The One Project in Sydney, Thoughts and Notes

G'day Mates!  Aussie Mouse here.  

I'm a brother in arms who hails from the land down under.  I've been watching the recent events around the One Project and wanted to offer some impressions on the 2013 Newcastle event and also some notes I made about the final Sydney 2018 event.

On the surface, the One Project seemed to be a great initiative based around the idea of elevating Jesus in all elements of worship and discourse in a post-modern world that is facing challenges in attempting to connect the message of Christ to an increasingly secular context. That was my initial impression of it.

I didn't pay much mind to the criticisms until I attended the 2013 Newcastle One Project event myself.

The whole setup, lighting, music and approach to preaching very much reminded me of Hillsong.

Whilst it wasn't directly preaching the prosperity gospel, you got the distinct impression that the One Project was stylistically copying Hillsong on an almost subconscious level. 

To say nothing of the academic backgrounds of some of the One Project's leaders--just the thought of Adventists being educated at George Fox University, didn't seem kosher.   But I digress.

What follows are a collection of rough sketch notes.  I apologize for the scrappiness, but I was taking notes on the fly.  They are as follows:

Sydney 2018 TOP Notes


-I did notice a significant drop in numbers for this final One Project event compared with previous ones.

-I did a head count.  Was approximately a 189-200 seat auditorium from initial count.

-Took place 3/2/18 – 4/2/18 at the Charles Warman Auditoria and Foyer - Clinical Education Centre Building 23 Sydney Adventist Hospital Campus, Sydney NSW.

-Initial impressions were arriving to see a small swarm of hipster style individuals, support staff were polite.  Several older folk showed up.

-Sweets were laid out on tables and tea and coffee was served in the corner.

-The music displayed an almost Pentecostal emotionalism.  That’s not to say emotion shouldn’t be shown in worship song.  It just felt overly emotional to the point of being disconcerting.



Japhet De Oliveira - One Last Time

-Started with extemporaneous stories layered with humour.

-Point of stories was to link to the importance of being able to talk about life.

-Acts 5:20

-Underlying message was one project is/was about “doing life” and leaving this chapter for the next one.

-Followed by song “Jesus Loves Me”.


Sam Leonor - Jesus and the Way of Peace


-Mark 3:3-4

-Man with the deformed hand story

-Sam started with joke

-Went into emotional display about the journey that the One Project has gone on and how it had allowed brothers and sisters to find each other.

-Focus then turned to Jesus and the coming kingdom of justice generosity and mercy.

-Focused also on the last supper.

-Psalm 22 quoted - proffered the ‘opinion’ that Jesus sang on the cross.

-Mark 3 - Man with shriveled hand story

-Jokingly suggested La Sierra student who supposedly asked why does everyone say “Happy Salad?” to me on sabbath.

-Focus turned to trying to overcome the toxic side of sabbath and instead rediscover freedom and healing.

-Jesus is not angry at the shriveled hand but he’s angry at the shriveled heart.

-Focus turned to the ancient view of deformity and how the ancients thought it was a sign of sin/spiritual deformity/shame

-Focus then turned to how Jesus was upset/indignant.

-Went into personal story about his moving from Central America to Orlando Florida and being bullied as 13 y/o.

-Compared bully to man with shrivelled hand.

-Leonor concluded that he wants to be more like Jesus.

Recalibrate Session (Group Discussions)


Dilys Brooks - From Thunder to Beloved

-1 John 4:9-10

-Starts with reflections on John and the story of Jesus saying come follow me.

-What do we know about John personally?

-Referred to John being referred to as sons of Thunder.

-John refers to himself as beloved.

-John knew where the best seat was in Jesus’ orbit.

-John was passionate, ambitious and committed.

-How many of us do the work of identifying our selfishness and seeing ourselves as we really are.

-At your worst you are loved!

-Jesus never calls us to what we think we can be, we are called as we are.

-Refers to process of sanctification.

-“I am fully known by God and fully loved by God”.

-Come to know Jesus for real.

-John presents the image of a man who is maturing/mature in his faith.

-Refers to pruning and growing process.

-Refers to submission to God process.

-Refers to her sermon in Seattle which touches on the meaning of Jesus. All.

-“We need to speak up against systems that prevent people from coming to Jesus/God”.

-No one gets excluded, all are welcome (LGBTQXZY?)

-Referred to the idea that God says

-“I died for them too!”.


Terry Swenson - 'Don’t be afraid'

-Matthew 14:22-23

-Started with joke about how he was carrying a cane.

-Pick a person in the Bible you relate to.

-Mark 14

-Story of John the Baptist being killed. Was a key moment for Jesus.

-Jesus mourned John because John knew who Jesus was and got it.

-The disciples wanted to make Jesus King by force.

-The disciples looked to what they could accomplish. They replaced Jesus with their ideas about how to do things.

-We were raised in a postmodern world.

-“No humans can do what Jesus can do unless Jesus empowers them to do it”.

-Adventists point to the storm and the beasts to keep people in.

-Jesus says “Don’t be afraid”.

-Nothing can separate you from the love of God.

-Ran out of battery power on my note taking device at the lunch break.



