Archive for January, 2010

comings and goings

Posted in Life with tags , , , on January 25, 2010 by stephengardner

As I mentioned last post this year is full of comings and goings for Claire and I. Last time I focused on the things that are going, the things I’m really going to miss this year. Today’s going to be a bit more optimistic -here are the things I’m most looking forward to this year:

A new church family

Claire and I started at St Aidan’s Hurstville Grove on Sunday. While we’re both pretty sad to being saying goodbye for now to our family at CCIW, we’re excited about serving in a brand new context. St Aidan’s is a great church with a long history of faithful, Jesus-centred ministry which, as much as first impressions can be trusted, is evident in the current life of the church. Stay tuned for some more reflections on changing churches.

Running a half-marathon

The plan is to officially start training in late April. The program I’m hoping to use promises to get me fit and fast enough to do the half marathon in under 100 mins. I’m really looking forward to the training and to posting my progress (or lack of) updates.

Adventures in the middle east

In April, Claire and I have the great privilege of going to the middle east for three amazing weeks. Some things I’m most looking forward to; exploring the old streets of Damscus, camping out in a Roman theatre in Bosra and walking through the old city of Jerusalem. Cant wait!

Reading some sweet sweet theology

Third year doctrine at MTC focuses on; The person and work of Christ and The Church. So, I’m looking forward to getting into dogmatics,  particularly finishing off  IV.1. and Miroslav Volf’s After Our Likeness: The Church as the image of the Trinity.

I was particularly excited to get stuck into the forthcoming monster Paul and the Faithfulness of God by N. T. Wright as it was rumored to be published this year. But alas, it looks as though its another year away.

Living in funky Newtown

We moved into Newtown last week and we’re loving it. Already eaten our fair share of great food and really looking forward to getting to some of the pubs around here that still have live music. 

The Pilgrim’s Podcast

For me, one of the highlights of last year was doing the podcast with Mark Earngey. We’re all set for another year, looking to begin recording in the next couple of weeks. There will be some new things happening this year, including the launching of a website devoted to all things Pilgrim.


comings and goings

Posted in Life with tags , , , on January 20, 2010 by stephengardner

A new year brings a whole lot of new and exciting things for Claire and I, but along with that comes a whole lot of goodbyes and farewells. So, I thought I’d do two posts on the comings and goings of 2010.

Below are the things I’m going to miss most this year (in no particular order):

Shanghai Night Chinese Restaurant

NB Food will feature heavily in this post… Forget about hygiene, forget about ambiance, go here for for the best dumplings you can find… 275 Liverpool Rd, Ashfield.

1/9 Arthur St Croydon

We had three excellent and blessed years here. The best years of my life.Sure, the house was rundown and we had our share of noisy neighbors, but, it was beautiful and it was our first home. I’m already missing the place and we only moved yesterday.

Our church family at Christ Church Inner West

We shared fellowship with the saints here for three years. In that time we saw; St John’s Ashfield amalgamate with St Alban’s Five Dock and St Oswald’s Haberfield to form CCIW, Claire join the staff team, me serve as a student minister for two years, a heap of people come to know Jesus, and a heap of deep friendships formed.  We were both richly blessed. We learnt a heck of a lot about church, life, each other and God. CCIW is a seriously grace filled community that is seriously zealous for outreach and seriously faithful to the Lord Jesus. I hope to post more on this later… But for now, we are already missing our dear family

Canada Bay

Sometimes after work, Claire and I would walk around different parts of the Bay, sometimes we would get fish and chips and sit and stare. But my favourite thing to do was to pound the pavement doing the ‘Bay Run’. I hope to get back there when I can.

Gelato and Cannoli at Haberfield

I’ll finish off this post where I began…with food! Haberfield is one of my favourite places! Sometimes we would go and get gelato, or cannoli, for dessert and then try and walk it off by checking out all the cool restaurants and suspicious shop-fronts that don’t appear to sell anything much. You know, the ones with old Italian men sipping espresso’s and smoking all night…

There are many more things I’m going to miss this year not the least of all are the people I wont be seeing as often as I did. I’m incredibly thankful for all that the last few years has brought me.

Next up, what I’m most looking forward to in 2010…

How long, O Lord?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 14, 2010 by stephengardner

The brokenness of the world has once again been horribly exposed through the devastating earthquake that has ripped apart Haiti. The world is counting an unimaginably high death toll, and once again the dead and missing are from one of the poorest nations on earth.

How do you make sense of such pain and horror? How does God fit into the picture?

