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Spiritual Misfits Podcast
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Spiritual Misfits Podcast

Author: Meeting Ground

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If you’ve ever felt on the fringes of Christian faith this is a safe space for you. Your questions, doubts and hopes are all welcome here. We’re creating conversations, affirmations, meditations and other resources to support you on your spiritual journey and let you know that even if you feel like a misfit, you don’t have to feel alone.
63 Episodes
Hello misfits, friends, human beings! Welcome to another episode of the podcast. A really wonderful conversation; the kind that is somehow earthy and grounded and raw while also deeply poetic and moving. Becca De Souza is a doula, and a writer (check out links below to some articles we reference in this conversation). And she has a profound story of coming to see God in new ways in the midst of trauma and PTSD. Read some of her words here:
A few years ago, (pre Spiritual Misfits) I was making a podcast called Man;Kind. It was primarily a show about the unhelpful gender moulds we place on each other, with particular reference to manhood and masculinity etc. The name of the show was supposed to beg the question: could the word ‘man’ become more associated with kindness than power or strength or aggression. During the production of that show I got to do one of my favourite interviews that I’ve done to date, with someone I admire very much. Australian film maker, Damon Gameu. His films include ‘that sugar film’, ‘2040’ and more recently ‘Regenerating Australia’.For various reasons I won’t bore you with that interview got a little lost and never really got the audience I think it was worthy of. And I think you dear misfit listeners, are very likely to love and benefit from this chat.Although the angle of the interview is somewhat grounded in ideas of gender and manhood in particular, there is so much about this conversation that relates to what we often explore on Spiritual Misfits (and of course I should also note that many of the issues around masculinity are extremely relevant to Christian spaces which can be responsible for doubling down on outdated gender roles, rather than helping us critique and transcend them). But beyond gender, Damon and I asked questions around how we make new meaning when our old models have largely let us down. How we tap into awe and wonder. And how we can care for our one planet in the midst of ecological crisis. We also touch on the desire for the transcendent and the need for collective social change rather than just individual responsibility. It was such a helpful conversation for me at the time and I learned a lot from Damon.So, with all that in mind I hope you enjoy this conversation!
One theme that has come up across several episodes of the podcast is about how to think about the different versions of ourselves across time. When you think back to an earlier version of yourself who perhaps has a very different faith to the one you have now, how do you feel? Do you cringe? Do you feel shame? Do you long for or miss those days? The reality is, you can’t go back to earlier days in your life — whether you miss them or wish you could erase them. But, perhaps, learning to see them as part of your unfolding story is a part of spiritual maturity. I often think, that if we cannot extend kindness to earlier versions of ourselves, we will be unable to extend that kindness to people who believe now, what we believed then. Maybe the opposite is true also.So, this guided reflection is intended to help you exercise self-compassion to these different versions of yourself across time. And, to look back attempting to see what was good, beautiful and true, even in very different stages of life.The exercise invites you to revisit memories from childhood through to today. For some of us, there may be great pain, loss or discomfort between those points, perhaps particularly regarding religious beliefs or spaces. And if that’s the case, and you don’t feel comfortable revisiting those memories now, please know you are welcome to leave this one if it’s not for you. Or to come back at a time when you are around people or a place that feels safe for you. 
Last weekend was Mardi Gras, and you may have listened to our WorldPride panel on the pod last week. My guest this week, Rod Pattenden was actually in the first church group to march in the Mardis Gras parade back in around 1999. And whilst that involved a horrendous amount of discrimination and suffering, I am amazed at Rod’s courage and resilience. There’s a lot of other things I love about Rod. He’s an artist with a PhD in art and religion, and as you’ll hear, he’s a brilliant thinker and practitioner, constantly finding ways to translate ideas into action. This conversation took place in a room in Rod’s house filled with art and books — a pretty good place to be if you ask me. As you listen, I hope you get the sense that you’re in the room with us, exploring how we can break open our boxes and find new ways of seeing the divine in all kinds of places.  
