Claim Ownership


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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:
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? 
Laurie Wevers is a spiritual director and a therapist, who works with people at the intersection of religion and trauma. Her work is informed by her own story, growing up within white evangelicalism and with narcissistic parents, yet eventually finding her way towards mystical and contemplative spirituality, including being a student at Richard Rohr’s Living School.Of course, there are aspects to this story and this work that are deeply painful. Laurie calls these teachers. Our conversation left me with hope though, as Laurie is the kind of person committed to helping people walk into the new. There’s no going backwards, she told me, only progress, and the discovery of what that looks like for each different person. As I spoke to Laurie I felt like she was exactly the kind of guide that many people need as they navigate the disorienting and uncharted territory of leaving certain spaces, without knowing where to next. We spoke about what this journey might look like for people, and towards the end we got into some really interesting territory talking about what kind of communities might help facilitate this process as well.You can check out more of Laurie’s work and connect with her here, otherwise I hope this conversation is helpful for you, where ever you are in your own journey.
Earlier this week I was sitting in my lounge room, which generally looks like a tornado (aka children) has swept through the place, reading Thomas Merton on the contemplative life. At first, this seemed slightly humorous, as my life couldn't feel any further from the 'monastery' right now. But it got me thinking. And I started to ponder my favourite parable Jesus told about a mustard seed. Which potentially means something quite different to what it sounds like on the surface. And the parable about the mustard seed and the moment with Merton in my chaotic lounge room started to help me some big things in fresh ways. So here are some thoughts about all of that. Followed by a short 'examen' prayer I'm inviting you to join me for if you'd like to.
Did you grow up within ‘purity culture’? If you’re unsure, here are some signs that maybe you did: You or your friends had a crack at ‘kissing dating goodbye.’God’s love seemed entirely contingent upon your sexual abstinenceYou got the impression that boys/men were unable to control their sexual desires, and girls/women were entirely responsible for any ‘sexual immorality.’ Sex outside of marriage felt like the worst and most shameful thing you could possibly do……after getting married though, a flip would switch and sex would suddenly be an amazing gift from God! The epicentre of purity culture was evangelical America in the 90s. But it certainly made its way to Australian shores. In this week’s episode of the podcast, Hannah and I reflect on our own experiences of purity culture and the ‘hangover’ left in its wake. Towards the end of the episode we turn our attention towards the question of what we would like to pass on to our own kids when it comes to understanding sexuality and spirituality. Is there a Christian sexual ethic that ditches the shame while still treating our sexuality with care and sensitivity? We don’t claim to have an answer to this question. But we at least want to talk about it! We reference several books in this episode that are worth reading if you want a deeper dive after this discussion: Pure, Linda Kay KleinJesus and John Wayne, Kristin Kobes Du MezAfter Evangelicalism, David GusheeThe Deeply Formed Life, Rich Villodas
Mitch and I riff on some questions from the Facebook discussion group and then get into a slightly more impassioned discussion about fracturing denominations, peoples obsession with sexuality and why 'sola scripture' logically leads to polarisation. Questions we discuss from the Facebook group: - Divinisation/theosis. Did God really become human, so we could become God? - Missing texts from the Bible. Are we missing out? - What did it mean for Jesus to be ‘fully human’? Was he limited to the thinking of the time and all the ignorance / belief systems that came with it? Or did he somehow still contain all the wisdom of the cosmos in that human body and chose not to share the knowledge that would come from future discoveries etc?- What’s the deal with the Diocese of the Southern Cross? 
Will does the majority of the interviews on this podcast, so Hannah decided it was time to flip the roles around and interview him. Will gave Hannah permission to play the role of investigative journalist and grill him.... there may not have been any 'gotcha' moments, but the wide-ranging conversation did include: the origins of 'spiritual misfits'things Will regrets from his teenage yearsthe biggest thing Will is struggling with spirituallythoughts about the creative process, thoughts about staying positive when things feel like they're falling apart.