I think Christians often feel the pull to speak quickly and sensibly about such horror. Often in blatantly offenseive and untruthful ways, as demonstrated by Pat Robertson today, but more often than not in less stupid ways. In ways that try to make sense of the pain and horror.

In the past I’ve posted some thoughts on this, but for a far better response you should read Byron Smith’s incredibly insightful series of reflections on Theodicy & the need for eschatology. Byron’s deep conviction is that we must resist to give evil a place in this world, we must resist the temptation to make sense of suffering. This is precisely because evil and suffering make no sense in this world because they are enemies of God that will be finally removed from the created order when Jesus returns.

I have found Byron’s thoughts on this immensely helpful, but there are also some other great books out there offering a similar position. Check out David Bentley Hart’s The Doors of the Sea and N. T. Wright’s Evil and the Justice of God.

Teaching New Dogs Old Tricks: lessons on leadership from a master of ministry

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 1, 2010 by stephengardner

A new year brings a new blog post! And I desperately need to get reacquainted with my blogging so I’m thought I’d do that by sharing some insights as I get reacquainted with an old hero of mine.

John Stott

I have finally got around to reading Timothy Dudley Smith’s biography of John Stott. It is excellent, a little daunting being two volumes in length, but excellent!

First up I need to acknowledge a personal bias, I’ve always been a bit of a fan of Stott, he was the man God used in me giving my life to Jesus, but reading through Dudley Smith’s biography has reminded me of how much younger generations, interested in being strategically missional, can learn from this visionary leader.

So, over the next two or three posts I hope to put a spotlight on a handful of ‘leadership lessons’ that can be learnt through Stott’s own expertise as an effective leader, demonstrated in his ministry at All Souls and throughout the world as the leader of a new evangelical movement.

1) Effective leaders are excellent innovators

At the heart of the rapid growth All Souls experienced was a change in the culture of evangelism within the church. In 1950 lay leadership, training schools and ‘every member ministry’ were ‘radically new’ ideas ( Dudley Smith, vol 1.  281). Becoming rector in 1950, Stott identified evangelism as his number one priority and the means of faithful church growth. He developed a 6 month training school for evangelism that equiped  and commissioned lay leaders to present the gospel and counsel new converts. The effectiveness of the Training School was given expression through a campaign of monthly ‘guest services’, where over the course of a few years 1000 people took up the invitation to remain after the guest service where they would meet with the newly trained and commisioned counselors.

Innovative ministries were not only initiated by Stott, at All Souls but internationally. He created a fellowship of evangelical Anglican clergy in England that exploded into EFAC, he founded The London Institute which sought to give a public platform for thoughtful theological responses to current issues. The London Institute was no doubt the fruit of Stott’s involvement with the Lausanne Movement of the 70’s.

2) Effective leaders are often highly gifted administrators

Reading through stories about Stott’s years of ministry experience, there’s a sort-of annoying ease at which he appears to be able to make things happen. A certain efficiency and effectiveness is demonstrated that very evidently achieved great results. This, I think, is a quality that many (including myself) admire and appreciate in leaders. Just think of more recent leaders like Mark Driscoll whose giftedness as an administrator is obvious when you consider the speed at which he has been able to help create and shape mass movements and organizations.

Stott, I think, is similarly gifted, yet for him this gift did not come without hardwork. As a leader he is remarkably disciplined and efficient with his time, Dudley Smith tells of how, during his university days, Stott would have a sign on his college door saying ‘Working 8am-8pm. Please do not disturb unless urgent.’!

3) Effective leadership is often in the context of a versatile urban ministry

All Souls Langham Place under Stott was a Biblically faithful and rapidly growing church in an area of London not too dissimilar to parts of urban Sydney. An area of contrast; with young, rich, trendy cool cats mixed into an area with people far below the poverty line, and directly across the road from the church building – the BBC’s Broadcasting House. Faithful urban ministry in such a context needs to include people from every background, not neglecting the rich for the poor, the poor for the rich and making the most of a strategic location next to the city’s media centre.

During the early years of Stott’s time as Rector, All Souls developed a number of ministries that are now common among influential urban churches, be that lunch time expositions or inner city-fringy-youth groups. But surprisingly (to me) was Stott’s hands on approach in serving  the poor and marginalized. Dudley Smith records how  Stott would often dress himself in old, torn clothing, let his appearance go a little and spend 2 nights living on the streets of London. His desire was to be able to identify with the large number of homeless people All Souls ministered to. How excellent is that?! Lots of us wish to be effective leaders, but I’m not sure many of us would wish to be that radical!

More to come…