serve one another – an example to follow


“I have given you an example to follow” – these are the words of Jesus to His disciples, to us, and the very core of discipleship. Jesus is our example of how to live and love, how to follow after God’s heart and pursue His mission, ministry and purpose.

Except these words were said by Jesus after He washed the stinky, gross feet of His disciples. Removing His Rabbi robes, wrapping a towel around His waist – the uniform of a servant, and kneeling on the ground to pick up one disciple’s calloused, dirty, smelly feet after the other – washing and drying them. (The story is recorded in John 13.)

I have given you an example to follow.

Sure, Jesus says His disciples should also wash the feet of others as He has done, but His call to follow an example is greater than that.

Think like Jesus

The text tells us that Jesus is filled with a sense of who He is and Whose He is and SO He gets up from the table and goes to wash the disciples’ feet.

That’s a completely different way of thinking. It’s a way of thinking about power, about position,  authority, about influence, about knowledge, about privilege, about entitlement, that is completely different to our own natural thinking on these things. Position and power for us can mean you think you are to be respected, treated differently; honoured. Our ‘celebrity’ culture is such that a person’s status or fame or notoriety becomes something of a free pass – you get the better seats, the table in a ‘booked out’ restaurant – all the bowing, scraping and pandering to your every need and whim.

Jesus THINKS differently. He sets us a different example.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5-8

Jesus HAS the power, authority and influence. He just didn’t consider it something to leverage for Himself – for His own gain. Instead He set it aside, He gave it up … He took off the robes and He put on the servant’s towel. He humbled Himself enough to become human … but then He went even further and died a criminal’s death – the lowest of the low.

Jesus THINKS differently.

Love like Jesus

Verse one set up this whole foot washing scene through the lens of Christ’s incredible love for His disciples … for us. He had come to the world because of love. He had walked with them in the years of His ministry in love. This was the night before He was going to be crucified for the sins of the world because of love. And here in this room as He washed the feet of each one of them … it was again, an act of love.

And, of course, we see as He did go to the cross – this incredible demonstration of His love for us.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13

Jesus lay down His life for us out of love. This example that Jesus portrayed for us in the washing of the disciples’ feet was MAGNIFIED in the work He did on the cross. Stooping down. Bending low. Getting in amongst the dirt and stink and messiness. Using His power and authority to serve and elevate.

And our call is to let His love in us compel US to great love. To be so stirred by the needs of people around us and so captivated by the picture of others that GOD has – people of infinite worth and preciousness to their Heavenly Father – that we would respond by setting ourselves aside. Stooping low. Humbling ourselves. Putting others before us. Letting go of pride and self. Lifting our attention from us and our own needs and our own hurts and our own desires. Leveraging whatever power or influence or authority we might have for those who have none. Laying down our lives.

Jesus’ example is love.

He calls us to THINK like Him, to LOVE like Him and to RESPOND like Him.

Respond like Jesus

These two serving examples are pretty useless in terms of an actual activity to repeat.

Most of us can wash our own feet! We probably (hopefully) did it in the shower today or will tonight. If I showed up at your place and you proceeded to try and wash my feet I would probably be offended that you thought they stunk or that you were worried about me making your floors dirty or something – it certainly wouldn’t feel like an act of service. In fact, those who don’t like people touching their feet would probably leave rather than subject yourselves to a foot washing. It’s not a helpful illustration in that sense.

And neither is dying on the cross. There are very few opportunities we have to actually give our physical life for another’s. And certainly not in a way that would buy any sort of eternal security or salvation.

So when we look at this idea of ‘Responding like Jesus’ we have to look at the principles rather than the practice.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

We have to see that we are called to RESPOND … in humility, grace, forgiveness, generosity, compassion and mercy. We have to consider meeting needs of a practical nature – it might not be dirty feet but it might be a long lawn or overwhelming financial issues or a broken down car or a ministry opportunity. We have to consider meeting needs of a spiritual nature – to be prayed with and for, to be led to Jesus, to be helped to understand the saving message of Christ, to be grown in faith and obedience. And we have to consider meeting needs of an emotional nature – the need for companionship or a hug or advice or support through a difficult time.

We won’t be asked to give or do as much as Jesus – but we do need to be prepared for the fact that it will cost us something. Laying down ourselves by virtue does cost.

It will inevitably cost us time. It’s a blessed thing when you can serve someone else without impacting your own schedule – but it’s unlikely! It might be costly to your family, to your finances, to your study schedule, to your sleep – that’s what ‘laying down your life’ might mean. Completely setting yourself aside for the purposes of considering someone else. It’s big.

Serving costs us because loving costs us – it costs us something of ourselves.

