Planting Missional Churches

By Ed Stetzer. On Amazon

Overall thoughts: Presents itself as a comprehensive guidebook to church planting. Although a fair assumption that people reading this book would already be supportive of church planting activity, the first few chapters do a good job of building the theological and evangelical rationale.

Written with a firm North American target audience. Some of the details were a bit specific to that audience, but most of the content overall has broad application. Could do with a firm edit – several ideas and references are repeatedly mentioned. However the benefit of this approach is that it is easy to dip in and out of chapters without needing to have read all the chapters preceding.

I am not sure how I feel about the chapters on marketing and advertising  – firstly, the methods feel a little out-of-date – lots of talk about bulkmail and cold calling. Hardly any mention of online marketing, despite the benefits of geo-targetting and cost-per-click activity which makes it very measurable and cost-effective. Secondly (and more importantly), I think the message starting to feel like ‘use whatever means necessary to get more people to turn up on launch day’. Whilst I don’t think that is the overall argument, I would have appreciated more nuance and balance to the list of tactics that more helpfully promoted the role of personal relationship building and evangelism ahead of secular promotional methods. I am also slightly uneasy about the emphasis on numbers – the numbers at launch day, the ratio of core team/guests, the % and numbers required to be long term viable etc – all begins to feel like a numbers game and not distinct from a secular business. I understand the importance of numbers though, and found it all quite interesting; but these parts of the book did feel a little lost in the mindset of today’s business strategy.

Lots of helpful stuff to think through on vision casting, the predominant importance of prayer and preaching the Word, the concept of prenatal, birth and then after birth stages, systems for follow-up and assimilation… lots more.

Overall a really useful resource.

Totally unedited raw notes from each chapter:

Chapter 1 – basics of church planning

Goal – glorify God, grow his kingdom, develop healthy churches with new converts

  1. Missional – plant a church that’s part of the culture you are seeking to reach i.e. you are not only a church planter but a missionary i.e. this is the posture
  2. Incarnational i.e. being among people
  3. Theology (obviously!)
  4. Eccelesiological (church matters), and
  5. Spiritual – Christ centred, transformed by the gospel


Large church mentality. BUT new churches are more effective than large churches in evangelism

Parish-church mind-set. BUT new churches aren’t being planted to match population growth/changes

Professional-church syndrome. BUT professionals expect FT salaries and MAY be inverse relationship to education and evangelical effectiveness!
Rescuing perishing syndrome. Need to do both – revitalise and plant.
Unchurched myth. We need to assume people lack biblical worldview i.e our neighbourhood is mission field. Christendom has come to an end.

Chapter 2 – redeveloping a Missional mind-set

Recent emergence of megachurch movement, but no suggestion culture has been changed i.e. in being highly attractional, we have lost transformational edge.

Church planting movement gaining energy. Advantage of the edge of Christendom is that the gospel is now distinct from culture i.e. has more cut through

Christ’s metaphors for his kingdom are all modest ones – yeast, salt, light.

Don’t rework programs – rediscover mission – intentional and deliberate about reaching others (great commission)

Steer between staying distinct from culture, and not connecting with culture.

High biblical content with high cultural relevance (Hughes scale)

Become a futurist – look beyond culture now to see what is best for church in the future

Don’t focus on technique. Focus on making disciples.

Good theology should motivate evangelism.

We need to be exegete our culture, like Paul in Athens (Acts 17). What is the worldview, how does this culture view Christianity, what redemptive analogy works best for this culture etc.

The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planning new churches.

Chapter 3 – the biblical basis of church planting

Church planting was normal in the life of early church – recorded in Acts, explains church growth through Roman Empire.

The biblical church is the one where the cross is the only stumbling block for the unchurched

Seek the unchurched (like Jesus)

Be like Paul (as he is like Christ) – personally prepared, evangelist, entrepreneur, team player, risk taker etc. “Everything to all men”

Chapter 4 – models of church plants and planters

Apostolic harvest – Paul, circuit riders – church plant to church plant

Founding pastor – Peter, Rick Warren – other planters may come from here

Planted pastor

Entrepreneurial planter – build, launch, reach out, move on

Team planting – gift mix, lead pastor

Chapter 5 – What makes a church planter

Patterns in NT

  • Teams
  • Individuals
  • Laypeople
  • Agencies and denominations
  • Churches

Assessment (SHAPE)

  • Spiritual gifts
  • Heart/passion
  • Abilities
  • Personality type
  • Experiences

Chapter 6 – church structure

Church is led by pastor-elders, some of whom teach. Bible full of flock images

Church governance should function like a human skeleton – as necessity for structure but invisible to naked eye.

Nothing can take the place of effective leadership.