Have you ever heard Christians criticise the use of the word ‘pride’ in queer culture?This week Karl Hand, Karen Pack and Tash Holmes come on the podcast for a discussion around why pride is a like ‘holy word’ for queer people and the current state of play for queer people of faith.We also explored the concept of allyship. What does it mean to be an ally? When do well-meaning allies cause harm? How can we start from grounds of mutuality and friendship? This conversation was joyful, optimistic and moving. Enjoy!
There’s this thought experiment in the world of philosophy called the ship of Theseus. You may have heard it. The general idea is that there’s a ship. And over time every part of it — the rudder, the sails, the other stuff on a ship which I don’t know the names of — is gradually replaced, one by one. There comes a point at which the ship has none of its original components. And yet this process has taken place over many years. So is it the same ship it was at the beginning? Or is it a different one? Of course, this idea is a great way to think about our lives. At an actual cellular level this is true of your own body over time as our cells are constantly being replaced. And it’s certainly true for healthy spirituality, as we grow and find new language and ideas in the process.I started thinking about this idea after this episode’s conversation with Nicola Morley. Because Nicola’s story is a conversation about change across time in some really significant ways. And yet, there are certain characteristics that Nicola has possessed her whole life. Enthusiasm. Sincerity. A whole-hearted approach. We spoke about her early faith, her stint as a missionary overseas, and her journey of coming out later in life and embracing queerness, and the changes in her Christianity along the way. 
Church attendance in the West is on the decline. I think any church interested in having a future needs to do some serious reflecting on what may need to change.And I’m pretty convinced there’s a big gap to be filled for people who still desire a faith community, but aren’t looking to return what they may have left for good reasons. So...what kind of churches could fill that gap?At least one component of that conversation is about the moolah. How to resource and staff churches in a changing world. Sustaining the budget of a church with full-time staffing expenses isn’t cheap. (and perhaps for some of us the business oriented nature of church is part of what we wanted to leave behind.) At the same time, coordinating and organising any kind of community does take time, effort and resources. And I still think there’s an important role for pastors and ministers of all kinds.I’ve been trying to live in the tension of these questions for many years now. For several years I’ve personally been bi-vocational. Working a day or two in paid ministry and a few days in other spaces. A few years ago I read a book by Brad Brisco that introduced me to a concept I liked even more than BiVo. The book was called 'Covocational Church Planting', and in this week's podcast episode you'll hear why covocational can be a more holistic approach. I am delighted to have Brad join me on this episode for a chat about the future of the church and how CoVocational staffing may play a role in that. More broadly we discuss how the shape and structure of church is interwoven with what we believe about God and the purpose of the church. Brad has spent many years navigating these questions, and I think has some great wisdom to offer.During the conversation Brad mentions some resources around the ‘five-fold/APEST’ gifts. You can check them out here in blog or video form:
There are plenty of people whose behaviour in the name of Jesus is the very thing that would often lead me to want to reject the Christian faith I’ve grown up with. Dave Andrews, on the other hand, is the kind of person who makes me feel the opposite. He speaks about Jesus in a way that makes me feel like I am encountering this story for the first time. I think this is largely because Dave has modelled a life around ‘sermon on the mount ethics’ more than most people you meet in the average church. I think you’ll see what I mean, as you listen. During our conversation we talk about Christian anarchy, Dave gives a pretty powerful critique of the early Christian creeds, and we also explore inclusive theology that works alongside and with people from different religious traditions. I want to give you a heads up that this conversation gets really heavy in places. Dave’s commitment to a radical following of Christlike ethics has meant he’s been rejected, excommunicated and banned from multiple Christian groups over the years. Dave shares openly about the ways some of these occurrences impacted his health, including thoughts he had around taking his own life. If that’s personally sensitive territory for you, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself as you listen, and please reach out to services like Beyond Blue or Lifeline (13 11 44) if you need to. If you have experienced any form of rejection or loss of Christian community, I hope listening to this gives you a sense of solidarity. And I want to emphasise again, our whole ethos in making this podcast is to let you know, regardless of what you believe, you are worthy of belonging. And you are not alone. 
