Tuesday, October 26, 2010

We LOVE our volunteers!!! (week 3)

A big thank you goes out to all the volunteers from our week 3 sites – Gold Coast, Launceston, Perth and Sydney.
On the Gold Coast we had Elizabeth - a very gifted and beautiful young lady, who led her team with grace, and strength and fantastic enthusiasm.  Production was led by the wonderful Lyndal, whose amazing efforts engaged the delegates from the very first song, and continued throughout the entire two days.
Down in Launceston the beautiful and bubbly Barbara managed the event and her team of superb volunteers with loads of joy and enthusiasm.  Another outstanding success with the production & worship team led by the delightful Chantelle confirmed that the Island State has what it takes!!  Her confidence and relaxed attitude had everyone simply enjoying all that God had in store for them. 
Over in Perth Sally had the volunteers ‘flowing’ with ease and efficiency. No problem was too hard and she was a huge blessing and did an incredible job. Belinda had a grace that was efficient but gentle. She led the production team along with hubby Dave [who looked after tech] and was on the ball and created a seamless programme.
Sydney volunteers were led by Emmy and JT. There was never a moment when the efficient Emmy wasn’t smiling and this carried through to her team. It was wonderful to have JT’s experience and professionalism close at hand. Producer Tiffany led the charge inside the auditorium, with some beautiful team prayer times. This set the tone for whole event, and kept us all focused on the big picture.
To all the volunteers, you were amazing!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We LOVE our volunteers!!! (week 2)

We have passed the half-way mark with Summit week 2 happening last week. A big thank you to all the volunteers from Canberra, Melbourne and Toowoomba for another outstanding job!
Canberra’s event manager Annie did a great first-time job, especially overseeing all the catering – the food was a hit with delegates and volunteers alike! Expert Producer Michael had things humming along and programmed down to the minute, he and lighting man Tim’s commitment to executing their event leaves us lost for words!
Our first time guys in Melbourne did a great job! Natasha was outstanding!  She was totally under control with an unbelievable team of volunteers supporting her and at the ready to do whatever was necessary, what a blessing each of them were to our guests.  It was an honour to be a part of. It was great to see this new production team in full swing under the leadership of Stephen. They were committed to the task and there was great communication between the team which led to seamless transitions! 
In Toowoomba Danny never stopped moving, he and his team of volunteers had everything in top order, there was always a smile on his face. Leading up to the Summit Natalie was always a friendly voice on the phone and on the day no question any delegate could ask was too hard for the ‘Girl in the Blue Scarf!’ Inside the auditorium ran smoothly thanks to Brendan and his team. He had a big job, both producing and worship leading but he pulled it off with masterful ease!
The willingness of the volunteers to serve in all sites was a beautiful thing to behold!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Something You Will Never Regret

Attending the 2010 Global Leadership Summit was a truly uplifting and spiritually rejuvenating experience. As with all conferences some speakers resonated more with me than others but those that did, did so in a very significant and impressionable way. Highlights for me included the presentation and story of Blake Mycoskie and TOMS Shoes – the power of giving and what can be achieved through the desire to give is an inspiration for us all and lies at the heart of the gospel message. The humility, dedication and faith of Tony Dungy and his message of leadership by encouragement is something we all need to take on board. The interview of Jack Welch produced such pearls of wisdom for anyone aspiring to leadership but was also a delightful observation on character and a journey towards faith. Providing us with insightful presentations of his own and leading us all through the conference was the person of Bill Hybels, himself an inspiration not only in what he had to say but also in what he has achieved at Willow Creek. That in itself is a story that one cannot but help marvel at and be inspired by.

I felt God very much at work during those two days, both personally but also communally. I do hope I will be able to attend again in the next few years. In the meantime, I will be urging anyone who is remotely interested to take the bull by the horns and go. It is something they will never regret.

Warner Wild
Chaplain, Kings College
Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We LOVE our volunteers!!! (week 1)

This last week was Summit week 1 in Australia and we want to thank all the volunteers of Adelaide, Brisbane, Geelong and Newcastle for an outstanding job – we couldn’t have done it without you. We particularly want to highlight a few people who were amazing leading their volunteer teams!
Adelaide’s event manager Steve, was like ‘The Invisible Man’ - Here one minute and gone the next!  As soon as you mention something needs to be done, before you finish speaking he’d be off to make it happen. Producer Ben had things organised and under control, he & the team were committed to delivering everything they did with excellence! 
Christine led the way inside the Brisbane auditorium, she was always calm and nothing seemed to faze her! Alicia did an awesome job building up her team, the result was amazing - every member was always smiling and knew exactly what their next move was!
Veteran event manager Ian was a champion in Geelong.  Co-ordinating a great team of willing volunteers, he made the summit look effortless!  Justin led worship again with ease and charisma – so high functioning (in-house joke!), and Leonie was fantastic bringing the team together to produce a great GLS.
Our first timers in Newcastle were fantastic. Producer Phill was calm under pressure, focused and diligent. He encouraged his team well, took initiative to observe the program and tweak it along the way! Captain of the volunteer army and event manager Glen managed his troops in such a way that everything was done before you even thought to ask!
We think it’s important to publicly say how much we value you guys, every team had a beautiful heart to serve, so thanks and thanks again!
Also we just had to show off the Newcastle Reclaim Dancers (click to youtube video below), who did two amazing dances at Belair Baptist - this is just them practicing, but you girls were great!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Are We There Yet?

