Ideas for Reaching those Outside Your Circle of Influence

There are as many creative and different ways to meet people as there are people. Just lately I’ve heard of some very creative ways that people in churches are using to reach others in their local communities. Here are just three interesting and very doable ideas to meet people in your community with the Love of Christ.

Donate Blankets to the Homeless

Homeless people are in every community. Yes, you heard me right; every community. People are couch-surfing with their relatives and friends, living in the cars, staying in shelters, actually living under bridges. As winter comes on, life gets very hard when you’re living rough.

Blankets can be brought very cheaply from various places and for very little money, a good many can be bought. Keep an eye out for people living rough and offer them blankets and a food voucher from a local take-away restaurant.  You can buy them online from Kmart delivered to your door! (No affiliate link here – its just convenient and a great product)

Lots of people in your congregation or ministry will love to be involved in this amazing ministry.

Start a Christians Against Poverty Ministry

Christians Against Poverty empower your church with a range of powerful tools to help people in your community. They believe that no Australian should live in financial distress, and so will partner with you to be a positive influence in your community. They will help with training your people, supply ideas, systems and background help so you can make an amazing difference to those in your community who are struggling with their finances.

Remember that the “middle-class poor” is a burgeoning phenomenon in Australia. Your church or ministry could be a wonderful help to those who are quietly suffering in your local community.

Mow Lawns For the Elderly or Disabled

Do you have a number of people in your church or ministry who love working outdoors and would give a few hour’s every so often? There are so many people who could use a hand in the garden, or just to mow the lawn every now and then. Begin small, advertise on a community board at the local shopping centre or doctor’s surgery or community centre. Soon you will have people from your community requesting you to come and help them.

Why would you do these things?

So you can talk to people, so you can help them, so you can be the light of goodness in a world that really needs to see you shine. Talking to your neighbours is still the best way to bring people into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

FGA Professional Development for Ministers of the Gospel

Professional development (PD) is ongoing professional learning, or within FGA, it is continuing to develop ministry skills and learning. Full Gospel Australia has introduced PD as an activity which reflects one of our core values: being a family of ministers who are committed to serving their local communities to the best of their abilities and who continually seek opportunities to perfect their ministry skills.

Each Minister in  FGA commits to engaging with continuing professional development in order to maintain their credential. This enhances their standing in their community and ensures their ministry is continually improving. FGA is in turn committed to providing great opportunities for all our ministers so they can be the best they can be.

Some of the opportunities FGA provides for Professional Development are:

        • Online Pastor’s Meetings
        • Online Special Events or Webinars
        • College of Ministry Leadership – accredited education for ministry in a Higher Education, online format
        • State Conferences
        • National Conferences
        • Online Marriage Celebrant Training
        • We recommend the Alpha Marriage Course
        • We recommend the Child Safe Organisation’s Child Safety online course
        • Other training Days and get-togethers

Ministers accumulate PD points (1 Point = 1 Hour of Study or Development Activity) by engaging with studies or activities which further develop their ability to minister. The overwhelming majority of Full Gospel Australia’s ministers already accumulate far more than the standard 20 PD hours set.

For instance, reading a theological or ministry book may take on average 5 to 7 hours for a 250 page book. We allow five points for reading a 250-300 page theology or ministry book. A one day conference will likely include about five hours of teaching, ministry training or development activity: we allow five points for a one day conference. A training day for Child Safety in Organisations  usually goes for one day of around five hours of mixed lectures, study and activities. We allow ten points for completion of a Child Safe Training day.

Do Your Diploma of Ministry – 1 Year Higher Education Diploma!

The Diploma of Ministry is open to people of all ages, backgrounds and aspirations!  The Diploma of Ministry is an 8 unit course which can be completed in one to four years, depending on how many units you do each trimester*.  The award is a Higher Education Diploma which means that you can use it as your first year of a Bachelor of Ministry**.

You can study at your own pace and enjoy great companionship within our Cohort of Students who come from all over Australia. We meet weekly on ZOOM during the trimester to fellowship and learn together. We also offer one to one sessions to address any particular concern you might have with your study. You’re safe with us!

