Australian Missionary News IPTV anchorman Mark Tronson's interview of Syd Miller can be found at tv.bushorchestra.com/Mission/videopages/syd_miller.html and www.safeworlds.net
Syd and Sue Miller oversaw the development of their congregation in Moruya, on the south coast of NSW, from 1993 when it had a small gathering, to a regular 300 attendees a decade later. During this time, the congregation constructed two multi-purpose buildings for worship and fellowship along with beautiful gardens and grounds.
After a necessary, exhaustive and providential break from ministry, they have recently initiated a new congregation in Harrison, a new northern suburb of Canberra, with an extension of their previous 'soft-Pentecostal' philosophy. Sue Miller has taken the lead as senior minister, while Syd is centring his ministry on the needs of men and also organises a 'maintenance ministry' to help those who require the occasional services of a handy-man.
Syd Miller told Mark Tronson that his total change of heart about church has arisen because although many men that he has met are not tired of God, they are certainly tired of church - the event, the program, the performance.
"The Lord wants our hearts," says Syd Miller, "What I have seen is a visible shift in what men want. They need to be 'refreshed' in their worship to the Lord. They want to personally connect with Jesus Christ."
Syd added the comment that Australian men are 'hard', they can smell falsity, they want to be treated as if they are real men and want to see their pastor as being real also. The church, he says, finds this very difficult.
Part of the issue says Syd Miller, is that he has seen overt Pentecostalism become based on extremes, similar to a pattern exhibited by some other religious movements.
He senses a constant 'chasing after the latest fad in ministry' (whether that be music or a program), and he now sees it as a way that pastors' inflate the self-importance of their church. Although he recognises the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, he now distances himself from the hype of such church expressions.
He cited his experience in Brownsville, Pensacola USA eleven years ago. The Pentecostal world was converging on Pensacola to be part of a fresh outpouring of God's Spirit that had apparently turned Brownsville upside down. A group from Moruya travelled to Pensacola and while there, visited a restaurant in down town Brownsville.
"The waiters at the restaurant were asking why Australians were in Pensacola and we asked them hadn't they heard about this remarkable movement of God. They were totally unaware of any of it. It seemed that the hype, had claimed that the whole world knew," Syd Miller reflected. "Except, most people in Pensacola!"
Syd Miller has always loved music, but he is no longer a singer of songs. Now, he uses this 'singing' gift to simply worship the Lord; engaging the words in celebration of Jesus Christ's Salvation, rather than concentrating on the music or the beat of the drums. This 'entertainment' he says detracts from the serious business of Christian ministry; rather, he says, the two need to be in harmony together.
"We are created in the image of God", says Syd Miller. To him that means "me being himself, not someone else, not following someone else's ministry model or the latest fashion in church hype". He feels that the church around the world has an image problem because stereotypical 'fronts' are attributed to it.
To Syd Miller, his Christian walk is just, Syd being himself.