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C3 Stories // Prayer Needs No Passport

Blog   |   November 7, 2018

Richard Green

Senior Pastor C3 Church Ryde and C3 Reach

 

Rarely do we get a full picture of where our journey with Jesus will take us, but in C3 we are blessed to have leaders, Ps Phil and Chris, who live and model a life of prayer. It’s their prayerful, steady walk with Jesus that has paved the way for C3 across the globe. It’s prayer that has carried Cathie and I to places we never imagined or dreamed about.

We never dreamed we’d stand in a C3 Church in Baghdad, or sleep and eat in the house of our church planters in Iraq, or have a friend who was once the head of a Mosque for radicals who persecuted the church. It’s beyond the imagined and undeniably the work of the Holy Spirit. I’ve seen churches planted in Syria, where Christ’s name has been actively targeted for destruction. I’ve seen churches planted where Christ’s name has never been heard at all. Every moment, every victory, reminds me of the reality of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

What an honour to be given the responsibility to stand in the midst of men and women who proclaim Christ even in the face of death. What a privilege to be a carrier of the C3 culture to our church planters – a culture they love because it is so freeing to them.

 

This year has had so many highlights:

Our church plant in Cairo has itself planted 4 more locations, creating a combined membership of well over 1200, despite being in the midst of much persecution.

In Baghdad the building is completely packed, with more and more people coming to faith in Christ. On my last trip there earlier this year, we baptised 16 former Islamic radicals and every one of them came out of the water speaking in tongues.

We saw our Iraqi pastor and his 17-year-old daughter translate the New Testament into a dialect that represents 6 million people who have never heard the name of Christ.

Recently we have seen another 3 churches planted in Kyrgyzstan, 3 in Tajikistan, and several weeks ago we sent our first church planters into Iran.

My favourite highlight is not about “the many” but “the one.” I was invited to share a meal with the relatives of one of our pastors in Iraq. The same relatives had tried to kill our pastor several times.  Still, our pastor was so full of love for them, that he organised for me to go with him to share about Jesus in their village. The presence and peace of God filled that village – so much so, that those family ties were restored. The elder leader of our pastor’s family was so happy to receive us, that he set out a banquet in our honour.

 

The message we carry has power to bring peace to all people everywhere. That’s why the vision of C3 to carry Jesus and His presence into all the world is so important. People need Jesus to bring peace to their hearts.

 

On behalf of all our church planters, I want to thank you for praying for them. They love being known as C3, because for them, C3 is their family and they are not alone.

 

Blessings,

Ps Richard Green

 

To find out more about Ps Richard and C3 Reach, visit  c3churchryde.com.au.

C3 Leaders Blog // Thick Skin, Soft Heart

Blog   |   October 19, 2018

Steve Burgess

Regional Director C3 Pacific

 

A few years ago, my friend Jake Sweetman at C3 LA tweeted, “Ministry. Thick skin. Soft heart.”

Sometimes the most profound of ideas are disguised by their pith.

The nature of Christian ministry requires from its practitioners both a thick skin and a soft heart, in approximately equal measure – respectively, good measures.

Of course, everybody understands (and demands) the latter requirement. Of what use would a hard-hearted Christian minister be? Ministry is compared to tending sheep for good reason and the ‘under shepherds of Christ’ must demonstrate a kind of tenderness and compassion that reflects well and truly on ‘the Chief Shepherd’ Himself, Jesus Christ.

But why ‘thick skin’?

I assure you, every Christian minister knows.

 

I recently sat with a group of friends and read out some of the more ‘critical’ correspondence that I have received in my time as a pastor. They were amused (as some of it is tragically outlandish) and shocked (as some of it is just unequivocally nasty). For sure, some of it is well-meaning. However, much of it is just plain malicious. When you add the more constant tide of analysis and criticism that you are subjected to as a pastor to these occasional, Tsunami-like waves of abuse, then you’ll begin to see why ‘thick skin’ is, unfortunately, an absolute must in Christian ministry. This is to say nothing yet of spiritual attack, nor of the personal toll of constantly sharing the weight of the burdens and crises of people that you genuinely love and care about. Being a pastor is hard.

