by Phillip Mutzelburg
Most bible based Christian churches would claim to do “Spirit empowered mission” and this claim is not argued as all Christ followers have the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide them in mission from the moment of conversion.
A2A would consider that there is an extra dimension of the Holy Spirit available to every Christ follower, which gives them a dynamic empowerment to do mission.
We believe that Jesus makes it clear that we should wait until we are baptised with the Holy Spirit before we do mission. For this reason, it is worthwhile giving further comment to this important biblical truth.
The Baptism with the Holy Spirit defined
The baptism with the Holy Spirit takes place when a Christ follower who earnestly and diligently desires it, makes themselves available for Jesus to immerse them in the fullness of his power.
Unfortunately, due to the undue emphasis and consequent excesses of some charismatic and Pentecostal groups, this biblical truth is seen in some circles as highly controversial, and even something to be avoided at all costs. For these reasons it is considered important to make some statements about this amazing phenomena which Jesus called a gift.
a. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is not a relatively recent addition to Christian belief:
The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is not charismatic, Pentecostal, or “third wave” theology; it is New Testament theology which was embedded in the experience of the early church. It has been identifiable through every season of church history since the inception of the church. There have been seasons where it almost entirely disappeared in practise, but in more recent times it has once again been restored since the renewal took place at Azusa Street in the early part of twentieth century.
b. There are several reasons every Christ follower should seek the baptism with the Holy Spirit:
c. The baptism with the Holy Spirit is available to every Christ follower at or subsequent to their salvation experience:
Some Christians are baptised with the Holy Spirit at the time they make their first confession of faith in Christ. Others are baptised with the Holy Spirit subsequent to their salvation experience. Within our churches a Christian who has never had this experience is not considered a “second rate” Christian.
d. The baptism with the Holy Spirit is not the central doctrine of the bible:
The prominence given by some Christian churches to this teaching implies that it is the central doctrine of the bible. We believe all truth is important to our spiritual growth, and we endeavour to teach the whole counsel of God.
We do not believe that being baptised with the Holy Spirit makes you a better Christian. We believe the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit at work within the Christ follower that changes us, and that it is this work evidenced by the “Fruit of the Holy Spirit” in our lives that makes us more like Christ.
e. Speaking in tongues is the most common evidence of being baptised with the Holy Spirit:
Speaking in tongues is the most controversial aspect of this dynamic experience of being baptised with the Holy Spirit. It is controversial because some Christians argue that unless you speak in tongues you are not baptised with the Holy Spirit. Within our churches we are resistant to this being a divisive issue.
f. The baptism with the Holy Spirit is the usual gateway for the Christ follower to operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit:
This is also somewhat controversial as there is evidence that many Christians who do not claim to be baptised with the Holy Spirit, or speak in tongues, function in some or all of the gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12. Within our churches we are resistant to this being a divisive issue.
NB: The reader could be frustrated in some regards by the lack of a more detailed explanation of some of these views, and the lack of biblical reference to them all. This paper is not meant to be a comprehensive doctrinal document, but rather an overview of a distinctive of our churches. It is written with the commitment to the celebration of diversity which we enjoy in our movement.
The primary purpose of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is to empower us to do mission
In many charismatic and Pentecostal churches, including those under the banner of the older traditional denominations who have embraced the “charismatic” experience, this primary purpose of the baptism with the Holy Spirit being an empowerment for mission has been ignored.
Instead of the focus being outward, the focus has become inward. In some places the focus is about “my healing”, “my prophesy”, “my word of knowledge”. The mindset is the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for me. We would not suggest that the ministry of the Spirit should not be extended to the already convinced, but in the process of doing this the primary purpose of using this power to reach the masses of unchurched people in our community must not be lost.
Within our movement of churches there will be a constant challenge to use this dynamic power available to the Christ follower who is baptised with the Holy Spirit to do the main thing. And the main thing will always be the main thing, “to go into all the world and preach the gospel and make disciples”.
