Assembly Report 2024

Mid-year Assembly Report

Mid-Year Assembly

It was a good mid-year Assembly, with an update from Scott Ambrose on the search committee process, input from Scott Pilgrim, Executive Director at Baptist Mission Australia (BMA) and with a significant focus on Boreham College provided by Matty Coppin. The Boreham College brochure is now available on the Tas Baptist website. 

Maddy Svoboda spoke about the new discipleship coaching course staring this June. At last year’s muster, Tim Piesse from Crossway Church in Victoria spoke about discipleship. He explained how the Crossway congregation felt they didn’t have a clear idea of how to make disciples. As a result, the church formulated the course, ‘Building a Discipleship Culture’. This course outlines intentional ways to put the mission of God back into the hands of everyday people.  

Maddy is starting a Tasmania cluster for this course that will involve fortnightly, group coaching calls from June. The course will go for one year, with an option for a second year. IT will cover how to embed discipleship practises in the life of our churches. Churches participating include Newstead, City, Riverlands, and Summerhill. If this sounds like something you want to be part of, there’s still time to join, contact Maddy for more information. 

What God is Doing

The Assembly provided a great opportunity to see what God is doing amidst our Tasmanian churches.  

Nicholas Alexander from Lifeway Church spoke about the two new Student Pastors at their church Stuart Crabtree and Morgan Read. For more info see our recharge articles on each. 

As Franz Brosch takes the helm from Owen Muskett at Wynyard Baptist church, he shared some of his interesting back story.  

Anthea Maynard gave an update on Fostering Hope. She shared about the ongoing need for mentors and how Fostering Hope’s Mentoring program and training provides kids in care a “friend with purpose” and offers them another positive relationship as part of their therapeutic web. Tas Baptist strongly supports Fostering Hope in several ways, including financial assistance that comes from a generous gift from Baptcare. 

A Reimagining Journey

Scott Pilgrim spoke on the ‘reimagining journey’ in the context of May Mission Month. He pointed out that with BMA on their own reimagining journey, both groups can share the synergies and learning opportunities with each other in this rapidly changing world time we find ourselves in 

His talk was timely for both Tas Baptists and BMA, especially with May Mission Month underway, and for Tas Baptist as we celebrate a significant step forward with the launch of Boreham College. 

Scott Pilgrim considered the current global context, along the changing nature of our Tas Baptists context, and proposed we re-imagine what God’s Spirit can do in and through us as we take intentional steps on the journey that includes: 

Re-affirming and celebrating “Missio Dei” and reframing change, for example, embracing a default attitude of expectancy in God as a people of faith, rather than suspicion, uncertainty and fear.  

Courageous Questions

Scott posed several courageous questions:  
– How does the decline of Christianity in the west impact the future of western mission agencies?
– How does Jesus’ new wineskins metaphor speak to us about mission opportunity in existing and potential locations?
– Are we willing to let go of power and control in genuinely embracing global south partnerships?
– What is the future of sending from Australia?
– How does Jesus’ turning the tables metaphor challenge us in our approach to mission?
– What is our future in an increasingly culturally and religiously diverse Australia?
– Where are we stuck and what do we fear?

Over the past 18 months Tas Baptists have done a lot of Looking, listening, learning – looked back … looked to each other … looked to others … and looked to the Spirit … 

Scott finished his talk by highlighting the importance of contextualisation in a changing world and by providing quotes and examples of innovative, collaborative expressions. 

“Contextualisation is a very difficult thing to do. It challenges deeply ingrained understandings and practices and demands radical and uncomfortable shifts in mindsets. But it’s so desperately needed in our changing world if people are to experience the good news of Jesus in ways they understand.” Claire TC Chong

He pointed out that Boreham College is a good example of Innovation and collaboration going hand in hand with contextualisation

Paul Manning (Baptist World Aid) spoke about some of his recent experiences visiting Nepal.

“Innovation and collaboration go hand in hand with contextualisation… Across the globe, God’s Spirit is raising up new missional partnerships and collaborations. Let’s be a part of what the Spirit is doing!” Steve Sang-Cheong Moon

Assembly Report

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Supporting the Supports 

Picture of stone pillars through binoculars for Sacred Agents

Sacred Agents

Andrew Turner of Crossover reflects in his Sacred Agents blog

One of the beautiful strengths of the Baptist movement is our conviction that all believers are priests. Within those four words are numerous deep truths around access to God through Christ, participation in mission and ministry, and responsibility in the church. Everyone has a part to play.  

