Tim O'Neill President A2A
As we approach Christmas, it’s a great time to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for.
To me the spirit of Christmas is all about giving. We catch a glimpse of this in that this is the one time of year where a diverse range of people across our country engage in the act of giving, and of course also in receiving!
Giving is as old as Christmas; older in fact! We read about the generous giving of the Magi in Matthew 2:11
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The Magi sought Jesus out. They worshipped Him. And they unleashed generosity on Him.
To me, these actions reflect the Spirit of Christmas and the generosity of the Magi reflects God’s heart and it should reflect our hearts as well.
Jesus came to earth as God’s gift to us, and He gave His precious life to us. What an amazing gift that we have much to be thankful for!
For some reading this, perhaps this last year hasn’t gone as you have expected. Perhaps there are dreams that remain unfulfilled and plans that remain incomplete. Perhaps you have experienced the hard of life and ministry in a way that you didn’t anticipate. And maybe you are finding it hard to be thankful at present. Or perhaps this last year has been a wonderful year and a time of great blessing.
Either way, all of us have much to be thankful for and Christmas is a powerful reminder of this. For all of us, Christmas is more than a reminder of what Jesus gave to us. Christmas provides a wonderful opportunity to recalibrate our attitudes and perspectives to embrace thankfulness.
For Sharon and I, 2018 has been a year where we have seen incredible grief and acts of evil, as well as unexpected and major crises, but in the midst of this, God’s grace and love have been amazingly evident.
The world in which we minister is undoubtedly becoming darker, but as this happens the light of Jesus shines brighter through people like us and faith communities like the churches that we lead and are a part of.
Looking back on the past year, we can see the hand of God in calling us to be a “sent” people, carrying the scent of Jesus into our communities.
Being a “sent” people means that we will love Jesus so much that we will obey and follow Him, and we will love our neighbour so much that we will take risks for them in the hope that they will come to know and receive the incomparable grace that Jesus offers.
As churches, we are to be His people on a mission. As a movement we are to be a fellowship of diverse churches united by the desire to see our nation reached for Jesus.
We have much to celebrate from this last year:
As we prepare for a new year, I encourage you to uphold the value of journalling on scripture and develop strategies to see people in your churches decide to practice this as a healthy spiritual habit.
Having adopted this habit now for over 16 years, I still get blessed by the fresh revelation and insights that I receive from journalling on God’s word to us. In fact, I’m still pondering the insights I gained from journalling just this morning!
A short video explaining how to SOAP is below. Why not show this to your church? with thanks to #ourchurch
I would also appreciate your prayers for the National Leadership Team as we will be preparing for another retreat in the new year, specifically putting aside Tuesday 12 February as a day when we will be coming together to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance for our movement for the times ahead.
We have a great sense of anticipation about the 2019 National Conference to be held on the Gold Coast commencing Monday evening 29 April. If you haven’t booked yet, just reminder that the early bird discount is still available until 31 December. You can book for the Conference using the LINK HERE.
And finally, don’t forget to register for the next round of Leaders Together days in February. We have a guest speaker lined up to come and provide excellent input at these days. Dates and locations are as follows:
You can book for the LT using the LINK HERE.
Thank you for being part of A2A.
We are a diverse group of men and women who God has pulled together to be an alliance of dynamic missional churches, loving on our communities, impacting them and making disciples.
It is my prayer that you will be filled with the joy and peace of Jesus, overflowing with thankfulness to Him and that you will be freshly envisioned, inspired and invigorated for the work He is calling you to in the year and years ahead.
19 December 2018
with Tim O'Neill
It’s amazing to realise that most of 2018 is now behind us and Christmas is just around the corner. Where has the time gone?
It’s been great seeing so many A2A churches taking steps to engage in a greater way with their local communities and to be more missionally effective. I think that we all want our churches to be like the church in Acts 2 that was so engaged that they enjoyed the favour of all the people in their city with the result that more were being saved and added to their number every day!
