Category Archives: About Us

How Home Groups Work at IMAGINE

dining

(From the wiki page: https://imagine-darling.wikispaces.com/Home+Groups)

NOT HAVING ANY NORMAL kind of weekend services mean that our home groups bear the main responsibility for ministry at Surry Hills Baptist Church. Here’s how we arrange them.

The basic idea: a church can look after itself.

  • For a small church, operating without resources, the preparation of a weekly message or sermon or set of studies is the primary drain on individual time.
  • This can be reduced by utilizing existing material, and presupposing that the whole church is responsible for ministry.
  • There is better material available online than most small churches are able to produce on their own. We use that.
  • This approach is in several respects liberating. It is based on “body ministry” (Eph 4, 1 Cor 12, John 15). Without denying the usefulness of special expertise, a church should be able to look after itself. Over time, this may mean that there are no church attenders, only participants.

We focus on dinner and discussion.

  • We decide at the start of each quarter what study each group would like to pursue: e.g. Psalms, which we studied thematically in late 2014, or John 1-7, James, and Revelation, before that.
    • Everything is open. We organise things using a wiki.
    • Very focused and topical studies should be possible, though they may be better suited to more structured evening courses.
  • We select a podcast or study on the subject each week as we go along, before the weekend. This requires some effort from one individual each week to select a good one; how that task is distributed is up to the group.
    • There are an enormous number of extremely high quality podcasts, MP3s, videos, and so on, online. (See Resources list, below.)
  • This link is sent to the group’s email list by the preceding weekend.
  • The group watches or listens to the podcast before the home group that week.
    • This means there is no material to be covered on the night.
  • Instead, we have dinner and discuss the podcast, as well as whatever else is happening.
  • This has several advantages:
    • Because the material was not prepared by someone in the room, people feel free to say what they really think about it.
    • Because the groups set their own schedules, they can easily reshuffle the weeks around if something comes up.

We tested this in 2014; here’s how it went…

  • No-one had much trouble joining the email group or using the wiki.
  • Pre-homework sounds like a lot of commitment, but in practice, it was rare that anyone missed listening to the podcast before the home group. Listening isn’t difficult.
  • One person borrowed a commentary (Keener’s Gospel of John; — we have a lending library, btw) and then read through that each week — when learning is self-directed, there is scope for each person to pursue the questions that they are most curious about, and learn in the way that best suits them.
  • Hospitality matters! Each week is a meal and discussion. Eating together does a lot for building friendships. One person set themselves a new cooking challenge almost every week of the year. Another person started baking a cake or dessert each week. The standard of food was very good, and this contributed enormously to the atmosphere and the welcoming nature of the meetings. 
  • A lot of time was spent going out to restaurants or movies on weekends, without any formal organisation. Home groups have to be based on friendship and wanting to serve and get to know a bunch of amazing people. There’s no substitute for that.
  • One comment at the end of the year: “Each week’s home group meeting is like going on a journey of culinary and spiritual discovery.” 

Inquiries about home groups:

Image credit: Public domain, http://pixabay.com/en/still-life-food-dinner-table-379858/ 

And the newest Church in NSW is…

This morning we became a formally affiliated church with the Baptist Union of NSW. Here’s the clip we put together for the occasion…

This captures a lot of our vision, most of our vibe, and some of what we’ve been up to. Big thanks to Rhett for the mixing.http://imagine.org.au/?p=124

Pathways in Christian Spirituality

On Sunday night we discussed the idea of “Pathways” in Christian Spirituality. Most simply, this is the idea that there is no one Christian spirituality for everyone, but everyone’s unique temperaments and abilities are realized in different ways. Beyond a common core of experience, not everyone grows, experiences God, or finds fulfillment in the same manner.

(Click to enlarge)

As a church we should aim to realize all Christian potentials. We’re not suggesting that any person is excluded from the common responsibilities of each area: we all have to about God, whether or not we think we’re ‘Intellectual’; we all have to help people whether or not that’s our main thing. But we do want to invite everyone to explore and develop their life to the fullest by trying what challenges them and doesn’t come naturally.

  • Activist – Mission, Justice, Opportunity, Aid + Development
  • Aesthetic – Tactile Senses, Nature, Beauty + Craftsmanship, Romance
  • Creative – Artistry, Innovation, Communication, Entrepreneurship
  • Experiential – Charismatic, Ascetic, Mystical, Spiritual Disciplines
  • Intellectual – History, Theology, Inquiry, Problem-Solving
  • Reflective – Contemplation, Meditation, Solitude, Wonder
  • Relational – Community, Family, Hospitality, Counseling
  • Serving – Care-giving, Administration, Practical Help
  • Worship – Celebration, Expression, Devotion, Liturgy

This may not be the full spectrum, or the best way of organizing it. But hopefully it illustrates the range of experience that we want to foster in our community.

Nigel.

Welcome, and What We’re About…

Jesus had an unrivaled ability to cut through pretense and falsehood, and get to the heart of an issue. Our hope for our community is that we might do the same, and kick start a different conversation in our church, our community and our city. We’ve never pretended to have all the answers, but we’re willing to face up to the tough questions. We’re delighted that you’re here with us, and welcome you on the journey. Below are a few thoughts about our community that have been helpful for us to write down; we see them as a starting point for relationship, not a definitive guide to who we are and what we do. Because after all, the best way to get to know a community is to participate in it, not just read about it. Nevertheless, we hope you find it helpful…

OUR VALUES

Listen

  • To the voice of God, revealed in scripture and processed in conversation with others
  • To the stories of other lives in our community
  • To the passions God has placed in your heart

Learn

  • The way of Jesus
  • The concerns of your community and the people in it
  • The power of wisdom through faithful choices

Serve

  • God, your community and the cause your passions lead you to
  • As an antidote to greed & brokenness, revealing the power of generosity & gratefulness

OUR HALLMARKS

Radically InclusiveOur community shares a willingness to embrace those who have differing convictions, values and lifestyles. Anyone is welcome in our community; you become a member of Imagine just by showing up.

Externally focusedOur core exists for the benefit of the imagine community, the suburbs of Darlinghurst & Surry Hills and especially the marginalized members of our city; not for the benefit of its members. We put the needs of others ahead of our own, and following the way of Jesus connect with the desperate, the broken, the alienated & those who are searching for God.

Forged by characterThe distinguishing feature of our core may be our desire to embrace the pursuit of Christ-like character and allow his values to become the dominant values of our lives. This renovation of the heart is life-long, and moves us from greed to generosity, from foolishness to wisdom and from pride to courage. We are all on the journey, and celebrate honestly and authentically along the way.

Compelled by faith, fueled by love, driven by hope
Faith, hope and love were the apostolic ethos that fueled the first movement of Jesus. Imagine is a community living by faith and thus compelled to take risks; fueled by love and therefore known by our compassion & driven by hope, believing that tomorrow can be different from yesterday.