Congregational Life Part 2: Engagement

BUV Flourishing Churches Devotions
Congregational Life Part 2 – Engagement

by Rev Robert Hayman – Regional Pastor, East  

As I sit and think about what it is that “Engagement” adds to a flourishing church, I look out to my garden which for this time of the year is looking quite good. You could say it is flourishing despite it being the middle of winter and the frosts are heavy and regular. The grass is a bit brown because of the frosts and the flowers aren’t plentiful and new growth is of a minimum. But taking into account the season things are looking pretty good.

I am sure that if you stop and reflect on Congregational engagement in your church, it might not be as quite as obvious or to the level it was 12 months ago. This season we are in will change our expectations and opportunities. But it does not change the importance or impact that engagement within our congregations have on the health and vitality of our churches.

So much of our normal engagement use to happen on Sundays as we met for worship, mid-week as we attended or were involved in different ministries, small groups in people’s homes and the various other incidental meeting and catch ups that happened throughout the week. Most of these are no longer happening and yet engagement is just, or even more, important now than it has ever been. Having said this, even in “normal” times when there are lots of people around, interactions each day and meeting, ministries and the like it does not make engagement any easier. In fact we can hide behind all these interactions and tell ourselves we are engaged, when really we “see people but they look like trees”(Mark 8:24). Regardless of the season, true engagement only comes when we are intentional.

Jesus walked around and was engaged with people, individuals amongst the crowds of people. In John 5:1-8 we read the story of the paralysed man who had been waiting at the pool for 38 years trying to be the first into the pool when the waters stirred so he could be healed. Jesus came onto the scene and saw the crowd around the pool all wanting healing (we assume), His eyes however fixed on the one person. Jesus walk in, over and around many others to get to the one man and asked him “What do you want?”  Jesus healed him and they both walked away, leaving many others still sitting by the pool waiting.

This is a bit confronting, but also very liberating. Jesus could have stood outside the crowd and healed them all with a simple declaration, but that would have not been engagement. They would have all left physically well but still spiritually blind and lame. However, Jesus saw the individual and engaged with him. Notice, He did what He did so often, ask the obvious question to the lame man “what do you want?”. This is where the engagement happens, not the healing. Jesus did not, nor did He ever assume that the obvious need was what the individual really wanted/needed. Jesus was very intentional in His engagement with others.

Sometimes we can be overwhelmed with situations and needs. In this season, there are so many who need to be engaged that we become paralysed and think the task is too big, too hard. We can all follow the example of Jesus and look at the individuals around us, rather than the “crowds”. We may walk past many to get to the one that God is drawing us to engage with at this time. Andy Stanley puts it this way, “Do for one what you would like to do for the many”.

During this season, we need to be even more intentional than ever to engage with individuals. This should come out of a growing relationship with have with God as He engages with us each day, starting with the question – what is you want/need?

Questions for consideration and discussion

1.What does engagement look like in this season, what are some creative ways to engage with people?

2. As you reflect on Jesus’ ministry, what insights come to mind as you think about how He engaged with people?

3. Who is it that God is asking you to engage with this week?

4. How can we ensure that no one is left “alone and forgotten” as we engage with the one?

5. What’s the one thing you are going to do this week to engage with someone?


Rev Robert Hayman 
BUV Regional Pastor

Congregational Life Part 1: Discipleship


BUV Flourishing Churches Devotions
Part 1: Congregational Life – Discipleship

by Rev Graeme Semple – Regional Pastor, West  

All of us want to be part of a flourishing church, to be part of a healthy, growing, developing and thriving community that impacts the community and the world around us with the good news of Jesus Christ. As with anything that you want to see flourish it comes about as a result of intentionally providing a context that enables growth and nurture. For the church this means providing a Kingdom culture that is: – friendly, pleasant, supportive, welcoming and nurturing.  This requires regular inspection and review to be maintained. It doesn’t just happen! Jesus demonstrated and modelled this in His life and the calling of individuals to a life of discipleship.