Jesus says “I have given you an example to follow” … to serve one another in love.

Think like Jesus. Love like Jesus. Respond like Jesus.

Y O U T H & the power of a cause


If we want our kids to thrive in life and flourish as people – we’ve got to get them involved in serving and giving.

The power of participating in a cause is well-documented for its contributions to general well-being (or happiness). The associated implications for physical health and levels of anxiety and depression are meritous alone. But we add to that the whole “let’s make this world a better place” idea and there seems little reason not to. 

Here are just three of the many ways engagement in a cause empowers and encourages our young people. 

Purposeful use of their time 

Every summer holidays you’ll find a group of youth from our church serving our local community through the “SummerWorx” initiative. 


Here youth spend their discretionary time working together on projects in local schools and community organisations – cleaning, gardening, removing rubbish, painting and sorting. 
We often bemoan our young people’s overuse of technology or seeming laziness without necessarily giving them an alternative by calling them to a greater purpose and genuine satisfaction in the work of their hands. 

The camaraderie of time spent with others with a mutual goal and the shared success in the achievements, grow skills of teamwork and responsibility. While providing a sense of deep fulfilment and belonging. 

A way to understand and fight injustice

Each year our community participates in the PingPongAThon. A 24 hour table tennis event created to raise awareness and funds for exploited, abused and trafficked young people via a number of organisations on the ground in Sth East Asia. 


Last year we raised over $24,000 as young people responded to the empowering realisation that they could in fact do “something”. As small as their contribution might have been it was caught up in a greater whole and each was confronted by the privilege of their freedom and the power in each of them to bring hope and restore dignity. 

A call to something bigger than themselves. 

Within our church community, young people are encouraged and assisted into roles of leadership and serving. They supervise children’s programs and lead small groups, connecting with families and participating in the faith and life development of children and youth of all ages. 


These opportunities allow young people to invest in others as they themselves have been led and nurtured in different aspects of their lives. They see the role they have – to step in to the time and place they’ve been chosen to occupy in history and to work to provide a hopeful and fruitful future for emerging generations. 

What do you think? What benefits have you seen from youth engagement in causes and projects? What initiatives have you seen that facilitate such involvement?

can you believe we get to do this?


This is a sign that sits on my desk at work. Each time I read it – it causes me to pause again to acknowledge what a privilege it is that I get paid to be in ministry. 
I get to do this!

I get to pursue God’s gifting on my life for His Kingdom purposes and their expression through His church FULL TIME. I get to do some of my most favourite things in the world – (including but not limited to) preach His word, mentor and encourage emerging leaders and disciples, host environments where connections to God and one another are possible for people of every generation, help people discern Godly wisdom in their lives, bring the light of God’s truth into the darkness and despair of broken people, have a front row seat to God’s transforming power at work in people’s lives, equip and empower others for mission and ministry – for a job! Are you kidding me?!

Other people have to do that in their spare time. Other people have to work 40 hours a week in an office somewhere and then find ways to engage in church service and community in their spare time. 

Can you believe we get to do this?

Let’s not undervalue the weight of the role. 

Much is spoken of the burden and responsibility of ministry. It’s real and it can sometimes seem overwhelming. In recent years the notions of self-care and work-life balance have been raised in focus for those in full-time ministry in response to demoralising statistics on burn out and drop out. The stewardship God entrusts to His appointed leadership is one to be honoured and carefully held. 

Let’s not overstate the weight of the role. 

On the other side of the ledger is the incredible privilege and joy it is to have our vocation and our deeply held convictions and passions be so integrated. Let’s not lose sight of that. 

We are ministers not martyrs. 

The challenges of being in high demand, emotional investment, cost to family, potential financial sacrifice, and possible overwork or stress are not unique to ministry. People working in the marketplace experience theses things too. Many work places require long hours or shift work and many of them fail to offer any emotional support or compensation for families (as a church ought). There is a reality to the flexibility and nature of the ministry lifestyle that can in fact be more favourable than other careers. 
In a career sense, vocational ministry is simultaneously intensely unique and also quite ‘normal’. But in the richness of its devastations and burden and it’s profound honour and celebrations let us not lose sight of this arresting question. 
Can you believe we get to do this?

why YOU should serve in Kids Ministry

I am an unashamed advocate for a generational focus in our churches.

Jesus was too. He’s my role model. With open arms and open heart He welcomed children and presented them as a model of response and heart posture before God. 

Significant portions of Christians make their response to Jesus before they’re 13. Healthy kids ministries are environments where children can explore and experience faith and a resource parents can draw upon in THEIR role of raising kids in faith.