The Diploma of Ministry is recognised throughout Australia and the world as it is an accredited course.***  You can feel safe that you are studying with a respected education provider, that you’re studying an accredited award and that what you are studying will stand you will be applicable in your future ministry!

Doing a course with the College of Ministry Leadership  is a powerful investment in your future ministry as you pursue God’s calling on your life! Download the PROSPECTUS today and apply for a place in our DIPLOMA OF MINISTRY.

We also places in various Bachelor Degrees and Post Graduate degrees, including a Master of Leadership, A Master of Theological Study and a Master of Ministry. See the Prospectus for further details now.

 

* We study within three trimesters each year, these generally run from (1) Mid February to early May; (2) Later in May till August; and then (3) Later in August to November.
**To use the Diploma of Ministry as the first year pf your Bachelor of Ministry you must complete your Dip Min at a Credit level for all units.
*** For more information please see our PROSPECTUS, click here!

Church Life and Pastoral Care in NSW

Dear Pastors of NSW,
We are praying for you and your congregations. During this time of restrictions we urge you to join our Pastor’s Round Table ZOOM  meetings at any of the following times. Meeting details are emailed privately:
Monday 6:30 AM
Wednesday 6:30 AM
Wednesday 5:30 PM
Friday 6:30 AM
Friday 6:00 PM

Church Life and Pastoral Care in NSW

NSW has been placed on high alert by the NSW government due to increased community based infections of COVID-19 and other various reasons. Victoria has unprecedented restrictions being placed on its citizens in order to stop community transmission, the proximity of Victoria to NSW and ease of travel between the two states has placed NSW in a heightened place of vulnerability. Therefore, it is every NSW pastor’s duty of care to ensure their places of worship are conducted in a safe and responsible manner.
Please ensure you are up to date with NSW Government COVID related regulations. It is your responsibility to be aware of the rules and to follow them. Some of your responsibilities include:
  • Prepare and Maintain a COVID-19 Safety Plan
    • All places of worship must register their COVID-19 Safety Plan through nsw.gov.au.
  • If you hold public gatherings, the number of persons that can be on the premises is equivalent to one person per 4 square metres of space in the premises, or 100 people, total.
    • Weddings are limited to 150 people.
    • Funerals are limited to 100 people.
  • Exclude staff and congregants who are unwell from the premises. No exceptions.
  • Group singing is considered high risk and so should continue to be avoided.
  • Keep a record of name and a mobile number or email address for all staff, volunteers, visitors and contractors for a period of at least 28 days. For households, one contact is sufficient to support contact tracing. Ensure records are used only for the purposes of tracing COVID-19 infections and are stored confidentially and securely.
  • Ensure your cleaning regime is COVIDsafe.
More information can be viewed here:
An excellent site maintained by Sydney Anglicans is: https://sydneyanglicans.net/covidchurchworkerfaqs

Church Life and Pastoral Care in Victoria

Dear Full Gospel Pastors of Victoria,
We are praying for you and your congregations. During this time of restrictions we urge you to join our Pastor’s Round Table ZOOM  meetings at any of these times:
Monday 6:30 AM
Wednesday 6:30 AM
Wednesday 5:30 PM
Friday 6:30 AM
Friday 6:00 PM
Please refer to the emails sent to you for meeting details.

Church Life and Pastoral Care in Victoria

Victoria is under two types of COVID-19 Restictions:
1.       Metropolitan Victoria is in Stage 4 Restictions
2.       Regional Victoria is in Stage 3 Restrictions

NB: You are responsible for determining which level of restriction you are under, and to act within the law at all times.

