How Will We Make It?
- Written by: Rev Samuel Crane
How do we think we will make it? To be clear, I am not talking about salvation. I am talking about our expectations for life in ministry. After we graduate from college, get ordained or commissioned, brighteyed and full of hope at how God will work to build his church, what do we really think will happen?
We have a few options of course. We can look around and see ministers who have fallen into devastating sin, abusing money, power, and sex. Clearly not a highlight for the yearbook. If not that, we could burn out and retire within a few years, or maybe, just maybe, we hang in there and hope that Jesus comes back soon. Like next week?!
I recently saw a photo of thirty or so people whom I studied at theological college with. Some of them graduated with me or around the same time, all within the last 10 years. Of that group, one had to leave ministry because they were disqualified for moral failure, one left because the burden was too great and they burnt out, and four others were continuing on but badly bruised by the impact of other clerics. I count myself as one of the bruised. And of the thirty, I have lost touch with at least half so their stores are unknown to me.
What are we to do? How are we to survive ministry? Honestly, I don't even just want to survive, just hanging in there one more day. I want to thrive, and not because I want glory, but because I want my family to not see me as someone broken by what is the hope of the nations, and I don't want to see myself as another carcass behind someone else's bus.
So as I limp and seek Christ's healing, here are some things that I am learning. I don't have all the answers but I hope this is helpful to you.
ONE. Cling to Christ's call to follow him into salvation and TWO. Cling to Christ’s call to follow him into his mission. It is purely a gift of grace that I still call Jesus my king and saviour. We grieve as pastors when people share their stories of how the church has hurt them and how they have walked away. It is only God’s grace that my story is different. And not only has God kept me in the vine but he still calls me to lead his church, a wounded pastor. So with great thanks, I cling to this dual call. We don’t want to be one of those stories of pastors who walk away from Jesus, so with me, strive to nurture our faith, seek healing, grow in prayer and biblical devotion, and keep trusting in God to lead us in our ministry. If God can save Paul from a stoning and a shipwreck, what can a bully do?!
THREE. Gather people around you who are there to bless you. We know we can't do it alone but I think practically we can often live as if that is the case. Ministry is isolating in how it changes how we live and serve others in God's family, so we need to be proactive to gather people around us who are there for us, mentors, counsellors, peers, mental health professionals, etc. Right now I think the more the merrier!! So call your GP or EAP, get a mental health care plan and get support. Call a pastor who is a little bit older than you, a bit further along in their journey, and ask them to mentor you, to care for your soul.
One of God's great gifts to me is a peer group filled with other Gospel ministers. Some of us are in church ministry, some in campus ministry, and some in theological education. Our singular purpose is to be there with each other as we take the hits of ministry and to encourage each other to keep clinging to Christ and his call on our lives to lead his church and to proclaim the gospel.
If you don't have a peer group and a mentor, I can't impress on you how invaluable they are. It is priceless to know there are others who are with you, others who are praying for you, and that there are others you can go to and offload your situation without judgment or offence. I have ministered in a multi-staffed team and now on my own, and in each church, I have needed people outside of my ministry context to whom I can cry out, safe people who love me and are with me. And at times, this love has been hard truthful words that I didn’t want to hear. We need people who we can share our deepest struggles with so that the pulpit is not our moment of self-care but a moment of sharing how Jesus has triumphed (definitely needs to be past tense) over our scars.
Practically what this looks like in my peer group is that we go away on retreat each year to debrief our year of ministry, to pray deeply for each other, and to reflect on our ministry by discussing a helpful resource. We also share prayer points throughout the year for our ministry but mostly for each other in ministry, our own faithfulness, holiness, struggles, and of course joys, ministry isn’t all bad! At times we also call each other for counsel as we are confronted with challenges and help each other reflect in practice.
There is a joy that comes from fostering deep fellowship with others, a joy that is a comfort during the isolation and struggles of being a jar clay. So let’s carry this treasure together, for the glory of our Lord Jesus and for our joy and peace and thriving.
Samuel Crane is Priest-in-charge of St James Glen Iris, Victoria.