Chapter 7 – Planter-Pastor leadership issues

Desperation is normal experience of church planning

Put prayer first

Weekly schedule

  • Outreach – 15hrs
  • Sermon prep – 10hrs
  • Administration – 10hrs
  • Ministry – 15hrs

Don’t focus on those that are available, focus on those who are reproducible

Culture shock in outreach focus – fish out of water

Thinking – need to help people think of themselves as missionaries. If I was dropped into this neighbourhood with the desire and mission to plant a church there in 6mths, how would I act?

Relationships make leaders. Wise leaders create learning relationships

Leadership is essential. Good preparation and support or no, God of eternity is faithfaul.

Chapter 8 – involving lay leaders

Laypeople must be involved before launch i.e. growing in the womb. Operational systems need to be fully functional by time of launch.

Don’t rush filling spots. Get right people. Limit leaders to those who are essential.

5 key systems (lay people ministries) – in addition to pastor:

  1. New member assimilation
    Help people connect and move more deeply
  2. Network evangelism
  3. Spiritual gifts mobilization
    Developing volunteers, match gifts and ministries. Focus on service
  4. Children’s ministry
    Start with preschool as priority
  5. Worship team
    Striving for level of creative excellence that will facilitate an authentic encounter with the creator of everything
  6. Welcome coordinator
    Forced socialised seating, interactions (3mins) etc
  7. Financial organiser

Chapter 9 – understanding cultures and models

Exegete the culture – study the culture to receive guidance for how to live in it

What is distinctive about our culture, our demographics

Chapter 10 – church planting in emerging culture

Focus on biblical faithfulness first, then an expression of that which is culturally relevant

Every cultural thing: either adopt, adapt, or reject

Emerging: no universal worldview. Church needs to reach postmodern people without being postmodern. Not knew – 1st century world was more pluralistic than even now.

We must be missionaries. World will not come to us.

Rejection of meta narratives like Christianity. So people reject Christianity because they feel it is imposing something unnatural on their own mini narrative.

10 traits of impactful postmodern churches (post seeker age)

  1. Unashamedly spiritual
    Generic spirituality that impacts all of life, not just 1hr Sunday service. Popular.
  2. Incarnational ministry – authentic, participatory. Not ‘is it true’, but ‘is it real’
    Don’t hear about Christianity, but see it in action. Therefore being Christian is not a label, but a real way of life
  3. Engaging in service. Volunteering is popular. Where can we make a difference?
    Programs with a purpose i.e. stop trying to impress with a show, but involve with acts of service
  4. Experiential praise. Worship (music) provides a way for people to participate.
  5. Narrative expository preaching. The power of story. People are used to complex stories. (Perhaps more in stories of Jesus than epistles)
  6. Ancient patterns. Connect people to the mystery. Backlash against seeker services
  7. Visualising worship. Not entertainment, but engagement. Not professional, but real
  8. Connect with technology. Use online to enhance interpersonal interactions.
  9. Living community. Church well placed to meet cultural need of community. There is no church without community. Community = love of God manifesting itself.
    Engage and allow spiritual journey to begin before conversion.
    Can’t fake it – reality of relationships. The pagan will not come to Christ until the love of Christ annihilates their worldview
  10. Leading by transparency and team. Participatory culture. Representative culture. Teams are messy and hard, but worth it.

Chapter 11 – Choosing a focus group (who will the plant reach?)

New church evangelism needs to be focused on people group. Church planter focused on everyone.

Focusing acknowledges that people come to Christ without crossing demographic boundaries.

Focusing helps… focus!

Every choice involves excluding some e.g. contemporary music, English language

Whilst evangelism focused, fellowship is NOT (revelation 7:9)

Use demographic data to make decisions


  • Who lives here?
  • Who are the receptive people? Vulnerable, in need, looking for connection?
  • Poll the community. Informal focus groups. Ask and listen.
  • Consider style, values, music, attraction etc.

Start with felt needs, but move to real needs.

Note that new churches attract low socio-economic

Whilst the bible determines the message, our audience determines when, where and how we communicate it.

Understand what the concerns are, objections are, stumbling blocks, and consider how to address them e.g. is church a cult, will it run all day, are the people wierd

Chapter 12 – a church planting fault line

Fastest growing Christian movement is nodenominationalism i.e. churchless Christianity. Fall of Christianity or revolution/reawakening?

A lot of it sounds good i.e. removing the gap between talking about Jesus and walking with Jesus.

E.g. house church, relation-based church, emerging church

A church is not just a meeting of Christians. It has more to it that makes it distinctive:

  • A covenant community. There are those that are part of it, and those that are not. Those that are part, have obligations to each other.
  • Meeting. Face-to-face
  • Biblical leadership
  • Ordinances. i.e. commanded celebrations. Baptism and Lord’s Supper
  • Preaching.

