19 August 2018

All Saints: The Unexpectedly Australian Movie (Review)

All Saints (2017): 4.5/5 stars
I did not see this film coming! Having seen a few American Christian films that used clich├ęd and heavily out of context bible passages and theological thoughts, I figured I had this one sorted before the opening credits. I expected a triumphant view of ministry and church life (think 7th Heaven). What I got instead was a film that reflected a deep understanding of the nature of church life with its day-to-day joys and the real struggles of ministry. With such a focus on the helping the underdog and the realities of farming and hard work, I had to remind myself that it wasn’t from Australia! For me, the most compelling characters (though many in this film qualify) were Michael, Ye Win, and Forrest.

Based on a true story (make sure you stick around for the credits to see those who inspired the characters) this film focuses on the ministry of pastor Michael Spurlock, his wife Aimee and son Atticus, in an Episcopal church on its last legs in Tennessee. While All Saints is about the church’s journey, Michael’s faith journey is particularly honest and confronts the common difficulties of doubt and uncertainty when you’re a ministry leader. We’ve heard from many clergy families about the complications of being called to work in a small church context, so when the church members of this church showed a mixture of emotions, ranging from hope to bitterness and resignation in the face of the church’s foreclosure approaching, I was encouraged that the filmmakers had done their homework. 

Ye Win
It’s into this captivating church context that a group of refugees from Myanmar arrive. Led by Ye Win, this group reaches out to Michael’s church for help. Here too I was pleasantly surprised, as the character of Ye Win was so convincing as the young former Myanmar soldier now taking responsibility for the needs of the largely non-English speaking refugees escaping persecution. Michael and Ye Win fight to help the vulnerable refugees with the little resources available to their small parish. His dogged determination, personal struggles, and frequent exhaustion reminded and inspired me of the importance of perseverance in difficult ministry situations. 

Enter Forrest, the cantankerous retired farmer and Vietnam Vet who couldn’t talk straighter if he tried! Having grown up in a church full of farmers myself, it feels like this grumpy, wise man could have been based on any one of them. What really rung true for me as we get to know Forrest, through his relationships with Michael and Ye Win, was that for some parishioners, loyalty is very hard won. But if it is, it can be fierce and invaluable. One of my favourite quotes of All Saints comes from Forrest. When Michael has somehow wrangled some resources out of thin air, Forrest looks at him with concern and says “Michael, did you let your stupid off the leash?!” It was a reminder of the importance of having refreshingly honest people around while you journey through ministry!

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. In more ways than I have space for here, it reflects the reality of ministry life, with imperfect characters living out their Christian faith as best they can in difficult times. In particular it addresses the way direction from God can be tested by unexpected challenges. All Saints is engaging, funny, sad, moving and I would highly recommend it to both clergy families and churches in general.

- Matt

We enjoyed this movie so much we have two copies to share with you! If you'd like to enter our August Resource Giveaway, visit our Giveaway page before 24th August 2018. 

-- journeying together with clergy families

15 June 2018

Counselling & Clergy Families: What's It All About? (Interview)

In our recent study, Doing Ministry Together, 62% of respondents felt that clergy and their families would benefit from counselling. We wanted to learn a bit more about what counselling is and how it might help clergy families around Australia. So today, we chat with Valerie Ling, an Australian psychologist and clergy wife, who specialises in preventing ministry burnout and promoting clergy family resilience. She helped us debunk some of the mystery about counselling - and offered some great advice for finding a counselor who suits you.

4 May 2018

Clergy Status in the Age of the Royal Commission (Part I)

Intricate. That is the word I would use to sum up the world of Church and State Law that Hon Keith Mason, AC QC discussed at the Trinity College lecture. It was a helpful lecture about the history and role of Church Law and how the status of clergy within the Church and society is significant relating to the 2017 Royal Commission. Today I will be taking a look at some key points that stood out to me and in Part II we will be exploring the impact on clergy in the light of the Royal Commission.

9 April 2018

Being Seen but not Known (Friendship in MInistry)

Thought & Themes: Seen but not Known
A pastor can seem like he’s known by many — he reveals a bit of himself each week to hundreds or thousands — while he’s really known by few. Revelations of himself during sermons are often like revelations over social media: Controlled vulnerability that keeps people at a distance either through over- or under-sharing.”
Elliott Grudem (Pastors Need Friends Too)
This quote has to be one of the most accurate representations of ministry challenges that I’ve heard to date. It is a difficult but common reality that many clergy and their families face in ministry, often telling me “they think they know me but they don’t know the real, let-my-hair-down me!” 

5 April 2018

PK Place: Take the Journey

Being a clergy kid (PK) is a journey.
It can be fun, it can be challenging, it can be easy, and it can be confusing. So we think it’s important for PKs, while they are on that journey, to have some stuff just for them to help them as they go (read more).

The PK Place has 3 zones:

SNAP It: Packed with crafts, challenges and puzzles to try out with their family and friends (especially great for family game nights or PK catch ups!).  

TAG It: A year-long quest to earn the Summer Mystery Box! Includes 4 school holiday quests that PKs can do with their PK friends or family.

  PK Life: A space to chat about the ups and downs of being a PK, try out some fun quizzes with your family or other PKs you might know and try out some handy ideas and life hacks!

1 March 2018

Clergy Families: Same, Same But Different

February Thoughts & Themes: Just Like Everyone Else, Right?! #ACFlife

One of the most common conversations we have with people, is how being a clergy family is different to any other family in another profession. Our answer is usually that clergy families are the same as other families – and also different.

So, how is it similar and why is it different?

21 February 2018

[New!] The Rhythms of Ministry

Themes & Thought! New to 2018, we'll be sharing a musing or reflection with you each month discussing various subjects relating to ministry and family life. We'd love to share the conversation with you below and hear what you think. Let us know if there's something you'd like us to explore and chat about!


The Rhythms of Ministry (January)

There's a lot of talk about a healthy work-life balance, and often how difficult it is to achieve that in professions with unpredictable, but necessary, hours. An article we read recently suggested there were ebbs and flows in ministry you have to work around. This got us thinking! What if ministry is less about a balance and more about working out the busier, quieter, and regular seasons to help you create a rhythm that includes all areas of life? Maybe that means working out what's essential for each season and what can wait for another time. Or perhaps it's creating a written schedule that helps to plan for the busier seasons in the quieter ones. Regardless of what your Ministry Rhythm looks like, and perhaps it changes with each church or family season, understanding it could give you some room to expect the sometimes chaotic hours and not be overwhelmed when the tides change.

What do you think about the Rhythms of Ministry? 

~ Rachel  

February: Just Like Everyone Else, Right?

 www.australianclergyfamilies.com -- Journeying together with clergy families