It’s usually at about this point that somebody will raise the failings of a pastor – perhaps a public figure that fell from grace or a pastor from their own life that let them down in some way. Look, I get it. That sucks. But your pastor (and I hope you have one) is not that guy (or that gal). Your pastors are probably people who love Jesus and who want to serve Him and also you, despite their imperfections. They are probably trying their best and could probably do with more support and encouragement (and remuneration- but that’s another piece).

Now, I am all for pastors being subject to analysis and criticism – so long as it is fair. But often, it’s just not. Fair criticism is helpful, especially when it is tempered with the same sort of ‘soft-heartedness’ that you’d expect from your pastors. Oh, how I have richly benefited from well-aimed, well-timed and well-delivered critique. (And I can forgive a person with the right spirit for missing the mark on any (or all) of those three). The problem is that the pastor is a prime target for the hypocrite with a log in his/her eye and an axe to grind – which can lead to pastors with deep wounds and brave faces.

And so, thick skin. Better to develop callouses than to live from wound to wound, right?

 

The only problem then, is the ‘soft heart’ bit. Because it’s hard to confine the callousing to the skin. The callousing will inevitably make a play for one’s heart and when the heart of the shepherd is hardened, the sheep lose some (or all) of what God gave them their pastors to be.

Is this what we want?

Are we happy with ‘thick skin’ being a requirement for the pastor?

If not, how do we need to change?

In the mean time, I have two things to say in closing. One to the flock. The other, to the shepherds. 

 

To the flock:

Look after your pastors. They look after you. You look after them. That’s the way that it is supposed to be.

So often, churches are terrible at looking after their pastors. They just flog them to death and then they wonder why they die. That’s why Paul writes to Timothy, reminding him (and us) that Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.”

Traditionally that scripture has been used to remind the church of their responsibility to pay their pastors a generous wage. That is most obviously what Paul is saying. But there is so much more to ‘not muzzling the ox’ than just paying your pastors a generous wage. There is a whole culture of honour, love, care and support for pastors that yields great benefits in the communities in which it is implemented.

If you look after the ox, it’ll tread more grain and for longer.

 

To the shepherds:

We need ‘thick skin and a soft heart’. How do we maintain this?

I love what Erwin McManus says on this: “Don’t let an arrow of criticism pierce your heart unless it passes through the filter of Scripture.”

If we humbly submit the criticism to God’s Word and it passes through, we ought to repent from the heart, lest our heart is calloused through an unwillingness to repent.

If we humbly submit the criticism to God’s Word and the ‘fiery darts are quenched’, keep it well away from your heart. Don’t let your heart by hardened through offence.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” Hebrews 12:1-3

Amen

 

To find out more about C3 Pacific, visit www.facebook.com/c3pacific.

C3 Leaders Blog // Faith Is Spelled R-I-S-K

Blog   |   October 8, 2018

Antwan Cronje

Lead Pastor C3 Revolution Church

 

C3 Revolution Church in Centurion is three years old this year, and it’s been a crazy good adventure. We’re just over 150 people and launching an extension location. People will say, “Oh you’re so bold and have so much faith,” but they don’t know how as pastors you often want to pee your pants. You proclaim, “This is the ground God wants us to take,” but deep inside you’re thinking, “Oh God, I hope this is you.” Faith is spelled R-I-S-K. If we truly believe He is good, then doing the impossible becomes natural.

 

Taking scary leaps of faith into the unknown has become the way of things for me, my wife, and our two children. When God asked us to leave our home in South Africa for Perth, we left everything behind to learn from our pastors, Claude and Carolyn Carrello, and then plant a church in a location God had not yet disclosed to us. Living in Perth was great! So much easier than the struggle against poverty and crime in South Africa. We found a comfortable place to serve and grow, and a church family at C3 Church Rockingham who loved us as much as we loved them.

A year and a half after arriving in Perth, God spoke clearly to us: we were to plant a church back in South Africa. This was not the news we had wanted. It seems following God did not necessarily mean we would get to live in the safety and comfort we desired. We were very reluctant to go back, but we did. It was scary and difficult and necessary. Before a seed can grow, it must fall to the ground and die. Our ambitions of starting a church in a comfortable and safe environment had to be laid to rest in the greater consuming desire to please the Lord in whatever we do.