Hannah has seen people get gold teeth in prayer meetings. Mitch has been ‘bitterly disappointed by the miraculous’. Will used to pray out loud for long stretches of time….but now wants go on a silent retreat.The three of them have a candid conversation about prayer, miracles, disappointment and hope, and if/how they ought to approach prayer these days.
So stoked to have Joel Hollier and Steff Fenton return to the podcast! (If you haven’t listened to their previous episodes I strongly recommend you do so.)Joel and Steff co-pastor New City Church and from its inception they have been seeking to create a trauma-informed faith community. We had a conversation about what that actually means. What happens when churches are not consciously thinking about trauma and how to handle it? How do you approach bible and musical worship and prayer when the reality is that for some people, these are tied to traumatic religious experiences? And if you experienced trauma in a religious setting…is there hope of healing in one?These are the kind of questions that ground this conversation. And obviously, it’s important to note that these are questions you journey with over the long term, rather than solve in one conversation. Having said that, there are definitely some really actionable and helpful thoughts and suggestions in this chat. So for those of you who help shape church spaces — please listen and use this to inform your conversations and decisions. And to those who have moved out of church spaces — I hope hearing this gives a glimmer of hope just knowing that there are people like Joel and Steff seeking to create safer spaces for faith and community. Want more Joel and Steff goodness?Listen to Joel Hollier on finding room at the table here.Listen to Steff Fenton on gender expansive theology here. 
Rob Buckingham is the pastor of Bayside Church in Melbourne. In many ways Rob is as Christian as they come. He loves Jesus, he loves scripture, he loves the church. He’s a pastor through and through. At the same time, by his own confession he has always been somewhat of a misfit — and if you have any experience of the pentecostal church in Australia, you may listen to some things he says and wonder how that is the world he is coming from (which we do touch on). As you will hear in this conversation Rob has asked many good questions over his faith journey — and on many occasions has changed his mind. And even more than that, has sought to take responsibility for where his former views have been harmful. In the back half of this conversation we talk quite a bit about his journey and Bayside Church’s journey towards fully welcoming and including all people, including those who are diverse in their gender and sexuality. It’s powerful to hear a fairly traditional leader with a pretty large platform acknowledge and apologise for past mistakes. I wish we saw this more often.I would say Rob and his ministry are characterised by two values that this whole conversation essentially revolves around. A willingness to ask questions when aspects of faith and Christian teaching do not make sense. And a desire to create increasingly inclusive faith communities. I think those are deeply held values within our podcast community. And so, whilst there may be things you see differently to Rob, I hope this conversation inspires you to keep asking questions and to keep seeking broader, wider and deeper inclusion.  
Hustle culture, busyness, sabbath and the struggle to pay attention. Plus the story behind the tattoo on Hannah's foot. 
Hey friends, Happy new year!For these first couple weeks of 2023 I’m going to be replaying a couple of older episodes. Our listenership has grown a lot since these were released and so many of you may not have heard these ones before. On that note, if you’ve got some downtime in January there are plenty of excellent episodes in the back-log. Now’s a great time to catch up on some if you’d like to.  From January the 15th we will start releasing new episodes, and I am so excited about some of the guests, themes and ideas in the pipe-line for this new year ahead. So make sure you’re subscribed and if you haven’t already, jump in our Facebook group to connect with our growing online community. Here’s Christine Redwood on women, the Bible and the pulpit, first released in April 2022. 
