When most people (Australian’s with a healthy dose of rivalry between states) think of Tasmania, the remote island off the southern coast of Australia, they envision us all happily married to our second cousin sitting in waiting rooms eagerly anticipating our extra head removal. And although our remoteness implies a mythical existence, the reality is that we live in one of the most beautiful and unique corners of the globe. We are a close-knit community; a family.
Hillsong Church Tasmania is the southernmost room of the ‘One House, many rooms’ of Hillsong Church. Though we are more of a remote location, smaller and further away, we’re part of a dynamic multi-site church with expressions of all shapes and sizes, united in vision and cause. Being more remote can at times bring challenges to outworking ministry so you need to learn the art of Leaning In.
Each week as a part of our weekend services I have the opportunity to meet new people. How powerful it is to encounter those who have never met Jesus. But I find that in the opportunity of meeting people comes a choice (in a pre-COVID world); handshake or hug?
A handshake tells someone that they’re liked but the ‘relationship status’ is still to move to ‘friendship’. Yet a hug speaks volumes to the kindness and acceptance that is immediately offered.
My advice if you’re a part of ministry in a remote location; LEAN INTO THE EMBRACE.
Lean into and embrace the culture.
In Romans 12:2 Paul cautions us to not become so well adjusted to our own culture that we fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix our attention on God.
“Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”
Romans 12:2 (The Message)
What are you fixing your attention on? Is it the way things have always been done? Is it negative attitudes, gossip or a defeated mindset? If this is the reality in your remoteness, don’t be disheartened. Lean into the healthy culture of a larger family by simply following their gaze. Look up, fix your attention on God and embrace Kingdom culture; love God, love people.
Lean into and embrace the unknown.
Being part of an on-the-go lively church culture there might be moments when you’re facing the unknown. Place yourself in the book of Acts and you will come face to face with a group of men who faithfully embraced the unknown; the disciples. It’s in the tension of the unknown where you’ll discover space to innovate, ask questions and pioneer again. So, go for it, and be ok when the extended family (or extended team family) haven’t uncovered the answer you need in your remoteness. It means you get to forge ahead and try something new that they can all learn from.
Lean into and embrace what is unique about you.
Our master creator was specific when He created each of us. Individuals woven together in a
tapestry of love.
“I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God.” Colossians 2:2 (The Message)
What we see, what we hear, what we know is all unique to our own remoteness. Always lean into the bigger picture with your local perspective and be confident in what it brings to the table. It’s ok if your piece of the puzzle looks and feels a little different; it still fits perfectly.
Although our remote Tasmanian wilderness can have even the most skilled voyager lost in its vastness, I’m thankful we are found in the loving embrace of a Heavenly Father. Acts 17:27 declares that God is not REMOTE; He’s NEAR.
“He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him!”
Acts 17:27 (The Message)
No matter how remote our location may feel, we’re not doing ministry alone. Lean into the embrace of your church family and lean into the embrace of the Father.