Jesus invited people to “follow Him” with the intention of investing into their lives. This investment was to reproduce the very nature and character of Himself (Rom.8:29). Jesus created and developed such a Kingdom culture and atmosphere around Himself that people from all walks of life were willing to surrender and give up their old life to embrace the new life which He offered: eternal life! (Jn. 3:15)

The concept of discipleship is therefore an intentional, lifelong, ongoing process of following Jesus, observing Jesus, listening to Jesus, learning from Jesus and living like Jesus. This is what Jesus developed when He called people to follow Him, so much so, that after the resurrection He said to them, “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21).  Matthew records similar words when He recalls the Great Commission in Matt 28:19 which JB Phillips translates as: “You, then, are to go and make disciples of all nations…” Eugene Peterson in The Message paraphrases it, “Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life…”  The literal understanding of what Jesus commands His disciples is therefore: as you live your life, make disciples and live in such a way that the world will see and know who Jesus is, be drawn to Him and become fellow followers of Him. This is not optional, it is a command.

Since the birth of the Church, we can see evidence of congregational life in various forms and expressions that have flourished. In each and every expression there are some key elements that reflect the true nature of discipleship that makes them flourish.  They have established Kingdom values and culture that understands that discipleship is both individual and cooperative which will result in creating flourishing churches.

These key elements of discipleship as reflected in Acts 2:42 are:

1. The Apostles teaching which is all about Jesus and understanding who He is, what He has done and continues to do. It is understanding Him in light of the Scriptures. It is understanding Him in light of our need and how He can transform our lives. Flourishing churches devote and invest themselves in the teaching of Scripture both individually and cooperatively.

2. The Fellowship – the word koinonia indicates that the people share a friendship to form a community (1 Jn. 1:3); they share their possessions and finances to meet needs (2 Cor.8:4); they share a partnership in the gospel to reach a needy world (Phil.1:5); they share a fellowship in the Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14); they share a partnership in the grace of God (Phil.1:7); they share in a fellowship and partnership in the life and work of Jesus Christ (1Cor.1:9). Flourishing churches invest themselves in the fullness of true fellowship. 

3. The Breaking of Bread – this is the symbol Jesus gave His disciples that they would always remember Him and what He did (1 Cor. 11:23ff). Flourishing churches regularly gather around the Lord’s Table, The Eucharist, and Communion to constantly remind themselves of who Jesus is and what He has done. It’s all about Him. Flourishing churches break bread together and always remember the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

4. Prayer – The many aspects of prayer – adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication, intercession, fasting, and all other elements of a life of prayer. Prayer is the powerhouse of the church, it is the place of dependence on God. It is the place of victory over the enemy. Flourishing churches are praying churches.

The outworking of these elements of discipleship within congregational life will assist in producing flourishing churches. Let us together invest our lives and churches in true intentional discipleship.

Questions for consideration and discussion

1. How have you understood the concept of discipleship?

2. Which of the key elements of discipleship do you and your church need to be more intentional in and why?

3. What does it look like for you and your church, when the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Cor. 1:9 that “God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship and partnership with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord?”

4. Jesus commissioned the disciples by saying “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.”  Jesus therefore modelled a flourishing life and community that He empowered His disciples to carry on. In what ways can you and your church continue to live out this model?


Rev Graeme Semple 
BUV Regional Pastor

Golden Lampstand by Peter Botross

BUV Devotion Part 6 

Remember Who You Are: Golden Lampstand

by Peter Botross

Church, remember who you are? You are a golden lampstand. Agree?

Spare me the poetry. The local congregation is a lampstand? Golden lampstand?
It may be a great Instagram post or a clever media grab, but really? Maybe you know way too much to fall for this PR exercise. In fact, you probably want to put your hand up and explain your rational protest: “Look, I know what the right thing to say about the church is, but I have evidence to the contrary, believe me, I know way too much to really agree with this unrealistic description.”

The Apostle John would probably agree with you.

He was the only remaining apostle towards the end of the first century. Exiled on the island of Patmos at the ripe age of maybe 95 and enduring persecution for his faith, John was deeply concerned for the churches in Asia Minor under his care. He did not only witness the declining condition of the church from a human perspective, he actually received a divine X-ray of its internal reality. The report didn’t look encouraging. Five out of the seven churches were deteriorating, either doctrinally or morally (Revelation 2-3). Yet, in Revelation chapter 1, Jesus revealed himself to John, declaring that the church is a golden lampstand. He explained:

“The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches” (Revelation 1:20).