One week until Christmas day. Wild! This will be the last episode of the podcast for 2022. We put something out every single week since launching in January. And I really feel like we’re just getting started here. We have such a beautiful sense of community growing around the pod, and I love hearing stories about the connections facilitated through these episodes. I know that they have created space for really courageous conversations to continue. So thank you for being part of that, as one of our listeners!  And stick around in 2023 as we continue to create conversations and resources to let any misfits listening know, you are not alone. To wrap out the year, here’s a sermon I’ve dug out that I preached around Christmas in 2019. It’s a little different as I built it around three poems I wrote that year in the lead-up to Christmas. And so, it is kind of a hybrid poetic sermon of sorts. But looking back, the timing of it is really interesting in hindsight. For one, this was just on the brink of 2020. We had no clue what was coming. And in fact, as I make reference to in the sermon, the skies at the time were smoke-filled, as the Black Summer bushfires were in full effect. In many ways this was on the eve of what has become such a transitional point in history for us.It was also at a transitional point for me personally, as I knew at this point in time that in 2020 we were going to start this alternative faith community called Meeting Ground. And at the time I remember really feeling like I had so much love for the community of the church I was on staff at — yet I also felt so strongly that the people I was most interested in being with had largely left church spaces like this one. Given the recent context of fracturing denominational lines and recent episodes on that I think this message is actually even more pertinent.So, long story short, I wanted to share it with you, as some final thoughts to wrap out the year. It’s a message about what God is like, who God is with and how God chooses to be revealed. A God who draws near. Love to you my friends. I hope the final days of 2022 treat you kindly.Will
Alright friends, as promised here’s another conversation about the ramifications of the NSW & ACT Baptist rumblings of late.   Recognising that listeners will have varied levels of engagement with this situation, here are the essential points you need to know upfront:At the most recent Baptist Assembly, there were a large and complicated set of motions essentially requiring uniformity around a traditional view of marriage, and beginning to establish a mechanism to remove pastors and churches with theology that affirms same-sex marriage. On the same day, a set of motions were put forward about increasing the representation of women in leadership on boards and decision making bodies. In this conversation we talk about both of these things — as in many ways they do share some significant overlap. We tried to hold this conversation in a way that is useful for Baptists processing what is happening, as well as those watching on from other denominational spaces. Or those who have left institutional/denominational spaces but who may still feel like this process brings up old wounds.I also want to say upfront there are many other voices that could have been a part of this conversation, and even though this is a longer episode, it’s still limited. I am conscious that there isn’t a queer voice on this episode sharing how this experience has impacted them; I’ve also felt conscious of not wanting to add to the burden and vulnerability of queer people by expecting them to open up their trauma around this. So many of you have given energy in that way many times and I want to say to you, this conversation is in no way, shape or farm a discussion about your worth, value or place at the table. Those are assumed truths here. I primarily chose these three guests because they are truly Baptist in the best sense of the word — and I have valued what they have modelled through an extremely uninspiring process.Having said that, I recognise the limitations of our lenses and privileges - and if you are an LGBTQI+ person who has been impacted by this situation wanting to share some of your perspective (whether publicly or anonymously) please do message me.Well, I think that’s probably all you need to know upfront. Here’s Christine Redwood, Josh Dowton, Hayley Bernhardt and I processing how we see this situation at this point in time.  