Missional church has overlap of 3 spheres:

  • Christology
  • Missiology
  • Eccelesiology

Abandon model specific vision, and answer the question of what ‘cultural containers’ will be most effective

Chapter 13 – Missional/incarnational churches

Rather than plan to plant a church, answer the question ‘what does following Christ look like’, and that is driving church planting.

The Missional church is about living out ‘who is Jesus’, not about being attractional i.e. ‘come and see Jesus’ rather than ‘come to church’

Sow seeds faithfully in the places God puts you, and pray and wait for the harvest.

411 example. NY city. Prayed and served for 18mths before opening a ‘church service’

Evangelical attractional church is extractional i.e. draw people out from their culture into a church culture

Missional/incarnational churches are slow. Therefore not paid staff. They don’t need strategy, time line, funding – the planters need jobs!

Dangers with this approach are that it lacks ecclesiology and therefore lacks a spine, but if it can find it’s church structure will keeping strong Christology and missiology, then it is good.

Chapter 14 – Koinos churches e.g. house church i.e. face-to-face relationship

Commitment to truly live life together

Note in much of the world, this kind of church is how God works. In USA, often people disgruntled with big church who go looking for this i.e. normal pattern is – when free to do so, Christian meetings grow in size, unless under persecution or difficulty when they shrink.

Koinos models have not proved very effective in breaking through into culture around them i.e. missiology.

Attraction to this model of church comes from it’s simplicity and faith. Church is just when people see themselves as church, and functions as a church.

Chapter 15 – Evangelism in Church planting

Intentionality. Develop a plan. If no plan, it just doesn’t happen.

CRM – prospect list. Record the time and nature of interaction. Takes 3 interactions to establish a relationship

Two way – people invests in unchurched, and the church invests in helping to lead people to Christ

Engel scale – way to measure people in process of coming to faith.
note that people average are moving further back on the scale in the West.

Stetzer Evangelistic Journey

The basic idea is seek to understand where people are in the process, to help them get to next stage.

With few exceptions, people come to Christ after they have journeyed with other Christians

Christian community is the greatest argument for, and the greatest argument of Christianity


  • Understand the worldview issues
  • Address those issues
  • Encourage the listener to consider Christian truth claims
  • Invite the listener to journey with the faith community
  • Invite the listener to make faith commitment

Us all tools at your disposal. The most effective are: commitment, hard work, and spirit-led prayer.

Chapter 16 – developing a launch team

Terminology of ‘launch’ rather than ‘core’ so that launch team don’t have to stay for long term.

Prenatal phase. Crucial for certain systems to be ready to operate effectively from day 1.

Launch to crowd ratio of 1:10.

Don’t dismiss door knocking e.g. 15,000 houses

All sorts of advertising and recruitment ideas – email, phone, mailers etc.

Core team must ‘sign on’ to mission, vision and values

Chapter 17 – Small groups

Acts 2:42-47 – fellowship, teaching/learning, prayer, worship, praise

Include – song, prayer, bible study, fellowship

Goal of 60% of church in small groups

Chapter 18 – Finding and handling finances

See this chapter for an example of a church planing proposal

People give to vision, not to need

You have not, because you ask note

Chapter 19 – choosing a name and logo

The only reason your church has a name is to appeal to outsiders

The only thing people may know/hear about your church is it’s name, so it needs to make a good impression

Name and logo must be inviting. It must ‘give permission’ for unchurched to attend.

Chapter 20 – Finding a meeting place

Schools may be obliged to allow themselves to be used by churches (at least in US)

Chapter 21 – LAUNCH – birth of a new church

Launch day is ‘birth’

Direct mail – will it work for my focus group? Not much competition in ‘church’ market. Great for exposure to local community. Leaflet drop
Design as ‘invitation letter’. Why not doorknock then as well?

Telemarketing – cause the church’s reputation to suffer?

Preview services – up to 3 prior, monthly.

In a postmodern world, is mass communication less effective. Personal relationships are best.

Churches that start big are more likely to maintain larger attendance throughout first 5 years of life. Is bigger better? Only in some ways…

Newspapers – local community paper – Yes! Local billboards etc.

Gather a large group – all people’s friends and family
BUT no more than 10x size of core group.

Chapter 22 – Worship in the new church

In this church age, ours is a mix of the faithful and unbelieving in our gathering.

Need to get the balance right between being ‘seeker friendly’ and edifying for believers.