VICTORIA STAGE 4 RESTRICTIONS

PLACES OF WORSHIP ARE CLOSED

EXEMPTIONS for pre-recording or live broadcasting services ( 5 people max on site – includes volunteers) or foodbanks and community services
CHURCH OFFICES MUST CLOSE – This means that all church administrative work must be done at home including preparation of services, pastoral care, church admin etc.
WEDDINGS are not allowed during the next 6 weeks unless for compassionate reasons
FUNERALS are allowed but only for 10 people
WORKER PERMITS – If staff (paid or volunteers) are attending the church for work (only for reasons above) the Church) MUST issue a WORKER PERMIT  – this is the employer’s responsibility and must be carried at all times by the employee.
FACE COVERINGS ETC – Face coverings, one person to four-square metres rule and appropriate physical distancing is maintained by keeping at least 1.5 metres between everyone at all time
COVIDSafe PLANS  ESSENTIAL – All workplaces that remain open (Churches who are prerecording services, live broadcasting or operating foodbanks) must complete a COVIDsafe plan by 11:59pm on Friday 7th August
8pm CURFEW  – All services should conclude by 7:30pm to allow for workers to be at home by 8pm.
NO CHURCH MAINTENANCE – For the next 6 weeks, only emergency safety maintenance will be allowed – mowing lawns, basic church upkeep etc. cannot be undertaken.
Information about completing a COVIDsafe plan is available here:
Permitted Worker Scheme Information: https://www.vic.gov.au/worker-permit-scheme

VICTORIA STAGE 3 RESTRICTIONS

PLACES OF WORSHIP

Places of religion and worship must close for both religious ceremonies and private worship. Exceptions are:

CEREMONIES AND SERVICES can still be recorded or broadcast live from the place of worship for viewing online. Those who are necessary to conduct the ceremony may be on site to record and live stream services, however this is limited to a maximum of five (5) people including volunteers. You should ensure those people wear a face covering and maintain physical distancing by keeping at least 1.5 metres between each other at all times
ESSENTIAL PUBLIC SUPPORT SERVICES such as food banks, help for the homeless or other essential activities allowed, ensuring face coverings are worn and appropriate physical distancing is maintained by keeping at least 1.5 metres between everyone at all times
·       If you can work from home, you must  – all church administrative work must be done at home including preparation of services, pastoral care, church admin etc.
WEDDINGS limited to five people – the couple, two witnesses and the celebrant
FUNERALS limited to 10 mourners plus those required to conduct the funeral
·       A wedding or funeral held in a private residence will be limited to the members of the household, plus the people required to conduct the ceremony
FACE COVERINGS ETC – Face coverings, one person to four-square metres rule and appropriate physical distancing is maintained by keeping at least 1.5 metres between everyone at all time
HOSPITAL VISITATION is restricted, however a pastor providing essential physical or emotional care that cannot be delivered by the health service care team or via electronic means may be allowed to visit. Individual hospitals may not allow pastoral visit – please ensure you act according to all directions from hospital staff if you choose to visit
PASTORAL CARE in PRIVATE HOMES is not mentioned in Victorian State, however FGA advise that unless there is a true emergency, personal visitation should cease till restrictions are lifted
Further Information:

https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/visiting-hospitals-covid-19

https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/stage-3-restrictions-covid-19

https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/face-coverings-covid-19

BIG WAVE dreams, visions and prophecies

Some time ago, many people started seeing BIG WAVES in their dreams or in visions or receiving Big Wave prophetic words. There was a commonality in these experiences in that the waves seemed to be HUGE, IMMINENT and LIFE CHANGING, and that there was a preparing which could be done. A preparing of the heart seemed to be the most important thing. People, organisations, governments, companies and especially churches were about to have a ‘Brody Moment.’*

2020 COVID-19 has certainly been destructive for many people and sadly, hundreds of thousands of people around the world have passed away as a result of being infected.  Some have theorized about origins of the virus; how governments and authorities have used the ‘opportunity’ to increase their power; about the dangers of relinquishing our ‘freedoms,’ etc.  I am not addressing these ‘issues’ here.

Could it be that the BIG WAVE in these dreams, visions and prophetic words is/has been the experience we are now in? The big waves in these experiences could be seen as a social disruptor** Some negative aspects of disruption have been: Social distancing; Closures of churches and ministries; Closure of businesses; Unemployment; Shut down of large parts of the economy; Travel restrictions; Increase in mental health disorders; etc.

Some of the positive things which have come out of the recent disruption of social distancing and restrictions are: Increase in technological know-how. A spike in the uptake of online meeting software/ services such as ZOOM, Skype, MS Teams, etc. New opportunities have emerged for reaching people who have never been touched before by local organisations.

