home > Pastor’s Desk > 2021 > February > BODY BUILDING


It’s only in the last few years that we have felt the Lord lead us to adopt a theme for the year. The year before last our them for the year was redemption. Last year, before many of us went into lockdown in our homes, we had felt the Lord put on our hearts the theme, welcome home. This year, we have felt the Lord lead us to focus on the theme, grow. The word ‘grow’ conjures up different emotions in me. There was a time, quite early in my pastoral ministry at Legana, when it was recommended to me that I engage a ministry coach. It was my desire to do all I could to see our small church grow. The ministry coach agreed that numerical growth should be my focus and share how he had helped other churches our size experience dramatic growth. It just so happened that at this time I was in the throes of my doctoral studies which were challenging and stretching me personally. Despite the coach’s insistence that I focus on the numerical growth of our church, we had not grown to the extent that the ministry coach had intimated that we should have. After a year or so of this professional ministry coaching which had involved some rather cold, analytical, surveys including developing a strategic plan and being subject to a dubious thing called a DISC analysis, the ministry coach said that there was nothing more he could offer me.

This reinforced in me that for some church leaders ‘growth’ only comes in one form – numerical. and often overlooks that the kind of growth that God calls us to comes in more than one variety. In fact, according to the passage that we are basing our understanding of growth theme on, there seems to be at least five varieties of growth encouraged in the Scriptures, and only one of them is achieved by evangelism.

And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ
Ephesians 4:11-12



God has given certain ones to be shepherds (or, ‘pastors’) of God’s people, ‘the body of Christ’, the local church. These called ones are to do the things that Jesus described of a true shepherd in John 10 — to care, protect, feed, lead, train and encourage.

But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
John 10:2-5

Pastors (shepherds) are called to grow those God charges them to shepherd. This Christian growth is described as the same kind of growth that a newborn child experiences as they are nourished and nurtured.

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation — if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
First Peter 2:2-3

The first kind of growth described in Ephesians 4:13 presupposes physical growth, but also links this growth to maturing which involves growing in the second way — emotionally.

Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:13

To grow emotionally involves being able to empathise (understand what someone else is going through), and sympathise (identify with and relate to how someone else is feeling in the midst of their circumstances).

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Romans 12:15

Being healthy emotionally involves the ability to laugh when things are humorous, cry when things are sad, get angry when something is unjust, forgive when others hurt you, appreciate and admire beauty, wonder at the marvels in creation, gladly serve another without the prospect of receiving anything in return, and applaud the achievements of those given the limelight of honour. Pastors are called to model emotional health and help those they shepherd to grow emotionally. But there are also other forms of growth that pastors are called to lead others into.

So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ.
Ephesians 4:14-15

Thirdly, every believer is expected to grow spiritually. Pastors are responsible to help followers of Jesus to grow in their knowledge of Christ (theology) through a deeper understanding and application of God’s Word. A mature believer grows in the knowledge and application of God’s Word partly by being grounded in sound doctrine so that they can detect the falsehood of every wind of doctrine. This involves knowing what Scripture actually says and how to interpret it within context. Perhaps the primary job of a pastor is to teach, explain, apply, and model the Scriptures. It is by studying the Scriptures that the believer comes to behold Christ and in beholding Christ they are transformed into His likeness. This is the essence of spiritual growth.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Second Corinthians 3:18

There remains two further forms of growth described in Ephesians 4. 

from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 4:16

Fourthly, there are certain aspects to being part of a local church which require growth that can only come from training. Pastors are responsible to both model and implement ongoing skill growth. This is referred to as equipping in Ephesians 4:16. This is why pastors and church leaders are responsible to train believers to better serve others and use their gifts more effectively.

and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
Second Timothy 2:2

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace
First Peter 4:10

for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
First Timothy 4:8



Discipleship (“growth”) involves growing in the four ways mentioned above. As each believer grows as a result of the shepherding of their local church leadership, that church grows stronger and healthier. This is the essence of body building and it equally applies to the body of Christ. Each believer is then growing through the nurturing that occurs within the gathering of the whole church each Sunday where the whole church family gathers together to worship, to celebrate holy communion, to be reminded that the body of Christ in which the Lord has placed them involves others, and to receive the preached Word of God. 

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Acts 2:46-47

And each believer grows when they gather in their small group because the church also gathers in small groups through the week whereby connections with others are made stronger, prayers are more personal, the Scriptures are studied and questioned leading to practical application. Both gatherings are important for the believer’s growth for these different reasons. As we read through the Apostle Paul’s exhortation for churches in Romans 12, we notice that the first half applies to the larger corporate (all together) gathering of a church, and the last half has greater application within the small group gatherings of a church.

But there is a another growth that also happens as each member grows and serves each other with the gifts, talents, and energy that God has given them and it is referred to in both our key passage of Ephesians 4, and the Acts 2 passage cited above — numerical growth.

Numerical growth happens in three ways:

(i) those believers whom God calls to be a part of our church (this is called transfer growth);

(ii) those who born to parents who are part of our church (this is called biological growth); and,

(iii) those who are won to Christ and discipled as part of our church (this is called evangelism/new convert growth). 



