And like that another year is over. 2015 has been one the hardest years of my life in my living memory. It took me a while to realise it, and then to accept it. I’ve always found life fairly easy. My level head and controlling nature generally keeps everything in check. I don’t leave space for error. But this year I woke up in pain most mornings. I relied on painkillers to get through the days so much so #DrMel decided it was unsafe and I began to push through the pain unless unbearable. This year I started a fun relationship that wasn’t going to work, ended it and dealt with the guilt that followed. This year I went from absolutely loving my job to not loving it. This year I jumped on rollercoaster ride every time I went to a church related activity. From almost walking out mid-service and never returning to joining the church board and watching friend after friend leave. This year I decided I needed to shake up my life and packed up all my belongings and moved 1000km north to a city I knew less people than the fingers on my right hand. It’s safe to say my head has been in overdrive. I’ve never had so many areas of my life out of my control. I’ve never been one to come home and camp out on the couch. I’ve never been one to force myself to social gatherings because I know another night on the couch will make things worse. I’ve never been one to lie when people ask how I am. So often my loved ones have shared that they’re having a hard time. I tried to empathise with them. ‘Yes, it’s okay. We all go through them.’ But I didn’t understand what that meant beyond having thousands of words looming, a full social calendar and self-induced tiredness. I did not know hard. I possibly still don’t, but this year I’ve realised whatever ‘hard’ looks like for each of us, ‘hard’ keeps you awake at night. Hard keeps you in bed in the mornings. Hard keeps you grasping for anything to hold on to. Hard makes you reflect on what you know. Hard makes you learn. I’ve worked out if things aren’t easy, you don’t have to fake it. You don’t have to pretend. You don’t have to always smile. You can be real with the people around you. You can lose face. You don’t have to have it all together. 365 days ago I wrote about my goals for 2015 without any knowledge only a few days later I’d push myself too hard and cause a year of ongoing pain. In reflection they’re pretty shallow goals about me doing something. Throughout the year I came back to these goals to make sure I was on track. I was and I am. I read a lot of books (and snuck a few audio books to bulk out the count), I finished my DofE, I fought for a mid-year promotion then for an interstate role. The last one was a challenge as there were days and weeks I was convinced I could solve my problems myself. And although I’ll have a new set of goals for 2016, it wasn’t achieving these goals that I find the value of 2015. This year I’ve learnt to cling to the things that bring me joy, that refocus me and keep me at the foot of the cross. I picked up a paintbrush again. I didn’t even know if 9 years on I’d be even able to paint (to a standard I’d be happy with). I started sewing again (and wearing my creations). I started playing netball again (and accepted I had to relearn the skills I’d forgotten after I stopped playing competitively). I chose to start reading books again (and not just cushy novels). I chose to stick by the church I have struggled with (because church is more than me and my issues). I started being honest with myself. I started being honest with others. I started being honest with God. Yes, it’s been rough. I still wake up in pain most mornings, and despite most of my friends and family living 1000km away I’ve re-found stability. I know that there are seasons in life and 2015 held a number of them. I learnt about God’s faithfulness. I continue to learn what patience looks like, what gentleness looks like and what selflessness looks like. This year I learnt I can’t keep everything under control. It might have taken losing control to realise I needed to go crawling back to God because he’s the one in control. We can’t do things on our strength. I know that God is good. I have life because of Jesus. I have hope because of grace. Here’s to 2015, a horrible but fruitful one in Christ. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