Don’t Get Sick, Get Supervision
- Written by: Rev Fiona Preston
My first career was in Fashion Design. I studied for four years and found a job through a friend designing children’s clothes for a company that supplied to Myer, Target and Big W. It was a steep learning curve! It started out with much excitement and enthusiasm as I used the skills I had learnt at TAFE and learnt new skills on the job about shipping, designing a year in advance, and looking at previous sales to dictate future styles. But nothing from my studies could prepare me for the emotional toll the job would have on me and the difficult personalities I would meet along the way. One manager I had was prone to throwing things and didn’t believe me when I came down with influenza: the real one that makes your body shake uncontrollably and binds you to your bed for a good week. There was very little trust in that workplace, a lot of gossip and much finger pointing when things went wrong. After four years I couldn’t take it anymore and after one particularly bad week I told my husband I was quitting…tomorrow! After leaving I had plans to create my own pieces of fashion so I went out and bought unique fabrics from fancy shops, and bought an industrial sewing machine. Sadly, I was exhausted and uninspired. All the joy and enthusiasm I began my career with was gone. I sold the sewing machine and I still have the bag of gorgeous fabric sitting in storage. I didn’t have the words for it at the time, but I was burnt out. I never returned to the fashion industry and the thought of sewing garments still fills me with anxiety.
In their book ‘Burnout: From Tedium to Personal Growth’ Ayala M. Pines and Elliot Aronson describe burnout as, ‘The result of constant or repeated emotional pressure associated with an intense involvement with people over long periods of time…Burnout is the painful realisation that they can no longer help people in need, that they have nothing in them left to give.’
Sadly, my story isn’t unique, burnout is very real and the price of burnout to self, family and community is high. As a now ordained Deacon working as a prison chaplain and Spiritual Director, God has been good and has certainly taken me on an interesting journey through life. In a way, I’m fortunate that I burnt out from the fashion industry and not from ministry – though it could easily happen. It’s very upsetting when someone burns out from working in Christian ministry. Where they were once full of joy and enthusiasm, they become fatigued, gloomy, fearful and resentful. Unfortunately, I know people who have burnt out and I am aware of others who are on the precipice of it.
One issue I perceive is that we start out our ministry vocation with great passion! Comparing our ministry to Jesus, Paul or other greats who have walked before us, who appear to be so self-sacrificing and sold-out that when we feel tired or weak, we berate ourselves for not being more capable. After all if they can do it shouldn’t we? Actually, we are all unique and our ministry settings and situations are unique too. As members of the body of Christ comparing our ministry output won’t benefit us and may bring more anxiety than anything else.
Another issue I observe is the toll of being a solo minister. As the number of ordained clergy decline and church membership lowers there is less opportunity to employ curates, deacons or assistants. If ministers don’t set good boundaries from early on and delegate to lay parish members, they can end up doing everything and being the sole solution to most problems in the parish.
These are just two areas I identify that can cause stress and pressure. So, what can help with all this? I believe one key answer is sharing our mental load with others.
Prioritising our mental health and wellbeing means we are putting in measures so we can last the long run in ministry. One way I encourage is to have a recurring monthly appointment in our calendar for supervision, counselling, or spiritual direction. Many dioceses are now providing pathways to subsidise supervision which will enable more people to afford this essential care and oversight. Unlike when we go to the doctor when we are sick, or to the physio when our body aches, supervision is something we can put into practice before we get too sick and achy and, is a means of prevention before we need intervention.
What does supervision look like? Professional Supervisor Emily Rotta, a registered supervisor and member of the ACA College of Supervisors says “In sessions, I create a supervision relationship based on trust and transparency. As well as providing an open space for learning and best practice which focusses on the supervisees self-reflective practices and wellbeing.”
Supervision should be a safe, confidential space where the wins and hardships of ministry can be aired and explored and where one should come away feeling heard and supported.
Let us strive to run the long race in ministry, be encouraged to find a supervisor and make an appointment today.
Fiona Preston ministers with MinisTree Bendigo and is a Spiritual Director.
Stress, Burnout, and … Creativity?
- Written by: Rev Ralph Mayhew
“What’s cracking? It’s Ralph Mayhew here and I’m a full-time minister, serving a merger church, in Burleigh, QLD and I have a YouTube channel on photography and filmmaking, which has nothing to do with my ecclesiological ministry!”