Example of Willow Creek. Sunday is evangelistic event. Believers are edified in mid week groups

Good worship services should do all 3 (but in this order of priority)

  1. exalt God
  2. edify believers
  3. evangelise

Christ-centred, bible-based, spirit-led worship

Must be comprehensible to seekers, and make them feel comfortable, but not driven/shaped by these concerns

Remember though, the cross is not ‘seeker sensitive’

Effective evangelism takes place when God’s people authentically worship God.

Be clear that we accept, but not approve sin – hard to do.

Anyone can come to church, but coming to Christ requires radical life change.
Love as Christ loved, but call people to life-changing discipleship, just like Christ did.

Music – intense power in engaging spirit and transmitting truth
There is no such thing as Christian music, only Christian lyrics

Engage the heart and the mind.

Chapter 23 – Preaching in the new church

Transform lives with the truths of Christ’s life-changing presence.

Ground preaching in the biblical story of redemption.

Truth > application. Application comes from truth

Let agenda and shape of Scripture determine the message

Expositional – explain the meaning and intent of the Bible.

Don’t make statements and look to bible for support. Bible is central in setting agenda.
(not necessarily verse by verse preaching)

Preaching is a journey:

  • Start by making sure everyone knows where we are going, and why we need to
  • Build tension as to why we need to go there
  • Go to a passage of Scripture that addresses it
  • Stay there long enough till people understand it
  • Talk about what to do about it. application

Preaching in 3 questions

  1. Who is God
  2. Who is he revealed in this text
  3. What are natural inclinations to deny that truth

4 kinds of expositional preaching

  1. verse-by-verse
  2. thematic/doctrinal -a series over weeks
  3. narrative – this will grow. May be best suited to postmoderns. Jesus preached in this way
  4. topical – once off e.g. mothers day. not recommend. hard to capture full counsel of God

In early stages of church, messages will be more evangelical and ‘simple’, without being simplistic.

Purpose of sermon is not education but an encounter with God

The cross is enough to save, to heal, to give hope, to give peace, to give joy, to overcome all.
Get to the cross in every message. You don’t need to know it all, but you need to know and preach the cross.

Chapter 24 – Spiritual formation in the new church

8 characteristics of an incorporate member

  1. list 7 new friends (important that new Christians have 7 or else statistically more likely to leave)
  2. identify their spiritual gifts
  3. involved in at least one task/role/ministry
  4. involved in growth group
  5. regular financial commitment
  6. understand and identify with church goals
  7. regular attendance
  8. identify and take steps towards bringing others to church

Discipleship. Not by accident. Need a culture where this intentionally happens.

Without an intentional plan, the church will become ‘a mile wide and an inch deep’
Note distinction between what is said, and what is observed. What is observed trumps what is said.

Need for membership classes. They can actually be effective in evangelism (don’t assume people Christian)
L.I.F.E course example – takes through some of the steps above

The specific model is not as important, as that it occurs and is relevant and appropriate.

Encourage members to have balance, to do all 6 areas of Christian life

  1. Worship
  2. Ministry
  3. Evangelism
  4. Education
  5. Fellowship
  6. Missions

Note – need a program, and also need specific discipleship relationships

Set high expectations. People want to attach themselves to something bigger and better. People will rise to meet high expectations

Most unbelievers come to Christ during a time of crisis, therefore emphasis Christ as the ultimate stability

God uses disciple makers to sharpen and shape new disciples in Christ.

Chapter 25 – growth in the new church

The day after launch you need to start ‘growing’ – follow-up process is required

Prepare core group for the complexity of growing after launch e.e. some leaving, loss of control, pastor/planter focusing on new visitors instead of core group, risk of mingling with unchurched etc

Involve people – people who are busy rowing the boat generally are not the ones also rocking the boat.

Monthly leadership meetings – focused on recasting of the vision

Weekly need to be casting the vision before the church, in different ways, building credibility and momentum.

Peak-to-peak principle of casting a vision when you are at the top of one experience i.e. max attendance today, but let’s aim for bigger.

Valleys will come

Vision casting is vital – need to secure people’s confidence and involvement

Unlike establish churches whose size projects an appearance of stability and purpose

Chapter 26 – Children in the new church

The importance of children’s ministry – importance of imparting words of Christ, security, impact on parents, fun and educational, peace of mind. Preschool age most important

Chapter 27 – Congregational formation

This is about official (legal) recognition. Not essential.

Church plants from a mother church generally establish a relationship of interdependence

Chapter 28 – church planting churches

This about the role of a church in sponsoring church plants i.e. church planting churches. This is APC.
We want to create a tradition, a legacy of churches being planted.

We have some work to do in APC of casting the vision of church planting i.e. getting people to think as missionaries, seeing the evangelism of church planting etc.