You’ve been living under a rock, smoking a spliff or just ignorant of the news this week if you haven’t heard about or seen NSW’s new ‘Stoner Sloths’ campaign. If you haven’t, here’s a quick catch up: Just saw the #StonerSloth ads. Not sure where NSW Gov’s ad guys found Chewbaccas siblings, but those videos are… Quite something. — Mike Baird (@mikebairdMP) December 19, 2015 I’ve been assured no sloths were harmed in the making of those #StonerSloth ads. — Mike Baird (@mikebairdMP) December 19, 2015 Yes, there were many other anti-campaigns the public mulla could have been used for and, yes, they’re absolutely ridiculous ads to watch, but high five to ‘Stoner Sloths’. Not because I think it was 100% awesome, but it makes me reflect on what makes a good campaign. 1. It wasn’t batpoo boring Public money is spent on a host of public awareness campaigns. Anything from domestic violence, anti-smoking, ice, drunk driving, seat belts, underage drinking, speeding, texting while driving, obesity. But the majority of these campaigns suck. How many can you recall? From the top of mind: the pinky finger speeding campaign the fat man walking along the tape measure obesity campaign ‘Plan B’ discouraging drunk driving the young boy grabbing his dad a beer from the fridge on repeat, and in uni, I did an analysis of the ‘Swap it, don’t stop it’ that caricatured obese Australians as balloon creatures. I can recall these because I’m either the target audience or they’re memorable for being stupid. For these  few, there have been countless others. They’re boring – like half the advertising campaigns we’re subject to. It’s mediocre marketing at best. But here’s the thing about ‘Stoner Sloths’: it managed to capture the hearts/Facebook feeds/TV screens/online news platforms of Australians. It’s a ‘noisy’ world out there, so much so I spend my days trying to work out how to ‘cut through’ and persuade you all to holiday in Queensland rather than [insert overseas tropical island here]. The concept, Stoner Sloths, did exactly that. It was so ridiculous and unusual that it captured the attention of an otherwise disinterested audience. We can all spot a public awareness campaign. They’re dull. They’re usually so straight down the line we end up looking at tar being poured into lungs or a tree wrapped around the pole. ‘Stoner Sloths’ has brought the recreational marijuana use to the fore. 2. Its reach stretched the public coin further than the Stoner Sloths’ pocket claw Marketing 101: There are 3 kinds of media: paid, earned and owned (there’s actually now a fourth thanks to the blog world: partnered). Paid involves $$, earned is additional coverage usually led by public relations and owned is usually your website, social media channels etc. Stoner Sloths earned a heck of a lot of earned media in what many draw on the old adage ‘all media is good media’. A dollar figure can be found (using AVE – advertising value equivalent, an outdated formula some media academics are still debating) and no doubt the media agency who’s behind the comms strategy will claim as ‘bonus’ media. Aside from commercial $$ figures, its reach (the amount of people who have seen it) and its recall (average punter/target audience’s ability to remember the ad unprompted (like my list of public awareness campaigns above) or prompted) will now be very high. But the question everyone’s asking, does it resonate? 3. The campaign captured the truth about maryjane and sloths Marketing 101: At the beginning of any campaign, a brief is written and received by the party responsible for coming up with the idea. (FYI – some of the biggest creative agencies are on the government’s panel) I imagine the brief was as simple as ‘Create campaign to discourage marijuana use in adolescents’ (although it’s government so it was probably 50 pages long). The next step is to understand the target audience, why they need/don’t need the product/service/cause and develop an idea that will resonate. ‘Stoner Sloths’ did a great job in acting on the insight that an individual experiencing the psychoactive and physiological effects of consuming cannabis is very similar to that of a sober sloth. Or according to the campaign, you are so boring/useless on weed you become worse than a sloth and/or worse than you would be sober. And it seems, they applied it literally – to the offense of all the sloths out there! Now I’m going to make a few assumptions, and this could be to the credit of the creative agency (hoping a journo applies for a freedom of information) or fuel dried grass for my ongoing agency-client fire. Here’s two more insights that add to the success or epic fail of ‘Stoner Sloths’: Sloths are amazing. There is a lot of love for the humble sloth. Kristen Bell and YouTube is proof of that. It’s a loss they didn’t work in a baby sloth! I think the people who made #stonersloth vastly underestimate the public’s hero-worship of sloths. — Madeleine Baud (@HeyBaudelaire) December 19, 2015 Sloths look remarkably like the Starwars character Chewbacca. The campaign was officially launched in the week of Starwars… But I’m not naïve, so it’s probably coincidence. But, perhaps not? 4. The campaign actually thought about the target audience A lot of the commentary that has come out this week critiqued the campaign ‘went viral’ before the ads even made it to TV! But, *again assumption* I doubt it was ever destined for television. TV is super expensive. You need a 6 or 7 figure budget to be able to afford effective TV ad placements. 