Live from West Lindfield

This week is Moore College mission. The students from the College head out to work with local Churches around Sydney (and further afield) in reaching out to people to share our hope. I’ve been packed off to the jungles of West Lindfield. A suburb on Sydney’s North Shore. It’s about a 20min drive up the road from our house. The mission week is supposed to be residential, but the decision was made to let us stay at home. It would be a bit weird to go away for a week, not see Emma, and be only a couple of minutes drive away.
West Lindfield is part of the little fortress which Anglo-Australia has erected on the North Shore against the tough realities of the Big World. Everything is beautiful, the houses are huge, the suburb is full of trees and beautiful gardens. All the kids are polite and well brought up. It seems like a different planet to Newtown.
Mostly it just seems to vaccinate people against real Christianity. It reinforces belief in Australian folk-religion:
“Sure, I believe in a Higher Power, God if you will. I’m a decent person, everything will be alright. If I live in Lindfield, I must be a decent person.”
You hear it from every door you knock on…

Don’t get me wrong, the people are really decent folk – which makes rejecting God’s goodness to them even more inexcusable and tragic.

Today started with handing out CDs at the main bus stops to people commuting into work. The CDs have short talks giving Christian perspectives on ethical issues and a clear gospel presentation. In the mid-morning we went to Roseville College, and Anglican girls school in a neighbouring suburb. It is a great school. They have a very committed Chaplain and a strong group of Christian girls in the school. The Chapel service was very encouraging, the students were engaged in the singing and listened really well to the talk. I spoke from Acts 17, Paul’s speech to the Athenians.
I never feel like I do a very good job with Evangelistic preaching. I had 5 minutes for this talk, and it is so tempting to try to do too much. You can’t cram in all the intricacies of creation, fall, redemption, kingdom, and make sure that you’ve properly spelled out penal substitutionary atonement. I’ve got a lot to learn about how to make it short, simple, and still thoroughly gospel.

This afternoon we went out doorknocking around the area. I really don’t like doorknocking, I’m overly sensitive to the invasion of people’s privacy. However, this time I enjoyed it. The Church had sent out letters to the whole area on two occasions in the weeks before we went around. The letters let people know we were coming and invited them to ring the Rector if they would object. It meant that when we knocked on the door people knew who we were and they appreciated the warning. We had some great conversations with people. I like the mental challenge of starting with whatever small opening people give into their attitude toward God, and moving the conversation into a place where we can consider the implications of Jesus’ life – while making sure that every comment is sensitive and not confrontational. It’s a workout

One of the other teams told us about knocking on the door of a house, someone answering the door, and the team-person saying, ‘are your parents home?’ – thinking that the person was a child. On a closer inspection the lady turned out to be at least 50 years old.
There was quite a lot of confusion and embarrassment.

I’m enjoying getting to know the team, we are heading off for brunch together tomorrow. Mission is hard work, but the relationship building is great.
Best of all though, we are out on the ground, talking about Jesus with people. That’s what I’ve been missing over the past few months. Theology without much opportunity for practice seems like it might slowly drive me mad sometimes.

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