The stress test

18 November, 2015 — 6 Comments

It’s been an interesting few months since my last blog post where I said I was getting married and my Dad was dying. I’ve had some of the biggest lows and highs I’ve ever experienced. On 16 July 2015 my father died, two days later Geraldine and I got married.


There has been so much change in my life over the last few months. Dickens sums it up well: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” 1 Through it all I feel I have a better understanding of myself and of stress. In this post I introduce a test I have found helpful in the assessment of life and stress. (Soon I will write again about communication, church, and society.)

Continue Reading…


  1. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens (1859).

This post is a personal reflection on some recent life events rather than anything specific about communication, church, or society – but you may notice those things coming through. I’m getting married, and my Dad is dying.


On Friday 24 April Geraldine and I came to the point of deciding we wanted to get married and spend the rest of our lives together. This was in London.

The next morning I was woken up at 5.30am by the vibration of my cellphone. When I saw my sister’s name on the screen I knew it wouldn’t be good news. She was phoning from New Zealand to tell me our Dad was very sick and I needed to come home. Continue Reading…

One of the things that fuels my interest in communication is my love of interpreting things that I observe going on around me. This past Easter I had absolutely no church/work expectations, and I was in London. I churched it up in a most eclectic way, and I share my experiences here. I would love to hear some of your Easter church experiences – sharing this stuff can help us learn and reflect on our own practice.


I went to The Passion of Jesus play in Trafalgar Square, a Tenebrae service at Moot, a family Easter Sunday celebration service at Christ Church Fulham, and Hillsong London’s Easter production. Keep reading to see what I learnt.
Continue Reading…

Have you thought much about how the church is presented in the media, particularly from the perspective of PR (Public Relations)?


In this post I draw your attention to an interesting article over at PR Week website where David Benady looks at what “four major religions are doing to keep themselves relevant to an increasingly secular and critical society.” He looks at The Church of England, Catholicism, Islam, and Judaism and how they have set themselves up (in the UK) to respond to the media.

Below I highlight a few points of particular interest to me from the article and I ask two questions that you might like to ponder around this issue of how the church is represented in the media. If this interests you I suspect you’ll find the original article called Spreading the word worth a read.

Continue Reading…

This weeks Media Take programme on New Zealand’s Māori Television took a look at Christianity in New Zealand with reference to the Easter holiday last weekend. It’s 26 minutes long and worth a watch if you’re interested in some divergent views on a few things Christian from five NZ Christian voices.*


The show is in two parts, firstly with the co-hosts Russell Brown and Toi Iti talking to Wesleyan Methodist minister Francis Ritchie and historian and Anglican priest Hirini Kaa. The second part has Brian and Hannah Tamaki of Destiny Church and Clay Nelson minister at the Auckland Unitarian Church. It’s quite a nice snapshot of the diverse Christian voice in New Zealand.

Continue Reading…

Over the years I’ve been part of church communities close to home, and others that I’ve had to get into my car and drive a decent distance to participate in. I define these as “local church” and “commuter church”. For me, at the present time I’m leaning more toward the value of being part of a church community that is near where I live because it adds value and connection to a place I already spend time in and care about: my neighbourhood.
There are some good reasons behind the concept of commuter church, and others that seem more about consumer choice than anything else. In this post I’ve started a pros and cons list for both concepts of church expression, and I would love to add your input into the tables below.

Continue Reading…

I’ve been living in Howick Village for two months. It’s referred to as a village because the main street is the historical centre of this now highly populated and affluent suburb on the eastern side of Auckland. I took the opportunity as a new person in the area to visit every local church. This post is a story of my experience as a first-timer to each of these church services.


My comments here are to illustrate “first impressions” that might prompt some pondering about your own church context – so don’t think this is just about Howick Village. At the end I ponder some factors people might consider when choosing a church community to become part of. Continue Reading…

Near the end of 2014 I went on a 3-week trip visiting people in India, Bangladesh, and Thailand. I wanted to travel light, and managed to do this with a daypack weighing 6.5kg. Next time I could make it even lighter. In this post I share how I managed traveling light. I would love to hear some of your tricks and tips – please share them in the comments at the end.


I realise this is a bit of a diversion from my usual blog topics, but I figure a lot of people interested in communication, church, and society also travel. The photo above shows the contents of my bag. Continue Reading…

One of the outcomes of my research on church and society has been to help church people see how something is different now in terms of the church and its place and engagement with society. I have used the concept of Christendom/post-Christendom as one way to illustrate this. Another concept that can be useful in showing this difference is secularisation. In this post I hope to provide an introduction to secularisation and why it’s not bad for the church.


The word ‘secular’ simply means not connected with religious or spiritual matters, so a secular society is a society not concerned with religious or spiritual matters. Secularisation refers to the historical process in which religion loses social and cultural significance. Continue Reading…

This is my book review of Unwelcome: 50 ways churches drive away first-time visitors, by Jonathan Malm (foreword by Kem Meyer), 2014, published by the Centre for Church Communication, USA. I suspect every church would benefit from something in this book – if you ever get first-time visitors, or you hope your visitors will become part of your church family.


It’s a short book divided into five sections: First impressions, Worship, Programming, Communication, and The Big Picture, raising mainly practical, and sometimes philosophical issues that can easily be thought about in your own local church context. Continue Reading…