Everyone Has a Part to Play

But they don’t play it equally. As in a Shakespeare, one actor has a hundred lines and another has two. One may play four different parts, another is simply a tree. Jesus’ parables of responsibility often feature uneven participation, too. One servant’s entrusted with ten talents, another five, and another one. So uneven participation is not surprising – even among those who’ve been given the same amount of lines or talents, some give everything they’ve got, and some don’t.  

We Baptists rightly love our culture of volunteerism – no one is forced to give anything – it’s all given freely from the heart. This is lovely, but it can also have a shadow side. 

Pillars of Your Church

There are some roles, like Treasurer or Worship Coordinator that are complex and involved and pretty much require a super-volunteer. But who has that much time to give? It’s the rich (who can live off reduced paid-work hours), the active-retired, the under-employed, uni students during summer, and those doing court-ordered community service.

These are the ones who have the time to be pillars of your church. Not so much the single parent, the small business owner or the full-time worker. Now there are some beautiful saints among the former list. But the criteria you really want to be using for such important roles has more to do with spiritual maturity and gifted capability than simple availability. 

Photo of stone pillars for Sacred Agents Supporting the Supports

Supporting the Supports That Need Support

So a church can look wider in its search for pillars, if it is willing to look for supports that need support. If your church pillar needs to be so strong they can stand alone, you’re building a culture of self-sufficiency and stoic independence – not conducive to healthy church community? 

Staffing is not the only alternative to this. That single parent may be able to serve as a Worship Coordinator if the church provided them with some babysitting. For some roles the church may be able to provide an expense account, or pay for training, or carry some of the load in a hundred other possible ways. 

Asking ‘Who is God calling to this Role?’

It’s more complex than simply asking ‘Who has time to do X? Only Jenny? Well, Jenny it is then.’

It begins with asking ‘Who is God calling to this role?’ and then ‘How can we release them into it?’ It’s complex, but so it the body of Christ. Beautiful community is quite interdependent, and it is a witness in itself.    

Andrew Turner, Director of Crossover.

Andrew Turner is the Director of Crossover for Australian Baptist Ministries. Thanks so much to all who have supported the Australian Baptist Easter Offering – which funds Crossover to Help Australian Baptists Share Jesus.

Photo by Diogo Nunes on Unsplash

A turning of the tide?


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A Particular Kind of Boldness

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Sacred Agents

Andrew Turner of Crossover reflects in his Sacred Agents blog.

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. Acts 4:31 

A Particular Kind of Boldness
It takes courage on multiple levels to live as a representative of Jesus Christ. Courage before Christ himself, to have the nerve to say Yes, Lord, I’ll be your person in this place as opposed to Master, I know you are a hard man … so I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground.

It takes courage on multiple levels to live as a representative of Jesus Christ.

But courage also, of course, in the face of the world, because when we endeavour out in Jesus’ name, we’re likely to receive the same full gamut of different responses that Jesus himself received – welcomed and honoured through to mocked, despised and rejected. 

Vulnerable to Rejection

Now this is nothing to do with success or failure. If you board a ship and share Christ, all 100 passengers may receive you happily. Or they may hate you and throw you overboard. Neither outcome necessarily means you’ve represented Jesus well or badly. Each could be a beautiful worship and service to Jesus. The point is, it’s out of your control. There is no way to program the mission of God so that an outcome is guaranteed. God refuses to simply reprogram the robots, but instead makes himself vulnerable to rejection. (Paradoxically, wonderfully, he wins our hearts through having his broken.) 

The point is, it’s out of your control. There is no way to program the mission of God so that an outcome is guaranteed.

The Boldness We Need

So the boldness we need, and the boldness the first disciples sought and received from God, is not an imperviousness to rejection, like a coat of armour so strong we can simply crash through and feel no pain. On the contrary, it is the courage to feel that pain.  

It’s interesting that the word gallantry has two main definitions: ‘Great bravery in battle’ and ‘polite and respectful attention in courtship’. Do you see how these are linked? Both involve the willingness to be shot down.