Ever heard the sound of that song coming from the back seat of the car?

It’s kind of obvious that “we’re not”! If we were the car would have stopped and we would be out. Really what our kids want to know is how much further in comparison to how far we’ve come. Give me a reference point so that I can adjust my expectations.

We are no different with life, asking God, “are we there yet?” Can’t I just get to the destination and enjoy it. The reality is our whole life is a journey.

Every time we get to a “there” it becomes a “here” - a starting point for the next part of the journey.As I entered into the work force as a school teacher I knew that God had called me to touch the lives of kids. During that time my husband and I began a Sunday gathering for kids in a local community house; this later grew into a church. After four years of teaching in a school, God called us on another part of our journey as pastors in the Salvation Army. We spent the next 13 years pastoring two churches, one in Wainuiomata and the other in West Auckland. Over the past 9 years I served as a full-time teacher in a local school for 4 years and have been on the Willow Creek NZ staff for 5 years.Whilst my past does not define my future, it sure shapes it. Looking back over the past experiences, both those which I gladly embraced and those I would rather not have had to bear, have all contributed to who I am today. This includes my successes and failures, disappointments and celebrations; following my hopes and dreams. I have continued to learn more about myself, gained new knowledge and understanding of people and ministry. While my journey has lead me in different directions my underlying desire to love God and serve him with passion and enthusiasm has never changed.

Now I am entering into a new “there” for my ministry as I relocate from NZ to Melbourne to take up a position on the staff of Crossway Baptist Church as Children and Young Families’ Pastor. It was one of those moments that came quite unexpected when I was asked if I would consider leading this significant ministry. For me there were many ‘buts’... however God graciously walked with me through this questioning time, leading me to respond “Yes!” Crossway were willing to hold the position for me for over 6 months and now, in December, I take up this new part of my journey.

I will still continue to invest in Children’s ministry leaders in New Zealand though the ENGAGE children’s ministry training, mentoring (via Skype) and of course the JUMP children’s newsletter.

I am confident that God will use my gifts, strengths and passion to grow His Kingdom, impacting children and their families for Him.

I have enjoyed the privilege of sharing the past few years of my journey with you and look forward to where our paths may cross again in the future. Until then… enjoy your journey.

Margaret Spicer
Executive Director

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Review

Rather surprised by the title of the series our Senior Pastor presented to us one day: “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”, many were not sure what to expect. However, as a church community we begun an eight-week journey of discovering what it truly means to be ‘Emotionally Healthy’ in light of our Spirituality.

In contrast to the common belief that ‘feelings’ are unreliable, the EHS series was completely different to anything we’d looked at before. The messages, readings and daily devotionals prompted us to begin to peel back the layers of their identity, and discover where years of hurt, pain and issues had deeply affected their character. Surfacing scenarios that are hidden in the hurt and pain of the past isn’t always easy. It left many people feeling ‘raw’ and challenged and needing to draw close to God for comfort.

One of the most impacting parts of the EHS series is its simple request for participants to allow time for contemplation. The ‘two-minute-silence‘ model of the devotionals was new to many who had often not taken time to stop, consider and reflect in silence and solitude. Some literally required a pair of ‘ear-muff’s’ to block out the distractions of daily routine, but for others it was a refreshing addition to their quiet time.
The EHS series promotes vulnerability and deepens real community. Some members commented that it is exhausting to reflect and deal with past issues which they’d already come to terms with. But the series encouraged them to realize that things which they thought had been put to rest, had actually just been buried and never really given acknowledgement and the time to grieve that they deserved. While the journey was not all about digging up the skeletons in the closet, the series challenged our thinking and responses, helping us to realize how important character is to God.

The series is neither a quick-fix for hurts nor a substitute for counselling, but rather challenges its participants through revealing why certain tendencies and patterns exist in their lives. Peter Scazzero offers a refreshing and inspiring look at change and what it means to be made new. Our own Senior Pastor reminds us constantly that, “God is in the business of transformation”, and the EHS series was a true reminder of that.

Many were confronted in coming to that place of realizing there is an emptiness in our hearts that hurt won’t allow us to fill. God’s desire to provide freedom and healing meant that many masks were taken off, with individuals realizing they no longer needed to hide behind facades of composure and togetherness.

One church member described the EHS experience like “putting together puzzle pieces and seeing a mirror image of the various components of self and all the emotions we are made up of.” Whilst challenging and confronting, the outcome is refreshing and empowering. Seeing hope and a light amidst the darkness makes it worth the pain and struggle.

The Bible small group studies were both rich and enlightening. The sense of community within our home-groups throughout the 8 week period was incredibly comforting. Experiencing transformation together helps you to realize that the journey isn’t a solo one. There was tremendous healing that took place when various ones stepped out, confessing challenging experiences in the ‘safe-place’ setting of the home group.
We live in the midst of a culture that sub-consciously promotes self-sufficiency and independence. We’re part of a wider community however, where God urges us to depend wholly on him in complete surrender. Jesus is the only constant in life, and though people fail us, He always remains. The series reminded us as a church of the real frailty of humanity, not to destroy our confidence or bring us to a place of hopelessness, but rather to promote the hopefulness and eternal life offered in Christ!

The EHS series will leave us as a richly fulfilled community. It has enabled us to truly disciple people and bring them to a place where they can encounter God in a real way because they understand their own reactions and responses to life’s challenges. We’ve come away feeling like we’re moving forward, and gaining victories over self in order to present the true Christ to our community.

Jade Giles