The baptism with the Holy Spirit without the balance of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit disempowers effective ministry to the unchurched community.
Paul speaks about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and then makes an amazing statement about these dynamic gifts. He says “I will show you the most excellent way” and goes on to talk about the power of love over all the gifts. Becoming a person who loves at all times is a result of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.
Love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Love must overshadow our ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. When love is lacking the gifts regardless of how astonishing they may be, are lost in the intrigue associated with anything not easily explained. Without love, we are effectively disempowered in our effectiveness. Love must be evident so that the Spirit of God at work in them can be seen.
Developing a Christlike character must be our first priority if we want the dynamic of the Holy Spirit to do its work in the hearts of the unchurched.
It was great connecting once again with so many of A2A’s Pastors and Leaders at the recent round of Leaders Together days.
Here’s a brief recap on what we talked about, with links to some of the resources that we used.
As we have talked about at recent Leaders Togethers, the National Leadership Team feels that it is important to help and encourage churches in growing to the extent that they are genuinely “missional churches”.
According to the Hughes Scale, a missional church is one that is both biblically sound and engages effectively with the culture.
Ed Stetzer in Planting Missional Churches says that most churches tend to polarise around two points on the scale; churches that are bible focused but unable to reach the world around them, or that relate to the world but have lost the basic tenets of the faith.
Churches that are found in Quadrant C, that are traditional and biblically illiterate will have very little positive impact and generally wont be around for long other than via generations of families that are committed to them.
To encourage A2A churches to grow in their missional focus and effectiveness, we would like all A2A churches to do four things:
We will use the Leaders Together days to provide ideas and information to help you in doing this.
As I write this, I have to tell you about something that happened at our elders meeting last week. I raised the issue of setting a baptism target for the next 12 months, and then suggested a target. I was immediately swamped with stories from the elders about people in their groups and ministries that they were discipling to be baptised. At that point the meeting overtook my expectations and we ended up setting a target for baptisms of about twice what I was thinking.
My lesson was simple. Collectively we had greater vision than I personally had.
Credential Re Applications
Just a reminder that Credential Re-Applications were due by 30 June. If you haven’t yet submitted your re-application, you can do so using the online form here.
Please also remember that credential fees were also due 30 June and can be paid to:
A2A General Account
BSB 633 000
Ac 148 128 077
Annual Church Survey
The Annual Church Survey is now due. This provides important information for us as a movement and so we encourage you to complete it by the end of July.
The online form to complete the survey can be found here.
Working With Children / Child Safe Policies
You will note in the Annual Church Survey Form there is a question asking whether your church has yet submitted it’s Working With Children / Child Safe Policy with the A2A office. From now on, as we explained at the LT days, we will be asking annually for these policies to be submitted to us so that we can keep a copy on file. We won’t however be vetting them for completeness or appropriateness; that’s up to your own board to do.
Also a reminder in relation to your working with children status. Please make sure your state authority issued card is up to date and so is your training. We require all credential holders to undertake training every 3 years. Most A2A Credential holders will have 12 months to update their training, which can be done online through Childsafe. So please keep this in mind as needing to be attended to in the near future.
What To Do If You Have A Known Sex Offender In your Church?
We raised and discussed at Leaders Together the issue of having a known sex offender in your church and implications for the church with regard to insurance cover.
An important note was that insurance will not cover a sexual abuse claim in relation to the known sex offender.
This is regardless of whether or not they have actually been previously charged with a sex offence.
Where it is known that a sex offender does attend your church, it is highly recommended that a written agreement be put in place between the offender and the board of the church.
If you want more information in relation to this, you can download from here more information along with a sample agreement provided by ACS and a copy of an agreement an A2A church actually has in place with a known offender.
These are only examples to help give you an idea. You may need to seek your own professional advice about any documentation, policies and procedures if you are faced with such a situation.
Is Your ACNC Reporting Up To Date?