If you watch one of my videos, you won’t get that intro, but you’ll get something that feels just like it. I remember the day when I clicked the button that would send my first YouTube video live. It was a couple of years ago, and the torrent of 36 views that followed was inconsequential. It was a gamble to start my channel, as I wrestled with the question “Will this bring me more life or take it away?” This was the only question I needed to answer. I had a hunch it would, but the only way I’d know, is if I tried. I did try and it has, tenfold.
This question “Will this bring me more life or take it away?” is a dangerously underrated question we often feel guilty asking in the world of Christian leadership.
I sit with lots of new leaders, many of them young who are feeling tired, worn out, stressed, perhaps even angry, exhausted, frustrated and with declining mental health reserves. The common thread in every one of these scenarios is they are putting out more than is being poured in. Their life is being taken away, and not being replenished. They are gaining the whole world of ministry (only not really) and losing the health of their soul in the process.
“But I meet with God every day, I read his Scriptures,
I seek his will for my life and my ministry. How can I still be feeling like this?”
A valid retort, but unfortunately an incomplete one. As these words are expressed, Psalm 23 whispers to me “I will make you lie down in green pastures.” I often wonder if God is saying to this generation of Christian leaders, ‘you need to find a place where you are reconnected with where you came from. Where you find joy, meaning from being, express your creativity and aren’t held hostage by unrealistic measures.’
Of course, time alone in prayer, and Scripture study is imperative to our health as leaders, but the story is much broader and deeper than just this. Our story began with a creative God, who breathed us into existence. We could have looked like anything God desired, the result being we were inspired by his own image. In exercising his creative Spirit he produced us in the form we have.
The writer of Genesis declared: “So God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Gen 1:27)
We were created, we are created beings, by a creative God, who declares his creation to be made reflective of His image, a creative one! Do you see the common thread? We were made by the creative spirit of a creator God, to live a creative image, by creating. So why is this the first thing to be eroded in a leader’s
life as they step into the river of Christian ministry? Perhaps because the creativity the church requires from us (especially now); perhaps the time and energy we might otherwise invest in personal replenishing creativity, has been all but used up by the demands of ministry.
When I push back on those leaders and ask ‘what are you doing that is creative? That isn’t attached to any goal posts or key performance indicators, that brings you joy and causes your energy to be spent in a most wonderful way?” They nearly always look at me with loss for words, a lingering grief with a hint of intrigue. The intrigue comes from the invitation into creativity, which resonates with something deep inside them.
As the conversation ensues there’s always something that causes them to say “You know, I used to do that,” or “I’ve always wanted to learn about that or give that a go.” Those who follow through find greater balance, increased joy and a creative expression that repairs and sustains their soul like nothing else can. It’s as if they now get to enjoy the most painless and freeing therapy session, whenever they wish.
That’s why I’m on YouTube. That’s why I’m a photographer. It gives me life! It improves my relationships, my ministry, my energy reserves and my mental health.
Making a video, of which I have done a few times now, is a wonderfully creative experience. It starts with an idea, then develops into a plan, with a loose script, I then film and re-film, and sometimes, re-film again. Then we go to the editing room a process which has gotten longer and longer, correlating with the length of time I’ve been on the platform, and finally I export, upload and release it to the world.
My channel is about photography and filmmaking, which is the other creative pursuit I document with my videos. I call it therapy. Getting outside with my camera in creation. Accepting a challenge to capture something intricate, beautiful or bizarre. It enables who I am to be celebrated and expressed, in a way that doesn’t need to please those who have varied expectations of me (think: those you minister to).
I love those stages, all of them, because each, in their own way are creatively replenishing. Replenishing because I am exercising my creative muscle, outside of the need to please anyone or anything. It gives me life, it stretches my ability to think beyond constraints, it offers something that may help others, and it ushers me into wonderful connections and relationships with people who I wouldn’t have otherwise met.
I can spend my full day off, planning, photographing, filming, thinking and creating, and as a result I then move into the following week with far more energy and vitality than I had previously. I’ve discovered that when we take our cues from culture about what it means to replenish, binge watching Netflix on the couch, that the image of God within us is dulled.