Once we put aside our own plans and ambitions, things began to happen. Our steady growth over the past three years has been a journey of stepping out in faith where He leads, and never giving up no matter what the cost of serving Him might be.

Trusting God is not a matter of comfort or ease. It is a matter of relationship. When He asks us to do the impossible, it does not seem like too big of an ask because we know His character. God is good. He is better than we think so we need to change the way we think!

 

This year has been incredible. We’ve had almost a hundred salvations in the last eight months. We’ve seen weekly healings where an average of 90% of ailments are healed when we pray for people to experience God’s love and goodness, and we’re aiming for 100%.

The Lord challenged me to believe in His promise and His goodness – that He has paid for the healing of every sickness, ailment, and disease. Last week I stopped at a store and saw a lady limping past me. Instantly I knew the Lord wanted to heal her and show her how much He loves her. I asked her if I could pray for her. Although sceptical, the lady allowed me to pray for her. Her foot was sprained & she was in a lot of pain. I watched her face light up as she tried to use her foot and realised the pain was gone.

Ministry isn’t just a line at the altar in church! It’s everywhere we go. People want Jesus. He is crazy good. When you encounter His presence, you change! At a time when we could easily be overwhelmed by the challenges we face, the Lord asks us to go even further and do even more. We are determined to revolutionise the way church happens in our city. Our focus must be to bring His kingdom in our city, and to do that we stare disabilities, sickness, broken bodies, and tortured souls in the face without flinching and proclaim His will and victory.

 

Pastors and leaders: fall in love with Jesus and dare for the impossible. It’s in our DNA. We need to stop insulting God with small thinking and safe living. We can no longer drop the standard of scripture to justify our unbelief. You are a children of God. You are world-changers! You are revolutionaries. You are heroes of the faith. We encourage you, do not be afraid to step boldly into unknown territory where God is leading.

Mark 16: 17 says that these miracles and signs will accompany those who believe: They will drive out demons in the power of Jesus’ name, speak in tongues, be supernaturally protected from snakes and drinking anything poisonous, and they will lay hands on the sick and heal them.

When we go into the world to preach the good news, following where Jesus leads no matter what fears and uncertainties we must face, we will display these signs and bring His kingdom into each situation. They key is that it takes faith. “Those who believe.” Be courageous enough to believe the promises He has given you. The price may be high, but the rewards are immeasurably sweet.

 

To find out more about C3 Revolution Church, visit revolutionchurch.co.za.

C3 Leaders Blog // Full Accountability, Full Empowerment

Blog   |   September 24, 2018

Georgie Kelsey

Lead Pastor C3 NYC

 

As a pastor, I’m learning that fully empowering leaders while also working to ensure leaders are accountable within that empowerment is incredibly fruitful. Without full empowerment our leaders can feel stifled, unreleased, and lack confidence. But without full accountability a Senior Leader can feel uncertain and at times anxious that the area or task won’t be led and outworked well. So for best results, empowerment and accountability need to go hand in hand.

 

ACCOUNTABILITY requires work. I have found that in order to ensure a leader is kept accountable within their area of responsibility, I have to be clear in my communication of my expectations from the very beginning. If I don’t spend the time communicating what I would like to see, then my expectations are unclear and my ability to hold someone accountable is undermined. I cannot hold someone accountable for something that I have not been clear about!

EMPOWERMENT requires risk. As a Senior Leader, you have given your all and sometimes the church is like your “baby” and you can’t bear the thought of someone messing it up! But empowerment requires a trust that we truly are “the body of Christ” and that the person you are releasing is going to bring something amazing to the church, something that you can’t bring!

EMPOWERMENT with ACCOUNTABILITY requires us as leaders to be okay with healthy confrontation! I’ve found the temptation as a leader is to fully empower someone and then get frustrated if a leader doesn’t meet our expectations, resulting in a few ripple effect scenarios, such as:

Shying away from releasing that leader in the future;

Taking back the responsibility ourselves;

Or giving the responsibility to another, more immediately capable leader who is already loaded up with leadership responsibility.