It’s a given that Kids ministry is also a high-volunteer-engagement department. Duty of care requirements and the sheer practicality of how mobile, inquisitive and active children are means lots of adult supervision is required.

But here’s my case for why you (whoever you are!) should do a stint in Kids Min at some point. 

1 Kids min requires a broad range of skills, gifts and personalities.

IT & A/V; physical set up and pack down of rooms; craft and game planning; administrative tasks; leading in music or dance; preparing or delivering teaching; developing relationships; prayer and more – a successful Kids Ministry is sustained by a diverse team each contributing their part. I guarantee you have a skill that your Kids department could benefit from. 

Some children will respond more to a quiet, gentle personality and others will gravitate to the loud and playful. 

Commonly, kids ministry teams are filled with teens and young adults. It’s true in my context. They are the engine room of our kids min with their energy, passion, availability and relational “cool factor” with the kids. But the wisdom, experience, knowledge and security of more senior team members is required too. Both as a resource to the younger leaders AND to the kids themselves. 

2 Sharing faith with a child builds and inspires your own. 

They say if you can’t explain it to a 6 year old you don’t know it. As we more simply and clearly express the gospel and the work of God in our life to young people we crystallise our own understanding and faith. 

Watching someone grasp God’s truth for themselves is incredibly exciting. Encouraging young people to establish themselves in the love of God, anchoring themselves in His truth and His faithfulness as a starting point for their life is an incredible gift we give to others. 

Children lead us in joy and awe. They remind us to be uninhibited in our response to the activity and knowledge of God. 

3 You demonstrate church in action 

You show parents that you really are committed to supporting them in their role. You show the children that everyone serves everyone. You give opportunity for intergenerational relationships (which are a crucial contributor to the feeling of “belonging” in a faith community – for all involved). You model body life – showing the feet, hands, arms and ears all acting as they ought. You share testimony of God’s activity in your life and how He works across various ages and stages of life. 

And before you’re even thinking it – here’s three excuses that just won’t fly!

I’m too something (old, young, new, uncool etc) God uses all types of people to reach all types of people. Your unique “something” could be just the tool He needs to connect with specific people. If you don’t serve, that “something” is missing. 

I’m busy. No one currently serving in your kids min team is doing so because they have nothing else to do. You prioritise what you value. And there is always flexibility in regards to time commitments, frequency and scheduling required by each ministry. 

I don’t want to miss the sermon/service. Podcast the message, attend a second service at a different time  (and consider why it’s ok for others on the teams who make kids min possible in your church to miss out on what you think is unmissable – just sayin.). 

So how about it? Why don’t you give it a go? At least for a season. Consider the impact you could make in the life of the team, the church …or even just one child. Be prepared for God to do something big with your availability and willingness. 

stop saying “they” when you talk about the church

I LOVE the Church! 

Jesus committed to building it and He intends to come back for it and until then it’s the hope of the world! It’s the means by which Christians are built up in faith, pointed to Jesus and mobilised for His mission. It’s a community that can reveal and represent the love of Father God to those yet to encounter Him. It’s a mechanism to mobilise those who’ve experienced the greatest of love, mercy and grace to extend it to the least and the last to bring transformation to the world. I love the Church – even in all her brokenness and dysfunction. 

I am grieved anytime the Church falls short of all it can be and do. I hate when the Church does a bad job of showing Jesus to others and advancing His gospel. I am disappointed when people are let down by the Church. I am eternally frustrated by those within who have such negative and critical things to say about her. 

But then I remember why. 

Because the Church is me. It’s you. It’s not an entity or organisation beyond the people who are in it. You are the Church. You are the “they”. 

Of course, each church will have its leadership and many will have paid staff of varying sizes and makeup, but these roles aren’t the Church. They exist to help you and I to be the Church. 

God calls us to connect to a faith community and invest ourselves in it. He gifts us to serve one another so we might experience and express the fullness of that and so together we might be a force for His Kingdom in our local area and beyond. To see the broken restored, the wounded healed, and the bound set free in Jesus’ name. 

So if “they” are not doing something right, enough or at all. If “they” don’t have suitable programs for specific demographics, sufficient leadership or quality of volunteers. If “they” haven’t got the budget for further facilities or to staff opportunities. If “they” aren’t active enough in the community. If “they” aren’t welcoming of new people. If “they” aren’t providing mentors or developing leaders. If “they” aren’t employing new technologies or advocating for justice or … or mowing the lawns frequently enough! 

Let’s remember who “they” are. 