But when we adopt the same stance that our creator God took, who is madly in love with us, we discover life, replenishment, strength, courage, hope, joy and creativity, all of which God then uses in our ministry.
I have also discovered that there is only one person who can truly give you permission to explore this for yourself. It’s you! And me now, too, I guess. No one else will be able to gauge or trust the incredible value a unique creative pursuit can have for you, but you can try it for yourself and see. My prayer is that you do!
Ralph Mayhew is the pastor at Burleigh Village Uniting Church and you can find him online at Ralph Mayhew Photography (http://ralphmayhew.photography/)
Becoming Single Minded
- Written by: Dani Treweek
In one sense, it’s no more important that we Christians be more faithfully single-minded right now than at any other point in our history. The Body of Christ has always included single men and women. Biblical passages such as 1 Corinthians 7 and 1 Timothy 5 disclose the vital presence of unmarried, divorced, and widowed members within the first-century church. The Early Church Fathers demonstrated high regard and concern for those who remained unmarried (or, in their vernacular, virgins). There was also a prevalence of unmarried men and women throughout the Middle Ages. This included monks, nuns, priests, and ordinary, everyday “single” and “single-again” Christians. Indeed, unmarried individuals, particularly unmarried women, would go on to constitute a significant portion of the population of early modern Europe as well as those nations that it would colonise.
That is to say, there has never been a time in the church’s history when singles have not formed a recognisable and substantial part of its membership. As a result, there has also never been a time in the church’s life together when it hasn’t been necessary for the church to be genuinely and earnestly mindful of its unmarried members. And yet, there is a genuine sense in which our current moment seems especially imbued with a call towards a renewed and re-energised sense of faithful, Christian single-mindedness. The reasons for this are theological, pastoral and also, missional.
While the Australian divorce rate has, happily, remained reasonably stable for some years now (in 2020, there were 1.9 divorces per 1000 people), the same cannot be said for our nation’s marriage rate. In 1989, Australia had a crude marriage rate of 7.0 per 1000 people. By 2010, this had decreased to 5.4 and then to just 4.5 in 2019. (In 2020, it plummeted to only 3.1. However, this very steep decline was largely reflective of pandemic-related gathering regulations.)
Of course, such statistics do not allow us to extrapolate that there has been any directly correspondingly sharp increase in the number of Australians who are remaining single. After all, the prevalence of de-facto relationships provides some vital context to our nation’s decreasing marriage rate. But perhaps even more significantly, the term “single” itself is rather challenging to define in our modern missional context. In a society with countless relational in-betweens, what does it mean for someone to be single? Adding yet another layer of complexity is the fact that society’s apparent classification of whether an individual is single or not may stand at odds with that individual’s self-perception of their own status.
Because what it is be single is a very complex matter, so too is an accurate understanding of what proportion of the population we seek to evangelise are, in fact, single. And yet, there are some data points that do elucidate the growing significance of singleness as a life situation for Australians, and so also the ever-increasing significance of singleness for the gospel mission of our 21st Century evangelical churches. One of these key data points is the number of Australians who live alone. According to the results of the 2021 census, 26% of all Australian households were solo occupied, while another 11% were occupied by a single parent.  That is to say, more than one in every three dwellings surrounding our churches will, on average, be occupied by an adult who is (at least, functionally) not married. Indeed, it is projected that by 2041 up to 3.5 million Australians will be living alone. This would represent an increase of up to 53% from 2016. 
Of course, this statistic (and other related ones) will look somewhat different depending on the suburb, region, or city in which any given church is located. And yet it is surely incumbent on each of our churches to understand the demographic constitution of its local community as it considers how to best undertake its mission amongst that community.
The location and ministry of my own Anglican church in Sydney is an excellent example. The 2021 census data of the local area surrounding our church reveals that 35.5% of local households are solo occupied (compared to the national average of 26%). There are almost as many solo-occupied households as there are dual-occupied households. Even more significantly, only 20% of local households are usually occupied by three or more people who are part of the same family unit. That is, only one in five households in our local area would fit the bill of housing a typical “nuclear family”. Furthermore, there are more than three times as many never married, divorced, separated or widowed people (over the age of 19) in our local community as there are those in a registered marriage.