The Australian Charities and Not For Profit Commission oversees 56,192 charities and not for profit organisations with a total annual income of $121 billion and they are starting to take action where organisations are failing to fulfil their reporting and other obligations. This action has at times seen organisations lose their tax exemptions.
Churches and other organisations registered with the ACNC are required to submit an annual report within 12 months of the end of their financial year, so if your church has a financial year ending 31 December, your ACNC return should have been lodged by 30 June.
Leadership Or Ministry?
Ian Jagelman, author of “The L Factor” spoke at an A2A Conference some years ago about the difference between ministry and leadership.
We recapped some of Ian’s teaching and saw that :
These concepts are also useful in working out the important responsibilities for a position description. In writing a statement of key responsibilities, Ian recommends listing the (say) 5 most critical ministry responsibilities and also the 5 most critical leadership responsibilities.
Doing this will help achieve a good balance between ministry and leadership to ensure that neither gets neglected.
Engaging With Your Community
The church in Acts grew as they enjoyed the favour of all the people. with the consequence that each day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46)
To enjoy the favour of the people, we have to be engaged with our community and be equipped to share the good news with those we meet.
In his book “What Jesus Started”, Steve Addison provides a simple disciple making model that follows these steps:
Sharon O’Neill shared how Mothers Day provided an unexpected opportunity to share with single mum’s, women who weren’t able to have children and mum’s who had lost children. You can watch what Sharon had to say here.
We then looked at the following simple template that can be used to assist in developing a disciple making strategy around ideas for community engagement.
Christian Influence in Schools
At the Leaders Together in Queensland, Suzie Overell gave a presentation in relation to The Christian Religious Instruction Network, which is a not for profit, ecumenical group that was established in 2012 to recruit, train and empower CRI instructors. Their mission and passion is that the local church & community would help to raise positive and productive children, knowing their God.
Suzie advised that the optimal window where people are most open to the gospel is between ages 4 & 14 and more than half of the people who will ever accept Jesus as their saviour will do so by the age of 12.
Developing A Strategic Plan For Your Church
In South Australia at the Leaders Together, Rod Dowie gave an excellent presentation on the strategic planning process he has been taking Coast and Vines through over the last few years.
What Rod has developed here will be made available to assist other churches in their strategic planning in the future.
2019 National Conference
A reminder that the 2019 National A2A Conference will be held on the Gold Coast at the QT Resort from Monday 29 April to Thursday 2 May 2019. We are delighted to have Oscar Muriu and David Storer locked in as our key speakers.
Registration is free for Credential holders with the registration fee for non - credential holders being $220. A reduced registration fee of $150 will apply to first time attendees, emerging leaders and A2A recognised retired ministers $150.
A 10% discount will be given to any who register prior to 31 December 2018. You can register now for the 2019 A2A National Conference here.
Next Leaders Together
If it’s not already in your diary, don’t forget to reserve the following dates for the next Leaders Together:
Workers For The Harvest
I believe that we have an outstanding opportunity to take Jesus and the Good News into the harvest across our country.
With the training that Steve Addison has been doing, when men and women take the step of faith by going into public places or door to door and asking people if they can pray for them, we are frequently seeing about one in three say yes and receive prayer there and then.
When these people are asked if they would like a simple explanation of the Gospel, again about one on three say yes.
By and large, people aren’t closed to the Gospel and being prayed for. The problem’s not in the harvest, it’s in seeing workers; people like you and I going into the harvest.
He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out… Luke 10:2,3
Let’s commit to being workers who will go into the harvest as Jesus sends us, taking along other workers so that they too will become harvesters!
Going on holidays!
Sharon and I will be overseas for about 3 weeks from 8 July to 30 July first attending a meeting with Empart and then taking a break with our family. Can’t wait!
During this time, you can contact Liz Jesson on 03 63274538 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carl Mutzelburg will be acting President in my absence. You can contact him on 07 3813 4900 or email@example.com.
We are looking for the right person to become Executive Assistant to Tim O'Neill the President of A2A, the Acts 2 Alliance.