God gives vision and authority to leadership to guide us. But He gives each of US to our churches to partner with Him in His ministry and mission. When you speak of ‘the Church’, you’re talking about me, you’re talking about you! 

shaping worship culture


“I think the worship has become too much about performance.” “Did you see the guitarist this morning, what does he think this is, a rock concert?” “Can we go back to the days when worship was about praising God and not all this production stuff?”

You may have heard these comments and others like it – or at least identified or felt the sentiment – the criticism that worship in song is about performance. Or perhaps just comments about worship in general. As one of the more visible aspects of our Sunday church gatherings it seems to cop a high degree of opinion and, ultimately, criticism. Song style, song choice, drums, volume, musicianship, lyrics …it all gets critiqued and reviewed. 

Here’s some of my least favourite comments. 

  • “I think the worship team is a little too obsessed with excellence.”

Of course we use skilled musicians and singers! We don’t let just anyone do maintenance on our building, lead in our kids ministry or cook for our gatherings – we get the ones who can do it to do it! Just because worship teams are up on stage doesn’t mean excellence equals showmanship. 

A worship team exists to lead us in worship, to carry our praises, to draw us to greater love and adoration of God – one of their main tasks is to not be a distraction. Musicians and singers can inadvertently draw our attention to themselves when there is a shortfall in their skill. 

“Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it.” ‭‭1 Chron‬ ‭15:22‬ ‭

  • “They’re too focused on performance.”

How on earth can we judge that from our pew? What do we know of the state of the heart of a singer or musician that could lead us to make that assessment? Undoubtedly there are people who can become (or appear) overly concerned about how they look or act on stage – but I’m not sure we are ever in a position to know for sure that their love for God or heart for worship have been superseded by that. 

“People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Sam 16:7

And as a part B to that – everyone in the church determines the worship culture of that church. Everyone. If you are a spectator, you’ll be feeding a ‘performance’ culture. If you are a true worshipper you can lead from the floor in a way that influences those on stage and around you. Your posture in worship as much as your comments to others afterwards shape the attitude and expectations of people around you. We need to all take responsibility for the worship environment of our churches.

  • “They’re trying too hard to be modern or relevant.”

Those songs that we hold up as traditional were once deemed to be controversial because they were too enmeshed with culture. Much of what we now know as hymns (a word taken from scripture referring to music more generally that is now immortalised as a specific genre or style of music) were theology set to local folk tunes and melodies as a way to help illiterate people gain access to the gospel message. 

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him. Psalm 40:3

Sing to the LORD a new song … Psalm 96:1 

We are to be always singing a new song. A fresh response of praise and worship to God. It should be flavoured with the sound of a new generation, speaking the language of their hearts and encouraging them to learn their own way of worshipping God. Just as was afforded to us each in our generation.

  • “He/she is only in it for the fame.” 

Let’s be honest. A 7:30am start on a Sunday morning for a non-paid playing spot in front of a couple of hundred people who are often vocal in their critical review is not where you’ll find musos looking for their big break. They are there because they love Jesus and they love you enough to serve with their best. 

Can we not be “those” people who complain and criticise? Can we be people who trust our church leadership to steward worship in context to God’s leading of us as a faith community? Can we be champions of those who faithfully serve our churches and also not be long-distant judges of the Church? Can we be active contributors to dynamic, authentic worshipful gatherings and be positive culture-shapers? Can we seek to understand and support one another in our pursuit of true worship and God encounters? 

how to fix your church 


When your children or youth are reluctant to go to church things can get hard. (Read more – against their will

If you’ve elevated and communicated the value of church attendance, negotiated and threatened your lips off and offered bribes of every incentive you can possibly imagine but are still struggling to get buy-in from your kids – there’s only one thing left to do. 

You need to fix your church

You know the old adage about not just identifying the problem but being part of the solution? Yeah, that. It’s time to roll your sleeves up and get involved in fixing your church. 

It may seem like a big challenge (depending on what your church dynamic is like) but it may take less than you think. Here are some low output-high impact first steps. 

  • Show up yourself

Passionate, genuine, supportive and committed people who show up regularly and consistently make every/any church better. Whether your attendance almost doubles the size of the congregation or fills one of 60 rows, every person who shows up contributes something vital to the dynamic of a gathering. 

It may seem a little arrogant to assert that your very presence could improve your church – but flip it over and consider what would happen if everyone thought their attendance didn’t matter and didn’t show up!

And as a side note – not surprisingly, your kids won’t be passionate about attending a place that you are not demonstrating a passion for. If your attendance is more about a week-by-week decision based on feelings and schedules rather than an anticipated fixture in your weekly rhythm you undermine the integrity of your desire to see your kids engage. 

  • Serve. 

There isn’t a church in the world with the budget to professionalise all aspects of church life. And even if finances allowed it, it would not reflect the church as Jesus declared it or as Paul and others advocated in the New Testament. 