A large wave, or more rightly, a series of large waves have hit the world in the last three months. Some commentators are saying that the world will never be the same again, this could be true. Some of the big questions are now:

  • How do we move on from here?
  • How will we use our newfound knowledge?
  • What new technologies are there which we could use for the benefit of our organisations?
  • What old patterns of thinking are we hiding behind which should be updated, changed or discarded?

We now have an unprecedented opportunity to continue with disruption, not for change’s sake, but for the benefit and betterment of ourselves, the organisations we work in and other people. We need to commit to looking outside our normal parameters in order to see the problems we don’t see when we are looking at things through our normal lens. It is only then that we might see the answers which could bring us into new paradigms of success.

—–

*Brody Moment – the moment where you realise your current direction will result in spectacular failure. Taken from the film Jaws (1975), where Chief Brody sees the shark up close for the first time. Brody backs into the cabin of the boat and says, “You’re going to need a bigger boat!”

**Social Disruptors – This term usually is usually applied to people and organisations that disrupt the existing state of affairs to create positive change. Here I apply it to an unprecedented and unforeseen situation which has given rise to a unique and far reaching opportunity for change.

+ Wave photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

Places of Worship Closed to the Public – Update Re: Small groups

According to the most current advice we have received, the gathering of small groups is permissible under current legislation as long as the social distancing regulations are being adhered to. This includes but is not limited to:
    • Bible study groups
    • Prayer groups or intercessory prayer groups
    • Production Teams. The teams could constitute:
        • Audio Visual Crew (usually one to three people)
        • Lighting Crew (one or two people)
        • IT crew (Usually one or two people)
        • Musicians and singers (Usually from four to eight people)
        • A host or worship leader
        • A minister to present a sermon
        • A production generalist
    • Board meetings or elder’s meetings
    • Funerals
These allowances do not extend to:
    • Youth Groups
    • Young adults meetings
    • Kid’s Church or Sunday School
    • Children’s groups or play groups
    • Mother’s groups
    • Women’s and men’s meetings
    • Prayer breakfasts
    • Large baptisms
    • Large weddings
    • Large groups of any kind
    • Outdoor events such as Church BBQ’s etc.
What is the current Social Distancing Rule?
Under current rulings, each person must maintain a distance of 1.5 Mtr from other people. In gatherings, each person is to be allocated four square metres.
      • If a room in which you are gathering is six metres by five metres, the internal area of the room is
      • 6 X 5 = 30 square metres
      • 30 / 4 = 7.5
      • Therefore you can have a total of 7 people in that room under current rulings
Some Ways to obtain the Correct Social Distance
    • Measure the rooms you will be using and record the results in a journal, log or some other record which is kept to prove that you have ‘done your sums.’
    • Keep a record of people present and when they entered and left.
    • Ask participants to sign the record.
    • Do not allow people to hug, shake hands, give high fives or show other forms of affection with physical contact.
    • Provide soap and running water for hand washing.
    • Provide hand sanitiser for hand cleaning.
    • Clean all hard surfaces with an anti-bacterial disinfectant spray/wash/wipe before and after the meeting.
    • Before the meeting, talk about the risks of infection and give instructions regarding personal hygiene and behaviour
These are not hard and fast rules, they are merely suggestions on how you can keep yourself and your church/ministry family safe. There are many sources of information available with up to date and official data on how to stay safe in this time. Please see your local government and state government websites for the most up-to-date information.
Social Distance is not Emotionally Distant

The Prime Minister’s Announcement – All Places of Worship to Close Their Meetings

Tonight, the Prime Minister announced sweeping new measures (STAGE 1) which will change the way Australians everywhere gather, including churches/places of worship. These new measures will come into effect at midday tomorrow, the 23rd March 2020.

 

From tomorrow all churches will not be legally allowed to gather, excepting for funerals, etc.

 

At allowed events the four square metre ruling should be strictly applied. The 4 square metre ruling is that each person is the centre of a four metre exclusion zone which another person may not enter. The drawing below represents 4 square metres around a person represented by the black dot.
Please ensure your church / ministry adheres to these new measures. Full Gospel Australia expects that all churches and ministries will be obedient to the government God has placed over us and that we will all be prayerful in upholding the Prime Minister and all our elected politicians, especially at this time.