Golden lampstand is truly an odd description to be attributed to those local congregations by the all-knowing One. Wouldn’t you agree?

So, why did the glorified Saviour describe His church, then and now, as a golden lampstand? I submit to you three potential reasons.

1. The Church is inherently precious like gold

In describing the church as a golden lampstand, Jesus ascribed divine value to the church. Before revealing His sobering evaluation of the reality of each local congregation (Rev 2-3), Jesus pronounced that the church is inherently gold. Throughout the scripture, gold represents intrinsic value; gold does not ruin nor corrode. It holds its value no matter what.

The church is of significant intrinsic value in the eyes of her Lord. As if Jesus was clarifying to John: “if you evaluate the church based on your observations, you are likely to undermine her value. But let me explain her value is not dependent on your human perception; but my divine payment!” The church is precious because she is purchased by the blood of the lamb (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Church, remember you are precious. Who you are is not defined by what you do, rather what you do ought to be determined by who you are!

2. The Church shines in the darkness like a lampstand

Deploying an Old Testament imagery, Jesus described the church as His shining light in a dark world. The lampstand was located in the Holy Place in the Tabernacle and the Temple where the priest tended it daily (Exodus 25:31–39). They added oil, cleaned it and ensured it remained lit. Olive oil was the common fuel. It had a wick, where salt was added to the wick for a brighter flame.

Similarly, in a pagan world, in the midst of deteriorating spiritual conditions, Jesus was assuring John that He was the One who was in the midst of the church guaranteeing that its flame remains lit and shines brightly. The Holy Spirit enables the church to shine the character of Jesus, the light of the world (John 8:12) to the community.

Church, remember you are the light of Jesus in your community. You bring clarity in the midst of confusion, hope in the midst of darkness, and an alternative lifestyle that exhibits Jesus to the observing world (Matthew 5:14-16). Nothing can stop your light from penetrating darkness!

3. The Church is refined in the fire

By mentioning the golden lampstand, Jesus described the refining process of church. The Old Testament lampstand was constructed from pure gold (Exodus 25:31). Gold was purified in the fire. Similarly, Jesus was illustrating His commitment to purify His church in the fire of trials and afflictions (1 Peter 1:6-7). Much like the famous anecdote of the goldsmith who places the gold in the fire to eliminate its impurity, until he sees his face in the gold. Jesus places His church in situations where it can be purified until His face is manifested in her character (2 Corinthians 4:10-11).

Church, remember you are being refined. Your character matters to God more than your comfort. The depth of your Christ-like character with determine the breadth of your Christ-like influence.

In this season, could it be that God is whispering to each local congregation that you are precious regardless of your activities, you are called to shine regardless of your circumstances and you are being purified in the fire so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in you?

Questions for reflection

1. What experiences have subtly defined your perception of your local congregation?

2. How can your local congregation recapture its identity in the midst of the struggles and shortcomings?

3. How could you manifest the light and hope of Jesus more brightly in your local community?

4. What can you do to collaborate with the Spirit as He refines you in the fire?

I hope you find this devotion and the reflection questions useful. We look forward to distributing Part 7 next Tuesday. You can also read previous devotions here.


Peter Botross
BUV Church Health Consultant

God’s Field by Christine Wanstall

BUV Devotion Part 5 

Remember Who You Are: God’s Field

by Christine Wanstall 

I grew up in country NSW, living in a regional town. Opposite our family home was the school farm. It was close to the high school, where students who picked agriculture studies could grow crops and breed sheep. Occasionally one of the sheep would get stuck in the fence over the weekend and we would call one of the teachers from the school to let them know. That’s just what you did in the country. I would watch the corn grow from my bedroom window.

The bible is full of agricultural references, particularly when speaking about God’s relationship with His people. Jesus uses many images that pick up this theme in his parables and other teaching. He speaks about soil, sowing seeds, a mustard seed, the vineyard. Imagery that is rich and particularly relevant to the people who heard his words but can also speak to us today.

I have been intrigued to read Paul’s writings as he also picks up the agricultural image.