An Advent Liturgy

An Advent Liturgy


It has always been our intention to create resources to support spiritual practice, as well as hosting honest conversations and interviews.This episode is a little different to any of our previous ones, but it is intended to help you experience and enter the Advent season, with your mind, body and heart.We've created an advent liturgy of sorts.A collection of poetry, music and scripture, with space to pause, to breathe, to be. At this time of year, many of us may feel like we particularly struggle to do these things. And yet, one way to understand the Christmas narrative, is to see divinity, entering human spaces exactly as they are. Messy. Uncertain. Under the shadow of empire. On an ordinary night. Amidst the feeding troughs of animals. God comes in vulnerability. And so, as you listen to this short liturgical experience.......whether you are cleaning up around your house, preparing dinner, driving laps around a shopping centre carpark or whatever the case may be, it is our hope that your awareness of divinity and love might sneak in to whatever cracks it can, in your life.Almost all of the stunning music in this episode is used with grateful permission from  Bjear. His two Christmas albums ‘a Christmas with Bjear and friends volumes 1 and 2’ are available now. You can go and grab them on Bandcamp here and support an independent Australian artist this Christmas.Are you ready? Let's begin...(special thanks to Erin, Leksi, Ellaina, Caro, Emily, Becca, Hannah, Mel, Kerry and Sam for reading on this one, as well as Noah and Leo who had brief cameos).Scripture:Luke 1:46-55Poetry:Advent: Mary, Will SmallSometimes I Wonder, Kaitlin ShetlerSongs: Have Yourself a Merry Christmas, performed by Bjear & friendsThe First Noel, performed by Bjear & friendsChristmas Eve, 1818, performed by Bjear & friendsMidnight, Christians, is the Solemn Hour, performed by Bjear & friendsO Holy Night, performed by Bjear & friends
This is a conversation about what it’s like to go through faith crises, deconstruction, dark nights of the soul. etc etc. while pastoring a church. This is not an easy road. And I have not heard many people talk about it from the perspective of being a pastor. But I don’t think it’s uncommon. I hope that this conversation gives people a little more empathy for some of the tensions that many pastors deal with, trying to love a group of people with a diversity of opinions and perspectives, while going through their own process. If you are a pastor, I hope this makes you feel like your process is ok. And you too are not alone. Out of her own journey of change, Caro has shifted the way she leads and shapes church community. And in my opinion, what she describes sounds exactly like what I crave when I think of the church of tomorrow (which we’ve spoken a little bit about lately). It is well worth listening to this conversation just to hear how Caro approaches things like teaching the bible and nurturing community nowadays. So, my friends, enjoy this conversation. And if you happen to know a pastor like Caro. Send them a text. Or buy them a drink. 
This week on the podcast I am joined by Tash Holmes to chat about creativity, spirituality, faith communities….and just so much good stuff. Tash is a singer, musician & writer based in Sydney, and just another wonderful human I am grateful to have become friends with in recent months. Tash shares their story of coming out while at Hillsong and maintaining faith even through some really horrible experiences. We speak about the place of creatives in the church and faith spaces generally, and talk about some of the tensions around how the arts can be viewed kind of like a ‘cherry on top’ when really, they are foundational in so many ways to what it means to be human.After hanging out with Tash my heart felt full. I hope yours does also. 
Hello friends. Most of you probably know about the recent vote by the Baptist Association of NSW & ACT to kick out pastors and churches with theology that affirms same-sex marriage (and LGBTQI+ people more broadly). If you want to get a little more context, here are two articles worth your time: Here are Will's reflections the day after.And here is an excellent article from Erin Sessions  that gets into a little more of the nitty gritty if you want more details.This episode is a debrief chat the day after the vote with Mitch Forbes (who will lose his ordination), Hannah Gierhart (representing the perspective of someone watching this unfold from the 'outside') and Will (who was basically born into a Baptist church). Listen and join us in the Facebook group after to share your thoughts. 
Terms like post-evangelical and exvangelical have become increasingly prominent in recent years. I spoke about this in detail with David Gushee a few episodes back. But todays guest actually wrote a book called ‘the post evangelical’…almost 30 years ago, in 1995.So Dave Tomlinson is not new to this conversation and in many ways he is a wonderful guide to those of us seeking a renewed and renovated faith that takes the modern world seriously and stands the test of time. Dave is a vicar from London, a wonderful storyteller and truth seeker and has written many books including ‘how to be a bad Christian and a better human being’ which we discuss in this conversation.Simon Buckingham Shum who is a part of meeting ground church joined me to co-host this one - as a Brit who has been following Dave’s work for a long time. Simon and Dave make reference a few times to Greenbelt, which is an annual festival in the UK bringing together faith, justice, philosophy, art and a shared space for people from all walks of life. There’s a link in the shownotes if you want to learn more. At the end of the conversation Dave gives one of the best definitions of hope I’ve ever heard.This was a delightful conversation to have and I hope it encourages you.Listen to Dave's talks at  Greenbelt here: out Dave's YouTube channel here:
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