Skip to main content


A review of The Happiness Lab from Melbourne

We recently received an email from our friend Mandy from Syndal Baptist Church, Melbourne, sharing how their church uses UDC resources.

Well, there’s been lots of experimenting in the disciplines that develop a happier life happening “Down Under” during 2018… well, amongst some of the Syndal Baptist community in Melbourne, Victoria anyway!

Having been inspired by participating in the evangelism workshop, “A Year of Conversation”, facilitated by Sharon & Paul from the Ugly Duckling Company at Syndal Baptist in fact, May 2017, we felt it was timely for us as a church to facilitate The Happiness Lab starting mid-January 2018 as a way to engage with those who don’t yet know Jesus and who, most likely, would never consider exploring the Christian faith through the kinds of courses we usually invite them to attend. It was also the perfect follow up course to which we could invite guests & visitors who had attended our “Joy to the World” themed Christmas services and it complemented o…

A review of The Happiness Lab from Shirehampton

A dozen delegates for The Happiness Lab met for their first session in the Tithe Barn in Shirehampton. They had answered an invitation in the local newspaper, or been personally invited by members of St Mary’s congregation to an exploratory drop-in session one Saturday morning in which they had watched a promotional video and chosen to sign up for the course.

Rev Helen Johnson said “I was surprised by the strong response. We had clearly identified a pressing need which people were prepared to do something about. Many of them had no connection with our church, and they stayed with us for all of the sessions.”

The course consists of 6 group sessions covering: Savouring and Gratitude, Acts of Kindness, Forgiveness, Friends and Family, Body and Soul, Resilience and Coping strategies. Delegates are invited to do experiments related to these topics during the intervening weeks, in order to find out ‘what works for them’ and thereby increase their happiness. At the start of each session, dele…

What is a spiritual conversation?

A spiritual conversation is an open discussion between equals in which participants meet each other where they are to acknowledge and discuss the forces that speak into their lives as they try to answer the question, “Who am I?”

Beyond many of our conversations is a depth of personhood we often do not tap into. We monitor who we let into our lives and how far, and this means that sometimes, a person can go days without having a conversation more meaningful than “How’s work?” or “What do you want for supper?” Nevertheless, there is a part of each of us that asks for more; it searches for meaning.

Depending on who you are, you may search in different places. Scientists may search through a microscope. Artists may look for it at the end of a brushstroke. Lawyers may examine the ways we coexist and what it looks like when we get it wrong (and right). Psychologists may sift through the crevasses of the human brain itself. But no matter where we look, one thing remains the same: the search…

The end: Australia 2016 (Nov. 23)

And just like that, it's here: our last full day in Australia. In the afternoon, Paul and Sharon met with a representative from the Anglican church and then someone from the Salvation Army.

To the left, you can see the Sydney harbour bridge on our last day. (It was a stormy one!)

These two meetings mark the end of our month in Australia. We caught the 4:55 ferry out of Circular Quay and watched the Sydney Opera House move slowly out of sight through rain and distance. Nevertheless, for UDC Australia, this is still just the beginning.

A day at HQ: Australia 2016 (Nov. 22)

We're coming closer and closer to the end of our time here in Australia, but we are still making the most of it. Paul, Sharon and Sarah spent the day at the Baptist Association of NSW and ACT headquarters.

From left: Sharon, Karina, and Paul discuss how to bring a live-facilitated Happiness Lab to Sydney!

In the morning, local Morling College lecturer Karina Kreminski came to discuss what it would look like to run Australia's first live-facilitated Happiness Lab! We're so excited to follow along with her as she undertakes this project at the start of 2017.

Lunchtime was a chance for us to catch up with Keith Jobberns. Above is a video in which he discusses the work UDC does.

From left: Paul, Belinda, Ian, Sharon, and Sarah

Finally, we finished the day with Ian and Belinda, familiarising them with our resources. Belinda even walked home with Table Talk for Christmas to help her facilitate conversation with her new neighbours at their upcoming gingerbread hous…

Sun and sea: Australia 2016 (Nov. 21)

Pancakes, preaching and picnics: Australia 2016 (Nov. 20)

Today was another busy one as our trio split between churches and activities. Paul spent the day with Springwood Baptist Church, preaching at both morning services and a later one in the afternoon. Sharon returned to Wentworthville to preach and lead the worship music for their morning service. Sarah also returned to Wentworthville, but spent the service time with a small group of youth in the kitchen, making both pancakes and a mess. These were consumed by the congregation as they emerged from the service and gathered to drink tea and converse.        But for Springwood, this was no ordinary Sunday; it was celebration Sunday! Springwood Baptist set aside this specific day to be cognisantly joyful and thankful for God's presence and provision.         This meant that along with their services, the whole church was gathering for a picnic and friendly cricket game in the park. We went along, ate, cheered, and celebrated the sunshine.
       We returned together to Springwood fo…