It’s interesting that the word gallantry has two main definitions: ‘Great bravery in battle’ and ‘polite and respectful attention in courtship’.

The boldness that sacred agents need by the Spirit is this Christlike form of boldness. It steps out from behind safe cover. Takes the first steps forward toward the other because they have God’s attention and God’s respect. Is prepared to suffer pain, but it takes pains not to inflict it.

Asking God for Boldness

The more we can take that posture and those steps in all the places God sends us, the more likely we are to in fact receive a very positive response. So let’s spend less time calculating our chances and more time asking God for his kind of boldness. If you’re thinking of inviting someone to church, or Alpha etc – worry less about whether they might say no, than about how their life may be if no one invites them at all.

Andrew Turner, Director of Crossover.

Andrew Turner is the Director of Crossover for Australian Baptist Ministries. Thanks so much to all who have supported the Australian Baptist Easter Offering – which funds Crossover to Help Australian Baptists Share Jesus. It’s not too late to still contribute if you haven’t.

Photo by Manfred Richter (CC)

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The Turning of the Tide?

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Sacred Agents

Andrew Turner of Crossover reflects in his Sacred Agents blog.

I blinked and had to look at the number a second time: 34 percent! Each year we gather the number of baptisms reported by Australian Baptist state associations, and there was a 34 percent increase from 2022 to 2023. Wow! But what to make of it? 

It could be a whole range of things. Perhaps Australian Baptists got a whole lot better at reporting! (I imagine plenty of baptisms go un-counted, and while that’s frustrating for statisticians, it’s rather how things should be in a decentralised movement like ours.) 

Or was it a post-Covid bump? Possibly, but I’m not convinced. Was it our National Baptism Week initiative? No, given the six-month lag in collecting the numbers, they’ll show up next year. I had been expecting a rise of over 20 percent simply based on what I was hearing anecdotally from pastors and leaders. But 34 percent is remarkable – what could possibly explain it? 

Is the wave of baptisms another indication of the ‘turning of the tide’?

Could It Possibly Be Jesus?

Well, I think the answer could possibly be Jesus. Why on earth would so many people want to be baptised? Hang on, why would they not? Let’s remember that belonging to God’s family through faith in Christ is the normal and sensible thing given the unfolding of his kingdom, the place in it he offers, and the promise of his Spirit! We can get lost in studying the tea leaves of culture and economy to see whether people will or won’t like Jesus – and find that we believe more in the power of culture and economy than in the power of the gospel to captivate people of all cultures and economies. 

That said, I do wonder whether wave of baptisms is another indication of the ‘turning of the tide.’ The church in the West has long been adjusting to the end of Christendom and the loss of (mandatory) popularity that entailed. Many have become resigned to endless decline – a narrative that’s entrenched itself even as church participation has increased. 

New Theist Movement

As Western culture increasingly becomes a spiritual desert, however, should we be surprised that spiritual thirst increases?

As Western culture increasingly becomes a spiritual desert, however, should we be surprised that spiritual thirst increases? Along with stories of baptisms, I’ve been inundated with stories of ‘gate crashers’ – people (especially young adults) walking into churches that neither advertised nor invited them – and asking to be introduced to Jesus and Christianity.  

Ten years ago the ‘New Atheist Movement’ held the floor among Western intellectuals, but it has died much faster than any church it mocked, and in its place we now see the ‘New Theist Movement’ – including such opinion-leaders as Jordan Peterson, Tom Holland and Ayaan Hirsi Ali (now openly a Christian). For more on this see Justin Brierley’s The Surprising Rebirth of Belief in God book and podcast.  

So are we seeing the turning of the tide – even the beginnings of revival? It’s 20 years too early to say. But keeping our heads – indeed keeping our eyes on Jesus – our confidence to live for and witness to him should be based on him, rather than the fickle fashions of our culture.

Let’s be absolutely confident in Christ, and in pointing people to him, regardless of whether they’re likely to applaud or imprison us. 

Andrew Turner, Director of Crossover.

Andrew Turner is the Director of Crossover.
Crossover exists to Help Australian Baptists Share Jesus.

This article appears on his Sacred Agents blog

Please support the Australian Baptist Easter Offering – which funds Crossover to Help Australian Baptists Share Jesus. For information on how to participate and run the offering, see crossover.org.au/offering.

Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash.

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Waking Up to the Dream

Waking up to the Dream at Christmas

Preparing for Christmas

Crossover Director Andrew Turner helps switch your mind from the Silly Season to Reality.

Waking up to the Dream By Andrew Turner of Crossover.
Photo by Kira auf de Heide on Unsplash

I love my weekly parkrun, but I don’t enjoy running. I enjoy the challenge. What I really enjoy is stopping running.

During the fifth and final kilometre, as my brain struggles for oxygen, weird stuff begins to happen. I talk to myself out loud without thinking, so it’s a surprise to hear ‘Come on Turner!’ and realise the voice is mine.

Time slows. The world shrinks until my sole focus is on that Sisyphean asymptote known as the finish line. When eventually I get there, there’s a further strange few minutes where I’m conscious of sanity gradually returning. Reality reappears. A weekend begins.

It’s interesting how Christmas sits in the very final week of a long year. It’s meant to be about the breaking in of ultimate reality – the Word became flesh and dwelt among us1 – but by Week 52, the room can be swimming a little. Jesus gets lined up with elves and tinsel, fir trees and reindeer. It’s called the Silly Season for a reason, and we’re ready to suspend reality for a week or three to taste an idealised world where work is rare and cricket plentiful.

So how can we be sensible enough to know we need rest, but also awake enough to the capital-R Reality of the inbreaking Kingdom? How do we keep it from just seeming like a dream?

Do it well

One way to do this is by Adventing well. Advent reminds us that the Kingdom has been coming in off the long run. It’s a dawning, not a random lightning flash that leaves you wondering whether you only imagined it. Come, thou long expected Jesus.

Another is by Christmasing well. Read the story as a news story and pinch yourself – this has really happened. The hopes and fears of all the years are met – are met – in Thee tonight!2

The hopes and fears of all the years are met – are met – in Thee tonight!

Phillips Brooks

And finally, let’s New Year well. The return to school, work or other mundane rhythms are no longer a doom, because they’ve been put in a new perspective. In Christ, we find that that Reality doesn’t bite, it kisses! Our Messiah comes not to condemn the world but to save it! Not to extort productivity out of us, but to offer an easy yoke! Not as a disgusting medicine only palatable if mixed with elves and tinsel, but living water! Not to mete out our wages, but to offer us gifts!

Christ is not blind to or immune from the world’s pain, nor should we be. (Lenting well is next.) But he shows us that it’s a passing nightmare, not our defining reality. So we approach the new year driven by hope rather than dread, knowing that our Hope is not a Sisyphean asymptote, but closer than ever and certain to arrive.

Merry Christmas, sacred agents!
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Andrew Turner, Director of Crossover.

Andrew Turner is the Director of Crossover for Australian Baptist Ministries

Crossover exists to Help Australian Baptists Share Jesus. Check out our resources, ideas and recommendations at crossover.org.au.

  1. John 1:14 (NIV) ↩︎
  2. O Little Town of Bethlehem by Phillips Brooks, 1868 ↩︎

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The Scandal and the Wonder

Ready for Baptism? - Crossover reflection from Andrew Turner

Baptism Week

Who’s Ready for Baptism?

Andrew Turner of Crossover reflects in his Sacred Agents blog.

When is a person ready fro Baptism? Sacred Agents #121
Photo by Amonwat Dumkrut on Unsplash

I’ve been working on baptism resources lately, and it’s mainly straightforward. But there are curly issues too, like the question, “When is a person ready to be baptised?”

There are extreme answers to this. Some denominations say ‘At birth!’ Others, concerned about post-baptism sin, have concluded ‘Just before death!’ You’ve likely narrowed it down somewhat from those extremes, but the question remains.

If we baptise people on their first interest in Jesus, how do we know it isn’t merely a crush? Six weeks later they might be into Buddha or basket-weaving. It’s not a new phenomenon – the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13) speaks of flash-in-the-pan believers as one of four main types of people who hear the gospel.

But if we delay, how long? For there’s another type (thorny ground) who hang around much longer but in the end are similarly unproductive. And Jesus’ next Parable (The Wheat and Weeds) speaks to the difficulty of discerning which is which anyway.