 

When there is an issue that needs addressing rather than acting out of frustration, the better thing to do is to talk to the leader and address the issue. Often the only thing holding us back from addressing the issue is usually fear, and fear is not a good captain. If we are afraid to address issues as leaders then we are allowing fear to lead our churches. The fruit of fear is not growth or faith!

When we address issues with love, confidence, clarity and encouragement, we are truly loving the leaders in our care and truly believing in their capacity and God-given gifts. It is in lovingly addressing issues that we build a healthy church. I have found that this doesn’t come naturally to me in my leadership journey, as I often just want everyone to feel a huge big hug around me! But I am only a ‘leader in title,’ if I am not leading the people in my care into greater leadership themselves, which requires accountability and occasionally correction.

 

Here are some practical things I do before having ‘tough’ conversations:

Pray Beforehand– Always pray for the person, pray for clarity in your words, pray for the Holy Spirit to bring clarity to the person and that the church would grow because of the meeting.

Be Honest– People are smart. Often they just haven’t yet seen the bigger picture that you see, so be honest and explain how the ‘issue’ is affecting the bigger picture. Always be focusing on ‘people’ and God.

Be Understanding Yet Strong– Show understanding of the challenge to receive what you’re saying, but hold your ground in what you’re saying and the result you need as a leader.

 

My prayer is that as leaders we would continue to grow in courage and wisdom as we lead the incredible people God has entrusted to us in our teams and churches.

 

To find out more about C3 NYC, visit www.c3.nyc.

 

C3 Stories // Dear C3 Church Global Family

Blog   |   September 7, 2018

A letter from Thierry & Marianne Moehr

C3 Lausanne

 

Dear C3 Church Global family,

 

2018 is a year of revival at C3 Lausanne! We have seen so many answers to prayer. Earlier this year we secured larger offices and a larger space for outreach events – something we have been praying for for a long time. The aim is to invite as many people as possible to these outreach events. And our congregation has been extending invitations all across this beautiful city! Many people have been coming forward on the altar calls, and heaven is rejoicing over every life that is touched by God’s love and saved by God’s grace.

 

There are two stories in particular that fill our hearts with joy:

Recently a young man named Martin* came to church, invited by his sister. He had been raised by an alcoholic dad, so Martin had picked up his father’s way of life. When he came to church he was deeply impacted by God’s love and peace. He has been in church every Sunday since, and is currently in a rehabilitation centre. Recently, he decided that he wanted to be water baptised to signify his new start in life. His whole countenance has completely changed and Martin’s sister still can’t believe that this is actually happening.

Another miracle story is of a young woman named Amelie* who first visited C3 Lausanne about a year ago, invited by a friend. Amelie was in a complicated marriage and was desperately looking for hope and guidance. Her catholic background had given her an image of God that was judgemental and lifeless. In a Sunday service she was suddenly touched by God’s love and grace. For the past year she has been attending a connect group and is so eager to learn and to make progress in her knowledge of the Bible.

Our purpose as a church is to create that atmosphere of love and grace where people like Martin and Amelie can encounter Christ. Their stories are nothing short of miracles, and we are so honoured to be a part of God moving in Lausanne.

 

The last 12 years have been such an adventure for us here. We’ve been so touched by the move of God and by the supernatural growth of our church. To Him be the glory! We stand in awe of His greatness and goodness.

 

In October we will be hosting the C3 Europe Conference and we are very much looking forward to gathering. Hopefully we’ll see some of you there!

 

Much love,

 

Thierry & Marianne

C3 Lausanne

 

*Names changed for privacy reasons.

 

To find out more about C3 Lausanne, visit www.c3lausanne.ch.

To find out more about the C3 Europe Conference, visit www.c3europeconference.com.

C3 Stories // The Pastor’s Heart

Blog   |   August 20, 2018

Mayra Rodriguez

C3 Latin America Regional Director and Pastor of C3 Las Vegas

 

When I found out that I was pregnant with my first daughter Nicole, I remember that I was overwhelmed with excitement and expectancy. My husband Mario and I held each other with tears in our eyes as we celebrated the privilege of becoming parents for the first time.