1 Cor 3:9 “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field.”

This image that we are God’s field is a powerful one. The church, as God’s beloved people, is depicted as a field. A field has the potential for growth and fruitfulness with the right circumstances and care. Anyone who is a gardener knows that the weather conditions, seasons and fertilizer affect the harvest you get from a field.

We are currently going through a season where our identity as church has been challenged. It is important in this time where we have experienced the loss of meeting face to face, that we still remember who we are. This reminder helps us to act in ways that are true to our identity, recognizing that we may need to change how we are planting and growing in God’s field.

As we consider how we are growing in God’s field I would suggest we have a look at four things.  

1. The field belongs to God

Paul is really clear in the passage that the field belongs to God. It’s God’s field, not ours.  The church is God’s church and although He trusts us to be good stewards, God is still ultimately in charge, with a plan and a purpose for His church.

I love the statement “you are God’s field” because it reminds me to whom we belong. We belong to God. God is the generous and faithful God who still cares for us through every season.

2. We are co-workers

Paul reminds us that we are co-workers in God’s service. Even in isolation we are part of a broader community – God’s community. In this community God invites us to partner with Him and others in the works He has planned for us. We partner WITH God rather than try in our own efforts to work FOR God.

As co-workers, we can access the resources of God to help us know:

  • What to plant;
  • When and where to plant;
  • What fertilizer is needed; and
  • When to harvest.

Spending time in prayer, listening to His promptings and wisdom in these areas is an important place to start.

3. We should expect growth

As we are planted in God’s field we should expect to see growth both in our church community and ourselves. During this season it can seem easier to withdraw and just survive as church communities. There is a time to leave the ground fallow but even during fallow seasons, farmers feed the soil to restore and prepare the ground for the next planting.

We, as church communities, should be seeking to deepen our relationship with God, with each other and find innovative and exciting ways to extend relationships into our community. God has creative wisdom to help us grow.  

4. We should inspect our soil

We should be regularly inspecting the soil of our churches to determine what action we need to take. We can do this through taking time to look at what we are do and how we are doing it, examining the quality of our relationships with God, each other and our community. Do we have weeds we need to remove? Rocks or hardened soil that makes planting hard? Do we have fences that protect our field but prevent others from entering?

This is a great opportunity to inspect the soil of our church community to identify areas that need restoring or areas that need to be let go. It is also a great opportunity as individual followers of Jesus to invite Him to show us the quality of soil in our own lives.

We can face each day with confidence knowing we are planted in God’s field.

Questions for Reflection:

1. Read the parable of the four soils (Matt 13:1-23). Spend some time reflecting on your own life, inviting God to show you areas that need weeding or rock removal.

2. Spend some time being thankful for being planted in God’s field and being a co-worker with God.

3. As you look at the ministries in your church, ask God for wisdom about where to expect growth in the coming season.

I hope you find this devotion and the reflection questions useful. We look forward to distributing Part 6 next Tuesday. You can also read previous devotions here.


Christine Wanstall

BUV Church Health Consultant

Family of God by Rev Meewon Yang


BUV Devotion Part 4

 Remember Who You Are: Family of God

by Rev Meewon Yang

God has given us family as a gift no matter whether it is biological, adopted or blended. No family is perfect and sometimes it is deeply dysfunctional. But family can be a place of love and blessing that blesses others.

I left my birth family to find new life in Australia and it has now been over 30 years. My migrant experience in Australia is a bit like the younger son in the Prodigal who tries to understand where home is. I long to be with my family.

With marriage the world opened to me and included west and east. My family is no longer just Korean. My life is multicultural. My step-son and his wife and almost two-year old granddaughter are welcomed in my life. They get to know Korean culture and I get to know their Anglo-Australian world. My two Korean nephews who studied and live here are also part of my family.

There were moments of adjustment to my expectation of being the wife of an eldest son. In Korea the eldest son is responsible for the family. Here he isn’t. All the siblings are the same and relate to one another as equals.

