Tuning in to the Heart of God

Tuning in to the Heart of God-Jun23
Heartlands News

Being Transformed

For us. For everyone!

Jenna Blackwell, a member of the Tasmanian Baptists’ Mission and Leadership Development Team, gives insight into God’s amazing heart of grace.

Inner Critic: Why don’t you have everything together?
Jesus’ gentle voice: Did you hear about the disciples I chose?

We are all too familiar with our inner critic. And in the midst of our humanness, Jesus whispers, “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). God’s grace is not sufficient for just some people. It’s sufficient for you.

This might seem like an odd transition to talk about hospitality, but if we can’t accept God’s hospitality toward us, I fear we have little hope to offer the world.

"God’s grace is not sufficient for just some people. It’s sufficient for you." Jenna Blackwell

In my recent ponderings about hospitality, I have felt God’s invitation to stretch and challenge my preconceived ideas. I am still learning a lot, but I offer to you a few key thoughts thus far:

Hospitality is a heart posture, not just an act or series of acts

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) says, “guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Hospitality is not just having some friends over for a meal. It is welcoming the stranger with the love of God. It is listening to one another’s burdens with the compassion of Jesus. And it is creating margin to be interrupted by Holy Spirit.

All our human effort cannot make us do this with longevity. It must be an overflow of the heart of God.

Our God is the King of hospitality

God’s heart is for the stranger and the outcast (in other words, for everyone). We particularly see this in the life of Jesus.

I love Jesus’ interaction with Peter in John 21. Peter, who boldly proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah, also denied knowing Jesus in his time of betrayal. But here, resurrected Jesus meets Peter once more on the shore. Following a failed fishing trip, Jesus shares a meal with Peter, restores his identity and invites Peter into greater transformation.

Jesus’ heart is for Peter.

If we want to extend hospitality, we must learn how to receive.

Like Peter, we must learn how to receive from God. Similarly, Martha’s sister, Mary, gives us an example. Luke 10 invites us to wonder: What was so good about sitting at the feet of Jesus?

But we must also learn how to humbly receive from each other. When we learn what it is like to receive grace without merit, gifts without the ability to repay, and hospitality when we feel like we have nothing to offer, then we can learn to extend hospitality with humility, gentleness and radical love.

All of this has me wondering, if the people of God embraced ‘radically ordinary hospitality,’* how might our wider communities be transformed with the love of God?

Radically ordinary hospitality can indeed be used by the Lord to grow his people in grace and sacrificial living, to preserve practices, ideas, and cultures… to change the world… but (it) must be rooted and steeped in grace.

Rosaria Butterfield

When you think about it, we all often have opportunities to share radically ordinary hospitality – in a friend’s home, for a colleague having a rough day, for the stranger on the street, for your neighbour … for someone in need of God’s radical grace.

God’s gentle invitation

I’m learning how to practice hospitality in community. But in a simple way, I see the hospitality of God in the people I mentor and coach. In my privilege of being present and creating space, people find invitation to show up courageously. And as they do, they experience God’s gentle invitation to deeper transformation. They experience the whispering invitation, “my grace is sufficient for you, my child.”

It’s quite simple, quite every day, but it’s far from ordinary. In fact, it ends up being quite radical.

* Termed by Rosaria Butterfield in her book The Gospel Comes with a House Key.

Jenna Blackwell

Jenna Blackwell
Mission and Leadership Development Team

If you’re interested in exploring coaching, Jenna welcomes you to reach out: jenna@tasbaptists.org.au

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Tuning in to the Heart of God

Passion and Perseverance are Essential

Passion and perseverance are essential

Leadership Elements

Necessary ingredients for Thriving Churches

Michael Henderson, a member of the Tasmanian Baptists’ Mission and Leadership Development Team, gives insight into some key aspects of leadership.

One of the hardest parts of leadership for me is sustaining passion and perseverance. But they are both essential. 

This is the call of leadership; to have both passion and perseverance. If you are to lead, you must have passion for what you do and some level of perseverance as you do it. Grit, in other words, as described in Angela Duckworth’s book “Grit”. (An excellent book by the way.)

Leading must involve your passion. The person with the most passion is usually the leader. This is not the person with the biggest voice or most “charisma”, but with the most passion for the task at hand. Without passion, it is hard to have the energy to keep going. 


Leadership must also involve your own perseverance. You need to develop perseverance in yourself. Can you see things through, or do you want to give up before we get somewhere? Do your interests change too fast, or can you maintain focus?

You must have both passion and perseverance to be a leader, a pastor.

AND, as a leader/pastor you must develop both passion and perseverance in your church, in the community around you.