The kingdom best advances through multiplication, not just addition

Disappointed when gifted church planters have not planted again after 3 years.

Need to communicate church planting vision through preaching i.e. through God’s word, not just ‘announcements’

Church must catch the vision, adopt it, and promote it as their own

Although many in the community may not attend a church, your presence represents God i.e. God’s ambassadors

Chapter 29 – Church planting movements – breaking the mold

Prayer, Jesus’ purposes and the spirits presence – the heart of church planting

Prayer, prayer, prayer – the best preparation.

Jesus will build, Jesus will purify: HIS church

Church = the ones who are called out.

Authors personal testimony of his church plant – Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Ps 127.

Characteristics of church planting movement:

  • Prayer
  • abundant gospel sowing
  • intentional church planting
  • scriptural authority
  • local leadership
  • lay leadership
  • cell churches
  • churches planting churches
  • rapid reproduction
  • healthy churches
    • worship
    • evangelism
    • discipleship
    • ministry
    • fellowship

Ephesians 3:20-21. He is able to do more. To him be the glory.

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

Another cheap Amazon kindle purchase

Some key takeaways:

  • The right approach is personal – everybody different. The approach of this book is to provide a playbook of best practices for producing great work
  • The problem is usually not external – it is internal e.g. your own routine
  • So much of ‘work’ now is just reactionary. Time to take control and go proactive


  • Create a framework for productivity through routines
  • Don’t wait for the right moment.
  • Switch to creative work first, reactive work second (daily schedule, weekly schedule)
  • It’s OK to dissapoint people a little along the way if it’s for your greater good
  • Limit daily to-do list to 3 things, and make sure I do them
  • Establish hard edges in my day – start/finish times, goals to achieve
  • Small daily labours trumps sporadic bursts. What I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while
  • Follow my body’s rhythms. Be aware of the need for renewal – daily! Disengage from the stream and enjoy downtime moments

Finding focus

  • Information consumes our attention.  A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention
  • In a world filled with distraction, attention is our competitive advantage
  • Lack of clear work metrics means that difficult to know what to do, and assess what is valuable. Just because there is ‘some’ benefit, it does not necessarily outweigh the cost
  • Create large daily focus blocks of scheduled time to do work. Ignore other things at this time
  • Effective multitasking is a myth. Cycling between tasks not only ineffective in the tasks themselves, eats into effectiveness of real work on either side of the ‘cycle’ (hangover effect)
  • Even resisting temptation to get distracted brings mental drain, need to remove temptations altogether
  • Don’t waste my most productive time in the morning by doing email
  • Doing email is not working. Email is random reinforcement
  • What are my progress markers? How do I know when I’ve made real progress?
  • Self control can be developed and improved with practice – so, practice!
  • Kill the background noise

Taming my tools

  • Easy to blame the tools, but the real problem is us
  • Have long term goals in view at my workstation
  • distracting goals have to die for your most important goals to live
  • Don’t let ‘mindlessness’ be my default state
  • Be mindful of my motivations e.g. why share this? record it, or live it, am I lonely, am I bored? am I looking for validation?
  • Don’t bring technology into the bedroom
  • Technology displays it’s benefits loudly and proudly, but hides it costs
  • Learn to filter
  • Working at a computer discourages deep regular diaphragmatic breathing
  • Self respect and etiquette nudged out in lieu of convenient connection
  • There are still parts of life that I do not need to ‘do better’ with technology

Sharpen the saw

  • Practice unnecessary creation i.e. this blog! use it to take risks, explore, fail
  • Cultivate disengagement through familiarization i.e. taking the same route every day at the same time lets your mind switch off (or wearing the same clothes every day)
  • Constraints are good for creativity. (Converse is also true). Love your limitations
  • Work hard to stay a step away from complacency
  • Satisfaction from work when you only know about 50% what to do.
  • Sometimes solutions are startlingly straightforward… once you clearly understand the problem

Call to action

  • Work solid for 1 hour, then repeat that. Next step, finishing what you start. Next step, repeat the whole process.
  • A professional shows up, works, no matter what. The work gets simpler and less self orientated as you go.

True Spirituality by Francis Schaeffer

How to live for Jesus moment by moment

Foreword by Charles Colson

I’m intrigued by Chuck’s summary: “It is a probing, penetrating search through the Scriptures for what it means to be truly Christian”.

Introduction by Jerram Barrs

The series of lectures that form the material for this book was born from a time of spiritual crisis in Francis’ life. He was concerned with the lack of Christian reality that he saw in himself, others and Christian organisations – a lack of fruitfulness, lack of transformation, lack of joy.

