The Story of Thrive

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Late November last year, I was walking back home after walking my daughter Hannah to school. I often pray as I’m walking – on this particular day the weather was nice, there wasn’t much traffic on the road, and I was still feeling a sense of relief to have the kids back in school after a very disruptive year of being locked down.

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Anyway, as I was walking and praying, I suddenly felt the same inexplicable feeling I felt when I was first called to pastor and also on the few opportunities I have had to preach in a church setting – and the Holy Spirit said ‘it’s time’.

For the last 6 years, ever since I moved to the Mornington Peninsula, really, I’ve been wondering what my next ministry step might be.

Over recent years I’ve had heaps of conversations where I’ve expressed the feeling that we’ve been positioned intentionally by God – although we haven’t been quite sure what we’ve been positioned for.

We’ve wondered whether we had been positioned to plant a church, or perhaps whether our positioning was for a season of equipping for ministry elsewhere.

We also wondered about online ministry, because I’ve spent the last dozen years or so building websites and learning about marketing in the online space.

When I was called to pastor I distinctly recall trying to find a course to study and build my skills – but one door after another was shut.

So I decided that I would be pastoral with everyone I came across in my ordinary life until the doors to study opened up – which they did a few years later, leading to my Masters in Theological Studies.

Shortly after finishing study, Brad and I both felt that we were being stirred up, and that God was preparing us to move somewhere else – so I went through a process of applying for ministry jobs that the Holy Spirit highlighted to me as I scanned through the online job listings.

Over two years, time after time, I’d make it through to the final round of the selection process but these churches would decide at the last minute to not proceed with the role – or to put everything on hold for a season, or to re-evaluate what their actual needs were.

Brad and I were left thinking – what is going on here?

As this was going on, I did some work for the local church that we had been part of for the last 4 years as a children and families ministry catalyst, but in March last year we felt that we had been released from that fellowship, so I resigned and finished up.

Then COVID hit, and the people of Melbourne in Australia – where we live – went through 112 days of lock down.

So on my walk home, in late November last year, as things had settled down and got back to some sense of normality, the news that ‘it was time’ was both exciting and terrifying.

One thing I knew for sure was that I was going to need good people around me, and so I asked the Holy Spirit to open doors and connect me with the right people – as well as show me what the next step was that I should take.

Over the next two days, no joke, I had four different people tell me that they had been really missing the bible studies and discipleship sessions we used to do together years ago.

I sent out a message to about a dozen of my Facebook friends, saying that I was thinking about starting a new online women’s bible study and asking if they might be interested.

As I sent that message out, I was expecting that maybe one or two people might get back to me.

To my shock, pretty much every single person replied to my message and only two of them said that it wasn’t a good fit for them right now – everyone else wanted more information and some of them even asked if they could invite their friends too.

While this was going on, I was also having conversations with people I bumped into in the course of my everyday life – and within 3 or 4 days we had a group of local ladies who were keen to meet in person for bible study – and although it was now early December and everything was getting super-hectic in the lead up to Christmas – we decided to get started anyway and begin meeting weekly from the very next Monday.

There were 7 of us there at that very first meeting, within a few hours of the session finishing I was getting phone calls from group members asking if they could bring friends along the next week… and let me say, the transformation that I’ve seen in those ladies in the few months since that first meeting has been nothing short of astounding.

Fast forward through Christmas and New Years, and beach mission – which my family and I are involved in every year – and we launched another two bible studies for women – but this time they were online.

Just like the in-person one, most of the people who are coming along are people I’ve never met – they’ve been connected in by a friend.

So the benefit of the two new groups was that because they’re online, people can come along from anywhere in the world – and there’s zero commute time, which makes things a lot more flexible for busy parents.

But despite us having one online session in the morning and one session in the evening – the times just aren’t suitable for everyone.

What surprised me, was that even though the group times didn’t suit people – they still wanted to be involved and access the information and transformation that they were seeing in their friends who were coming along, and I started getting requests for the studies to be made available in podcast form.

Then, about 3 weeks ago I saw an ad for a week-long online workshop aimed at kingdom messengers who were wanting to launch a podcast or a YouTube channel.

So I signed up, and the very first workshop session provided me with the clarity I had been praying about for weeks.

This was yet another example of Holy Spirit connecting me, just like I’d asked for and within days Thrive was born.

Thrive began with the intention of connecting the people who are involved in or connected with the bible studies that I’ve been running, but it’s grown quickly to include a YouTube channel where I post short, bible-based messages of encouragement every weekday and a separate YouTube channel where I post longer sermons and bible-based studies.

If you’d prefer to listen, there’s a podcast and if you’d prefer to read – there’s a website where you can access everything too.

I am amazed by what God has been doing and I’m incredibly honored to pastor this growing bunch of amazing people.

I’ve been in and around various churches for 30 years, but I’ve never seen bible study groups grow as fast as these ones have, and I’ve never seen so much transformation and change in so many people over such a short period of time as they get stuck into the word of God, realize who they really are and embrace their own purpose and calling.

God is doing something pretty amazing, and if you’ve been a part of the journey so far – I want to thank you for coming on this adventure with me.

I appreciate every single like and comment on every video, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for all of us. If this is the first time you’ve been here, then I want you to know you’re very welcome to hang around for a bit and check us out.

Questions and comments are very welcome on every video, and you’ll notice that I respond to as many of them as I can – although I am only human and I do need to sleep occasionally, so your grace and patience is definitely appreciated.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end, and I’ll catch you next time.

Blue Skies

P.S If you found this idea interesting or useful, save it for later by pinning it to your Christian Encouragement board on Pinterest.

P.P.S. If you have a friend who might benefit from this message, make sure you take the time right now to share this with them!

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