Dr. Mark Riessen, Mission & Ministry Director, has released ‘Movement and Identity: Participating in the life of God’s mission’, a new resource aimed at fostering unity and mission within Churches of Christ congregations in Australia. Comprising two parts—a leader guide and a participant guide—this resource is intended for leaders and small groups within Churches of Christ or anyone who wishes to learn more about the movement. The six studies contained within these workbooks will stimulate quality conversations and engage participants in missional practices aligned with the restoration mission of God.
Mark emphasizes that this resource transcends intellectual understanding; it is designed to engage hearts and hands as well. Mission is not confined to others or distant locations; rather, it is a collective effort to restore the world through active participation in the establishment of His kingdom here today. All Jesus followers are invited to partake in this endeavour. Churches of Christ, characterized by a liberating DNA, are well-suited for agile and creative participation in this mission.
Mark's aspiration for the resource is twofold: to inspire open dialogues that address agreements and disagreements within Churches of Christ communities and to enable diverse yet united missional initiatives. Ultimately, ‘Movement and Identity’ seeks to facilitate transformation by fostering understanding, unity, and active participation in God's ongoing work of restoration.
Published by ACOM Press, the resource is available for purchase on their website.
“Therefore, we must pay closer attention to the things we have heard, lest we drift away." (Hebrews 2:1, NKJV)
Growing up, our family cherished our annual beach vacations. The children adored surfing, yet many beaches with good surf also had strong currents. Warning signs were typically posted to caution us. On one occasion, I carelessly disregarded these warnings and found myself in trouble drifting away with the current. Thankfully, more experienced surfers came to my rescue.
In a world that constantly pulls us in various directions, the passage urges us to give "earnest heed" to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the wisdom found in God's Word. It calls for active and focused attention. Furthermore, the scripture serves as a warning against the perils of drifting away. The pressures of the world, the allure of sin, and the distractions of everyday life can subtly lead us astray if we are not watchful. Consequently, we must safeguard our hearts and minds, remaining rooted in God's Word and seeking His guidance daily.
So, how can we give earnest heed and avoid drifting away? Firstly, we can cultivate a consistent devotional life by setting aside dedicated time each day to read, meditate upon, and pray over God's Word.
Secondly, engaging in regular fellowship by surrounding ourselves with fellow believers who can support and challenge us in our faith is essential. Attending worship services, Bible studies, and prayer meetings strengthens our spiritual foundation.
Thirdly, embracing accountability plays a significant role. Finding a trusted mentor or spiritual advisor who can walk alongside us, providing guidance and holding us accountable in our journey of faith, is invaluable.
Lastly, we must seek the leading of the Holy Spirit by inviting Him to guide our thoughts, decisions, and actions. Relying on His power and wisdom enables us to navigate the challenges and temptations that come our way.
May God bless you abundantly as you earnestly heed His Word and live out your faith with unwavering conviction.
In Christ's love,
Millions of people in the world today are without work or underemployed. Without meaningful work, there is a loss of purpose and dignity. This creates a vicious cycle of poverty—economically, spiritually, and emotionally. So, what if we flipped things and equipped churches to start helping their community find meaningful work? What if we started lending a hand instead of just a handout? What if there was a way to help people find meaningful employment with the church’s investment of money and resources?
Jobs for Life was developed in the US and is a fantastic Bible based programme that helps get people back into meaningful employment whilst discipling people in how the Gospel can give them hope and purpose for their lives. It also helps them develop life skills such as working in a team, overcoming roadblocks, dealing with conflict, and developing goals. As they attend, individuals discover their gifts and passions and prepare a plan to achieve their career and life goals.
Elizabeth is the first place in Australia to run this course. We have developed connections with a number of Christian business people and several employment agencies. These people speak to the group about expectations in the workplace, help them with resumes and interviews, and guide them into courses that will enable them to be qualified for work.
It is a 16 week course and this is the second year Elizabeth Church of Christ has run this course.
Andrews Farm Community Church has joined with us in running the programme. We currently have 10 students, most of whom have been long-term unemployed. We have a team of 14 people made up of 6 teachers and 8 mentors. The programme is led by Mark Zerna and Anne Carr. In the future we hope to run the programme in our Community Centre in Elizabeth South and later in the Men’s and Women’s prisons.
