Generating Regional Profiles

One of the best tools we’ve come across to help you understand your community is the capacity to generate a customised Regional Profile for any area within Queensland.  The document draws on ABS Census data along with a number of other sources and is offered by the Queensland Government Statisticians Office.

The process is a simple one, taking only around five minutes to define the area you are interested in, and then produce the report ready for downloading in PDF format.

Options (apart from defining the geographic area of interest) including choosing what sorts of data you want to consider, with choices including:

  • Demographic data including gender, age, language, culture, dwelling, family
  • Society including education, volunteer, socio-economic indicators
  • Economy including rent, income, employment, occupation, remoteness indicators
  • Industry development including building approvals, residential sales
  • Environment including protected park areas

For all the instructions on how to generate a custom regional profile, read on. Or to figure it our for yourself, head on over to the Regional Profile site and get started. Continue reading

Population Projections: Who’s coming?

When thinking about the future, the science (art? mathematics? guesswork?) of population projections can tell us a lot. How many people are likely to live in a particular place? What kind of housing will they occupy? What jobs will they work in? Will they have kids…and what schools are planned?

All these questions (and the associated answers) can help us think about how we join with God in mission in a particular locality.

And there’s a whole bunch of places where we can start looking for the data.  Click through for a few options to pursue when it comes to tracking down population projections for your community. Continue reading

Regional Profiles: Who lives here?

Screenshot 2014-02-11 14.06.48One of the most helpful things for a local church contemplating how to join with God in mission within the local setting, is to put together a statistical profile of their local community.

This helps us by making clear just who lives within our neighbourhoods, how the neighbourhood is travelling in terms of employment, multiculturalism, education and a host more aspects.

Here are four straightforward ways to assemble this kind of data.

National Church Life Survey “Community Social Profile”

The first is to contact the National Church Life Survey.  NCLS are best known for conducting a “census” of congregational data every five years, but also prepare a host of other resources useful for local church congregations. In particular, NCLS offers local churches the Community Social Profile, a well put-together package of information outlining the demographic make-up of their local community and some tools for using the information to help kick-start congregational mission engagement.  For a relatively small price, it’s excellent information.

Qld Government Statistician

The Queensland government’s own statistical office produce a huge amount of data. Hit their website for the full range. One of the particularly useful options is the capacity to review population and demographic data in thematic maps. You can visually present a host of data and quickly spot patterns across regional areas. Try it for yourself.

Screenshot 2014-02-11 16.14.04 and

.id are a demographic research organisation, most often working on behalf of local governments.  They don’t have full coverage in Australia (in fact at the time of writing only Cairns and Rockhampton have up to date data within Queensland), but the profiles are well prepared and thoroughly worthwhile if you happen to find your community. Community coverage isn’t flexible, so it’s local government areas only. Check out the community profiles or the social atlas (map-based demographic data presentation) for more.  If economic data is important, there’s also the profiles.  Check back occasionally to see if your community has been added to the available list.

Accessing ABS Census Data

For those who like to get their hands dirty, the third (and most detailed) option is to dive into the treasure trove of information freely available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

ABS publish a mountain of data including highly detailed information drawn directly from the national census program.  You can sign up for free access and go as deep as you like, building custom reports for your local area, combining fields from the whole range of census data.  To do that, head over to the ABS Table Builder page here.

Simpler though, and definitely detailed enough for most needs, is to generate a ‘National Regional Profile’ from the 2011 census data.  Click through for a brief summary of how to produce a regional profile, including some screen shots of this relatively simple (and totally free) process. Enjoy! Continue reading

What if…? Toowong UC’s Big Year

Photo 10-02-2015(What if? is an occasional feature, sharing real-world stories from churches and faith communities to encourage your imagination.)

Toowong Uniting Church are trialling the A Big Year digital discipleship resource in an all-age pastorate (mid-size group) meeting regularly during early 2014.

A Big Year is a digital discipleship resource being developed by a partnership that includes the Uniting Church Synod of Queensland. For more info see our summary here, or the Big Year website.

Toowong’s well established pastorate program includes a number of mid-size groups that meet regularly to explore faith, fun, food and fellowship.  The all-age pastorate is a new experiment that includes active participants of all ages, including kids.

While a Big Year has a family version, it’s primarily shaped for a family to participate in together – so the team from Toowong are doing a little adapting to make it suitable for a group of families and individuals to share the journey.

