No roster

I am not on a church roster at the moment. It is the first time in about 20 years I have not been on a roster to preach, lead communion, hand out communion, collect the offering, greet at the door, or do the computer for the service.

I didn’t realise it had been so long that I had been on rosters. Often for two or more churches at a time!It had just crept up on me. It was only when I intentionally sat and thought about it, that I realised how long it had been.

At the moment I feel really free. It is a strange, but a nice feeling. I don’t have to think about my sermon, communion message or swap with someone else if I am away. I am enjoying the freedom.

Part of me daydreams of never going on a church roster again or being booked to speak anywhere. But I know after a break I probably will?!

Another part of me daydreams about being part of a house church again. Things were more fluid and not planned out months in advance. Often the next week was decided before the end of the meeting. It was like, “Are you here next week? Can you do this..?”

In thinking about that now, I think that sounds nice. It is a bit more relaxed, less formal, more inclusive and more people use their gifts to serve. Hmmm maybe that is the way forward?!

As with all things in life, it seems the “time will tell” mantra fits well.

How about you? How long have you been on a church roster? Are you on one now? Are you having a break like? I think it is worth reflecting on today.

Home group: my second biggest disappointment in moving to the country

Last week I shard a post about my biggest disappointment about moving to the country 12 years ago. It was about not finding a suitable church. You can find it here. This week I want to talk about my second biggest disappointment which flows on from the first – home group.

Over my years I have attended a few really good home groups. These usually happen mid week with some people from church, where you pray, study the Bible and just have fellowship. In a really good group they become your best friends.

I have usually found that having a really good home group is priceless. You can be yourself, learn and grow in your faith together, pray for each other, use your spiritual gifts and have real friends who share your faith.

Sadly for me, this has not really happened since moving to the country. I have been to a few groups that were about prayer, Bible study or fellowship. But nothing has really hit the spot.

It is really hard as when you have experienced a really good home group it becomes a highlight of the week. Many times I have enjoyed the mid week meeting with my home group more than church on Sunday!

When you are in a good home group they know how you are going. If things are good, you praise together. If things are bad, the group will jump up and lay hands on you and pray. They know when you have a big test or important medical appointment coming up. And they will pray and ask you about it later.

I have briefly had glimpses of this in the country, but again as it is not from a Pentecostal perspective, and you miss out on people using the gifts of the Spirit around you where you might receive a prophetic word, a word of wisdom or knowledge or just a real touch from God’s Spirit.

For me, church on Sunday and a mid week home group have been my two biggest disappointments from moving to the country. There has been a constant sense of compromise and just trying to fit in about attending both.

Now I can hear people say, “Why don’t you just move back to the city where there are more suitable churches?” To that I say, God called us here and we still know we have work to do. We have family here and we enjoy 95% of the rest of life in the country. Our disappointments just revolve around church.

So there you have it, a second really honest post. My intension is not to offend anyone here, just to be really honest with some aspects of life in the country.

Blessings,
Dave

When there is no suitable church?

In yesterday’s post I shared my frustrations at being Pentecostal in a town with no Pentecostal churches. Today I thought I would share how we have survived this experience and continued to grow.

1. Become a miner

Not having a suitable church more than any other experience has caused us to become miners for encouragement. We search far and wide to be encouraged. YouTube, churches that stream their services, podcasts, websites, blogs, books, Bible commentaries, Christian radio and TV and more. You need to dig and keep digging to find encouragement.

2. Be Pentecostal at home

At home we live Pentecostal. We pray together, we talk about the Bible and our faith everyday, we believe God can do anything, we exercise our gifts, we pray in tongues, we prophecy over each other as God leads, we pray for healing. We have a fire lit at home and we keep it stoked. We can’t let it go out. It would be easy to conform to way things are done here.

3. Visit Pentecostal churches

When we go to Perth or are away we try to visit Pentecostal churches. This may only happen two or three times a year, but it can “pump” you up enough to last months. When I go to a service where God’s presence is and the Holy Spirit is moving it feels like home.

4. Have Pentecostal friends

I have a friend who really encourages me. He is a mighty man of faith. He is always talking about God, believing God for great things and he lives out his faith in the world. I don’t see him very often, but I follow what he does. He is always the first one to text me when he picks up things are not going right with us. He is always encouraging. This is priceless.

5. Consider planting a church

This is something I have thought long and hard about over the years. But as I said yesterday, it has not felt like the right time in God. I still pray and hope it will happen one day. I know if someone else planted a Pentecostal church I would want to be a part of it.

6. Keep studying the Bible

I did my first Bible college studies in 1994, then again in 2008 and finish in 2012. My ministry studies are done, but I still want to keep learning and growing. Recently I enrolled in a external course at a Pentecostal Bible college. It is at a lower level than my previous studies, but it helps me to keep growing and on fire for God.

7. Keep focussed on Jesus

This sounds simple and straight forward, but it is so true. Jesus is the author and perfector of our faith and He promises to never leave and forsake us. He tells us to seek first the Kingdom and all things will be added. I trust that He has things under control and in time He will let us know what we need to do. In the meantime we trust and obey.

