DiscoverSpiritual Misfits Podcast
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.
56 Episodes
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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

2022-12-0326:53

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: https://www.greenbelt.org.uk/talks-archive/#~tomlinsonCheck out Dave's YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpGqunuXebtPE1SaSlVjsdA
Mitch Forbes returns to crack a beer with Will and debrief on their experience of seeing Rob Bell live in Sydney a couple weeks ago. 
The Reverend Dr. Karina Kreminski is a Mission Coaching Consultant with Uniting Mission & Education. She has a doctorate in missional formation. She’s a writer. She’s a facilitator of ‘The Happiness Lab’ in Surry Hills. She’s co-founder of ‘Neighbourhood Matters’. And as she shares in this conversation, she helps to lead a fascinating Sunday gathering with a crew of people in her hood who come from all different world views and backgrounds to explore spirituality together. Karina joined Simon Nixon and I (Will) to continue our chat about the 'church of tomorrow' and what it might look like.During the chat, we spoke about Karina’s own journey of evolving faith. We spoke about problematic language — and the tendency words like mission can have to sound colonising. We spoke about the significance of the local neighbourhood. And heaps more.  I don’t feel like we gave Karina the easiest questions, and I’m particularly grateful for her honesty throughout the conversation around all the things she’s still trying to figure out. We want you to continue to be part of the conversation — so join us in our Facebook group and let us know what you think after listening. 
Karl Hand is the pastor of Crave Church in Sydney, he has a PhD in the New Testament, and is a contributor to the recently updated Queer Bible Commentary with a chapter on the book of Ephesians.During our conversation Karl described this beautiful gift that queer people have for using humour as a means of survival in the face of oppression. He describes how in a way Mardis Gras is a response to police brutality involving people dressing up and throwing a party — and when you think about it, this is an incredible example of subversively comical resistance. It isn’t just police brutality that has been used against queer people historically — often scripture has been tragically used as part of the arsenal of weapons used to discriminate against them. Well, as Karl is going to show us in this conversation, at least one queer response is to re-read the text in brilliantly creative ways that see the humour, even through the trauma.I’m wary of anyone who says there’s only one way to read the Bible. I firmly believe that if it’s a living word — like I was taught growing up — then we can’t stop it from speaking in different ways to different people at different moments in time. And this conversation with Karl has given me fresh ways to see next time I open my Bible. Listen in, and by the end I hope you’ll be able to say the same thing. If nothing else, may you be inspired by the beautiful creative resistance of queer people. Check out the Queer Bible Commentary here.
Many of us have experienced significant changes in our faith, spirituality or worldview  in recent years (which by the way is a normal and healthy thing). And of course, those changes are taking place right across human societies in the information age we are living through.  I’ve heard people speculate that we’re living in a new church reformation — and I think there’s something to that idea. So what will the Church of tomorrow look like? We can think about this question as a purely imaginative exercise. Or we can play a role in answering it. By experimenting and starting our own communities. By having large, imaginative conversations where we dream about what’s possible — and then give it a go.This episode is an attempt to begin a conversation like that.Through spiritual misfits we want to help you know that you are not alone. It says that every week in the intro. So what could and can communities look like where people move through their processes of change and growth and doubt and faith and all the things together?Simon Nixon had the idea for this one — and we also threw out the invitation to our Facebook group for anyone who wanted to join us on zoom while we recorded this conversation. It was excellent to see a number of your faces and to spend a little time outside of the recording just connecting with people and hearing where you’re from.The facebook group is becoming a really great space, so if you’re not already in there feel free to join us, and from time to time we are planning to organise more live recordings you can join us for as well as other online meet-ups.Let’s shape this thing together. Here is the first (of many) conversations about what the church of tomorrow could look like.  
'Either Jesus would come back or Tom would be healed'This week’s episode is a rather lovely and profound conversation between myself, Hannah and Bruce Macauley (who happens to be her Dad), that is rich in both personal and philosophical wisdom.Bruce’s faith has changed a lot since the days he believed that Jesus would either return or heal his sons severe autism. It’s a journey involving hanging out with homeless people at a caravan park, listening to Richard Rohr sermons on CDs, reading 13th century monks and mystics and eventually heading over to the living school in Albuquerque to learn from father Richard in the flesh.It was also pretty special to explore some of that journey with reflections from a father and daughter, who have both experienced significant faith change, though in different life stages and circumstances. Both Hannah’s parents Bruce and Kerry are incredibly Christlike and beautiful humans. The kind that help me to see the sacred in the very ordinary moments and the very difficult ones.I'm so grateful for this sharing of some of their story, and I’m sure you will be also. 
The Reverend Dr David Gushee is one of the world’s leading Christian ethicists as well as a pastor, author and advocate. He’s the author of a range of important books, notably including ‘Changing our Mind’, a landmark argument for LGBTQI+ inclusion in the church first published in 2014. More recently his book ‘After Evangelicalism’ has provided an invaluable guide for many pilgrims trying to find their way out of the maze of American evangelical culture without necessarily knowing where to go from there. David’s books have been so helpful for me, so I can’t even tell you how excited I was to have this conversation with him. We explored a range of important and interesting questions together, like:How do you extract yourself from evangelicalism while retaining your Christianity? What might Christian humanism look like for post-evangelicals? What does it mean to have theology informed by the holocaust?What does responsible, meaningful engagement with scripture look like coming out of spaces that have weaponised it in various ways?David’s thoughts on all of these questions are well worth your time. He’s warm, intelligent, and gives me hope for the future. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. 
A couple weeks ago there was a very special convergence of communities at Hamilton Baptist Church. I know many of you have listened to the episodes with Andrew Dodd and Scott Higgins sharing their stories and the story of Hamilton. If you haven’t listened yet add those to your up next. Anyway, Andrew invited me to come along to Hamilton and share some thoughts and poems. And Mitch Forbes and some of the New City Baps crew came along, as well as a few others from Meeting Ground church. So we ended up with a very special mix of people in the room, and honestly it was so lovely to meet a number of podcast listeners in person and to celebrate being a bit of a rag-tag group on the fringes of faith. Which can be a pretty fun place if you make it a party. Before the morning Andrew Dodd asked me if we could make this a ‘live’ podcast episode. So that’s what you’re about to hear. Andrew’s the host for this one. And there’s a bit of variety. First, a conversation with Mitch Forbes. Then we hear from one of our listeners, Alison. Shout-out to you Alison. And then the bulk of the episode is a mix of Andrew interviewing me and me sharing some poems around evolving faith and LGBTQI+ inclusion.  This was a lot of fun and I hope you get the sense that you’re in the room with us experiencing the energy of it. On that note, if you would be interested in hosting or collaborating on some sort of spiritual misfits meet-up or live gathering, hit us up. Who knows what could happen? 
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