I have just spent the past five Sundays introduce the doctrine and role of the Holy Spirit. I think that we have good reasons to believe that the Holy Spirit is cares about all five varieties of growth. In fact, as we yield to Christ through the Holy Spirit we too begin to share in the heart of Christ through the Holy Spirit to see and experience growth.

¶ Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.
First Thessalonians 3:11-13

If the Lord delights to grant us all three types of numerical growth, it will come with some very predictable challenges. I know this, because I am the father of four children. With the arrival of each of our children, there was upheaval, insecurities experienced by the older child/ren, intentional reassurance required from the parents, extra attention given to the new-born, physical adjustments to the home to make room for the new arrival, and new responsibilities for each family member to contribute to the running of the family. The same challenges face a church that also experiences numerical growth. It is my hope that as we walk together with the Holy Spirit in our surrender to Christ, that we will grow and that each of us will be involved in Christ’s body building.  

Your pastor,


Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.


  1. Gordie

    Great theme. I started reading and thinking there are more forms of growth than just numerical and then of course you nailed it!

  2. John Sands

    Great! Got lost in the numbering system for a while but caught on . Thank you again. I tried to be iconoclastic but failed yet again.

  3. Karen Dickson

    Thanks Andrew, I’m in Ephesians at present so nice to have some extra insights in my learning 😊


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Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.


How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).


Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.


We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building. 


One of the greatest lies that the would-be enemy of all our souls attempts to perpetuate is that we are what we are and we can never change. This lie is whispered into the ears of many people’s invisible ears so imperceptibly that they actually think it originated with them. “You were born this way – and you can never change”, “This is who you really are – and you can never change”, “There’s no hope of anything ever changing for better – so you might as well just kill yourself” and so on. But these sly alien voices inside the heads of the vulnerable are lies. People can change. People do change. Some circumstances were always going to be temporary and were always going to change. I know this is true because I am living proof. I am who I am but I am not who I used to be and I am not yet who I will be.


It may well still be the best-selling book of all time – and continues year-by-year to be so – but certainly is not the best-read of our current times! If there was ever any doubt about this, the events this week in Hobart, at St. Mary’s (Catholic) College Girl’s School, should remove all doubt! A furore erupted over the news that the prescribed Scripture reading for the year-end graduation celebration, which incorporated a Mass, was “Wives submit to your husbands” taken from Ephesians. Callers into ABC radio’s breakfast program decried this assault against women – especially young, vulnerable girls. One caller, responding to the news that the text being used was a citation from Ephesians, denounced Ephesians and apparently demanded, “Just who does this Ephesians bloke think he is?!” Another caller stated, “Why are they quoting ancient Roman philosophers in the twenty-first century?!” And yet another caller somehow linked all religious wars to passages like this one in the Bible! He remarked, “I’m an atheist. All wars are started by those who are religious! No war was ever started by atheists!” (Perhaps he had never heard of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, who were collectively responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000?) This furore led to the Archbishop conceding that the Ephesians passage did not have to be used at the graduation ceremony. But this furore has highlighted just how unaware many Tasmanians are about what the Bible is, what is actually says, and why it says it. And I am now about to correct this deficiency.  


Of the many tributes paid to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was the often noted reflection that during her reign the world underwent a series of rapid changes that were dramatic and unprecedented in human history. There were technological inventions that revolutionised the way people could access international travel options enabling them to be virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. New forms of communication emerged with the development of a global satellite communications network enabling people to watch Neil Armstrong take his one giant leap Live on their black-and-white TV screens (as I did in the corridors of Corio Primary School in 1969). Space exploration, the stuff previously just in the realm of science fiction writers, became a reality with manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But the past one hundred years have also been a time of great upheaval with empires crumbling, governments toppled, wars waged, genocides committed, pandemics raging, nations birthed, rulers assassinated, and massive refugee movements from oppressive Islamic and Communist regimes. Added to this has been the demise of professional journalism and the rise of internet-citizen-journalism where it is now common for TV News reports to feature footage taken from someone’s cell-phone which was posted on social media rather than the more expensive option of sending their own film crew there. And while we’re mentioning the internet, let’s not forget to mention – the internet. This alone has possibly been the most monumental change in the way people communicate, work, learn, and shop. But while it was noted that the Queen had witnessed all of these many changes, it was also noted that the Queen herself was an unchanging constant during all these upheavals who brought about a sense of stability, peace and reassurance. To millions of people around the world, she was their rock in a world of turmoil and change. Yet this was only possible because she herself had an immovable, dependable rock upon which she had built her life.


home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > October 7th > Who Builds A City On A HillFor those who don’t know, I was born in Geelong, and have always been fan of the Geelong Football Club. But I’m not just a fan, I’m a paid-up member of the Club. In fact, I’m a student...


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I’ve been praying for Penn Jillette for some time now. It began when I first heard him ridicule the Bible and Christianity. My fascination with Penn (and Teller), and other world-class magicians, has been due to my pursuit to develop my craft of preaching. There are a lot of similarities between preachers and magicians (just as there is also a lot similarities between solo musicians and preachers). I seek to learn from magicians about how to keep an audience’s attention, how to tell a story, and how to make a point by employing the element of surprise. But there are some significant differences between what magicians do and what preachers do though. A magician is deliberately deceptive. A preacher is striving to uphold truth in an honest way.