The sheer adventure of pioneering

Backyard Missionary’ Andrew Hamilton drops by amid the sheer adventure of pioneering…

Hi, welcome to our virtual coffee shop. Pull up a chair, take the load of your feet. Let’s chat.
G’day – thanks for the invite

So who are you, where you from, what do you do in life?
Andrew Hamilton – Hamo to my friends – I was born in Belfast and lived there for 10 years – long enough to remember what it was like. In 1974 we came to Oz and I have lived in Perth ever since – mostly by the beach. I am married 12 years and have 2 little ones – Ellie nearly 3 and Sam nearly 1.

I sense a very strong calling to be a missionary so that’s what I do. I am involved in a new missional community in a developing Perth suburb, I am the WA director of the Forge Mission Training Network, I oversee church planting for the Baptist churches in WA and next year I will be teaching Phys Ed 2 days a week to upper primary school children. Crikey! As I write it sounds like a hell of a lot…

Can I get you a drink? Cappucino, earl grey, dandelion and burdock, pale ale?
Ah coffee… double shot latte would be nice.

Would you like a doughnut or pastry to go with that?
My biggest vice! Anything sweet and rich that has the words cheese, chocolate or cake in it will do fine.

So, if you had to describe the church/project/experiment/thingy you are currently involved with in one sentence, what would that sentence be?
One day as I was writing I accidentally stumbled on the term ‘backyard missionaries’ to describe us – it’s pretty much on the money. We would all agree that we are involved in a radical re-think of what it means to do mission and be church here in Oz. Ooops 2 sentences…

Are you an instigator? / new recruit? / have absolutely no recollection of how you got involved?
Instigator – I sensed God calling me to this mission and then I sensed he wanted me to ask 4 other families from our home church. It sounds kind of wild, but they all said ‘yes’, sold their houses and moved 60km away to build in a totally new and unfamiliar suburb. We are still waiting for the final family to arrive – its been an 18 month journey so far!

What do you value most about being part of it?
The sheer adventure of pioneering – the adrenalin of not knowing what comes next – the challenge of re-imagining this thing we call church – regularly mixing it up with pagans – the freedom to dream… I could keep going!… I love it.

What excites you most about it?
The fact that we are all ordinary people, stepping out on the edge. We might discover something grand and wonderful – we might fail dismally but we are all committed to ‘having a go’. I find the shared adventure exhilarating!

Has anyone ever turned up out of the blue not knowing what to expect?
What did they say?

Not yet, we have only been together in the area for a month or so and we don’t have any public meetings. But other people have inquired about the new ‘Baptist’ church that is starting. Some we have spoken to get what we are on about and it will be great to have them join us, others are quietly curious and I sense other probably think us a little crazy.

Three words that describe your attitude to ‘being church’ in the big wide world: Missionaries – subversive – imaginative

Three words that DON’T:
Conservative – religious – rigid

You have this weird dream – you meet Jesus face to face.
Where does it happen, what does he say to you?

Probably somewhere very unexpected – doing the dishes – at the shops – in the toilet – somewhere very ‘normal’ is where he seems to show up most often. With a big grin on his face he says ‘are you having fun yet Hamo?!’ I think he has always allowed me to do things that bring me great joy. He’s that kind of bloke.

What’s the big secret you’re itching to share with everyone?
I don’t think I have too many big secrets – can’t even think of one that would be worth mentioning…

What would your ’emerging church survival kit’ contain?
A few good friends, my trusty recovered Bible, decent red wine, great food, comfortable couches, a sense of humour, a double shot of courage

Anything else you’d like to share with us before you have to rush off?
The good news is I don’t rush anywhere near as much as I used to! If you’d like to keep in touch with the backyard missionaries journey you can read my blog. Occasionally I write some stuff worth reading – other times its rubbish…

Thanks. Good to see you. Have a good day!
No worries – good to chat.