With a Big Year offering a different theme each month, Toowong’s experimental format sees the group meet twice monthly – first opening up the new theme, and then exploring more deeply over those two meetings.

Each gathering includes hands-on creative activities, exploring a bible story, discussion and sharing and a prayer time – all designed to be suitable for all ages to participate together.

A Big Year provides the framework for the program’s themes, and and the resources for each family/individual to get hands on with their faith exploration in the times in between each gathering.

The first gathering included 26 people (14 kids) unpacking a Big Year’s first month theme of “Margins: making space to live differently”.  Here’s an extract from the run sheet from their first day:

  • Gathering time: tea/coffee/snacks (include Kit Kit and Time Out bars), optional activity – making a family weekly schedule (tools: blank weekly schedules)


    “Jesus and the disciples withdrew to a quiet place, making space”

  • Intro: intro the Big Year theme and process, intro the new pastorate group format and meeting times
  • Bible Story: presenting the Feeding 4000 story in a creative, hands-on kind of way
  • Exploring the theme: Discussion about margins, sharing A Big Year challenges, first responses
  • Creative: make a fridge magnet from Kit Kat/Time Out wrappers as reminder of the theme (tools: laminator, self-adhesive magnetic strip)
  • Prayer: Small Groups, free form, around the theme “Margins”
  • Dinner

We’ll seek an update from Toowong later in 2014 as the experiment continues. For more information, contact Scott.

A Big Year: discipleship, digitally.

A Big Year is a new digital discipleship resource aimed at helping small groups explore 12 themes of Christian discipleship over a one-year period.

First developed in 2013 by the team from Postcard Radio, it’s now being further expanded in a partnership that includes the Uniting Church, Synod of Queensland under it’s Grow Faith project.

A Big Year introduces a new theme each calendar month with a short video or audio clip to break open the topic – and then invites participants to participate in a series of challenges to try and explore the topic in real life. Small groups are encouraged to maximise the opportunities to support each other and explore the challenges and topics together.

Challenges are based on a ‘chilli’ rating system, with the ‘milder’ challenges rated as “one chilli” and the more extreme going up to three chillis (hot!).  The challenges are also offered in three different areas:

  • Monk: you and God
  • Cheerleader: encouraging and loving your neighbours
  • Activist: making a practical different in the wider world

Here’s an intro from one of the driving forces behind a Big Year, Steve Drinkall:

In 2014 a Big Year adds new depth, with versions designed for families and youth joining the ongoing ‘adult’ version first offered in 2013.

Joining a Big Year is free – just hit the website and follow the links. Grab some friends, form a group and get started. You’ll kick off with a standard first month (exploring Margins and creating space in your life) before then joining the rest of the Big Year community on the normal monthly cycle.

And, for all you mobile junkies out there, head over to the Apple App Store, or Google Play Store (for android) to download the free a Big Year app and receive it all direct to your phone/tablet. And of course there’s a facebook group for sharing your Big Year experiences.

For more information on the UCA Qld Synod participation in a Big Year, contact Mark Cornford.

Look out for a post in the next day or two about how one Qld Uniting Church is using a Big Year in an all-age discipleship group.

A Clear Call: UCA Mission & Evangelism Conference

A Clear Call is a national conference for the Uniting Church to have opportunity to engage in how we share our faith contextually where we each live, love and have our being. Our hope is that it will engage heart, mind and practical applications of sharing the great love of God that was first extended to us.

It is for everyone who would like to share their faith and would benefit from conversation, information and practical examples. It is for all people: lay people, ordained, teams, young adults, all cultures and the full spectrum of theology of the Uniting Church.

It will be be fun, deep, thoughtful, energetic, thought provoking and practical. It will approach faith-sharing from every angle.

This will be an excellent conference for anybody interested in exploring mission and evangelism.  it’s in Adelaide 28-30 March 2014. Head over to the website for more information and to register, or to the event facebook page to interact with others thinking of attending.

Reflecting on Australian Fresh Expressions Conference 2014

Last week marked a special occasion with the first Australian national Fresh Expressions/Mission Shaped Ministry Conference taking place.

Fresh Expressions is a term describing creativity and innovation in approaches to church and faith community. It (the term) emerged from the UK over the last 10 years after a ground breaking report (Mission Shaped Church) set the Church of England, Methodist and later the United Reformed Church on a path exploring fresh approaches.

One of the training tools developed in the UK to help local leadership groups plan and establish fresh expressions is called Mission Shaped Ministry.  The course has been trialled in Australia (specifically in Adelaide, Canberra and Melbourne) by a collaboration of churches (Lutheran, Anglican, Uniting, Baptist at least) over the past few years.