Hello friends!As I mentioned last week, with the birth of a new member of our family, I’ve dug out a couple of my favourite interviews from other shows I’ve hosted in the past, while I take a short break from doing interviews. This week’s conversation is truly top-shelf in my opinion and I’m sure you’ll learn something if you listen.For this week, I’ve grabbed an interview my friend Benj Gould and I originally did for the Forming Church podcast. We interviewed a diverse range of people about what the future of the church might look like in a post-pandemic world (taking into consideration all the other cultural and technological shifts we have been living through in recent years).This was a very special chat with Jo Saxton. Jo was born in London to parents who immigrated from Nigeria, and now lives in the US. She’s an internationally sought after author, speaker and leadership coach, and as you’ll see she’s just brilliant.We spoke with Jo about grief, lament, and both racial and gender inequality, and how the church of the future must genuinely grapple with these things if it’s going to survive and thrive.This interview was done in February 2021, and involves some COVID-specific reflections from that moment in time, but the majority of the conversation remains incredibly relevant for where we are right now.This is a conversation about some topics that’d can be difficult to speak about, but remain so deeply important. Check it out, and then join us in our Facebook discussion group to share your thoughts.
Joel McKerrow is a poet and educator. He speaks to large groups of people. He writes wonderful books. He occasionally paints skateboards or does wood carvings. He’s one of those people who is basically brilliant at everything he does. And he has a deep understanding of the winding pilgrimage that honest spirituality entails. A couple years ago Joel published a book called ‘Woven: a Faith for the Dissatisfied’. It’s a great book that most listeners of this podcast would deeply resonate with. Head to after the episode to grab a copy.I actually did this interview with Joel during the launch tour for the book. We were speaking about self-awareness and the spiritual journey, and we cover a whole lot of interesting ground during this chat. It is well worth your time. This interview originally appeared on the Inhabit podcast, which I use to make with my buddy Benj Gould. If you haven’t listened to that show, you may be interested in checking it out, there’s lots of good episodes there.Content warning: Joel shares a story in this episode which involves sexual assault and abuse which may be sensitive for some listeners. Please take care while listening and reach out to a support service if you need help.
Prepare for an experience with this one…featuring some tunes that are bound to get you moving! Simon Buckingham Shum is an academic who works at the intersection of education, technology and ethics. But, today we’re talking about his experiences as a part of a movement of alternative expressions of liturgy, worship and church back in the 90s in England.I was fascinated the first time Simon shared about some of these experiences with me and although I was never really into electronic dance music, Simon was ultimately talking about creative pioneering and experimentation and trying to find new ways of engaging the sacred And that’s a bigger conversation than any particular musical genre.  In the decades since then Simon’s faith journey has seen its own evolutions, and he’s been in a few different spaces stylistically as well as theologically. So, in this conversation we’re following the threads of a particular story but we’re also talking about more broadly about the interwoven relationships between communities, creativity,  forms of worship and our underlying motivations.Simon’s also written a really helpful reflective piece of writing about this journey. It’s immersive and includes pictures of event flyers from that time. That’s on our website here and I would recommend you read it alongside listening to this episode, as they play off each other. After listening join us in our Facebook discussion group to share your thoughts and keep the conversation going. Music in this episode:“I Lift My Cup (To The Spirit Divine”) by Gloworm 1992 (5 mixes)“Miserere” by Sue Wallace (composed for Visions services in early 90s). More tracks at:
I think a lot of us have come to know the forms of Christianity that we don’t want. We’ve seen politicised versions of faith that we want nothing to do with. We’ve witnessed institutional failings, scandals and cover-ups that we want to distance ourselves from. But, sometimes it’s harder to answer the question, what now? How do I put the pieces back together?A few years ago someone told me it’s not enough to know what you’re running away from. You’ll be sustained by knowing what you’re running towards. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that. So, the question is,  are there more attractive, beautiful, faithful, life-giving ways of following Jesus? When I see people embodying and giving voice to authentic answers to this question it gives me great hope.   Graeme Anderson is one of those people. He’s a pastor at Northside Baptist in Crows Nest, Sydney and over many years his understanding of what it means to follow Jesus and to live in the kingdom Jesus described has evolved significantly. It’s moved from a knowledge-based, propositional faith to an embodied, open, generous way of being in the world that is attentive to what love might look like here and now. To help other people experience this Graeme’s written a book called Follow — and created a range of accompanying resources including a 4 week email devotional series. I’ve just finished it and was genuinely surprised at how refreshing, accessible and invitational it was. If you’re interested you can check it out at Here’s a conversation with Graeme about what following Jesus might look like when we feel our institutions have let us down. 
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