Henri Nouwen[1]  reflects on Rembrandt’s painting ‘The Return of the Prodigal Son’ in his book of the same name (Luke 15:11-32). He describes the return as a spiritual journey. He says,

 “He led me from the kneeling, dishevelled younger son to the standing, bent-over old father; from the place of being blessed to the place of blessing. As I look at my hands, I know that they have been given to me to stretch out toward all who suffer, to rest upon the shoulders of all who come and to offer the blessing that emerges from the immensity of God’s love.”

Rembrandt van Rijn, The Return of the Prodigal Son,
C.1661–1669. Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg

He talks about the gospel story and how the painting changed his vocation. He discovered new strengths and pastored to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They became his family.

As I reflect on what my family experience is and what its connection with God’s family is, I become more aware that at the core of Christian identity is an all-inclusive experience of family in Christ.

We Christians are always drawn forward by the hopeful picture of the Kingdom of God where differences are a cause for celebration and do not result in conflict or tension. The experience of being part of the family of God is a hint of the Kingdom. This family life enables people to dream together and find hope, grace and new life even as we are in this pandemic lock-down.

I love Desmond Tutu’s children story book titled ‘God’s Dream’[2] (a favourite of my granddaughter). He says,

God dreams that every one of us will see that we are all brothers and sisters – yes,
Even you and me – even if we have different mummies and daddies or live in different faraway lands…
Even if we speak different languages or have different ways of talking to God.
Even if we have different eyes or different skin…
Even if you are taller and I am smaller. Even if your nose is little and mine is large………

Dear child of God, do you know how to make God’s dream come true?
It is really quite easy. As easy as sharing, loving, caring.
As easy as holding, playing, laughing.
As easy as knowing we are one big family because we are all God’s children.
Will you help God’s dream come true?

Let me tell you a secret…  God smiles like a rainbow when you do.

God’s dream is captured in the song ‘In God’s family’ by the late Ross Langmead, our dear friend and former lecturer at Whitley College.

What grace, to make us your people!
What love, to call us your own!
What power, to make us your body!
What care! We’re never alone
Because you have called us together.
Oh, incredible love! We’re in God’s family.

Some questions for personal and/or group reflection

1. What do you learn from the Prodigal Son about the family of God?

2. What change does this lead to as you think about family and the loving father?

3. How can this be real in this time of isolation? Look around at the diversity and fragility of our church and communities.

  • People’s situation in fear of safety of health and uncertainty about future
  • Loneliness
  • Missing people
  • Isolation 

4. Where can we start to help God’s dream come true?

I hope you find this devotion and the reflection questions useful. We look forward to distributing Part 5 next Tuesday. You can also read previous devotions here.


Rev Meewon Yang

BUV Multicultural Consultant

[1] Henri Nouwen is a Priest, theologian and University lecturer became Pastor in a community for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

[2] God’s Dream by Archbishop Desmond Tutu & Douglas Carlton Abrams; illustrated by LeUyen Pham. ISBN 978-1-4063-2337-5 [publisher].

Archbishop Desmond Tutu won the Nobel Prize in 1984 for his efforts to bring equality, justice, and peace to South Africa. Nelson Mandela asked him to lead the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which became a model of national forgiveness and coexistence.

The Temple of God by Rev Marc Chan

BUV Devotion Part 3

Remember Who You Are: The Temple of God

by Rev Marc Chan 

Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 1 Cor 3: 16 (NLT)


When we were still young, Dad used to take us to the Chan Clan Temple – one where the only qualification was to be born in a family belonging to the Chan Clan in Mauritius. Twice a year, we had dinner together with the others in the Chan 


Clan and it provided us all with a sense of belonging, to be connected together even though we were far away from where it all started in Canton (today called Guangzhou), China.

It did not have a big building as such but a small shrine in the middle of a huge plot of land with buildings around which housed those who were disadvantaged with very little means of making a living. The members of the Chan Clan were providing accommodation and other basic needs for those people to live. We were all part of the Chan Clan and we were meant to be looking after each other.

The Temple was in the middle of the community and the symbol of identity and belonging to the Chan Clan. It was the link within the Chan Community that held us all together.

Well, the city of Corinth had many temples dedicated to the Greek gods and the biggest was the one dedicated to the goddess of love – the temple of Aphrodite. In fact, according to historians, there might have been up to three temples dedicated to the Greek goddess of love. It is well known that these temples employed hundreds of prostitutes in order to entertain the rich merchants and local dignitaries.