While such demographic realities bring great missional opportunities, they also present our church with significant challenges. For instance, the membership of our church community—and especially our morning church congregation, which is significantly constituted by mothers, fathers, children, and youth—is not a proportional reflection of the community surrounding us. Investing heavily in children and youth ministry will continue to be necessary for the discipleship of those who are already members of our Christian family, and some others who are yet to join us. And yet, such a ministry focus is likely to have a more limited proportional missional impact in our local area because of our unique demographic factors at work. Good as they continue to be, the more “traditional ways” of approaching ministry and church growth (e.g., “family services”, mothers’ and toddlers’ groups, child-focused Easter and Christmas events etc.) are, in our context, becoming significantly more niche in terms of their potential missional impacts. Wonderfully, my church leaders are pro-actively committed to helping our wider church family grapple with these (and other!) complex realities. As a result, one of the things we are praying for and working towards is that we would be a church in which ‘being single is honoured and celebrated as a life-path full of opportunities and distinctive goodness’.
Yes, my church is somewhat of a unique geographical and demographic situation. Yes, churches in more suburban settings will be missioning to and amongst quite different communities than ours. Nonetheless, I strongly suspect that if more church leaders were to rigorously analyse the data for their local communities, many would be surprised at how many unmarried people—be they never-married, divorced, or widowed—sit on the other side of their church doors. Faithful single-mindedness should be a critical missional priority for evangelical churches in the early 21st Century.
There is also a strong theological impetus for why the evangelical church (in Australia and beyond) ought to be more intentionally single-minded right here and now. If we are truly honest, we will admit that contemporary evangelicalism doesn’t have so much a theology of singleness as we do a theology of not-singleness. For decades—even centuries—the evangelical church has been rather myopically focused on marriage's theological, pastoral, and societal significance. It is not simply that we have rightly sought to uphold the biblical command that ‘Marriage is to be honoured by everyone’ (Hebrews 13:4, NIV), especially in the face of a seemingly ever intransigent broader culture. Rather, evangelicalism has increasingly held that, as Andreas Köstenberger has put it, ‘for most Western Christians it appears self-evident that marriage is the normal state’.
Where marriage is “normal”, singleness can only be abnormal, perhaps even aberrant. So it is that prominent contemporary US evangelical leaders such as Douglas Wilson insist that ‘singleness is an affliction, not a gift’, while key theological and pastoral figures such as Albert Mohler have repeatedly contended that ‘deliberate singleness on the part of those who know they have not been given the gift of celibacy is, at best, a neglect of Christian responsibility’. For his part, John Macarthur has asserted that ‘the most devastating attack on marriage is coming today from singleness’. While to those ministering within an evangelical Australian context, such American preachers and teachers may appear to be somewhat distant, even enigmatic figures, the reality is that the theological discourse on marriage (and so also singleness) of the last half-century or so has been very heavily influenced by such imported evangelical discourse. This has only become more the case in an ever more globalised, technologically driven and media-saturated society.
And yet such an impoverished depiction of Christian singleness is far from the honourable state spoken about in God’s word. The Bible honours godly singleness as a truly good state for the disciple of Jesus (Mt 19:10-12). It calls us to understand singleness to be a gift from our gracious heavenly father (1 Cor 7:7). It celebrates the unmarried Christian person’s ability to be undivided in their devotion to him (1 Cor 7:31-35). It suggests that the one who remains unmarried not only does “better” but is perhaps also “happier” (1 Cor 7: 38, 40). It reveals to us that we have a saviour who was himself, fully human, truly fulfilled, and wonderfully single. God’s word highly commends singleness within the Christian life and community.
It also imbues the life of one who is not married with unique eschatological dignity. Isaiah calls the barren woman to anticipate the day when she will ‘burst into song, shout for joy […] because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband’ (Isaiah 54:1). He announces that to the eunuch, the Lord will give ‘a name better than sons and daughters’ (Is 56:4). Jesus himself asserts that the new creation will be one in which none of us will be married to another (Mt 22:30). In Revelation it is the 144,000 virgins who, having the Lamb’s ‘name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads […sing] a new song before the Throne […and] follow the Lamb wherever he goes’ (Revelation 14:1-4).