Baptism, historically

In the 3rd to 5th Centuries, churches enrolled new believers into several years of instruction in faith and morals. Their way of life was closely observed. The final hurdle was to learn the creed and be able to recite it by heart. Then baptism. There’s something admirable about the commitment to intentional discipleship, but there’s something troubling too.

The scandal and wonder of the gospel is that people can be reconciled to God instantaneously. The returning prodigal isn’t required to spend a few years in the workers’ quarters, proving his reformation. He gets the ring of family-belonging only five minutes after turning up in rags.

The scandal and wonder of the gospel is that people can be reconciled to God instantaneously.

Andrew Turner, Crossover

Learning vs Earning

Discipleship is a process, certainly. But it’s at our peril that we shape it (or allow it to be perceived) as a staircase up to acceptance with God and inclusion with his people.

So what’s the choice? Shall we be casual, or die-hard? Lax, or strict?

It needn’t be so binary. Why not have a rigorous system for strengthening new believers, but place baptism at the start rather than the end?

There’s a new life to learn, but it’s not something we earn. Dallas Willard aptly put it, ‘Grace is not opposed to effort, it’s opposed to earning.’

How do you know if someone is ready for Baptism? Dallas Willard said: ‘Grace is not opposed to effort, it’s opposed to earning.’

When the Ethiopian eunuch says ‘There’s a pool of water – what’s to stop me being baptised?’ we don’t see Philip answering, ‘Well you’ve only passed the Isaiah exam.’ But neither does the New Testament see disciple-making as dipped-and-done. Baptism has always been an initiation – a start line.

Some will start and then stumble. But the danger of baptising someone who may fall away is vastly outweighed by the danger of withholding baptism because they might. It is best, I think, to baptise all who are willing to follow Jesus . . . straight into a supportive and disciplined community.

Andrew Turner, Director of Crossover.

Andrew Turner is the Director of Crossover.
Crossover exists to Help Australian Baptists Share Jesus.

Check out the Baptism Hub on crossover.org.au/baptism

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We are a Royal Priesthood

A Royal Priesthood - Tas Baptists - Sacred Agents

Sacred Agents

Six Simple Questions

Crossover Director Andrew Turner considers the work of ‘a royal priesthood’ in his latest blog.

Sacred agents have a priestly duty – in fact sacred agent is just a fun way of saying priest. All of Jesus’ people are called into one version or another of this ministry, and together we are being formed as “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2), which will never not be amazing.

A royal priesthood
Tasmanian Baptists in action

Priests always face two ways – towards God and towards people. To be effective as sacred agents, let’s not only think about how we talk to people, but also how we talk to God. So whether you’re going brilliantly or feeling far from effective, here are some great questions/requests you could bring to him.

1.     “Would you please fill me with your Spirit?”

Jesus is the vine and we’re the branches. We can only give to others what we ourselves have received, so all effective sacred agents have found ways to ask and to receive much from God. The good news is that God eager to give! Jesus couldn’t have been more emphatic about this: We’re not only allowed to ask for God’s Spirit, we’re urged to. (Luke 11)  Amazing things happen when God pours his love into our hearts. And apart from this, not much really happens at all.

2.     “Please show me where I’m blocking your flow.”

Jesus was equally emphatic in teaching that God’s blessings are not just for us but are to be through us. “If anyone is thirsty, let them come to me and drink … streams of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7) But there can be objects, attitudes, habits, fears or doubts that choke the ministry God wants us to have and reduce it down to a trickle. Asking God to bring such things to light is highly strategic and good us as well as others.

If anyone is thirsty, let them come to me and drink … streams of living water will flow from within them.

John 7:37-38 Berean Study Bible
3.     “To whom are you sending me to today?”

It’s easy for us to look at our day and just see tasks, appointments and duties. God sees people. And if we’re available to Him, there will be people he wants us to not just brush past, or even for us to go out of our way to meaningfully connect with on his behalf.

4.     “Please give me a real sense of how much you love them.”

We’re usually called to be more than messengers, who simply say ‘God wants you to know XYZ’. Even if all we have for someone is a brief word, we’ll be much more likely to share it (and share it well) if we have a sense of how deeply and powerfully God longs for them.

5.     “Who should I partner with in blessing them?”