We both felt a deep responsibility to be the best parents we could be. We read books, heard stories from friends, family and random strangers, and watched every television program possible in order to prepare. We wanted the perfect room inside the perfect house with us as her perfect parents.

But truth be told… as much as we prepared and planned for perfection, we found ourselves feeling overwhelmed. We were so completely underqualified and imperfect.

 

Many times in ministry, as I lead and pastor alongside my husband, I have found myself feeling these same emotions. The joy of leading, the excitement of teaching, the privilege of pastoring were often replaced with frustration as my expectation of Sunday perfection didn’t match up with reality.

The worship team may have had an incredible set list, the welcome team may have had their brightest smiles on, the fresh coffee may have been brewed to perfection… yet the thousands I expected didn’t come running through the doors.

 

But one Sunday morning as my daughter, almost 19 years old, led the church in worship, I saw before me the visible evidence of God’s promises. There I was, standing next to my husband and youngest daughter, worshipping together as a family in our beautiful church.

At that moment I understood and was comforted by the absolute truth that God is in control! The baby girl I once held in my arms was now standing on her own two feet, arms raised and heart filled with faith as she praises the name of Jesus.

The truth is that both my daughters love and serve God not because of my perfection, but despite my imperfection. God has used it all for His glory and is in complete control. In control of me, in control of my daughters and is definitely in control of His Church. I am the messenger but He is the message!

It’s ok to feel underqualified. It’s ok to be imperfect. We must keep serving, keep loving, keep leading, keep teaching, keep trusting and keep preaching Jesus; knowing that God is in control of it all, always.

 

“Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.” Isaiah 3:10 NIV

 

To find out more about C3 Las Vegas, visit www.c3lasvegas.com.

 

C3 Stories // An Encouragement For Pastors

Blog   |   August 7, 2018

Foreword by Valerie McIntyre

C3 Europe Regional Director and Pastor of C3 Fulham

As a pastor, we never like seeing any of our best people move on. But after living in New York, and now London, I know the reality of big city living – the possibility for your members to change locations is high, if not inevitable.

I’m also a business owner who has ‘launched’ a lot of careers. Same thing, you never want your employees, especially your stars, to move on to new jobs, but part of my job is to help grow people to be better than they are when they get to me. And growth means just that – sometimes you outgrow your surroundings.

We have a fine couple and their children leaving us at C3 Fulham to move back to Australia. When they moved to London it was for life, but you never quite know where life will take you. On his last Sunday, Cliff, the father of the tribe gave us a little ‘sermon’ at our pre-service prayer time. For all the pastors out there, who hate to see people go, here’s a an encouragement that they are leaving with more than what they arrived with – love is worth its weight in gold.

 

Cliff Bradley

C3 Fulham

The last couple of weeks, as we’ve been packing up. I’ve been thinking a lot about our time here in the UK, what God has taught me, and how much I’ve changed in that time.

If it’s ok, I’d like to just share a couple of those things. Hopefully some of it might be of some use and encouragement to you, or, if you’ve heard it all before, you can just nod along smugly.

God gives us dreams and goals. But God is viewing our lives from an entirely different perspective that we are. We see it from the present, able to look back over the past but peering blindly and sometimes fumbling into the dimly lit future, trying to make out what it is coming up next. God sees our life in its entirety, looking back from the end all the way to the beginning. We see the temporal. God sees the eternal. So we shouldn’t be surprised when his priorities seem to be different to ours.

I came to the UK with hopes of furthering my career as a composer but, 9 years later, I’m leaving with so much more than that.

 

Life is definitely not a destination.

Life is all about the journey, and the journey is all about the people you’re travelling with. And the most exciting and memorable times are the unplanned pit-stops along the way.

I’ve had highlights (and lowlights) career-wise. But what I will remember and cherish the most is not a set of career accomplishments but the memories of the people we’ve journeyed with. The people who stood with us in the tough times and celebrated with us in the good times. The relationships that have been forged in the fire as we’ve shared this chapter of the adventure together. C3 Fulham has been our family. You are brothers and sisters, and I consider it a privilege to know each and every one of you.