 

We are mindful that some churches and ministries credentialed by FGA are ‘house churches.’ To those in this position, we strongly encourage you to think creatively and carefully consider how you meet. We want you to be known in your communities as groups who have high regard for your neighbours and your community in general.

 

We understand that this new ruling by the Commonwealth Government is a difficult one for many people of faith, however, it also presents to us new opportunities of reaching people we never could have or would have reached before. Please consider still holding your services via LIVE STREAMING. Other technologies to consider using are ZOOM, FaceBook, LinkedIn, and your own web page/ blog.

 

Even though Australia is physically isolating people, it does not mean that we have to be spiritually and emotionally isolated.

 

Starting this Wednesday, FGA will be holding a morning pastors and leaders meeting via ZOOM to pray for each other, our churches and ministries and the nation. I encourage you to log on via ZOOM following this invitation (below) at 6:30 AM Brisbane Time (7:30 AM Sydney/Melbourne/Hobart; 7:00 AM Adelaide; 4:30 AM Perth). After Sunday 5th April when Daylight Saving ends, the eastern seaboard will all be at the same time. We will also hold meetings on several afternoons/evenings for those who cannot make it early in the morning.

Book Review: “The Healing Spirit” by Dr. Leo Stossich

The Healing Spirit –A Study of Seven Journeys to Recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse.  Leo Stossich 2019 Wipf & Stock

If you are in Christian ministry as a pastor, pastoral carer, home group leader, you need to read this book. Every Christian Minister should have this book on their book shelf and in their hearts. Dr Stossich has captured the heart of healing, especially as it pertains to healing for the wounded spirits of those who have been victims of sexual abuse, particularly childhood sexual abuse in the context of Christian Ministry. The stories of real people, as told by themselves, are revealed and studied to bring revelation of how healing can (and does not) occur.

The latest statistics show that in almost every congregation there are people who have been affected by the scourge of sexual predation. They live in every community. They look just like every one else but deep inside there are hurts. Memories rush to the surface in quiet moments, fears that bubble up, overwhelming them. These are triggered by things which could be as innocent as a style of clothing worn by someone, or a word, sound, smell or place. They are ordinary, every-day occurrences which are beyond their control.

These people need healing. The love of God demands they have it. Yet many ministers go about their daily business oblivious to the need for healing in these dear ones who are sometimes their most avid supporters. Leo’s book will give every minister more clarity, compassion and direction around these serious issues. If you are a minister who loves people, you need to read this book.

Leo also addresses the issues surrounding spiritual ministry. The second chapter of this book is one of the best explorations of spiritual ministry, especially dealing with healing, written in recent years. Leo delves into what spiritual ministry is all about, bringing revelation in an easy to read fashion. His section on spiritual healing is enormously helpful in understanding this ministry.

The testimonies of seven people who have been abused as children will affect you. In my reading of this book, I had to put it down time after time so that I could process what I had just read. The deep understanding these imparted to me is invaluable. The fact that their recoveries were facilitated through their local churches is a wonderful testimony to the efficacy of spiritual healing of the deepest hurts, brought about through the ministry of ordinary people. God is eager to heal the brokenness of humanity.

Leo Stossich is an ordained minister with The Full Gospel Churches of Australia, leads a vibrant church in Hobart, Tasmania and is a well respected academic in his field.

You can purchase this book via Amazon, on Booko.com.au or direct from the author: Dr. Leo Stossich <lstossich@gmail.com>  for $35 including postage.

 

Faithfulness and COVID-19

The National Leadership Team (NLT) of FGA calls all our ministers, credential holders, their congregations and teams to prayer in faith for their own health, the health of all congregations and ministries in FGA and for the wider Australian community. It is our privilege and duty to surround our nation with faith filled prayer.

We call on God in faith that he responds to our prayers and delivers us. Psalm 103 states that he heals all our diseases (ESV). Psalm 138:7 “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.” (ESV).

Please include your staff, associates, teams and congregations as you join with us in prayer for our Nation. Pray for our political leaders, health authorities and businesses as well as the Australian population. Ask in faith for God’s blessing of protection on Australia.

From the FGA Response to Covid-19