Baptists expect the church to join with their pastors in leadership, decision-making and spiritual oversight. This demands, that as leaders, we have a vision of developing passion and perseverance in the leaders around us, and in the congregation who will make decisions with us.

Baptists expect the church to join with their pastors in leadership


Don’t just focus on developing your own passion and perseverance. Remember to develop it in your church, your community. Help them see how it all comes together in the vision and mission of your church.

If only the leader or pastor has passion, then this model will ultimately fail. If only the congregation has perseverance to keep going, then our model of church will fail.

It is only when we all have a developed understanding of what our collective passion and perseverance is that we will truly lead together. It is only when this happens that we will ultimately change our communities and world. Anything short of this is just survival.


None of this happens by accident, but it can be developed if you are intentional about it.

Download the series of questions to ask, “How gritty are you as leader?” And, “How gritty is your church community that is around you?”

Your answers, and how some leaders around you answer, will reveal a heap about your grit.

If you would like to speak to me about grit, and developing it in yourself or your local church, don’t hesitate to get in touch: michael@tasbaptists.org.au

Grace and Peace,


Michael Henderson
Mission and Leadership Development Team

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Passion and Perseverance are essential

GOD and Life in Tasmania

Fresh wind blow, Tas Baptists, Stephen Baxter writes

Changing Landscape

Noticing the Deep Questions

Tas Baptist’s Mission Director, Stephen Baxter, has had some time out to ponder and reflect from a distance. It’s amazing what a trip beyond Tasmania’s shores can do to shift your perspective!

We are well and truly into 2023. Kids are back at school, church programs get underway, and life returns to its familiar rhythm. Jenny and I have just returned from a time in Spain to be with our daughter, Alice, and son-in-law, AJ, on the birth of their daughter, Koa.

Alice, AJ and Koa, Christmas Day 2022
Alice, AJ and Koa, Christmas 2022

Spain, like Australia, is very secular. This got me wondering what God thinks about all these people going about their lives, without giving much thought to the deep and essential questions of life. The question was heightened by the fact that Alice and AJ are in Spain working with others in bring the good news of Jesus to Spaniards.

My thinking has remained with me as I return to Tasmania.

THE CHURCH: From Spain, to Tasmania, to Marrawah!

Last Sunday I was with the Marrawah church as they celebrated their final church service. It was a day of celebration and sadness. As I looked at the pictures of the past, spoke with people, and heard their shared memories, it was clear that over the years God has been at work in special ways.

But times change, and the church as it was, is no longer viable. Marrawah is a little picture of the church in Australia and Spain. It is no longer the centre of our communities like it was. However, that does not mean it is the end of the church. Rather, it is the end of a certain form of church that worked well for a season, and needs to adjust for a changing world.

Because the world keeps changing, the church needs to be constantly renewing itself

Stephen Baxter

God has given everything needed through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. But because the world keeps changing, the church needs to be constantly renewing itself. As Germain theologian Helmut Thielicke put it,

The gospel must be preached afresh and told in new ways to each generation, since every generation has its own unique questions. The gospel must constantly be forwarded to a new address, because the recipient is repeatedly changing his place of address.

Fresh wind, B L O W

On the day of Pentecost God did a new thing and the church was born. Whenever we celebrate that day, it is a reminder of the need for constant renewal. A quick survey of church history reveals just that. The Holy Spirit is at work renewing the church from age to age, enabling and equipping it to be the church of its particular age. May it be so here in Tasmania.

Returning home, this is my prayer for Tasmanian Baptists, and I encourage it to be yours too: that God would blow a fresh movement of the Holy Spirit through us, that we might be vibrant churches with a revitalised theology finely attuned by the Holy Spirit to the changing needs of a changing world.

Let me encourage you to join me in praying this prayer.

Stephen Baxter
Stephen Baxter, Senior Pastor

Stephen Baxter
Mission Director
Tasmanian Baptists

FIND OUT MORE about the Mission and Leadership Development Team and how they can support you and your Tasmanian Baptist church.

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February/March 2023

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God and Life in Tasmania

How Did We Do in 2022?

How did we do in 2022?

Leadership and Growth

Wins for Tasmanian Baptists

During 2022, the Mission and Leadership Development Team were very busy, supporting Tasmanian Baptist churches.

So … how are Tas Baptists going? Read on to find out.

Click for a MaLD Reflection
    Mission Director


    On the Front Foot

    As I look forward to 2023 it is with great hope and with a deep sense that significant challenging times lie ahead of us. These challenges are reflected in the significant change to the religious landscape of Tasmania over the past 20 years.

    • The latest Census figures show how those nominating as “Christian” has dropped from 69.9% in 2001 to 38.4% in 2021; and over the same period, those nominating as “no religion/secular belief” has risen from 17.2% to 49.9%.
    • In the five years between the 2016 and the 2021 Census, those of “no religion/secular belief” overtook “Christian” as the largest religious grouping.