Basically his starting question is, once born again through faith in Christ, what does it look like to live the Christian life? And I think in summary, the answer is – living the Christian life looks remarkably like the way we started the Christian life – justified by faith, sanctified by faith i.e. we live by faith.

Another point Jerram makes which I have found to be true is that Francis has a unique writing style and form of theological insight that feels a lot more philosophical, psychological and sociological than what I am otherwise used to, whilst still being biblically grounded.


Chapter 1: The law and the law of love

Big idea

The Christian life starts with being born again. Living the Christian life is more than external/outward behaviour – it is inward (not to covet against God and man is the climax of 10 commandments). And it is not ultimately a negative inward (i.e. do not covet), but it is positive (i.e. being alive to God, on a true personal level, in this moment of time)

Big takeways

  • I am not saved by faith. Faith is the instrument by which I accept the free gift of salvation
  • Faith is not a jump in the dark but is believing the specific promises of God – “raising the empty hands of faith and accepting the finished word of Christ”
  • Just like a baby being born, so too with being born again – that is just the beginning – the important thing after that is how you live
  • Living as a Christian, we are free from trying to live by trite lists of rules, but we are ‘free’ to a much more confronting thing – the Law of Love i.e. love God and man
  • The last commandment (do no covet) summarises the rest. When you break any of the others, you break the last commandment as well.
  • Love God enough to be contented in “all things”
  • Love fellow people enough not to envy (even of good things)
  • True Christian living is internal, not external
  • Matthew 22:37-39
  • There is to be a positive exhibition in present history of our future resurrection

Chapter 2: The centrality of death

Big idea / key takeway

I am to face the cross of Christ in every part of life and with my whole man. The cross of Christ is to be a reality to me not only once at my conversion but all through my life as a Christian. This is the ‘negative’ of the Christian life – now to the positive…

Chapter 3: Through death to resurrection

Much discussion of the reality of transfiguration and resurrection of Jesus as real events in space and time – and how in these things Jesus is the ‘firstfruits’.

Big idea

  1. Christ died in history
  2. Christ rose in history
  3. We died with Christ in history
  4. We will be raised in history
  5. We live by faith as though we have died
  6. We live by faith as though we raised from the dead

Romans 6:11

Key takeaways

  • Live now as though I have died, been to heaven and come back again as risen
  • This is a moment-by-moment thing
  • If no one preached Christ today, it would make no difference to the fact that he is raised, he is glorified
  • In the present life, I am to live now as though I am dead now (to sin), and alive to God (Romans 6:11)

Chapter 4: In the Spirit’s power

Big idea: Reality of Christian resurrection (for those who have died), and translation (for those still alive), previewed in transfiguration (Moses, Elijah)


  • Only two realities for Christian – in this life with Christ living in me, or with the Lord. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord
  • I am to live by faith now rooted in things that have been (Christ death), is now (unseen stream of spiritual reality), and what will be (bodily resurrection or return with Christ)
  • The power of the crucified, risen, glorified Christ is with the dead in paradise now, and lives in us now bringing forth this fruit
  • I will not be ashamed experientially when I act on the reality of the spirit of God living in me
  • ‘active passivity’ – e.g. Mary, Jesus mother – ‘be it unto me according to your word i.e. according to your promises, bring forth your fruit in me.

Chapter 5: The supernatural reality

Big idea: There is to be an experiential reality, moment-by-moment of supernatural world – in our relationship to Christ, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, by faith


  • Our world is naturalistic and will easily crowd in on our Christian thinking
  • Supernatural and natural worlds are part of same reality e.g. transfiguration, Jesus resurrection e.g. road to Emmaus, 2 Kings 6:16
  • Christian lives in practice in the supernatural world now – this is the life of faith, moment-by-moment

Chapter 6: Salvation: Past – Future – Present

Big idea: Justification is past, sanctification is present, glorification is future – a single piece, a flowing stream – the same base (Christ), the same instrument (faith) – one in history, the other moment-by-moment


  • The one thing that heaven will not contain – the privilege of living a supernatural life now by faith
  • Salvation is a unity between me and trinity – restores my relationship with Father, new relationship with Christ, and indwelt with Spirit
  • Christians are to be a demonstration to the world until Christ returns of the supernatural world
  • Justification must be understood as irrevocable. I cannot be more or less justified

Chapter 7: The fruitful bride

Big idea: Christian life is bringing forth the fruit of the Holy Spirit, the agent of the crucified, raised, glorified Christ as my whole man (will, mind, emotion) believes in God’s promises, moment-by-moment


  • If I am not bringing forth fruit, I am being spiritually unfaithful
  • Parallel between justification and sanctification – both via instrument of faith, both happen in a moment. Justification in a single moment, and sanctification in an ongoing series of moments. The only way to live the Christian life is moment-by-moment
  • It is not doctrine alone that is important, but doctrine appropriated i.e. made real


i.e. wider considerations of the True Christian Life

Chapter 8: Freedom from conscience

Big idea: God means for us to have as one of his gifts in this life, freedom from a false tyranny of the conscience.