Thats a wonderful focus for us to have as we embrace the great commandments and the great commission. As Rick Warren says, a great great commitment to the great commission and the great commandment will build a great church! And of course to do this, requires great leadership.
National Leadership Team Update
At our last National Leadership Team meeting we discussed ways in which we as an NLT could add value to the churches across the movement. One of the ways we thought may be useful was to make ourselves more available across the movement to help catalyse change. Ralph Moore in his book MegaMultiMultiply makes the following comment:
An apostolic leader, whether in a large place or small, feels the need to keep moving. Some, like Paul, move from city to city. Today, most shift from project to project while extending the boundaries of the gospel. These people are catalyzers. If this is you, you naturally spark change.
Just to be clear, we are not calling ourselves apostles, but we do believe the the NLT can add value by functioning in an apostolic fashion. What this means is that:
ELI (Emerging Leaders Initiative)
The first year of ELI has by all accounts been an outstanding success with some wonderful testimonies from the emerging leaders who have taken part. The recent trip to Canberra was an incredible experience for all involved.
Whilst in Canberra, the participants had their worldview significantly expanded with substantial input from politicians and other key individuals in relation to our nation’s history both politically and militarily, the workings of the constitution and High Court and of Parliament House. Meeting our Prime Minister was surely also a highlight for all.
Special thanks to Mark Ansell and the team form Gateway who run ELI, and to Phillip Mutzelburg who arranged the trip to Canberra.
If you are a young or emerging leader, or you have emerging leaders in your church, I encourage you to consider next years ELI program. Please Contact Mark Ansell or Tina Silk on 03 9785 7500 & firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about ELI.
The NLT is delighted with the uptake that has occurred with credential holders entering into mentoring arrangements. We are particularly pleased that nearly all A2A Senior Leaders are in a mentoring arrangement. We see mentoring as being key to the ongoing health of a leader.
One further initiative that we will be instigating in the near future is introducing a short form agreement that can be used between the mentor and mentee to ensure a few key components to mentoring are agreed upon and to a degree formalised.
You can find out more about A2A mentoring here or by contacting Mark Ansell 03 9785 7500
Revised Marriage Rites
Religious bodies, such as A2A, may be granted permission by the Attorney General’s Department to endorse religious marriage. Ministers are permitted to solemnise marriages on the basis that they conduct marriages within the rites of their denomination.
The NLT has revised A2A’s Marriage Rites, with a copy being sent to all credential holders registered to solemnise marriages. A copy of the Rites is available here.
Other Movement News
A2A Executive Administrator / Assistant
I’m delighted to let you know that Liz Jesson has relinquished some of her Tailrace duties to enable her to come back in the role of Executive Administrator/ Assistant for A2A. Please feel free to contact her at email@example.com or 03 6327 4538
We are just about to complete our latest round of Leaders Together. Here is some of what we have covered as well as links to resources
Keeping Fresh In Ministry
We revisited Mark Conner’s excellent teaching about Keeping Fresh In Ministry, from the 2018 National Conference. Mark reminded us of the Theology of Self Care and the 5 habits of healthy leaders. We watched Mark teach first 2 habits (Retreat Regularly and Deal With Your Internal Stress) and then had a time of discussion. You can watch Mark’s excellent teaching on Keeping Fresh In Ministry here.
Developing A Strategic Plan
Rod Dowie presented the strategic planning process that he and the team at Coast and Vines have been putting together. They have come up with a brilliant template that could be used to help your church to develop your own strategic plan.
Their founding scripture is Isaiah 61:4 “And they shall rebuild old ruins. They shall rise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolation of many generations.”
CLICK HERE to hear from Rod. The document templates they have developed are available below.
Fringe Benefits Exemptions For Pastors
Most pastors would be aware that there are certain fringe benefits exemptions that may apply to pastors. Following is a brief summary of how that works.
Under tax law in Australia, income is generally taxable. When instead of receiving income, a person receives a benefit, this is generally subject to assessment under the Fringe Benefits Tax legislation. So any form of remuneration that is not assessed as income is generally regarded as a benefit.