This question moves us from seeing ourselves as solo superheroes. We may have individual assignments from God for sure, but often we’re called to work as a body, which is wonderful and powerful and a witness in itself. If someone has a need and the solution is not in my hand, my hand may still have a role to play – pointing, connecting, or passing along.

6.     “Please give me wisdom and courage to know and play my part today.”

Along with God’s Spirit, wisdom is the other thing that the Bible makes clear we’re allowed to ask for with guaranteed results. A sacred agent is not called to do everything, nor to do nothing. We just need to know our part and be ready to play it.

Be transformed

It’s possible that the simplicity of these questions could have disappointed you. They’re not exactly rocket science, are they? But for those who dare to actually ask them, there’s transforming power that leaves rocketry looking pretty boring by comparison.

Andrew Turner is the director of Crossover, and author of the Sacred Agents blog

Andrew Turner is Director of Crossover for Australian Baptist Ministries.

Crossover exists to Help Australian Baptists Share Jesus.
Browse all our resources on crossover.org.au


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Sacred Agents

Possible Steps to Positive Shifts

Dive into Diversity, Photo by Matthew de Livera on Unsplash

Sacred Agents

Diving Into Diversity

In this Sacred Agents blog, Crossover Director Andrew Turner explores how we can shift demographics by diving Into diversity.

My father always enjoys belting out Amazing Grace in church, not least because he likes to tweak the second line to “…that saved a wretch like TREVOR SMITH” (or some other friend within earshot). God’s grace for people like you and me (and Dad) is truly amazing. Amazing too is his grace for people who are unlike you and me.

As such, God’s Spirit is often prompting and challenging us to see a greater diversity in our churches and groups. How often have you said or heard, ‘It would be great to have more [insert demographic] people here’, referring to a missing segment that might be generational, racial, economic, intellectual, or something else in nature.

It just doesn’t seem right for God’s family to be segregated, so we want to listen to those nudges of the Spirit. But what to do about them?

Possible Steps

There’s a whole range of possible steps, and let’s put them along an imaginary spectrum:

Down one end would be practical and immediate actions, such as going straight to the people you’d love to have with you and simply inviting them. Thoughtful arrangements to make space for them would be down that end too.

At the other end of the spectrum are deep, underlying heart issues and systemic norms that may need to be addressed. These might include raising awareness, prayers of repentance, symbolic steps towards reconciliation, and contemplating your way through a heap of books and conferences.

The trouble is, where to start? If you start at the first end, you hope to solve the issue within a fortnight. But your efforts may quickly be stymied by the systemic and underlying stuff. “We saw that we were missing young people, so we invited them, they didn’t come, so I guess we can say we tried.”

But if you start at the other end, you can feel that any real progress will take 100 years. And you can take 100 years of talking and praying and thinking about the people you’re missing, and wondering whether your group is even a thing that would be good for them, and even whether your group should exist at all.

It means well at first, but it can become busy work that is essentially procrastination which perpetuates the status quo. You are always inching closer to, but conveniently never achieving the aim. “We can always say that we’re taking steps.”

So what do we do?

How can we make real progress to see the body of Christ actually come together more fully? I suggest starting at both ends at the same time. Each will serve the other. The practical end will bring to light what underlying work is (and what isn’t) necessary, and the underlying work will shape the practical actions to be less and less clumsy and more and more wholehearted.

May the Spirit give us all the wisdom, humility and love we need – and also all the shrewdness, daring and energy of faith – to be effective agents of reconciliation as the body of Christ builds itself up in love.

Andrew Turner is the director of Crossover, and author of the Sacred Agents blog

Andrew Turner is Director of Crossover for Australian Baptist Ministries.

Crossover exists to Help Australian Baptists Share Jesus.
Browse all our resources on crossover.org.au


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Diving Into Diversity

An Easter Exercise

Sacred Agents Easter 2023 by Abdrew Turner, Crossover; Photo by lilartsy on Unsplash

An Easter Exercise

*Exscribo Divina

SACRED AGENTS is a blog by Andrew Turner, Director of Crossover

Ten or twelve years ago, while chatting socially with a woman who worked as a psychologist, I mentioned rather sheepishly that I had a fear of flying. “You should come and see me,” she said, “I can help with that.” Before I could deflect, she added, “You know, often it’s associated with a childhood trauma. Were you in an accident when you were young?”