Martin Vukmamic - Keeping it local

- Started with comment about if anyone should leave Church it’s pastors
- Goes into comments about revelation and refers to wanting to be apart of the church.
- Was specific about the church as the bride of Christ
-Rev 21 - Expresses view that New Jerusalem is a picture.
-Refers to spiritual gifts and makes inadvertent joke that gifts in administration is boring but necessary.
-Many problems in the local church occur because we mess up Church. Too many of us pastors are so obsessed with impressing people rather than empowering them.
-Just imagine if the Holy Spirit spoke to us as people.
-Was carrying around a Rubix cube and solved it in way that impressed crowd.
-The issue is not about numbers when our local church is dying.
-Imagine if the church wasn’t competitive but collaborative.
-The main reason people don’t invest time resources into the local church is because of a misunderstanding of the message of the cross.
-Jesus loves his church.
-We are spiritual contributors not spiritual consumers
-Goes into story about baptism in his local church and the impact that this had on family member.
-The church does not exist for us. We are the Church, and we exist for the world.
-Loyalty sticks with something, while commitment pays a high price while sticking.
-Mark 5:19

Zan Long - Because Jesus eats with everyone

-Started with story about playing Tennis with family/friends
-Refers to playing against more experienced players and learning from the sidelines nothing can replace on court experience.
-Brought child in to read Matthew19:14
-Jesus invites us to do life in a different way.
-Compared this to imagining Christ being involved in playing tennis and encouraging the players.
-Jesus invites us.
-Refers to Barna Research that points to the facts regarding youth leaving the church.
-What if our intent influenced our content?
-Have we got God’s plan upside down?
-Jesus invites us to be together?
-We may know the words but we need to show the kids the way.
-Refers to examples where children influence how Church services are conducted.
-If we want our kids to change direction we need to be honest about our journey.
-I want a church that matches what we do with what we say.


Japhet De Oliveira - Global Resource Collective

-Why not?
-Handed out paper referring to 2018 Preaching Plan and list of age groups referred to Growing Strong Branches to grow the church.
-Our perceptions are shaped by our preconceptions
-Our preconceptions are shaped by our own life and times.
-Refers to “A chapter closes today” a new chapter begins.
-What is the next chapter for us?
-Answer The Global Resource Collective.
-The aim of The Global Resource collective is to collect resources and impact the local church.
-He then referred to the idea that the parish model needs to be followed.

-Told a story about being forced to wear a tie at a conservative church he was invited to. Made joke about being prepared to wear a dress if it would make them happy.

Recalibrate Questions

The Following is a reproduction of the Recalibrate Questions which were provided for the discussion sections and are as follows.


1. In what ways do we still need to work to transform Sabbath into a time of healing and restoration for us, our families, and our communities?

2. What are some ways we (personally or our church) have behaved with “shrivelled hearts”?

3. Who are the people around us who need to be brought to Jesus for healing and restoration?


Sam Leonor – "Jesus and the Way of Peace"

  1. Jesus taught us to love our enemies. How can we be credible witnesses to the way of Jesus in an increasingly violent world?
  2. Have you or someone you are close to served in the military?  What part did your/their faith play in your/their time in the service?  How was your/their faith affected?
  3. What is your understanding of the Adventist position on non-combatancy?  Does our church's position align with your personal beliefs?


Dilys Brooks "From Thunder to Beloved"

  1. Which John can you most relate with – The Son of Thunder or the Beloved?  Why are you drawn to either one?
  2. John's transformation took a time to be actualized.  How does this impact the way we percieve others?  Yourself?
  3. What does the transformation that John underwent look like in 2018?
  4. What are the implications for us to live as the beloved in our communities of faith?  With our families?  In the public square?


Terry Swenson "Don't be Afraid"

  1. What major paradigm shift have you experienced in one of your beliefs, traditions or customs when it comes to church?
  2. When it comes to your spiritual walk, what are your afraid of?
  3. Where in your life do your sense Jesus calling you to step out of your "boat" and walk on the water with Him?



In conclusion, the One Project displays an obsession with post modernity and emotional forms of worship that cannot be over looked. 

Personally I think the closure of the One Project couldn't have come at a more appropriate time.  I am also of the opinion that there remains a wide fissure in modern Adventism that centres on two opposing forces.  One is the liberal side of Adventism (illustrated by the progressive partiality of the NAD or the effervescent fawning of Nathan Brown) and the other is the classic conservative Adventism of our founding.  This sort of binary characterisation will probably be criticised for being overly simplistic and I would have been inclined to agree at one point, however the fissure is real.


How the One Project movement will try to influence Adventism in the coming years will need to be critically monitored.  There were several hints and expressions of hope during the TOP sessions that the One Project may reappear in another form in the future.  What that will be remains to be seen.

Though I believe without question that the One Project sits on the liberal side of Adventism, I also believe that it will go down in the annals of Adventism as the ultimate attempt to 'hipster-rise' what is essentially a conservative 19th Century religion living a 21st Century reality.

The challenge is real.  We need to redirect our attention and focus back on to the pillars of the faith of Jesus, revealed in the prophecy focused Adventism that powered our founding as a “light that shineth in a dark place”.

The truth is we need to strengthen our faith, through the prophecies, trusting in Him to make our calling and election sure.  Then we will not be deceived despite the strong delusions and troublous times that will come.  Hence we will be well placed to choose and stand on the side of the real Jesus.  That will enable us to play our part in vindicating His name.


I remain a staunch friend!  Yours in Christ,


Aussie Mouse