This year’s conference grew from that collaboration and drew a variety of participants including  (a) ‘pioneer’ leaders planning or leading ‘fresh expressions’; (b) ministers or leaders of the traditional church wanting to make space for fresh expressions; (c) denominational mission staff; and (d) those who have been involved in the pilot MSM courses.

The gathering was resourced by the UK’s Dave Male and Ben Edson. Dave and Ben both have broad experience in both leading fresh expressions themselves, and in supporting or training other pioneer leaders. Between them they explored a range of topics around the task of pioneering. Here’s a few of the highlights (at least from where I sat): Continue reading

Does Leadership Matter?

“Does Leadership Matter? A Retreat exploring power, change and innovation in Christian communities”

Trinity Theological College are offering a 3 day intensive leadership retreat in Townsville in March, 2014.

  • “Does Leadership Matter?” A retreat exploring power, change, and innovation in Christian communities.
  • Date: 20-22 March
  • Location: Townsville – at the Yalga-binbi Institute.
  • Presenters: Dr Aaron Ghiloni & Mr Scott Guyatt
  • Who for?: Ministers (continuing education), lay leaders, congregation members interested in exploring the leadership topic

The content of the course includes exploration of leadership models, theology of leadership, contemporary leadership context in the church and a range of workshops to bring a practical edge and valuable take-home ideas and information.

If the full three day retreat is not suitable, the final day (Saturday 22nd) will function as a stand-alone leadership seminar to enable additional participants to join in for the third day only.  We’ll finish by 5pm Saturday to enable travel home for Sunday worship, or heading out to watch the Cowboys play on Saturday night.

Please lodge expression of interest, or enquiries for more information with Alice at the College office on 07 3377 9958 or email


UCA Queensland – Christmas/Advent Videos

The Uniting Church Queensland Synod has just released a set of 2013 Christmas/Advent videos containing short reflections on Christmas. The set (currently containing five videos) are now all available to watch on YouTube and download from the Synod website. Here’s an example from the set:



Stetzer on “Going Missional”

Ed Stetzer spoke yesterday at the Transformational Leadership event hosted by Newlife Uniting Church. Along with a whole lot of interesting input around leadership and becoming churches in which transformation happens, Ed walked through the ways in which a church needs to change to become revitalised, to “go missional”.

Here’s some of his outline based on the notes I took (the good stuff from Ed, the errors in translation from me!) in this particular session:

1. Reconsideration of leadership

  • From superman to everyone – have to make participation in ministry and mission accessible to everyone, not just the employed clergy
  • From church to kingdom – shifting the focus from our local church, to the kingdom of God
  • From me to we – it’s not about me and what I do/think – it’s about how we live and act together
  • From personal power to people empowerment

2. Rejection of “Clergification”

  • From three tiers (lay, clergy, missionaries) to one people in one mission
  • From called to “the ministry” to “called to ministry” – understanding the role of clergy as “the ministry” implies something about everybody else. Stetzer says all are called to mission and ministry, just the who, where, when and how that differ
  • “Called to missions” to “sent on mission” – knowing God as a sending God (Stetzer says that in the gospel according to John, Jesus refers to being sent more than 40 times – and then of course says “As the Father has sent me, so I send you”)
  • From exceptional to ordinary – when joining in God’s mission is an everyday activity, not a once-a-week-on-Sunday or a special occasions kind of thing
  • From priests to a priesthood of believers – the priestly role of intervening with God on behalf of the people has no place in a new testament church. The veil is torn. We are all priests together.

“When pastors do for people what the people are called to do themselves, everybody is hurt.” Ed Stetzer

3. Renewed focus on mission

  • From full service to simple mission
  • From “pay, pray get out of the way” to “join God in God’s mission” – no spectators here!
  • From decision-ism to disciple making – seeing evangelism and discipleship as one and the same
  • From “mission statement” to “Jesus’ mission” – embodied both in Luke 4 and Luke 19:10 – where both have to live alongside one another

4. Realignment of priorities

  • God is a missionary God – understanding this nature of God and its impact on us
  • I personally join God in mission – modelling
  • I lead others to join God in mission – leadership
  • I equip others – multiplication

If you’d like to encounter more of Stetzer’s thinking about revitalising congregations, check his blog here, or try his book Comeback Churches (or lots of Ed’s other books here).