishing. In Australia, we are an especially heathen bunch. Although 61% write on the census that their religion is Christian, only 13% attend any kind of church monthly or more often and of those we can only guess the percentage that is born again. Some estimates of the Born Again population are as low as 5%. Perhaps attending church is a poor measure of whether a person is born again. We should rather choose the measure that one of the greatest preachers in history used: “Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you’re not saved yourself, be sure of that!” ― Charles H. Spurgeon. What’s our percentage now?

As you look around at your loved ones, work mates, neighbours, do you consider their eternal destiny? Does it drive you to prayer and cause you to consider how to share the answer to life with them? If not, then let’s look at the scriptures and see the convincing reality of what lies before us in heaven and hell.

Hell is real

Luke 6:19-31

19 There was a certain rich man who [habitually] clothed himself in purple and fine linen and [m]revelled and feasted and made merry in splendour every day.

20 And at his gate there [n]was [carelessly] dropped down and left a certain [o]utterly destitute man named Lazarus, [reduced to begging alms and] covered with [[p]ulcerated] sores.

21 He [eagerly] desired to be satisfied with what fell from the rich man’s table; moreover, the dogs even came and licked his sores.

22 And it occurred that the man [reduced to] begging died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.

23 And in Hades (the realm of the dead), being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24 And he cried out and said, Father Abraham, have pity and mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.

25 But Abraham said, Child, remember that you in your lifetime fully received [what is due you in] comforts and delights, and Lazarus in like manner the discomforts and distresses; but now he is comforted here and you are in anguish.

26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who want to pass from this [place] to you may not be able, and no one may pass from there to us.

27 And [the man] said, Then, father, I beseech you to send him to my father’s house—

28 For I have five brothers—so that he may give [solemn] testimony and warn them, lest they too come into this place of torment.

29 But Abraham said, They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear and listen to them.

30 But he answered, No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent ([q]change their minds for the better and heartily amend their ways, with abhorrence of their past sins).

31 He said to him, If they do not hear and listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded and convinced and believe [even] if someone should rise from the dead.

Rev 21:8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.(NIV)

Matt 13:49-50 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (NIV)

Rev 14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no respite (no pause, no intermission, no rest, no peace) day or night—these who pay homage to the beast and to his image and whoever receives the stamp of his name upon him.

All these verses clearly show that eternity without salvation is horrifying and inconceivably worse due to the fact that it goes on for ever and ever without respite.

General William Booth founder of the Salvation Army church movement was quoted as saying as he trained his preachers and Christian workers. “If I could, I would dangle you over hell for 5 minutes to see the cries of the damned.”   People without a Knowledge of God and even some Christians find this truth so shocking that they fall into wrong believing saying that God could not be as cruel as to send people there forever, or that God will give people a second chance. Some have believed in a purgatory, where people work off their sins and eventually make it to heaven; but all these ideas are false.

Listen again to William Booth – “Not called!” did you say? “Not heard the call,” I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters and servants and masters not come there. Then look Christ in the face — whose mercy you have professed to obey — and tell Him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish His mercy to the world.”

When you hear these pleading words, do you think that’s how they spoke in an era long ago, or do you think that’s outdated language and form that doesn’t work today; or is it just that we have fallen so far from biblical truth in our generation that we fall for soft wishy washy beliefs about God that are not supported by scripture?


Heaven on the other hand is awesomely wonderful. Imagine infinite joy! Life with a capital L.

Rev 21:4-5 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

Rev 22:3-4 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.  They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

John 14: 2-3 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Matt  25:20-21 And he who had received the five talents came and brought him five more, saying, Master, you entrusted to me five talents; see, here I have gained five talents more.

21 His master said to him, Well done, you upright (honorable, admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the [c]blessedness) which your master enjoys.

Convinced that people without Christ are going there?

One error I find many Christians fall into is that somehow good people will get into heaven. They believe that most people around them are going to make it somehow because God is loving and merciful. This view is dangerous especially to those around them who are not born again yet. Let me ask you a very simple question. If there was any way at all that a person could make it to heaven on their own, did Jesus need to come and die on the cross?

Jesus Himself stated very clearly: John 14:6 Jesus said to him, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me.(AMP)

Jesus was moved by the plight of broken people. His heart for lost people will become our heart too if we walk with Him. Look at His reaction in the gospels Matt 9:35-38 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news (the Gospel) of the kingdom and curing all kinds of disease and every weakness and infirmity. 36 When He saw the throngs, He was moved with pity and sympathy for them, because they were bewildered (harassed and distressed and dejected and helpless), like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord of the harvest to force out and thrust laborers into His harvest.

What should be our reaction? Perhaps some may be so deeply concerned that they become a certified bible carrying, tract giving, bible bashing preacher to everyone around them, and it isn’t very fruitful. That’s overboard and that’s not love in action. The sad thing is that many Christians are the opposite, there’s almost no evidence of witness in their lives, it’s like they want to enjoy the benefits of salvation and not care that all manner of people around them are perishing.

So how are we to live?

  • Recognise the truth that faith in Christ alone saves a person from eternity in hell.
  • Decide to pray for those people in your world who do not know Jesus yet, that God will have mercy on them and show them the truth.
  • Love people, serve them and share your heart with them at every opportunity.
  • Trust that the Holy Spirit will lead you to people and will give you the words to say.
  • Share your testimony and the God stories that give evidence of God at work among us.
  • Invite as many people as you can to join you church or UC group or a family picnic or a night at the movies or the church trivia night etc. etc.

This month we are focusing on the “How To” of sharing your faith. We will be equipping you with practical help to know how to share your faith, what to say to people who are far from God and how to begin a great conversation about your testimony and how God loves the person you’re speaking to. In all our Urban Connect groups we will be helping you to learn skills about sharing your testimony, and what the gospel message is that we need to share with people.


1. Do you think Spurgeon’s measure of whether a person is born again or not is a fair one? (Whether you care that others are lost)

2. How do you see non Christians?

3. What about people of other faiths, are they lost too? (Acts 4:12)

4. If Jesus really is the only way to heaven, why do so many other faiths exist?

5. If Jesus really is the only way to heaven how should we live?

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