So there you have it. My tips for surviving in a town or region where there is no suitable church. It has been one of the hardest things to do in my faith journey, but I know God is with us and we are growing in our faith.

Blessings,
Dave

Church: my biggest disappointment about moving to the country

One of the hardest things about moving to a smaller country town 12 years ago has been church. It has been my biggest struggle by far to be honest.

Being Pentecostal in my faith, I have found that very hard as we have two very conservative churches and one that is a mixture of very conservative people with some Pentecostal people and it is not often talked about.

It has been really hard for me personally as my wife got saved in a Pentecostal church and when we got married we attended a Pentecostal church for the first half of our marriage.

We got used to powerful prayer meetings, anointed sermons, people using their spiritual gifts in and out of church, prophetic words that spoke direct to your heart and amazing ministry times after the sermon. You constantly felt like God was moving in your midst.

For me, church and ministry work best when the Bible is preached and the Holy Spirit is allowed [and expected] to move. I believe that the Word of God and the Spirit of God make real and lasting change. Ministering and preaching without the Spirit being free to move feels like one arm is tied behind your back.

I can remember times in my Pentecostal church when I heard a sermon, and went forward for prayer afterwards, and God touched me in response to prayer. He was able to do more in 5-10 minutes than listening to 100 sermons!

When I was in this environment it felt like you were alive and God was always moving. Miracles and breakthroughs happened, rather than just watching them on YouTube! We experienced a number of amazing miracles as a family. It felt like you were constantly growing and moving forward in God.

Now don’t get me wrong, the churches are doing the best they can with what they know here in our region, but it could be so so much more if the Holy Spirit was invited in and allowed to move. Real and lasting change could take place in people’s lives.

So many times I have wanted to plant a Pentecostal church in our town. I have spoken to denominations, talked to friends, and prayed and prayed and prayed, but the time has just not felt right in God. I hope and pray that one day it does.

I desperately want to experience a church where God can and does move each week. One where people can move in the gifts of the Spirit and God is active in our midst.

So there you have it, my biggest struggle about moving to the country. By a long long way it has been church. Is has felt like a real dry and vast desert for me. Everything else has been good, but church has been the biggest disappointment by far.

Christmas sermons

I am not preaching this Christmas, but I thought I would share links to several of my Christmas sermons from the past.

The first two were peached in the church I Pastored. The last one was done at our community Christmas Carols. It has been slightly adapted for the website.

Blessings and Merry Christmas,
Dave

Online preaching

Online preaching or podcast sermons is something I have been thinking a lot about over the last six months. I have found that I have had way less desire to speak in church than I do preparing podcasts for my website. There are a few reasons for this.

1. More relaxed – preparing and delivering a sermon for a church audience is quite stressful. There is also a lot of time and effort that goes in to it too. Preparing a sermon for podcast is a lot more relaxed and as there is no timeframe, you can take your time and get it just right. And if it doesn’t sound quite right the first time, you can re-record it and go again. This makes a lot more relaxed.

2. More fruit – Another reason is when I preach in our local small country church context is there is only usually 20-40 people present. While this is a good thing to do and people are encouraged, a podcast sermon reaches way more people. A simple podcast sermon might reach hundreds of people in the first month and it continues to encourage people over the years.

3. More people – Over the years I have met a lot of Christians who do not attend church any more. For one reason or another they just don’t go. These people often still love the Lord and want to grow in their faith. As a result they search the internet for sermons, podcasts and other resources. They listen to sermons, read blogs and interact via social media. They might not attend church in person, but they are connected to the Body of Christ – the global church.

This is why I am shifting my focus over to online podcast sermons. It seems like the next progression for me in my journey. I may still preach in church occasionally, but it will be much less than in the past.

If you are interested you can find my sermons here and find our Podcast page here.

Blessings,
Dave

New MP3s

We added five new MP3s for listening or downloading. One is sermon length and the rest are short devotional thoughts. You can find them on our audio page or below.

Blessings,
Dave

Mini Bible Lessons

I have added a new link to my links page today. It is for minibiblelessons.com. This website has a lot of simple Bible studies on books of the Bible, characters and topics.

I have used it before for our youth Bible study at my last church. I found them to be useful and a good discussion starting point for our weekly studies.

Here is some information from the website…

“MiniBibleLessons.com is a compilation of compact, yet comprehensive lessons that include doctrinal studies, practical issues, and biblical exposition. These lessons are intended to increase your understanding of God’s Word, while considering the implications of what God has revealed about us, Himself, and the world around us.

Each lesson is offered in an easy-to-use format making it convenient for a variety of purposes, from personal Bible studies right from your computer screen, to printable copies that will meet the needs of a group. The lessons can be studied independently or used as a starting point for further exploration or group discussion. The foundation and purpose for each lesson is to offer a simple, clear, and concise explanation of the content covered, while thoroughly discussing the significant aspects and most pertinent details of each topic.”

You can find our links page here, or you can visit the minibiblelessons.com website here.

Blessings,
Dave