This was the background against which Paul was writing his epistles to the Corinthians. The many temples in the city were supposed to gather the Corinthians around the Greek gods but they were used more to satisfy the desires of the rich and famous.

One missing element was a temple for Christians in Corinth. So, this is what Paul is referring to here. We, as believers in Jesus Christ, as a result of what He was able to achieve through His death and resurrection, do not need a building to ref


er to as a temple. We, collectively, are the temple of God. The temple is not to be a place of debauchery, like the ones in Corinth, but a holy place where the Holy Spirit dwells.

The temple is the unifying element, the link that binds us together, it gives us a sense of identity and belonging, it is the symbol of God’s love in the wider community as we care for one another. Just like the temple of the Chan Clan, it acts as the glue that binds us all together.

In this very rapidly changing time, we feel fearful, anxious, disconnected and helpless. Things are so different from what we are used to. Church is no longer inside our buildings but flat screens in our lounges, kitchens or even bedrooms. It feels so distant and impersonal.
Yet, just like Paul’s reminder to the Corinthians, we are the temple of God and that is what binds us all together, that is a challenge for us to look after one another, to know that we belong to a big family – believers in Jesus Christ with the Spirit of God living in us. This is where we can find our hope, our strength and our joy in the midst of so much suffering and anxiety surrounding us.



  • What does it mean to you that you are God’s temple?
  • Do you really believe you are God’s temple? Why or why not?
  • How does knowing you are God’s temple affect your thoughts about the impact COVID-19 is having on you and the world?
  • What can you do to constantly remind yourself that you are God’s temple?

I hope you find this devotion and the reflection questions useful. We look forward to distributing Part 4 next Tuesday. You can also read previous devotions here.


Rev Marc Chan

BUV Multicultural Consultant

God’s Flock by Rev Mark Wilkinson

BUV Devotion Part 2 

Remember Who You Are: God’s Flock

by Rev Mark Wilkinson

I’ve always been a city slicker spending my life in the suburbs of Melbourne, Adelaide & Sydney. A couple of years ago, my family spent a week on a farm in northern New South Wales. It is a mixed farm with grain as well as raising beef cattle and sheep. It was illuminating in so many ways. The patience of the grain-grower in waiting for a harvest. (And the two years since we were there have been in the drought without much crop at all.) Herding cattle was fun though you learnt to watch the bulls carefully! One time I had to ride the quad bike out to the far-reaches of the property to see if any sheep had wandered off and were alone and needing help to get back to the flock. I couldn’t help but think of the heavenly shepherd who seeks the lost sheep – and he can do it without a quad bike!

The thought of the Lord being our shepherd is rich in Scripture. Nearly all of us know Psalm 23 with its personal opening, “The Lord is my shepherd” and the promises around provision, protection, preparation and presence. How comforting it is to remember that the Shepherd is with us through these times; not even isolating in our homes can keep this Shepherd away! And we equally familiar with Jesus’ words from John’s Gospel, “I am the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) We’ve been thinking about his sacrifice at Easter.

It’s easy to bring personal reflection to these scriptures but we should also be considering these from the corporate perspective of being God’s flock together. The Psalmist says to the assembly, “for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.” (Ps. 95:7). To think of God as the good shepherd is also to remind ourselves that we belong to a flock also. In this time of isolation it’s all the more tempting to just apply the Scriptures individually but we are the church corporately, the flock under his care. How are the other sheep in your flock doing? How can you make sure you are intentionally gathering with the flock in these times of isolation? If you are a church leader, how can you be “shepherding the flock” as Peter instructed? (1 Peter 5:2) It will mean more than livestreaming content! It must mean finding ways to still connect with the flock.

COVID-19 doesn’t change the reality of who we are – we are still God’s flock! It just changes the way we gather and minister. In these times… Remember who you are.

For reflection: Jesus said, “My sheep listen for my voice” (John 10:27) Might there be something that Jesus wants to say to you at this time? Have the posture of young Samuel who said, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10)

For prayer: Pray for those in your world who seem to have wandered away from God. Ask the Good Shepherd to pursue that ‘lost sheep’. Is He calling you to do something also?