30 seconds in a primetime metro TV show can cost anywhere from $10 – 60k depending on the program/audience. And that’s just one. You need to air hundreds to get anything close to the intended reach target. Not to mention it’s a series of videos…oh and kids these days aren’t watching TV…they’re illegally downloading or streaming or just watching YouTube videos. ‘Stoner Sloth’ is built on a web platform. It’s on tumblr where apparently the kids are hanging out. It’s built in a way the videos can be shared. There are gifs. There’s a Facebook page where ‘Stoner Sloth’ is now commenting back to the hundred commenting on the videos – videos with 200-300K views. But ready for it, the video posts are from 3 weeks ago. The campaign actually launched in early December…when their target audience were finishing school and spend more of their days online. But we only heard about this week…because the NSW Government and St Vincent’s Drug and Alcohol Service released a media release more broadly. Now I could critique their digital strategy and I can already find some huge holes in it, but I’m still early in my career and not about to start pointing the finger while I make my own (gastro) gaffs. But the point is, thinking about the audience is key. Here are two brilliant awareness campaigns that thought about the audience: 5. It’s not perfect One day I hope one of my campaigns will earn me and my team a Cannes Lion. I’m working for someone who managed it by 30. Even if you have little interest/understanding of marketing, hopefully the above demonstrates it’s far from easy to nail a brief, come up with an awesome idea, produce it and then place it in front of the people who you want to see it…and them actually doing what you want them to do in the numbers that you deem it successful. There’s no gold nugget. Even the best of ideas and campaigns have room to improve. ‘Stoner Sloths’ is exactly the same. Thanks to Gruen Transfer, we’re all marketing experts. And we all know the failing of ‘Stoner Sloth’ because it’s been picked to pieces this week. One of my favourite/frustrating moments of marketing is the evaluation phase. I love to hate stats but it’s good to reflect what made something work well or completely flop. In our briefing process we have a ‘learnings’ section where we bring the recommendations from previous campaigns. No doubt, there will be a lot from ‘Stoner Sloths’…let’s just hope they work out we love sloths. It’s all about the video series now (bonus marketing treat), so I’m all for a Speedy Sloth or perhaps an ad demonstrating what it’s like to text and drive. I know my texting ability while driving is probably equal to that of a poor sloth. Advertising is about stirring the pot, and no doubt we’ve seen a shake up this week. 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Welcoming is more than thrusting folded paper at the entrance Read Part 1 Church welcoming. Sigh. It’s the roster that no one wants to be on. I’m a long time avoider of it. Let’s pretend it’s because I hate hugs and self-conscious about handshakes and awful at remembering names, so all I can offer is a big enthusiastic, drawn out “hey!” upon one’s arrival and a folded A4 sheet that I know they’ll probably only read during a lapse of concentration in the sermon, then fold put in their hand bag and never look again…ever (Unless you’re older than 50 and then you’ll probably stick it on the fridge where the last 10 weeks are also placed). Ah church communications, I digress. The truth is I hate church ‘welcomers’. I mean, I love them, the people standing there, smiling and pushing paper. Huge hearts. I love them. But I still hate ‘welcomers.’ I hate welcomers because by us giving them a title, we delegate them a role, one that most willingly relinquish. “They’re the welcomers, so I can go find my seat and chat to the people that I know” or “They’re the welcomers, so they can get to church early to speak to visitors so I’m good to rush in during the first few songs, and sit beside my friend.” Put aside what you think welcoming looks like and think inclusive. Reflect on your own personal actions at church, and then the actions of those around you (read: friends) and ask: “Are my actions enabling others to be and feel included?” (Note: there is a difference between perception and reality). After two months visiting churches in search of a new church family, I think too often we get stuck in the routine of church and forget there may be people who have no idea what is going on, struggle to connect and often, sadly, feel or are actually excluded. Me and my big storytelling mouth are right up there with the unintentional exclusion. Being a visitor has allowed me to remember what it’s like to be welcomed and, the opposite, ignored. This is part two of what no one tells you about visiting churches. Join me considering our own actions and failings. I hope it makes you, church regular, stop and reconsider how you can look to the periphery with more intention and confidence than previously. And, you, church seeker, visit churches with an open-ness and willingness to be welcomed, in whatever form it comes in.   