  • Before we can concern ourselves with freedom from results  of bonds of sin, we must be sure we understand and believe how we are free from bonds of sin i.e. the gospel, or else all that follows becomes just some psychological trick
  • In considering freedom from conscience, there are two dangers to avoid – sinless perfectionism, and secondly an almost resigned acceptance of the presence of sin in the life of a Christian
  • Our conscience is like an iceberg – 1/10 above the surface (conscience) and 9/10 below (sub-conscience)
  • At the point when I fall into sin and my conscience is in trouble, I seek a way back to God and it is familiar – confess my sin (1 John 1:49)
  • If we have sin in our lives, and we go on, and God does not chastise us, then we are not children of God
  • Get specific. It’s easy to want God’s will in a general sense. It’s important to want God’s will in relation to our specific sin
  • God is not an abstraction or a doctrine. He is a person, really there.
  • The reality of the fact of the blood of Christ has meaning in our present life – bring specific sin under the blood of Christ
  • There must be death before there can be life
  • As I consciously say thank you to God for a completed work on the cross, my conscience should come into rest as I have been supernaturally restored
  • Reality is meant to be experienced, not understood in creeds or doctrines

Chapter 9: Freedom in the thought-life

Big idea: True spirituality always begins inside, in our thought world and in the thought world is where the spiritual battle occurs


  • First comes an idea, then comes the outward result. True spirituality is a matter of our thoughts. The external is the expression, the results i.e. the battle is won in the mind, not in the actions (Matt 12:3, sermon on mount, Mat 15:17-20)
  • The reality of communion with God must take place in the inward self – personality
  • Battle for men is in world of ideas, not behaviour
  • 3 steps
  1. Internal is first
  2. Internal causes external
  3. Morally, internally is central (remember 10th command)

Chapter 10: Substantial healing of psychological problems

Big idea: As Christ’s death is infinite, all the true guilt in us is covered, and guilt feelings that remain are part of the psychological miseries of fallen man


  • Substantial does not mean perfect
  • The Christian position states two things: 1) God is there, this infinite-personal God; and that 2) you have been made in his image, so you are there. From here, you can make intellectual sense of your place in the world
  • Who am I? I am personal, rational, moral. Personality – like God, Finite – like creation
  • The rebellion of man is trying to live outside of the circle in which God has placed him
  • Got a bit lost in this chapter. Seems to be arguing that without Christian understanding, in all the deep elements of man within himself – rationality, morality, emotions – he is damned i.e. conflicted
  • In the fall, man is divided from men, nature and himself i.e. the curse causes this internal conflict within self
  • There is psychological guilt, and there is moral guilt. Remember iceberg. Not always possible to know which is which. All too often evangelical tradition tends to try to ignore the iceberg below the surface. Our part is to function in that which is above the surface and confess whatever sin I know to bring under the finished work of Christ on the cross
  • Gradually as one does this, the Holy Spirit helps one to see deeper into themselves (below the surface)
  • All people have a psychological problem. They differ in degree, but since the fall, all people have a problem

Chapter 11: Substantial healing of the total person

Big idea: To live moment by moment through faith on the basis of the blood of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit is the only really integrated way to live – communion with God, not divided against self, in my place as creature before creator in a fallen abnormal world


  • God may miraculously heal a person, but does not heal his total physical self i.e. substantial healing and not perfect e.g. heal hernia but a headache that night
  • Be the creature, not try to be the creator
  • The Christian doctrine is not just rational answers, but in practice provides healing to the whole self e.g. not just theoretical psychology but practical
  • For the Christian, there is never fear of the impersonal because the personal infinite God is really there
  • Simple profound truth: “Do not be afraid because God is here”
  • No fear of non-being. I know that I am, and who I am – I have a valid existence
  • No fear of death. For Christian there is continuity of life from here into the world to come. Death is not a chasm, as we have crossed the chasm at new birth
  • Whilst in the moment of experience, these truths can be difficult to apply, at least we have a rational framework in which to process this.
  • We must help each other to think and live in the light of the truth of the total unified Christian system
  • False integration points – false idols – functional saviours. Money, sex, religion etc. Like a garbage can trying to fit in a man. False integration points not big enough to account for the whole man
  • Roll all your cares onto him (1 Peter 5:7). A personal infinite God, Matt 11:28
  • Justified in Christ, but present communion with God requires constant bowing in intellect and will

Chapter 12: Substantial healing in personal relationships

Big idea: God is personal and infinite. Human relationships will not be perfect (the Fall) but on the basis of the finished work of Christ, human relationships can be healed, joyous. Christians are to show forth a personal God to the watching world, and demonstrate real personal relationships, that can be fun!