For action: Is there another person in your ‘flock’ who you could reach out to and check in on?

I hope you find this devotion and the discussion questions useful. We look forward to distributing Part 3 next Tuesday. 



Rev Mark Wilkinson

Church Health Consultant 

The Church In An Unfamiliar World by Rev David Devine

This week, we kick off a new Devotion series prepared by members of the BUV Support Hub’s Church Health and Capacity Building Team, looking at how the church can remain true to its biblical identity and calling during this period of disruption. Over seven weeks, we will look at seven different images used in the bible to describe what the church is called to be  – Body of Christ, God’s flock,  Temple of God , Family of God, God’s field, Golden lampstand and the Bride of Christ.  We have included some questions also – these can be used in a small group setting as discussion starters or for personal reflection. We pray this devotion series will be a blessing to you and your church.


BUV Devotion Part 1
 Remember Who You Are: The Church In An Unfamiliar World

by Rev David Devine 

In my early 20s I was given a wonderful opportunity to travel and study overseas for five months. As I was departing to venture into a world of new challenges, opportunities and temptations beyond the secure familiarities of home, my dad offered me some wise advice: “Remember who you are.” It was a call to remain true to my heritage, beliefs and values – to still be `David Devine’ wherever I was.

Today the disruption caused by COVID-19 has cast us all into a different world beyond many of the secure familiarities of life as we have known it. This presents challenges, opportunities and temptations for individuals, families, nations – and churches. As churches venture into this disrupted world, it is good for us to remember who we are – remaining true to our identity, beliefs and values as we seek to continue living faithfully and fruitfully with God – still being the Church in our new contexts.

To encourage us in this, over coming weeks, members of the BUV’s Church Health & Capacity Building Team will offer short reflections on some biblical images of the Church.

Over the past 40 years or so, the most popular image of the Church has been: the Body of Christ (Rom 12:3-8; 1Cor 12:12-27; Eph 3:6, 5:21-33; Col 1:18, 24). This reminds us that the Church is not merely a social organisation; but an organic community in which we live and serve in relationship with Christ and one another. These relationships must remain central for us if we are to be the Church.

If the Apostle Paul was writing to Aussie Christians rather than Ephesians or Colossians, he might remind us that we are not to `run around like headless chooks’, reacting to our internal impulses or the latest sensation. The Body has a Head. The Church is to seek and follow the mind of Christ and to grow up into him – being shaped by the one who gives us life – becoming increasingly like him, not just individually, but in our life together. In a world disrupted by COVID-19, the Church is still to be directed by Christ.

Though isolated in our homes, we find ourselves immersed in an ocean of information – podcasts, videos, blogs, memes, webinars, breaking news. There’s an endless flow of ideas, facts and fluff that drives us to distraction and confusion – tossed back and forth by waves of fashion; blown here and there by every wind of opinion. In the face of this, let us remember that we are the Body of Christ. Let us give time to prayerfully listen to our Head and follow his lead, responding to the challenges and opportunities before us in ways that reflect and honour Christ.

Paul uses the Body image to remind us that following Christ’s lead is not a solo pursuit – we are in it together. In this time of social isolation, let us remember that through relationship with Christ, we are connected to one another. We belong to one body. The Church is diverse in ethnicity, social status, gender, and so on, yet united in Christ. We have different capacities to contribute, but we are all called to do what we can to love others and honour God.

In these days of isolation, let us keep pursuing ways to connect with one another, including reaching out to those who may be overlooked by others. Let us seek ways to use our God-given capacities to serve one another, sharing the love and truth of Christ. Let us remember and be true to who we are. We are the Body of Christ.

Questions for Personal and/or Group Reflection

1. What personal and congregational activities do you and your church have in place to foster relationship with God?

2. How does your church seek to discern the mind of Christ together?

3. How are you and your church acting to maintain contact with members of the body during these weeks of physical separation?

4. How does your church help people to discover what they are good at and empower them so that ministry is done by the many rather than the few? What are your gifts and how are you using them during this time

I hope you find this devotion and the discussion questions useful. We look forward to distributing Part 2 next Tuesday.  



Rev David Devine

Head of Church Health & Capacity Building