Indeed I was. Intrigued, I asked what could be done, and to her financial detriment she just said, “Well, come and see me if you like. But you might find that just having had this conversation will have helped.” What? A passing conversation of all of two minutes?

But then the strangest thing happened. When I next flew – some weeks later – the fear was just gone. I am still absolutely amazed by this, that just a few words can have such power, power beyond argument or persuasion or logic. It’s like she had spoken directly to my nervous system.

It’s time to get your pen and notebook!

If you’ve been following Jesus for a while, Easter can be a little strange. We celebrate the heart of the good news, but it doesn’t seem like news anymore. We know how it goes. God bless all the preachers stretching their heads to come up with a fresh angle on this old story! But Easter can just come and go, if we let it.

So here’s a little exercise I’ve found helpful to keep the heart from dozing: Copy out Mark 14-16 and Isaiah 53. Copying Scripture* is slow.

Slow enough that sure, I notice little things I hadn’t considered so much before. But it’s not about that – it’s about letting the words hit me in a different way. I’ve just been immersing myself in the wonder of it all. Opening myself up to “just having had this conversation” with God.

Making a difference

My intention here isn’t to know more. Perhaps it’s to know better or deeper. My fear of flying wasn’t logical, and it wasn’t fixed by following logical steps. I did get information, but strangely sideways, so that it got deep enough in me to make a genuine difference.

This is not just something we can do for ourselves, but with others too.

Perhaps there’s someone in your life who’d be willing just to read through it with you? Not for analysis or explanation or even persuasion – you might find there’s other powerful ways that God works his healing magic both in and through you.


Andrew Turner, Crossover

Andrew Turner is Director of Crossover for Australian Baptist Ministries.Crossover exists to Help Australian Baptists Share Jesus.


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*You can call it Exscribo Divina if the people you’re trying to impress only speak Latin.

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Census Overview from Crossover

Census Overview from Crossover

Sacred Agents #101

Census and Sensibility

By Andrew Turner, Director of Crossover, helping Australian Baptists share Jesus

I know most of you don’t love statistics as much as I do, probably 98.841% of you with a margin of error of … WAIT! Don’t switch off. The recent Australian Census data is important. Let me try to translate the number columns into a meaningful story.

Census Overview from Crossover

Some results were not that surprising. Turns out we’re all five years older than we were at the last census five years ago. Over that time the Australian population grew 8.6% (1.5% per year) to 25.4 million. Half of that growth came from migration. Ask your parents where the other half came from. Speaking of which, did you know nearly 50% of us have a parent born overseas? Oh, and that Millennials have totally taken over as largest age demographic? LOL. Eye-roll emoji.

But it was the Religious Affiliation data that surprised many. The proportion of Aussies who claim to be Christian dropped sharply, from 52% to 44% (in 2011 it was 61%).  At the same time, those who ticked ‘No Religion’ rose from 30% to 39%. This represents two million nominal Christians no longer claiming to be what they don’t practice.

Most of us would see this as a rise in honesty – don’t claim to be a musician if you don’t play an instrument. But if it’s a shift from ‘I’m a lazy musician who hardly ever practices’ to ‘I’m no musician and selling my trumpet’, it is a loss and a grief.

Uneven Spread

The drop-off from those claiming Christianity was not spread evenly across denominations. Anglicans especially, but Catholics, Uniting, Presbyterians, Lutherans and Salvos had very significant reductions. Pentecostals and Churches of Christ fell a little. And Baptists actually grew – by 2,192 – small falls in most states were more than offset by a jump of 4,500 in Victoria. Go BUV!

The generation that is least ‘Christian’ (31%) and most ‘No Religion’ (47%) are those millennials, now aged 26-40. But this may be more about life-stage than generation; young adults often do a prodigal walkabout before returning to faith. Let’s be sure to welcome them.

So what’s the story? What might God be saying to us and what might we do with all this?

Firstly, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  

CONTINUE READING Andrew Turner’s blog, Sacred Agents: Census and Sensibility >

Andrwe Turner

Andrew Turner is the Director of Crossover for Australian Baptist Ministries and author of Fruitful Church and Taking the Plunge: Baptism and Belonging to Jesus.
Andrew recently completed a Leadership Review of Tasmanian Baptists, with results soon to be tabled.


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Census Overview from Crossover