The older I get, the more I believe  that God puts visions and passions in our heart more as something to motivate us and get us moving – because it’s easier to steer a moving ship – than a literal picture of the exact future. When we get there it always seems to be different to what we expected.

 

So, I want to encourage you. Relax! Chill out! You are in the right place, your destiny is today – right here and right now. Whether you are doing well, or whether you’re doing it tough at the moment. It’s all part of the grand adventure. Savour the moment because it’s gone all too soon, forever relegated to fond memories and amusing anecdotes.

It really is so easy to get caught up in chasing that promotion or that dream job and forget to appreciate the amazing things God is doing right here and right now.

Be careful not to hold onto your dreams tighter than you hold onto God!

Life is all about the journey, and the journey is all about the people you’re travelling with.

And, since it feels like I should finish with a profound quote:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris Bueller, 1986

 

To find out more about C3 Fulham, visit www.c3fulham.com.

 

C3 Forum // Re-Baptising Language

Blog   |   July 13, 2018

Simon McIntyre

C3 Europe Regional Director and Pastor of C3 Fulham

 

Currently there are some words (popular words) acting as catch phrases and, it could be added, catch-out phrases.  These words have enormous defining and limiting power. They often exclude in their wish to include.  Any attempt to disagree or question receives Orwellian condemnation, by an outraged righteousness.  Diatribe replaces debate.

 

‘Diversity’ once meant difference.

‘Inclusion’ once meant invite.

‘Identity’ once meant what you are.

 

Diversity is now a legislated quota.

Inclusion now excludes and condemns by legislation.

Identity is now whatever you choose, soon to be legislated.

 

What if we were to re-baptize diversity, inclusion and identity – breathe new life into old words, give them new meanings?

God’s church is a study in diversity, inclusion and identity.  If we were to plunge these words in fresh water, a new creature might emerge, re-baptised, renewed – fit for purpose.

 

Diversity

Diversity is trying to redress imbalances and injustices that are deeply entrenched.  These are often not lacking in any civility. Kindness can go a long way.

The answer to a lack of diversity is essentially a legislated process to the end that doesn’t and can’t account for kindness; in fact, it may well diminish it, as being told to is different than wanting to.

Whilst gaining some ground the process may be losing more than it is gaining, partially because it is public-speak, in that people are actually afraid to question.  This may produce conformity of speech, and how far is that from totalitarian power, but no real change has been secured, just resentful acquiescence.

I posit that in spite of the apparent progress of the community we are further from kindness and civility that ever before.  The goal is further from sight, caused by the very process that is meant to ensure it.

The gospel was published in a world where diversity was not on the table.  The divides were obvious and inviolate: Jewish and Gentile, Roman and Barbarian, male and female, slave and free.  Systems of value and worth excluded, be they economic, social, racial or religious.   You were in or you were out.  (And this was largely defined for you at birth.)

The gospel of Jesus has accomplished something in regards diversity that no human agency or law is capable of.  The entire system of worth and exclusion along with the obvious oppressions it enforces, has been done away with by the cross of Christ.  Dividing walls have been abolished in that God’s people are no longer defined by race, sex and social status. These differences may not necessarily or quickly disappear but their excluding value no longer holds sway in the new community of the church.

The church embraces diversity and celebrates difference without flattening everything in an attempt at uniformity.  It is not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord.

Diversity is not best expressed in uniformity – but in unity.  And unity is a matter of the heart not the law.

 

Inclusion

Inclusion of minorities should never be an issue.  It is quite another matter to be compelled to do so by demand with punitive consequences.  Were graciousness to steer the ship of state (probably too much to ask, and maybe not the role of the state) we would not require the legislative muscle of inclusivity.

Inclusion hasn’t brought with it respect, love or pity (rightly appreciated) but a demand for acceptance of lifestyles, sexual proclivities and the re-engineering of family – all part and parcel of the repackaging of inclusion.  Include or else.  How swiftly the underdog becomes top dog, making others the under dog.