The FBT legislation however provides that benefits paid to pastors and church workers may be exempt from FBT under certain circumstances.
The Draft Taxation Ruling issued in July of this year provides three important tests that must be passed for a benefit to be exempt.
School Holiday Programmes
It was discussed that School Holiday programmes and other programmes that churches undertook where with children under the age of 13 years, where parents or guardians were not on premises may require licensing as a Child Care Centre.
There is an important exception to this under the Education and Care Services National Law where it can be shown the programme or service is being conducted principally for the purposes of religious instruction.
This could have substantial ramifications on a number of activities that churches may run, including camps.
The take away from this is to document the purpose of the activity and why and how it is being undertaken for the purposes of religious instruction.
Link to Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 (p17)
CAMP NO FEAR
CAMP NO FEAR has recently been held for QLD & NSW with outstanding success. The Camp had 90 attend with 6 salvations. 74 said they were refreshed in their relationship with God, 26 were operating in their supernatural gifts, 7 were baptised in the Holy Spirit.
Well done Anton, Lauren and the team who made this happen!
CAMP NO FEAR Victoria will be happening 24 to 27 January. You can find out more information here http://www.campnofear.com or obtain tickets@ https://events.ticketbooth.com.au/event/cnf2019
2019 A2A National Conference
Conference Registrations @ QT Gold Coast are open – get in early and make the most of pre-ordering your accommodation. Gives a great opportunity to gather your team and get them all along
Cultural Distinctive - Spirit Empowered Ministry
Phillip Mutzelburg has written another great paper outlining our Cultural Distinctives, with the latest one being about Spirit Empowered Ministry. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to read this blog. Cultural Distinctive
I was journalling recently from Nehemiah (I love that book!) and came upon the last verse in Nehemiah Chapter 10. It finishes with the statement:
“We will not neglect the house of our God.”
It reminded me of what a special privilege we have of being part of God’s house, and for many of us, leading one of His houses and leading the people connected to that house to be passionate about Him and His house.
Be encouraged and keep up the great work that you are doing.
I was reading the other day and was challenged to be someone who others would look at and see as being naturally spiritual. Not kooky spiritual, but being a naturally spiritual person.
The book said that often we go around looking for people who are open to us and receptive to a spiritual message, when in fact if we are naturally spiritual, they will often find us and be the ones who initiate a spiritual conversation.
Why? Because they are searching and see in us something that both attracts them and suggests that we have some of the answers to the spiritual questions that they have, but mightn’t even be able to clearly articulate. Of course, this assumes that we are living an authentic walk as a follower of Jesus so that we project Him in and through our lives.
David Watson (in his book Contagious Disciple Making) recounted how he once walked into an Asian village. As he entered the village for the first time, a man greeted him and asked him where he had been and why he had taken so long, and then told David that he and others were waiting to hear the message he had to bring. Apparently this man had a dream 20 years before of David entering the village and that dream had re-occurred over the years. God had gone in advance and prepared a person of peace who opened the whole village to the gospel.
That’s the thing. God does go in advance and prepares the hearts of those who are open to Him. And often it’s not so much a matter of us finding them, but of them finding us.
The people He prepares will be open to or even attracted to us, and hungry for spiritual answers.
Reflecting on this, that’s certainly been my experience and the experience of my wife Sharon and a number of others at Tailrace Community in more recent times.
When people know that you have a faith that is vibrant and natural; naturally supernatural, if those people like what they see, they will have questions and will often be drawn to you because they see that you have something that they are curious about or even searching for.
So how can we be naturally supernatural?
I think it’s not so much about what we try to project, but what we don’t try to hide. Without being obnoxious about it, we wear our faith for all to see.
When people ask what you did on the weekend, a naturally spiritual person will be able to comment that “I really enjoyed church on Sunday; got heaps out of it”.
When someone is sick or has a need, go one step beyond saying that you will pray for them, and offer to pray for them. Now.
You can let people who are in a struggle know that you have been praying for them, and ask them to let you know when they see an answer to your prayers.