    This is such a dramatic change, I’m sure I cannot fully appreciate what it means for our mission and ministry. Nevertheless, I’m convinced God has been preparing us for this moment.

    God has been preparing us for this moment. Stephen Baxter
How did We Do in 2022?
    How Tasmanian Baptists are responding

    These changes have not caught us by surprise. More than a decade ago we deliberately embarked on transitioning to become a mission-shaped movement. More recently, our focus has been on building a team of new generation pastoral leaders. Although there is still more to do, we are making significant gains.

    So, where to from here?

    The Tas Baptist Council is currently in the middle of a review. They want to listen to our churches in this moment, and hear from God, to clarify our next steps. It is hoped a report will be ready to present to next year’s Mid-year Assembly in May.

    My encouragement to us all is the words God spoke to Joshua, “be bold and courageous”.

    Given the changing nature of society, complete with some significant economic challenges thrown in, I suspect the years ahead will be quite demanding and tough. Yet, God is with us, and this turns any threat into an opportunity. We are not caught on the backfoot, but are instead progressing with confidence.

    So let us move ahead full of faith, hope and love.

    Stephen Baxter

    Stephen Baxter

    Mission And Leadership Development


    Focus on Joy

    Every year feels big (and small) when thinking about church, community, and leadership.

    It’s like thinking about family. There is no winner. Just the time-period of a year spent sustaining a community, growing leaders, deepening relationships, and dealing with setbacks.

    I find it simultaneously rewarding, and challenging. As well, it is easy to let the setbacks dominate any discussion, because they are the easiest to remember. 

    Which is why at the end of every year I focus on what brought me joy. 

    Tas Baptist Pastors and LEADERS’ Musters

    Courage | Presence | Proximity

    I loved our March get together in Hobart, and our discussions on Courage. They set me up for the year in so many ways. I particularly loved our end reflections, and conversations I had with many, as we mutually encouraged one and other.  

    As the year has gone on, our conversations around Presence (Burnie) and Proximity (Launceston) have felt large. It feels like it is a constant conversation at the moment, where we are calling each other into presence and authenticity.

    We are calling each other into presence and authenticity. Michael Henderson
How did We Do in 2022?

    It brings me joy to spend time with you.

    How we have carried courage, been present, and responded to our calling is something that gives me great hope as we head into 2023.

    Blessings and Grace and Peace to you this Christmas.

    Michael Henderson

    Michael Henderson

    Mission And Leadership Coach


    God’s Invitation to You

    As I reflect on 2022 …

    There is a deep, quiet, and joyous sense of gratitude in my spirit about our Tasmanian Baptist community and what God is doing among us.

    This year I have had the privilege of noticing an increased sense of team among our pastors, and walking alongside people as they courageously choose to follow God and his ways. I have seen an increase in bravery and vulnerability, understanding of self and of God, and a willingness to listen to and follow the promptings of Holy Spirit.

    There is a stirring that God is doing something fresh, and we get to participate and co-create. No doubt there will be more challenges ahead, but what a privilege this is!

    God is doing something fresh. Jenna Blackwell.
How did We Do in 2022?
    As we turn to 2023 …

    I sense an invitation for us to know God better through the presence of Holy Spirit.

    There is an invitation to find guidance for better ways of engaging. To find guidance to better engage with our communities and those around us with hospitable love and transformational grace.

    I sense courage (bravery + vulnerability) and deep friendships will be integral to leaning into the kingdom of God, with patience and perseverance. I also sense an invitation to lovingly and prophetically speak into younger generations. To pull down the barriers in ourselves and our faith communities as we learn to know God and each other afresh.

    Questions for you to ponder …
    • What is God’s invitation to you for 2023?
    • What does it look like for you to carve out time to dwell in God’s presence?
    • Who are the safe people that you can increase vulnerability with?
    • How can you build relationships with people of different generations?
    Jenna Blackwell

    Jenna Blackwell

    FIND OUT MORE about the Mission and Leadership Development Team and how they can support you and your Tasmanian Baptist church.

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    November/December 2022

    Christmas Events Tasmanian Baptist churches celebrate! (from 14th December)
    Deep Thought Dec 2022 The Change Makers by Melissa Lipsett BWA
    CROSSOVER Christmas Resources Helping Baptists share Jesus at Christmas
    AROUND THE CHURCHES November 2022 Find out what’s been going on!
    ANNUAL ASSEMBLY Anthea Maynard reports
    FAMINE In the Horn of Africa Be Informed by Baptist World Aid

    NEWS: November 2022 | December 2022

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    How did We Do in 2022?

    How did We Do in 2022?