It isn’t enough to simply allow or show grace.  We now have to act and speak as if any preference is now enshrined as a human right. Nothing has been more redefined than what does or does not, may or not may, constitute fundamental human rights.  It used to be human rights premised on a Christian-ised foundation of man’s imperfectability and good of the community, now it is my right, premised on a belief in the inherent goodness and perfectibility of humankind.

Anyone with half a brain knows that when we trump community with the individual we have effectively rewritten most every moral and ethical code/law in the history of mankind.  I doubt good will come of it!

God’s church is the master of inclusion, a robust inclusion into community and conformity to the image of Jesus Christ. No organisation on earth has so successfully included in its ranks such a diversity of humanity – the good, the bad and the ugly.

The exclusivity of the church is not in her welcome – at this point the church is all about welcome and inclusion – but in her call to holiness, the re-engineering of the image of God in us through Christ.

 

Identity

Identity is fundamental to wellbeing – to communities, to individuals.  This is axiomatic.  Ask someone who was adopted.  No matter how well they have been cared for, loved, a gap usually exists in regards their identity that isn’t soon, if ever, completely satisfied.

Our identity in large measure comes from community. It is likely that the hermetic person is profoundly insecure about their identity, as it is not possible to adequately form identity in vacuums of self-reference.  We are not ourselves by ourselves.

Identity is under assault in part because we are assaulting the institutions and structures that promote it.  Whilst we continue to mock and decry family/marriage by turning it into a parody of itself we undermine the very structure that prompts a secure identity.   The insecurity of children with no effectual father or divorcing parents is monumental, and legally reprehensible.

It is no surprise, nor should it be, that pre/post pubescent are confused about their identity and wishing to re-identify, what with the perfect storm of community collapse and puberties own confusion crashing in on them.

I predict the day will come in which they take legal action against their parents and/or the state for allowing them to express themselves in realigning their biological identity, when they, seriously, didn’t know better.

Except in the rarest of cases, to be shown all the help and grace available, our identity is reasonably and simply identified.

The struggle of few may have become the fantasy of many.

Gaining our identity from both our biology and our community may not, however, be sufficient.  Creation gave us an identity as God’s creatures and image bearers that in light of sin and the fall has been dislocated in ways both subtle and earth shattering.  A new identity in the creation of a new humanity founded in faith makes us new creations in Christ.

Being in Christ is identity securing in ways both immediate and unimaginable.  We are participating as church and as individuals in the life and promise of the Risen Lord. He is far above all rule and power, and everything that minimises, relativizes, and confuses his image in humankind.  We are included in Him.  If his identity is secure so is ours.  If his identity is divine so is ours.  In Him we have fullness.

We find a new community and therefore a new identity as one of God’s people, his church.

 

We are diverse, yet one in Christ.  We are included in Christ.  We are new creations in Christ.

 

 

C3 Stories // C3 The Bukit

Blog   |   June 25, 2018

Rachael Dobra

Campus Pastor C3 The Bukit

When my lead Pastors, Jason & Emma Schroeder, asked me if I would consider taking on the role of campus pastor of a new church plant in Bali, it felt like I had been sideswiped by a truck. I had been the kids pastor at our church, C3 Hepburn Heights, for 6 years but it felt like a giant leap from that role to that of a campus pastor based overseas. Yet even in the midst of this surprising offer I recognized that God was leading and guiding me. I decided to take that step of faith into the unknown.

I arrived in Bali in early January, 2017 with a team of 3 from Perth. In the midst of the complexities of starting a church I felt God’s favour at specific moments along the way. He provided people, finances, insight and resources at just the right time.

It could only have been God who gave me the grace to adapt to a different culture and way of living. When I first arrived in Bali the thought of driving a car made me feel nauseous and at one point I considered hiring a personal driver just so that I didn’t have to drive myself! Yet it was remarkable at how fast Bali felt like home for me.

Our campus celebrated its first birthday in February this year. We’ve seen salvations, young people getting water baptised and people reconnecting with Christ and the church. What a joy it has been to see people being discipled and growing in God. The team that God has gathered feels so much like family.