It starts with having a plan and executing it with purpose Intention. ‘Live life with intention and integrity.’ If I was the type of person who liked life mottos, that would be mine (but with ‘for Jesus’ tacked on the end for good measure). I told you last time that I didn’t just roll up out of bed and wander in to church. It was a highly researched, planned and executed adventure (x 8). Here’s the next reality: each hesitation, eye contact and apparent loitering was largely intentional. I wanted to talk to you so I tried to make eye contact: during the children’s departure to kids’ church and/or the general ‘welcoming’ moment: “say hello to people around you.” I stood alone in the middle of the foyer/café/drinks stand (without looking at my phone) waiting for someone to talk to me. I intended to wait for 5 minutes before leaving. Sadly, I left three times without anyone talking to me. Perhaps I was a super intentional church seeker because I did genuinely want to find a new church. I hope the visitors to my future church will wait as long as I did! But intention applies to church ‘regulars’ too. Some of my friends have been blessed by my soliloquys on this topic before, but being inclusive looks like having a plan when you walk into church, when you have the general ‘welcome’ moments and then immediately after church. Most importantly in the 2 minutes after the service. Scope out your territory and have a strategy. Don’t leave the greeting and meeting to the ‘welcomers’, the pastor or heck, even the extroverts. Don’t let it be an after thought as you see the visitor walk out the exit…most likely 2 minutes after the services ends if no one speaks to them. Here are 10 steps you can take to being inclusive: Get to church early. Smile. (I’m not kidding about this one. Why does church have to be so serious?) Say hello to everyone. Even those you don’t know. We are a family. Think offensive lines. Last week I told you finding parking, the door and then a seat were real challenges. Make them easy. Position people for each of those stages. It will also allow ‘greeters’ to transition into conversations with visitors and tag team with church members who are there (Note: Point 1). Look out for people who awkwardly walk through the door trying to figure out what the heck is going on, or sit down and are reading the church bulletin with the level of concentration one does their tax file declaration. (No church regular reads the news sheet in detail unless the teaching is going too long). If you see someone unfamiliar sitting alone, move seats and sit next to them. Write their name down so you remember it in an hours’ time. Fight the temptation to talk to your friends at church and prioritise visitors as soon as church is over. (Bonus tip: have a coffee with your bff/s before church so you don’t have to catch up after church). If someone else is chatting to a visitor, join them. It’s exhausting, tag team. Relieve them so they can go and discuss whose turn it is to bring supper to bible study etc. Introduce them to others. This may look like others in similar life stages or interests, and your pastor.   I’m as nervous as you While some people have heightened sensitivity to subtle social cues, it is not a prerequisite for being a good conversationalist. Talking and listening is a necessary evil in greeting and meeting people and inviting them in to a church community. Talking to strangers comes easy to some and terrifying for others. Small talk can be awkward. What if I forget their name? What if they give me one-word answers? What do I ask them first? Can I ask them why they’re here? How many questions are acceptable before it becomes an interrogation? Small talk can be tricky but consider this: I’m standing in the middle of a group of people looking for someone to talk to. I know no one. I don’t know where the door is. I don’t know how many people are going to show up. I didn’t know that this church writes all it’s own music and although I am fairly across Christian music I wouldn’t know any of the words and the tall person in front blocked half the screen. I didn’t realise that you transitioned straight from prayer to worship. I still had my eyes closed. It’s now the ‘take a break and say hello to someone moment’ but everyone turned to someone else. I’m wearing a skirt that is on the work appropriate fence and all the other women are wearing knee length skirts. I’m all alone. You think you’re nervous. I can tell you they’re nervous. After my first few visits I realised that some people had no idea how to talk to a new person. They fumbled their way through questions. I’d catch their eye but they’d look away. Or they’d approach, say hello and then remain silent. In answering their single closed question, it took a number of questions to get to the crux of