  • God deals with us on the basis of who he is, and how we made us.
  • Man is called not to be justified, but to love God with all his heart, soul, mind, strength
  • Just as our end point with God must not be truths about him, but relationship with him, so too in our relationships we must not settle for anything less than real personal relationships of love and communication
  • But I need to accept myself as an equal to all men before I can turn outward
  • We are called to demonstrate God to the world. To do this, we must demonstrated personal relationship
  • If I love neighbour, I will love for him to be right. Even if he is wrong, I will not rejoice in being right.
  • Confess to God first, then confess to man. And because our integration point is God rather than ourselves, we can admit we are wrong because our ‘centre’ is Christ
  • Our confession to God and to man must be as open as Christ’s crucifixion on a hill. We must be ready for the shame as well as the pain.
  • If you seek for all that you need for human relationships, you will suck them dry and they can never satisfy. But Christian sufficiency in infinite personal God relationship

Chapter 13: Substantial healings in the church

Big idea: The church, as Christ’s body, should exhibit him to the world until he returns – acting in moment by moment, based on sound doctrine, but in practice, flowing out into the total culture


  • Unity is not about equality, but that all areas are controlled by the one head
  • The church should represent the supernaturally restored human race in reality
  • The church should seek to retain its spiritual purity in the visible church
  • The communion of saints is not just a creed. It is to be exhibited
  • The church cannot just teach in words, but in practice it must consciously demonstrate supernatural world
  • If all that the bible teaches concerning prayer and the Holy Spirit was removed from the bible, would practical difference would it make to how our church functions? Answer, hopefully: A lot!
  • 3 universal promises of God to the church for this era:
  1. Power in the holy spirit Acts 1:8
  2. Fruit of the spirit Galations 5:22ff
  3. Christ will be with the church through the HS John 14:16-18
  • These promises are what the world should see when they look at the church!
  • Prayer is the place where the church is the church i.e. practically operating by faith
  • We love ‘the church’ as we love the people in our local church
  • We don’t want to have orthodoxy, but dead an ugly in practice
  • Avoid cold impersonal acts as bare duty, but share whole man with whole man in love and communication
  • The church should be what is can be, recognising that the members do not need to hang onto each other, because the integration point is God

Aldi Crane GPS watch with heart rate monitor

After hearing a positive review from a friend, I recently picked up this little item for $99 from my local Aldi. As far as I’m aware, the watch hasn’t been advertised since July, but there were a few in stock in my local store.


Key benefits:

  • Two year warranty
  • Really easy to use
  • Does all the stuff you want from a GPS / sport training watch / heart rate monitor
  • Export data as GPX for upload to Strava
  • Comes with a bicycle mount (have not tried this yet)
  • Cheap!
  • No longer any need to take my phone on runs to make use of GPS

Unfriend Yourself: Three Days to Detox, Discern, and Decide About Social Media

I read this short book (Kindle version) in a couple of hours rather than taking the whole weekend as the author suggests. It certainly draws on other more substantial work such as Tim Challies ‘The Next Story’. However still has some thought provoking ideas and the author’s style of writing is very accessible.

I recommend it as a useful short primer in helping Christians to think more critically about the form and function of social media – and in particular, how we each as individuals should use it.

I have consciously been using social media less and less over the last couple of years – for a number of contributing reasons, all of which the author picks up on. I have found the simplest and best approach to using social media is to stop before posting and ask the simple question ‘why?’ – why post this? what purpose is it serving? Sometimes I will have a good answer to this, most times I won’t, so I won’t post.

Whitbourn Family Holiday

We just got back from our week of holidays in Sydney. So much fun – so many photos! Here are some of the fun things that we did on holidays:

Leaving Atown in style

As soon as we got to Sydney, we unpacked and then jumped back into the car and headed to Cronulla Beach

We went to a pool in the city – Prince Alfred Swimming Park – with Aunty Nat.

Having a play at Oatley Park

We took the train into the city and went to the Aquarium

Playing outside in the beautiful warm weather that we had

On Saturday we drove into the Royal National Park and went to Wattamolla.

We got to catch up some special friends as well.

We had such a great week away, it was hard for me (Lisa) to leave and have to come back to real life! But we are back now, almost all unpacked and cleaned up! Cade is back to work tomorrow and the rest of us can finish off the school holidays with some play dates and quiet days!