Given the high significance, value and dignity with which Scripture regards the single Christian life, surely we 21st Century evangelical Christians should no longer be satisfied with a quasi-theology of singleness constructed by way of lacuna? And yet it will not be sufficient for us to pay lip service to such dignified singleness. We must understand anew why the unmarried life is theologically significant. We must grapple afresh with the purpose of singleness in this creation, as that which also foreshadows the next. We must seek to understand God’s purposes for singleness in the lives of our unmarried brothers and sisters and his purpose for them in our life together as the body of Christ. It is for both the unmarried and married Christian’s sake, that the time is indeed ripe for us to become theologically single-minded
In May 2022, I moved a motion at the 18th session of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia that it affirm that “singleness is, like marriage, an honourable state for God’s people, in which the fullness of God’s blessings may be enjoyed”. It was eventually passed, though not without some objection (primarily to do with other elements of the motion which spoke about the godliness of chastity in singleness). In preparation for my moving the motion, I asked a range of never-married, divorced and widowed Anglican men and women why they thought it was so crucial that their national church affirmed singleness as a genuinely honourable state for God’s people. Here are just some short comments from the replies I received.
“I just want to be seen as whole. As complete just as I am.”
“I just want to be considered a person of value in the church.”
“I just want to feel normal.”
Our slowness in fostering pastoral communities in which single Christians not only feel like they are “normal” but where they also feel like they truly belong is the outworking of a long-standing, underlying and often unspoken suspicion that singleness is an undesirable and even unliveable state.
When the goal of the Christian life is seemingly presented to be marriage and parenthood; when our services are frequently denoted to be either “family services” or “youth services”; when our ministry programs (and the frequent calls to fill rosters for said programs) are persistently dominated by children’s, youth and parenting activities; when it is usual for our sermons to be populated with illustrations of marriage and family life; when we speak of sex as being at the heart of authentic human experience, and sexual temptation as being all but irresistible; when we idealise romantic love as the ultimate form of intimacy, while leaving little significance for the role of friendship; when the only life events we regularly celebrate from the front of church are engagements, marriages and births; when ministry to singles so expediently becomes matchmaking ministry; when unmarried Christians are rarely encouraged into positions of leadership; when week after week families sit together in church instead of looking out for those sitting alone; when we regularly run pre-marriage and post-marriage equipping courses, but have nothing similar for those who are never-married, divorced or widowed; when we consistently have many more married people in our churches than in the population around us, and many less unmarried people in our churches than in the population around us; when only 4% of all senior leaders of Australian Protestant churches have never been married;  when all—or even just some—of these things consistently characterise our church life, what else is the single Christian left to think other than that their life situation is undesirable, unliveable, and unwelcome?
Of course, some of these things are not bad in and of themselves. However, their cumulative result—particularly when not offset by positive, proactive, and participatory alternatives for single Christians—leaves the never-married, divorced and widowed members of our congregations feeling like they are merely tolerated (and typically, “quirky”) guests, rather than equally legitimate members of the one family. Such an outcome is rarely, if ever, intentional. And yet, many single Christians will tell you that it is usually inescapable for them. Even for the most optimistic and resilient amongst them, there usually comes the point at which they struggle to any longer convince themselves that this community really is theirs, just as much as it is their married siblings in Christ.
Of course, the most devastating outcome of such an impoverished pastoral approach to singleness is not ultimately its impact on the single Christian themselves—though this is indeed a matter of grave concern. Most significant are its implications for how we understand ourselves to be a body, made up of many members, each diverse, each unique and each indispensable. That is to say, the single Christian doesn’t simply need the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ needs the single Christian. Pastoral single-mindedness is crucial for the church’s understanding of its own identity, life and future.
How to become more Single-Minded?
It is all well and good to recognise the importance of being single-minded. But how will we do that—or perhaps more pertinently, how will we become that? There is no simple, easy or straightforward answer to such a question. However, this should neither surprise nor alarm us. Given that our present single-mindlessness has been decades—even centuries—in the making, we should not expect or desire a quick-fix solution.