If they are open, offer to catch up with them say weekly and read the bible with them. You can let God’s word do the talking. You don’t need to have all the answers.
It made me think.
Am I a human torch that projects light for all to see? Or do I put my dimmers on and hide the light that Christ wants to shine through me?
“No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lamp-stand so that those who come in can see the light.” (Luke 8:16)
That’s the thing. It’s not that I have to turbo charge my spirituality to get it out there and be super Christian. It’s more that I need to make sure that I’m not hiding it; by being naturally supernatural and allowing people to see what Jesus has done and is doing in me – naturally.
As a great leader, Jesus had already prepared the way for his disciples to follow.
He left heaven to come and preach the good news. Then in Luke 9, Jesus sent his “A”Team” out to do likewise. They were like his spiritual special forces, having walked with him and trained with him.
And now Luke 10 tells how it was time to send out the remaining troops, ordinary people like you and I who he would send as workers for the harvest.
There is so much to learn from what Jesus did here! Here are some keys that we can apply today.
1. Jesus specifically called people, let them know there task and sent them. It wasn’t a general exhortation to his crowd of followers. People were specifically appointed and told to go! Urging the crowd gathered on a Sunday to go will never be as effective as appointing specific people to go.
2. Jesus sent them out in pairs. Two are much better than one. Team ministry always trumps sole ministry.
3. Jesus showed the importance of prayer, and how to pray. He wasn’t praying for openness, conversions or even great conversations. He was praying for the men and women who would heed to call to go and be obedient. The greatest spiritual attack isn’t in the hearts and minds of those we witness to, it’s in the hearts and minds of those who Jesus sends. The problem isn’t with the harvest, it’s with having workers who will go into the harvest field. Nothing much has changed here!
4. Jesus instructed them to travel light. That way they had to depend on his Father to answer their needs. Fear causes us to wait until we have all we need. “I need to arrange accomodation” “I need to know and study a bit more” “I need to…”. Faith causes us to trust in Jesus and go.
5. Jesus emphasised their going to find people, not the people’s coming to those he commissioned. They were sent to look for people and connect with them, and opening a spiritual conversation using the blessing of peace. Those he sent were the ones who took the initiative. As a contrast, many of our programs are responsive; we don’t take the initiative to people but depend on a person coming and wanting to go further.
6. Jesus instructed that the initial receptivity of a person was critical. If they aren’t open and responsive, move on and look for someone else who is. Don’t waste time by trying to convert a person who isn’t open. The more upfront we are early on about the message we bring, the better. The longer we wait, the bless receptive people will be.
7. Jesus told his disciples to find Persons of Peace. They are people who a. are receptive to the disciple, b. are hungry to hear their message, and c. who will use their influence for others to hear the message. Persons of Peace will unlock towns, networks and communities to the gospel. They are the real harvesters who Jesus told us to pray for who will bring in the harvest. They must be immediately equipped and released to share the good news with those they influence.
8. Jesus told them not to worry about rejection or how people would respond, because when people said “no”, they weren’t really rejecting them, they were rejecting Jesus and his Father.
9. Jesus not only tasked them with a commission, but he gave them the spiritual authority they needed. The highest level of spiritual warfare takes place when we share Jesus and they decide whether to follow Him. When we are obedient in sharing, Satan loses. Whenever someone decides to follow Jesus, he loses again! We can defeat Satan through our obedience in making Jesus known and in seeing people come to faith. And Jesus has given us the authority to do this!
10. Jesus then debriefed his disciples. He was coaching them. in so doing, he was holding them accountable, reviewing their work, instructing them further and encouraging them. By appointing specific people, he was also able to be specific in knowing who to debrief.
10 simple principles. Developed by Jesus, tested by his “A Team”, then tested by a bunch of ordinaries. Tried and tested down through the ages. Being applied in amazing ways around the world at present, seeing a great harvest being brought in.
What about you? Here are three simple steps to implementing these principles:
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Luke 10:2