This is a key position and we are searching for the right person who has is able to be the front line of communicating with pastors and leaders and their churches throughout A2A as well as having strong organisational skills.
A2A is a movement of churches who are passionate about engaging in our communities in a way that is meaningful and effective. We want to be contemporary reflections of the church in Acts 2.
Our mission is raising enduring leaders to build prevailing churches and our vision is to become an alliance of dynamic missional churches expanding locally and globally.
A2A currently has churches in five Australian states.
The main objectives in relation to this position are to support the President by:
This position is currently approximately a half time position and is located in Launceston Tasmania.
Ideally the successful candidate will have experience in general administration and will have great communication and relational skills.
For more information or to explore this further, please contact either:
Welcome to the A2A Movement Update for May 2018! The dust is just settling from another highly successful National Conference, and in this update we will give you links videos of the Conference teaching sessions as well as notes helping to summarise each session. You’ll also find details of the feedback we received and importantly, details of the 2019 National Conference and how you can register.
You will also find some great ideas on engaging with your community, and details of the Leaders Together days for June.
2018 National Conference
Thanks to all who served or attended the recent A2A National Conference. What a conference it was! the feedback about the speakers and the worship was exceptional, but even more than that was how I loved seeing both the sense of friendship and community that is growing across our movement and how so many had special Holy Spirit inspired moments throughout the conference.
We are a movement of “differents”, yet at the same time there is a wonderful sense of unity amongst the different parts of our movement. This is something to be valued and is reflective of of the Cultural Distinctives that we felt the Holy Spirit has asked us to strengthen.
The theme that evolved throughout the conference was “Sent”, and what a powerful theme it was!
For me, a hi light was at the conference when the room was filled with the voices of men and women affirming their decision to be a sent people; an apostolic people and declaring with one voice:
"Today I pledge that I will obey Jesus by going into the harvest as He sends me, spending the rest of my days intentionally seeking the one’s who are lost, leading them towards faith in Him, and the new life He will give them, as they follow Him and grow in Him as His disciples."
If we as a movement truly embrace these words, we will never be the same again, and neither will be the towns, cities and regions across our nation where we live and work.
We have now received over 80 completed feedback forms, and are grateful for the comments which were overwhelmingly positive with some great comments suggesting fine tuning of aspects. We have already taken many of the comments and incorporated them into the planning for next years conference.
In response to the question: “What major decision/s have you made at this conference?”, nearly half of the responses revolved around being sent, going into the harvest and making disciples.
You can read more about feedback from the conference here.
We have started an A2A Vimeo channel at https://vimeo.com/a2a and posted the conference videos on them.
We have also put together some notes of all but the optional workshops os that you can reference the notes as you review the videos. The notes can be downloaded from here.
The conference videos are a great resource for you to be able to take to your elders and ministry leaders and use as discussion points.
There are a number Conference videos that we have put on vimeo that are password protected. This has also meant that they also aren’t visible to the public. You can find them by using the links provided:
Michael O’Neill - Being a Daniel in a Secular Industry
Sharon O’Neill - Engaging With Our Community
We will post the password in the A2A Pastors and Leaders Facebook Group as well as email the password to all attendees.
During the Movement Business session, we provided an overview of our movement. The slides from this session are available here.
2019 A2A National Conference
We are pleased to be able to confirm that we have booked QT in Surfers Paradise as the venue for our 2019 Conference which will run from 29 April to 2 May 2019.
We are excited that we have been able to secure as our Guest Speakers Oscar Muriu and David Storer, two amazing church leaders and speakers.
We are already taking registrations for the 2019 National Conference. You can register for the conference here.
You are welcome to register now and pay later. You will be able to receive a 10% discount on the registration fee if you register and pay prior to 31 December 2018.
Engaging With Your Community
We’d love to hear from any new or successful initiatives that you are doing, so please let myself or Sharon O’Neill know about them or post them in the A2A Pastors and Leaders Facebook Group.