my visit. Often I could see they were struggling. I don’t find conversations hard so by the third church I had a little spiel to assist us all: “Moved from Sydney to Brisbane for work. Looking for a new home church. Living in West End. Checking out the local churches.” It opened a few angles for conversations. Accept that both visitors and regulars are nervous and brush up on your conversation skills: Listen for common topics of conversation. It doesn’t have to be a one-way interrogation, share about yourself. Think tag team. It’s exhausting so tag in and out. “Let me introduce you to xxx, she also (insert: common interest, talking point)” It also means I get to meet more people. Think about your opening question. Make it an open one. “Is this your first visit?” is closed and can potentially be awkward if it’s not. Try: “Hi, I’m xxx, I don’t think we’ve met.” Read this TED article: ‘How to turn small talk into smart conversation‘   It’s not a fine line between stalking and follow up My previous church had yellow A6 ‘welcome’ cards that were in little holders on the back of the church pews. I’m guilty of using them to write my week’s to do list during the sermons. They asked for a name, number, email, service attended. They were out dated (think photocopy of a photocopy), often a little crumpled and very rarely was any direction given regarding their use. I’m not even sure where they were supposed to go. Despite their neglect, they are valuable. We live in a world that our every move, or at least every website visit and 5k run is tracked. I’m sure every second shop has my email, DOB and mobile number. But despite our personal details being in so many databases, we’ve (the church) has shied away from asking for personal information. Asking visitors to fill out a contact card seems intrusive. Reality check: there are no compulsory fields on a paper card. If they don’t want to, they don’t have to. But not having a connect card, or similar, says you don’t care about following up on my visit. Three churches I visited gave some instructions as to how to connect with them. A well-designed form was provided, the form pointed out during the service and instructions given as to what to do with it. I filled them out each time. Of those, two followed up with an email. One church pastor emailed the following day introducing me to another young professional. But the surprise was the card (albeit a cheesy DaySpring card) in the mail – an actual hand written card. It was two weeks after I moved and no one had my address. Not even my parents. It was a pleasant surprise. The other church followed up with an email from a young professional. It was two and half weeks after my visit. Enough said. I never heard from the third. The five remaining churches never asked me for my details. Although to their credit two church pastors provided me their phone number. Another added me on Facebook through a mutual connection. They left the ball in my court. I contacted one; he invited me to dinner and bible study. I went. He followed up offering to help out with settling in. Back in my uni ministry days we had connect weeks. It was a three-week period following OWeek. Hundreds of people would visit my Christian group’s stall and complete a connect card. Hundreds. The connect cards were assigned to faculties, then from faculties to individuals. I spent many February nights calling 20+ people. Yes, calling with an actual phone. I could have emailed, but I was able to have a conversation. Find out more about them. I often met them for coffee. I often had to call three times before I caught them. Almost every single time the person on the other end of the phone call was surprised by my call. First it was the lost art of letter writing, but now it’s the phone call. If I’m completely open, I craved someone to talk to in those early few weeks. Let’s not forget the power of personal connection. Email is easy. Text messages aren’t intrusive. Yes, a phone call interrupts someone’s day. But that’s the purpose – you want to talk to them. Let’s not be afraid of the phone.   The pastor is important, but not that important I met the pastor at 5 of the 8 churches I visited. One was absent, another announced his departure that service, and the other was Hillsong – so understandable. Each of the men (sigh) were incredibly warm. They cared about me. They asked me where I’d come from. Some asked what I was after. They listened. They looked me in the eye. They smiled. I appreciated them taking the time to talk to me. But as much as I appreciated meeting the pastor, I really wanted to meet other people. I wanted to know about you because you would be part of my family. Yes, the pastor would be leading us (which is why although it was a great church, I wasn’t about to join a church losing it’s pastor without a replacement), but I wanted to get a feel of the vibe. Students? Professionals? All married? Any eligible bachelors? It was evident at all but three of the churches I visited, that many of the people who spoke to me were unsure of what to do next. How did they move me, a church keen bean, from first time visitor to visiting again? One church stood out in terms of inclusiveness. Each person I spoke to invited me to the lunch the young people were having after church. They introduced me to others. They tag teamed well. But no one asked me for my number. The pastor is important. But having other trained equipped people ready to connect with visitors is also important.     