When you move countries to start a church it tends to broaden your perspective on many levels. Bali is known as “the island of the gods.” Yet even in the midst of this type of spiritual environment my confidence in God’s power and authority has grown more and more. We’ve had some incredible moments in the presence of God, where His power has been so tangible.

Church planting is not without its challenges. However even in the moments of loneliness, times where I’ve battled feelings of inadequacy and been consumed with discouragement, God has been my constant refuge and comfort. At every low point, there He has been, graciously picking me up and filling me with courage to take that next step forward. Matthew 16:24 has become more and more real to me. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’.”

I’ve been living in Bali for around 1.5 years now, and I know without a doubt that this is where I’m meant to be. It hasn’t been easy leaving my family and friends, and the comfort and security of living in Perth. Yet I have been so blessed with the support of my family and home church in this journey. The love and care from my pastors and C3 Hepburn Heights has been extravagant. And what a huge blessing it is to be a part of the C3 movement, under the outstanding leadership of Ps Phil & Chris! The future is exciting!

 

Visit http://www.c3thebukit.com/ to find out more.

C3 Leaders Blog // Jesus Save Me From Your Senior Pastors

Blog   |   May 31, 2018

Chris Denham

Lead Pastor C3 Hope City Leeds

It hadn’t been a good evening. I was currently driving back from what had probably been the worst meeting of my life. Those inner voices that love to scream for ‘justice’ and ‘pity’ were shouting very loudly and in this particular moment I was ready to quit the ministry.

As far as I was concerned my Senior Pastor, Dave Gilpin (who approved this article) in this moment was being completely unreasonable and hard on me. Just because I failed to do something he’d asked me to do multiple times over the last six months. Totally unreasonable…

Thankfully, I had my wife at my side in the car so that when the words finally crossed my lips – “I think I’m going to quit!” She had the sense to quietly challenge the thoughts that were slowly solidifying in my mind. She simply said, “Who are you in Leeds for?” I knew the answer, and it wasn’t Dave I’d be quitting on.

That was probably the worst moment, but not the only moment that my own sense of ambition has questioned God’s reasoning for asking me to be a Location / Campus Pastor and not the senior guy!

The reality is, in this age of multi-site churches, there are more and more leaders who are going to have to ask themselves, “Am I willing to serve a Senior Pastor’s vision for the rest of my life?” Thankfully, I can confidently say that those thoughts and doubts are these days just remnants of old thinking in me because I’ve realised the following:

 

Firstly – GOD’S NOT LOOKING FOR SENIOR PASTORS. He’s looking for shepherds who will tend their sheep in whatever pasture he sees fit to place us in. If we can’t see the sheep first before the title then we don’t deserve to be elevated to any position of leadership. If your ambition is all about being the boss then you’ll never be able to fully submit to the authority of your heavenly Father.

Secondly – THE BEST LEADERS ARE THOSE WHO ARE FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS. Show me a great leader and I’ll show you a greater leader that they follow. I’ve learnt and grown more in the 20+ years serving Dave & Jenny than I could have ever done if left to my own devices. In fact it’s been the unreasonable moments that have caused me to ‘get over myself’ and experience a growth spurt – becoming more focused on the vision and work at hand.

Thirdly – WE ARE BETTER TOGETHER. I know me and my wife Gosia are better because of their leadership, but Dave & Jenny are also better because of us (and all the other C3 Hope City Pastors). Moses couldn’t have done it without Aaron and Hur. David needed the brotherhood of a Jonathan. Even Jesus couldn’t have done what he did on earth without first gathering the Disciples. There are few ‘Senior Pastors’ in the Bible but there is a multitude of men and women who held up their arms.

 

So the next time your Senior Pastor acts ‘unreasonably’ – don’t be offended. Be honoured. He cares enough to see you grow and challenge the status quo you’ve found yourself stuck in. You might just find you’re in a new growth zone that God will use to make you a better you.

(By the way – this is the second article I wrote. Dave thought the first one was rubbish. And it was!)

 

Visit http://hopecity.church/leeds/ to find out more about Chris & Gosia’s thriving church.