Instead, a renewed commitment to missional, theological, and pastoral single-mindedness will require us to be consistent, proactive, and intentional over the long term. It will need to be enacted through incremental but fundamental change in how we think, speak, teach, and approach singleness in the Christian life and community. It will need to be demonstrated by a willingness to return again and again to Scripture and allow its view of singleness to slowly but surely challenge and reform our own. It will need to be evidenced by gradual but inexorable changing of pastoral attitudes towards the unmarried members of our congregations. It will need to involve us holding more loosely to our tried-and-true ministry structures and initiatives as we seek to share the gospel with the members of our surrounding communities where they are, rather than where it is more convenient for us to imagine them at.
Such a slow, consistent, long-term, and gradual endeavour will require all members of Christ’s body—single and married alike—to exercise charity and patience in their expectations of each other. It will require them to be ready with generous forgiveness when those expectations go unmet. And yet, we can and should have boundless confidence in our ability, together, to become more single-minded. After all, the ultimate single-mindedness we seek is one we are called to undertake with a together-mindedness. It is concerned with an ever-increasing, ever-mature and ever-joyful focus on the one who has saved the single and married person into the same salvation, the same family of God and the same living hope. In the end, all of our single-mindedness lies squarely in him.
The Rev Dr Danielle Treweek is the founding director of the Single Minded Ministry and an adjunct teacher at Moore Theological College, Sydney. She also serves as both the Diocesan Research Officer and a member of the Archbishop's Doctrine Commission within the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, Australia
Australian Bureau of Statistics. "2021 Census Community Profiles." Accessed July 9, 2022. www.abs.gov.au/census/find-census-data/community-profiles/2021/POA2042.
———. "Household and Family Projections." (2019). Accessed July 9, 2022. https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/3236.0Main+Features12001%20to%202026?
———. "Marriage and Divorces, Australia (2009)." Accessed July 9, 2022. https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Previousproducts/1D63A0059ECDFDCFCA2577ED00146123?
———. "Marriages and Divorces, Australia (2019)." Accessed July 9, 2022. www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/people-and-communities/marriages-and-divorces-australia/2019.
Froide, Amy M. Never Married: Singlewomen in Early Modern England. Oxford University Press, 2005.
Köstenberger, Andreas J, and David Wayne Jones. God, Marriage, and Family. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2004.
MacArthur, John. Children in the Shade, CBMW Pre-Conference. Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 2016. Video.
McCrindle Research. "Australia Street Infographic." (2020). Accessed July 9, 2022. www.mccrindle.com.au/australia-street-infographic/.
Mohler, Albert. The Mystery of Marriage - Part 2, New Attitude Conference. 2004. Audio.
Powell, Ruth, Sam Sterland, and Miriam Pepper. "Demographics Paint a Picture of Local Church Leaders." National Church Life Survey. (August 2018). www.ncls.org.au/news/demographics-of-senior-church-leaders.
Wilson, Douglas. "Singleness as Affliction." Blog & Mablog. (November 25 2020). www.dougwils.com/books-and-culture/s7-engaging-the-culture/singleness-as-affliction.html.
 For example, unmarried women formed 27% of the English population between 1575-1700. Amy M Froide, Never Married: Singlewomen in Early Modern England (Oxford University Press, 2005), 2.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics, "Marriages and Divorces, Australia (2019)." www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/people-and-communities/marriages-and-divorces-australia/2019.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics, "Marriage and Divorces, Australia (2009)." https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Previousproducts/1D63A0059ECDFDCFCA2577ED00146123?
 Australian Bureau of Statistics, "Marriage and Divorces, Australia (2009)."
 Australian Bureau of Statistics, "Marriages and Divorces, Australia (2019)."
 McCrindle Research, "Australia Street Infographic," (2020). www.mccrindle.com.au/australia-street-infographic/.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics, "Household and Family Projections," (2019). https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/3236.0Main+Features12001%20to%202026?
 Australian Bureau of Statistics, "2021 Census Community Profiles." www.abs.gov.au/census/find-census-data/community-profiles/2021/POA2042.