Don’t get me wrong; I didn’t have a horrible experience visiting churches. It has largely been a positive experience, a fruitful one. But the there is so much more that can be done. The church is a family, God-willing a growing one. Let’s work together to build inclusive churches. Understanding every virtual and physical touch point and making sure they encourage connectivity rather than exclusion or just ignorance.   Thanks for waiting for Part 2. The third and final instalment will come in another month or so: What no one tells you about visiting churches // Part 3 We’re all baggage carriers. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
Six weeks ago I uprooted my life and moved cities. Along with friends, family, netball team and job, I also left my home church. I withdrew from my responsibilities on rosters, resigned from an elected position on the church board, and farewelled many – those I knew by name and others just by their encouraging face I saw from the front. Finding a new local church is a priority in my new city, almost equal to Operation: amigos. (You can read what I think about only making friends in church.) In the last six weeks, I’ve visited eight churches. Different brands, different sizes, different buildings. In fact, of the eight, only two met in a purpose-built building, one of which was a warehouse (FYI, that was the hipster church. It also had wooden pallets. #hipster). I grew up in the church and I’ve been part of a number over my life, the last for the better part of a decade. I’ve served in many church and parachurch organisations, some that involved visiting other churches. In summary, I feel pretty comfortable in most brands/labels/denominations of church. But that doesn’t make first time visits (with the aim of finding a new home) easy. I’ve learnt so much about the local church over the past few weeks. I’ve been encouraged. I’ve been disheartened. And I’ve been challenged. I chatted with a few friends who have just been through, or going through the same process before writing this. These are our shared reflections. I hope you gain from them. NB: Don’t read “I” as Melanie Pennington. Read “I” as “potential visitor to my church”   It’s hugely encouraging Irrespective of the number of people, the style of music or the volume of said music, I knew I stood with brothers and sisters. I may not have known their names, but through the songs we sung, the book we read and the prayers offered, it was evident we shared a common goal. I stand united with them. The local church is not defined by its geography, but by the necessity it is in our lives. You can move cities, but still the local church remains – a people meeting together, supporting each other in one name, for one purpose. Jesus. Learning: Be defined by Jesus in everything you do   Parking is the first hurdle, finding the front door the second, a seat the third I almost gave up on a church because I couldn’t find a legal parking spot. In the end I parked illegally, walked to the entrance and asked where to park. I ended up paying for parking because the 10mins I had allowed to park and find the entrance had lapsed and the service had started. Another church I drove by twice before I spotted a small A-frame with the church logo. Three others I wandered around looking for the entrance to the auditorium. I was inside the building, but the challenge was to find the door! Another, I arrived about 5 mins late (see above) and I had to sit in the front row because there were no seats left. And it wasn’t that it was full, it was there weren’t enough seats put out. And I wasn’t about to haul a seat off the stack. Learning: Visitors parking Instructions/maps for where to park Directional signage Welcomers/ushers should be more than paper movers   If you’re not online, you’re virtually invisible My old church’s website sucked. Before I left I was helping build a new site from scratch. It’s not easy. I know websites and they aren’t easy. Who is it for? What information does it need? Who will update it? So much to think about, but here’s the hard truth: it’s the first place I went. Actually, Google was: “evangelical / Christian / bible-based / bible + church + suburb.” If you don’t have a website, I can’t find you. Once on the site, I want to know where you are, when you meet, which service is best for me, where to park, what you believe and who your staff are. I also care about your Facebook page. If you don’t update it, delete it. Learning: Go to your church website. Count the amount of clicks it takes to find the service times. Meet in a school hall, warehouse, or performance space? Submit a location and listing on Google maps. Update your Facebook page or delete it. Really. Go to It is one of the best resources I’ve found on church websites (and social media).   