We are so blessed by being able to open our doors again and have BBQ Church back on a monthly basis after the Covid Season.
We have been so grateful to all who have been involved over the past years and given of their skills and talents to share with our local community who gather each month. It is not a church service, it is a gathering of people from many walks of life – some are doing life really tough and this gives a safe space for connection with people, a place to share a meal and conversation together with others and share in the night’s activities. Each month is different and this adds to the variety. BBQ Church is entirely run by volunteers and there are many who donate time and money to this space so that we can continue to have BBQ Church.
Filling the house each time with close to 200 people, including many families and kids who are not necessarily connected into church communities, the room is filled with joy and smiles, radiating from the performers and community alike. Beautiful and direct messages are shared through the performances and words spoken that connect all who come with how much God loves us. At times there’s silence in the room, where you could hear a pin drop, as people engage with the performers/people who shared. WOW!
Our BBQ team feeds every person - what a sensational job they do!
We can be really encouraged as the feedback from our guests, their families and people from our community, that they felt welcome and that “it felt like home and a community”. God is at work in this place and the hearts of people!
Immanuel College will be performing later in the year for BBQ Church on Sunday, 22 October.
Marion Church of Christ
A time to pause and connect with others in our movement who are passionate about God and the future of His church.
The practice of pausing and stepping out of our busy lives can be a real challenge. To intentionally take time and be ‘unhurried’ with other people is something Jesus regularly did in his ministry, but for many of us it’s a bit countercultural and hard to schedule in our diaries.
In the middle of winter this year, a group of leaders from our movement gathered for a 24 hour retreat in the Adelaide Hills. Called Renew, it was an opportunity for Church of Christ leaders from across SA to gather, form strong friendships, and continue to be equipped and inspired for our future together.
We wanted Renew to be an ‘unhurried’ time, with an intentional focus on spiritual input that invited personal and group reflection, regardless of any theological training, as well as time to just be together and connect relationally. The age range of attendees was from 17 to 65, and with diverse levels of experience in ministry.
Many of the 23 people there had never met before, and the unhurried pace of the retreat, combined with the spiritual input and small group reflection times meant that strong friendships were formed through the time together.
Good coffee and food may have also helped.
The feedback we received from those who attended was overwhelmingly positive, with this feedback capturing the mood well: ‘It was a lovely time. Thank you all for investing so much in us and in the kingdom, and I sincerely hope and pray that Renew will take place again next year’.
The planning team of James Bowden, Hamanda Pesci, Steve Scott, Carl Milne and myself are already exploring options for Renew to happen next August, and seeing it grow.
Leadership Formation Coordinator
Zvishavane is a small mining town located in the Midlands province of Zimbabwe. Asbestos and gold mining activities contaminate local water sources. This has a negative impact on the environment and people who drink the dirty water. GMP Relief and Development partner, Showers of Blessing, installs boreholes in Zvishavane. By providing safe water, they protect the health and well-being of many families. Helping people like Lindiwe and her three children.
Lindiwe has lived in her village for 20 years. She collects water from hand-dug wells in the river bed. Unfortunately, the river is contaminated with asbestos fibres and cyanide. This is her closest source of water for drinking and bathing. “Everything needs water. We take everything from the river," she said.
Lindiwe speaks of how she and others from her village raised concerns about the Sabi mine. "Yes, we speak to them [the mine], and they [said they] resolved the problem.” Despite assurances that they have resolved the problem, the issue persists. "The fish die. The people die. This is our past history. People dying,” Lindiwe adds. Lindiwe’s village needed permanent access to safe water. “Sometimes we go to the town and buy drinking water,” Lindiwe said. But “if you had breakout of diarrhoea, it would be so expensive to buy water for a family of five”.
Showers of Blessing installed a borehole in Lindiwe's village in May this year! With this borehole, they will no longer need to bathe in the "oily" river. Moreover, Lindiwe is looking forward to using the water for horticulture. “Growing tomatoes, carrots, butternuts [pumpkin] for our family. Also, for our cattle to drink safer water," she said.
Villages like Lindiwe’s desperately need safe water. Thanks to those who are giving up their favourite drinks this September, we are able to help fund life-saving boreholes in communities like Lindiwe’s. Donate to Safe Water September today at www.safewaterseptember.org.au
Showers of Blessing Trust's (OSBT) project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).
Global Mission Partners