Here’s a short video from Sharon giving some ideas about how Mothers Day can offer great opportunities for connecting with the broader community.
Baptisms In Your Church
The NLT is encouraging every church to set baptism targets for the year, whether it be 1 or 100 - or any other number! We encourage churches to do this to keep the mandate that Jesus gave us to baptise people front of mind.
Has your church set baptism targets yet?
Leaders Together in June
We are well advanced in our planning for the next round of Leaders Together to be held in a month or so. We will be unpacking some key learnings from major conference sessions, looking at some regulatory issues that we need tp be aware of and throwing around some ideas for engaging with the broader community.
You can register for the June Leaders Togethers here.
Just a reminder about three big focuses we encourage churches throughout A2A work on, and that we will be helping with by providing ideas, tools and opportunities for discussion. It would be great if as churches you could talk about and grapple with these big 3 if you aren’t already.
The big 3 are:
If we can make progress with these 3 issues, we will be well on the way to furthering our mission of “raising enduring leaders to build prevailing churches” and our vision of “becoming an alliance of dynamic missional churches expanding locally and globally”.
17 May 2018
It’s getting harder and harder for churches to find property they can use. Not only that, but it’s getting increasingly difficult for churches to finance their buildings via banks. This is why:
1. Banks are reluctant to sell a church property
Banks are very aware of the potential for bad PR if they take possession of and sell a church building that has been funded by people from the community. So whilst a bank may have a first mortgage as security over the money they have loaned the church, in their eyes the first mortgage is practically useless.
2. Banks can’t get director’s guarantees as additional security
Where a bank lends to a private company, it will invariably obtain director’s guarantees as an extra form of security. This is generally not possible to obtain in respect of a church. As a result, when dealing with churches, banks miss out on this form of security as well.
3. Banks are reluctant to lend to “specialised properties” like churches
Because most church buildings are regarded as “specialised buildings” with a limited market if they are to be sold, if banks do lend money to a church, they will generally only lend up to 50% of the value of the property, meaning that funds will need to obtained from other sources.
4. Banks will want the church to have a record of returning profits
For a bank to make the decision to lend money for a church building, the bank will not only want to see a history of surpluses being made sufficient to cover the interest, but will want the surpluses to be sufficient to pay back the loan over time. The bank will generally look to see a record of surpluses of between 1.5 and 2 times the amount of interest to be paid.
This is problematic for most churches, as being not for profits, they don’t exist to make a profit. Instead, most churches will use the income they derive to fund ministry and mission, aiming to break even after doing so, rather than generate the surpluses the bank will look for.
5. Banks will generally regard churches as being an industry in decline
When making lending decisions, the decisions banks make will be influenced by the economic strength and prospects of the industry that the borrowing organisation belongs to.
The IBISWorld Industry Report in relation to Religious Services in Australia makes that comment that “Falling adherent numbers are constraining revenue growth” and “While some small, international religions are in their growth stage, religious organisations on the whole are in decline”. Churches belong to an “industry sector” that is seen to be in decline and consequently not attractive to banks.
What does this all mean?
The bottom line is that churches will increasingly need to find alternative sources of finance for their building projects, reducing their reliance on bank finance. Naturally churches will want to accumulate money in the bank before starting a project. Such funds can come from accumulated surpluses, special offerings or at times the sale of other assets.
Another alternative is to develop a borrowing mechanism where the church can borrow from individuals and even self managed super funds. The church I lead has developed and use a structure that provides the church with a non bank source of finance at a greatly reduced interest rate whilst providing investors with an interest return that is considerably better than they could get in a cash management account, with their investment being secured by a second mortgage and a registered general security agreement.
Email me if you would like more information about the mechanism we have set up. If you decide to set up a non bank finance structure along these lines, there are many issues to consider and you will need to seek your own advice, but we may be able to provide you with an initial blueprint that you can look at and discuss with your professional advisers.