Time is money valuable Unfortunately people are busy (but not me!) and time matters. Starting and finishing (or telling people when it will finish) on time shows you value them. Visiting a church is huge ordeal. It takes time and energy to find a church, research it and then plan a visit. It then takes more time to find a parking spot/entrance/seat and strategically plan how long before the service you will arrive. Lingering in the foyer before a service is awkward. Sitting alone in church is awkward. Be assured I have thought about how long before your service I arrive. And waiting 13 minutes for your on-the-hour service to start only puts a bad taste in my mouth. Flipside: I’ve also timed my arrival to allow myself enough time to find entrance/seat and should someone notice my visit, talk to me. If only a regular arrived on time/early to greet me. Learning: Valuing people means valuing their time Start when you say you’re going to start (or explain why you started late. “Windows decided it wanted to update at 10.28am this morning”) Finish when you say you’re going to finish Get to church early. (This is a huge one for me. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t caused my minister’s a small amount of stress over the years because I would arrive late when rostered to be involved in the service).   I could go on, and I will go on. (Did you notice the ‘Part 1’? Bahaha) Not as a rebuke, but as a gentle and hopefully helpful reminder about what it’s like being new. I am also writing this so I can revisit it in 6 months, 12 months and heck, God-willing, 6 years time to remind myself how I can be like Jesus in my local church. Standing with open arms, ready to accept and pursue anyone the Spirit stirs to visit the local church.   Stay tuned for Part 2: Welcoming, it’s more than standing at the door thrusting folded A4 sheets at people  Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
I’m one month in and I’m alive! Yew! I may not have many friends, but I’m remembering all the important things – brushing my teeth, taking my house keys each day (well at least most days…) and eating vegetables. I’ve even got into the habit of making my bed each morning – new place, new routines etc. (Sorry mum!) I’ve been trying to work out how update everyone the three people in the wide world of the internet who care about my life, and I got lazy and ended up with this list. Enjoy! Brisbane is a cyclist friendly city = Brisbane drivers need to be cyclist-friendly drivers. (Bonus fact: Brisbane has 1324.8km of bike lanes across the city) Swimmers/Cozzies are called ‘togs’ Maroon is not a colour, it’s an identity. People are not in a hurry, ever. Traffic is non-existent. It takes 10 minutes to cross the city – and there’s a river running through it! The river almost looks blue at sunset. But don’t let Instagram filters fool you, every other time it’s an ugly shade of brown Fixed speed cameras do not have 3 x warning signs with the speed limit before hand….they have one, an unhelpful 10 metres in front of it. Three-lane roads can be 60km/h. Speeding fines are 30% more in QLD for 10km/h over the speed limit. A car mount for one’s phone is a necessary car accessory and should be bought before running into another car while trying to navigate. Aldi does not sell alcohol. The sun wakes up early, too early.WAY too early. (Sunrise is at 4.59am tomorrow!) Geckos make a very annoying repetitive chirp at sunrise. (Read: at 5am!) Bush turkeys are the local friend and foe. It’s hot, even at 8am. (Therefore,) Washing dries super fast. Fresh produce is super cheap, super high quality and lasts a super long time. The tap water is awful. Brisbane from the highest point in the town looks…small. Doughnuts are the latest craze. And I’m not talking about cronuts. I’m talking about doughnuts from hole in walls, garage doors, food trucks, combi vans and market stalls. “We have about 100 adults in church on a Sunday morning, so practically a megachurch in Brisbane terms.” People start work early. I used to be one of the first in at 8.15/8.30am in Sydney, now I’m almost the last! People in Brisbane don’t cook. eat out a lot. It’s so nice when you leave work, why not dine on a little footpath/rooftop/riverside café. Polished white floor tiles should be criminal. Storms appear without warning and windows should closed for even a 30% chance of rain. A sung Eucharist is thing…that happens every Sunday morning in half the churches around town. It’s cheap! Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)