Pretty much every service your church provides is possible because of the contributions of “someone” like you. “Someone” with skills, time, talents, heart and availability to serve one another – and the desire to see needs met, people connected, God encountered and disciples developed in a variety of ways for a diversity of people. 

The only way your family benefits from corporate worship, generational ministry, events, and shared faith experiences is because “someone” serves. “Someone” gives their Friday night or their Sunday morning over to teaching and leading – in music and word. The building is physically ready and you are welcomed because “someone” comes early to prepare for you. Small groups happen because “someone” opens their home. Morning tea is served because “someone” sets up the urn and packs away afterwards. 

Again, if everybody thought that they didn’t need to contribute you would show up to a very different kind of service, in a very different physical space and ultimately be paying for some very expensive psychiatry bills for your burnt out Senior Pastor! It’s not rocket science. You need to give something for the system to work. 

Side note – your child is much more likely to feel connected to a faith community when they experience a sense of ownership and purpose (true for you too). Serving is essential for fixing your church

  • Influence the influencers. 

All people thrive under the intentional investment, discipleship and encouragement of others. In any church environment there are going to be specific people who have influence over your child/ren. They may be positional influencers – those with the title of “leader” or “coordinator” in specific departments or ministries. They may be proximity influencers – those they’ll serve next to or find themselves spending time with. Or they’ll be influencers by personality – that cool young adult that everyone gravitates to or the super caring and connected person whose name your kids remember and repeat most often. 

If you want to spend your fixing energy wisely, direct it to the influencers. If, by your investment, care and counsel, you can help an influencer flourish you will be influencing your own kids through them. You will be making the church a better place for them (and others in kind) to connect to and thrive in. 

Invite your kids’ youth or kids ministry leaders for dinner or to birthday parties and basketball games. Host their groups in your home. Pray for them. Know them well so as to be able to assist them best. 

You can fix a lack of leadership or develop the competency and confidence of leaders by your intentional encouragement and support of those who God has appointed and who stand to impact your child’s sense of belonging in a faith community. 

***

Again, they’re simple steps but also essential. I am constantly surprised by the number of people who will speak of their disappointment in them or their families not finding a place of belonging, connection or support in a church community and they haven’t tried any of these fixing tips. They’re certainly no guarantee that your child will grow to love God and church – but their absence has a far greater likelihood of assuring the opposite. 

“12 thoughts of Christmas” #5: Looking Outward

The central message of Christmas is one of sacrificial giving. The God of the Universe gave His only Son, Jesus – born in a manger, killed on a cross, raised to life – so that we might experience the ultimate gift of Salvation. While all sorts of other things will compete to crowd out that truth … the reality of this incredible gift needs to draw us to a different heart posture and a different response.

The Christmas season provides us all manner of opportunities for self-indulgence or to facilitate the self-indulgence of others, it takes a fair degree of intentionality and a whole lot of clear communication to write a different story for ourselves and our families.

Here are some ideas for ways to foster an outward focus during the Christmas season.

  • Give gifts that support other causes. Many organisations have developed creative ways to give to need locally and around the world through unique gifts such as a goat, a toilet, a well or a mosquito net given on behalf of friends and family. You can talk about them at home in the planning stage and then you have further opportunity to speak to it when the gift is exchanged.
  • Serve together as a family. Shop together to buy food or gifts for families in need. Deliver hampers or food through your church or a welfare organisation. Donate time to wrap gifts in a shopping centre. Serve at a community meal.
  • Open your home. Invite someone in who doesn’t have family to spend Christmas with. Include a family for a meal that might otherwise struggle to afford a more ‘special’ celebration. Do an ‘open invitation’ for a Christmas Eve or Christmas night drop in time so people have a safe and hospitable opportunity to connect with others over the celebration period.
  • Perform random (anonymous) acts of kindness. Pay for the person behind you in the drive through at McDonald’s. Offer to return someone’s trolley to the bay. Leave $20 toward a person’s petrol while you’re inside paying for your own. Leave a cake or some Christmas goodies on the doorstep of a neighbour. Handwrite Christmas messages and post them or leave them under someone’s windscreen wipers.
  • Include the WHOLE family in your planning and giving. As a family, discuss the ways you can be generous together – how will we serve, who will we bless? Wrap presents together so everyone knows what you’re giving to family and friends. Handmade is always a special touch – include children in baking/icing/decorating or in making cards, wrapping paper or tags.

What ideas have you seen/heard of? What have you tried yourself? What have you been the recipient of and how did it bless you? How can we make sure the greatest gift of all to us incites a gratitude that inspires giving?