 Andreas J Köstenberger and David Wayne Jones, God, Marriage, and Family (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2004), 173. Emphasis original
 Douglas Wilson, "Singleness as Affliction," Blog & Mablog (November 25 2020). www.dougwils.com/books-and-culture/s7-engaging-the-culture/singleness-as-affliction.html.
 Albert Mohler, The Mystery of Marriage - Part 2, New Attitude Conference (2004), Audio.
 John MacArthur, Children in the Shade, CBMW Pre-Conference (Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 2016), Video. 1.54mins, 2.30mins
 Ruth Powell, Sam Sterland, and Miriam Pepper, "Demographics Paint a Picture of Local Church Leaders," National Church Life Survey (August 2018). www.ncls.org.au/news/demographics-of-senior-church-leaders.
- Written by: Andy Pearce
REV ANDY PEARCE
It’s January 24th 2021 and I, my wife Kim, and our five boys are sitting in a church we have never visited, living in a house we have never visited, in a city we have never visited, in a state we have never visited, meeting the people we are about serve for the very first time.
We are 50km south of Perth at St Nicholas’s Anglican church, Rockingham for our first Sunday. People are looking at us inquisitively; the way you look at exhibits in a museum or animals in a zoo. The repeated questions on their lips: “Do you know what you’ve signed up for? You know this church is very different from your previous church?”
And they were right! It was very different from City on a Hill Melbourne. It was physically 3500km away and the culture even further. This small quaint 80s building - furnished with stained-glass, sanctuary light and matching aumbry - was home to 100 mostly retired saints; one of whom had actually met Graham Kendrick. It was quite different to our large inner-city Anglican church that gathered millennials in a cinema, sang to a rock band and where smart dress was a lumberjack shirt and box-fresh sneakers.
But yet, there was a warm familiarity and beautiful similarities. There was the same commitment to the living and active Word of God. The same heritage of, and hunger for, engaging, faithful bible teaching. The same desire for people to encounter, and be disrupted, by the glorious gospel of Jesus. And above all, a very familiar warm and infectious love for Jesus that showed itself in a generous and practical love for the Pearce family.
Both Kim and I have never felt so called to a place than we have to Rockingham. God had convicted us to move from our big network church and serve Jesus in a local church. So, we started to pray for an open door into a local church that had an evangelical heritage, was close to a major city and had an ambition to innovate and reach the lost for Jesus. Rockingham ticked all those boxes and after some pretty miraculous answers to prayer, the Archbishop of Perth invited me to be the Rector of the Parish of Rockingham-Safety Bay aka. St Nic’s.
Since my commissioning in February, I have tried to keep my leadership approach simple and faction free; attempting to love people, invoke joy, build trust and see what God is doing in the church and the community. This season has seen my longest week-to-week preaching stint since leaving Bible College. I conducted more funerals in my first month than my entire ordained ministry. I have tried to strengthen the strengths, note the blind spots and identify low hanging missional opportunities; very conscious that I stand on the shoulders of some fine evangelical ministry.
Through it all my prayer has been for God to give me a fresh delight in Jesus that would continually shape me and radiate from my preaching as I embrace God’s people with Christ’s love.
By God’s grace we have seen immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine. We have seen joy and warmth envelope a full church each Sunday; with newcomers arriving and staying. We have seen people give their lives to Jesus, had baptisms on the beach and seen a wonderful new boys’ gardening ministry called ‘Sprouts’ start at the local primary school.
One highlight has been a young guy - in his 20s - who came to trust Jesus for the first time recently. Before
arriving at St Nic’s, Murray had never been in a church or opened a bible. On his first visit, someone gave him a bible and told him to start in Matthew and work his way forward. He could not put it down! By Wednesday he was half way through Luke and after a month of questions, listening and wrestling with God’s Word, Murray bowed the knee to Jesus as his Lord and Saviour.
Mike McKinley wrote that church planting is for wimps. Well, I don’t know about that, but taking on an existing church you have never even visited is certainly not for the faint-hearted, but one that has given me much joy and a fresh delight in the sovereignty and goodness of our wonderful God.
We are excited to see what God does in Rockingham as we trust Him to build His house and serve our Father as His devoted labourers. What a privilege that is.
Rev Andy Pearce is Rector of the Parish of Rockingham-Safety Bay in WA