Archive for October, 2009

Feedback from Mars Hill in Seattle

Posted in Reflections on October 20th, 2009 by phil – Be the first to comment

Mars Hill, Seattle - our last church visit on this trip. We were at first only going to be attending a service here, but through Rory Dyer we were able to make contact with some of the leaders and we were able to spend some time with a couple of leaders and get a bit deeper in terms of the way this church is being built and how God has led them on the journey.

Mark Driscoll preached from Mary’s song in the gospel of Luke, which was very helpful in terms of taking our eyes off ourselves and putting them on God. At the end of the service, he asked for anyone who wanted to be baptised to meet some of the pastors in the foyer, and then the baptisms were shown on the screen as we continued to worship.

In our time afterwards, we were able to ask Brad (one of the pastors) a number of questions about the way in which Mars Hill ministers to believers helping them to grow in their faith, and to those who are still exploring a relationship with Christ. We spoke about everything from preaching to home groups to leadership to involvement in the city and the communities. It was a very helpful time even to learn about their journey and things they have tried and changed over time.

We also got to go to one of their video campuses where they  show Mark’s preaching by a video link and have their own campus pastor and home group structure. This again was very helpful and we continue to learn as we experience the way in which God is building his church in diverse ways through diverse gifting in all different places around the world.

It has been a huge privilege to come on this trip and to see and experience all that we have. We look forward to unpacking it in our own thinking as we continue to seek God for the ways in which he is leading us.

Feedback from Bethel in Redding

Posted in Reflections on October 20th, 2009 by phil – Be the first to comment

Well, we had quite a weather affected trip to Redding, after planning to land in San Francisco on Tuesday lunchtime and drive the 3 hours up to Redding that same day, we ended up landing at 6 pm as there were massive rain storms hitting the West Coast and we had to sleep over in San Francisco that night and drove up on the Wednesday morning. All part of the experience!

We attended the ‘Open Heaven’ conference at Bethel which was hosted by Bill Jonhson. Other speakers were Mahesh and Bonnie Chavda from North Carolina. The main emphasis of the time here was on the glory of God’s presence and His power to touch lives and change situations particularly in the area of healing.

I was struck again by the real passion here to see the power of Christ manifest and to have a christianity that reflects the presence and power of God. There were a number of ministry opportunities during the conference and Leigh and I were prayed for on 3 separate ocassions.

The worship over this week was wonderful. I think if we sang 1 or 2 songs that we recognised - that was a lot. Most of the songs were new and I would say there was a real sense of intimate worship that we experienced. It was good to experience more freedom in worship than we have in some of the other places we have visited.

Another joy for us here was bumping into Anitha Jaipal who spent about 10 days in Redding. She was deeply ministered to over the time we saw her and it was great to see a familiar face after being on the road for a while.

Feedback from North Point Atlanta

Posted in Reflections on October 14th, 2009 by phil – 1 Comment

I am writing this blog from San Francisco on route to Redding where we will be attending the Open Heavens Conference at Bethel Church. Today’s trip from Atlanta took much longer than expected as our flight was delayed by over 2 hours due to bad weather.

We have had a great couple of days in Atlanta at North Point  Church. We were hosted wonderfully by Barry and Nancy Brubaker while we attended the ‘Inside North Point Conference’. We were particularly involved in the Small Group Track of the conference.

On Sunday we were able to tour through all the different environments at North Point from their young children’s facilities through to their high school programs that they run. We also spent time with one of the pastors who talked us through the North Point philosophy of ministry. The resounding impression at North Point is one of a highly focussed team with a very clear vision and methodology for the church.

On Monday we spent time in a more focussed session particularly looking at how the small groups are led. This was very informative and interesting to note how things are done differently in different contexts. North Point establishes groups that remain together for a defined period and no new people join that group during the life of the group. The aim is rather to develop a deeper level of relationship within the group rather than use the group to reach out to others. Once the life of the group comes to an end, it is disbanded and the process starts again with groups often splitting and starting again as 2 separate groups. 

A highlight for us was to be able to attend a small group with Barry and Nancy on Monday night where we were able to meet and get to know some of the people in the church.

We continue to learn new things all along this journey and count it a huge privilege to be here and to experience the way the church is being built in different places around the States.

Feedback from Saddleback LA

Posted in Uncategorized on October 10th, 2009 by phil – 1 Comment

Well, I can’t believe it but our first week in the States is over and we are on our way to Atlanta this morning for the next leg of our trip.

LA has been great. We have been staying with Gil and Elmarie Odendaal from Saddleback church. Gil is the Global director of their HIV / AIDS initiatives so we have had some great discussions around social upliftment projects and the work that Saddleback is doing in Rwanda. We also got to attend a midweek worship meeting here, which was also great to be a part of.

The main reason for our visit to Saddleback was the Children’s ministry conference, which was very well run. The theme was Ps 78:72 about shepherding people with a pure heart and skillful hands. The conference covered aspects from leadership through working with volunteers to the programming and structure of their ministry. We also got to tour through all their facilities which we took photo’s of and also Video. All in all a great week, which we can unpack with others as we process it once we are home. Some of the key things that stood out for me were:

  • Everyone in the church is encouraged to serve in some way as a part of their own spiritual growth. So their volunteer pool is always growing as people look for opportunities to grow - even the older children are serving with the younger kids.
  • It is so obvious when a team is committed to one another and there is unity and mutual respect in the team. I feel Saddbleback has something of that here - the guys here are committed to unity and to working together and encouraging one another.
  • The guys here think big and give it a good shot. If they are going to do something they go all out for it. They make some mistakes along the way, which is part of the journey but at the very least they are going to give it a go!

Speak to you soon from Atlanta!Phil and Leigh @ Saddleback

USA 2009 part 1

Posted in Uncategorized on October 4th, 2009 by phil – Be the first to comment

I am writing this blog from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. Leigh and I are sitting in Wimpy waiting for our flight to Washington Dulles - USA! We are on a whirl wind tour of 4 different churches in the States to learn, open ourselves wide to what God is doing and saying and enjoying the experiences and relationships along the way. Some of the words we have had in advance of this trip are to listen out for the still, small voice of God in the midst of the large and loud noises we will experience along the way, that God wants to enlarge us on this trip and that God blesses those who are a pilgrim people.


This is our agenda over the next few weeks:


  • 5th to 10th October at Saddleback for Purpose Driven Children’s Ministry Conference
  • 10th to 13th October at Northpoint Church for conference (We will be on the Home Group Track)
  • 13th to 17th October at Bethel for Open Heavens Conference
  • 17th to 19th October at Mars Hill for weekend
  • 19th to 20th October with Leigh’s bridesmaid who she hasn’t seen for about 12 years
  • 20th to 22nd October with Nathan and Michelle Robinson in North Carolina
  • 23rd October arrive home


Will try to keep this blog posted with our news as we go.