The decline in the Australian Protestant Church - how we got where we are.
- Written by Peter Corney
The main stream Protestant churches in Australia are in serious decline and have been for some time. To give but one example: attendance at worship on an average Sunday in the Anglican Church in Melbourne has dropped from an estimated 50,000 in 1981 to 21,000 in 2006. How did we get to this point so quickly?
As accelerating secularism began to hit Australian society in the 1960’s the churches were not only unprepared they were also weakened by several trends that had been developing for some time.
One of the most significant was the trend in clergy training to become overly focused on pastoral maintenance rather than pastoral leadership, ministry skills and growth. The times called for new initiatives, new models of ministry, the ability to initiate change, new styles of worship that related to the rapidly changing culture. The training of clergy has properly always had a strong pastoral care element but three influences exaggerated this: the psychological counseling movement that developed momentum post war; the Christian Education movement; and the undermining of preaching and teaching by Liberal theology. As secularism and rapid social change hit these influences coalesced to fatally weaken pastoral leadership.
Gamaliel and Gafcon
- Written by Peter Adam
I did not attend Gafcon. I am in sympathy with some of its passions, less so with some of its politics.
This is an appeal addressed to those whose tendency is to reject or dismiss Gafcon and Anglican Mainstream, or who fail to see how God might use it.
Here are four reasons why I think we should take Gafcon seriously.
1. Do not Gafcon and Anglican Mainstream show the characteristics of reform movements in the past that have later been recognized as the work of God?
These reform movements usually include the following characteristics. They are grass-roots based ecclesial communities. They critique the status quo and work outside the existing Episcopal, diocesan, and parochial structures. They have clear intentions for reform, and they set up alternative complementary energy and power structures to the existing.
Anglican Principles in a Changing Culture
- Written by Peter Corney
(This article originally appeared in Essentials: The Journal of EFAC* it has recently been revised 11/09)
We are living in a time of enormous and rapid change at every level of our lives. Hugh Mackay in his book Re-inventing Australia describes it as the Age of Redefinition. The church is not immune to this change. The Anglican Church of Australia (ACA) is, along with the rest of society, experiencing profound changes. Experiments with new congregational models following the Fresh Expressions discussions; the new liturgically minimalist contemporary style of services in many places now; the ordination of women as Presbyters and Bishops; the strains within the Anglican Communion as a result of the willful and heterodox decisions by the American Episcopal Church and the response of splits in ECUSA and a whole new independant N. American diocese formed and the GAFCON conference saying ‘enough is enough’; ageing and declining congregations; many parishes moving below the line of viability; the growth of ethnic congregations; theological challenges from within to fundamental doctrines like the uniqueness of Christ as Savior and Lord; stable parish life threatened by urban mobility and social changes – these are just some of the more obvious changes.
What are Anglican core values?
As we attempt to evaluate, respond and adapt to the pace and extent of change it is essential that we review our foundational principles and theological roots. We need to rediscover our ‘core values’ if we are to respond constructively.
Changing Leadership for a Changing Church
- Written by Bishop Stephen Hale
"Our challenge has usually been to help many churches to move back to better health. In reality though, the bigger issue is how to become more missionally effective. In my opinion this is the biggest challenge for all churches today, whether big, small, mainline or independent, seemingly strong or weak. All of this will require a significant shift in the leadership culture that is pre-dominant in many churches and church organization."
Access entire transcript: Changing Leadership for a Changing Church, Matthew Hale Public Library Lecture
The Church as Community in Mission
- Written by Paul Arnott
Bishop Michael Nazir Ali asserts that churches are called to engage in mission from everywhere to everywhere. By that I take him to mean that mission is to be at the heart of church life, that all Christians are called to be witnesses to Jesus in the words we speak and the lives we live wherever we live. But more than that, churches are called to have an involvement in both local mission and global mission.
In my experience if churches engage in mission at all they are locally focused and tend to leave the global to the enthusiastic few. However, as congregations recognise the primacy of their global nature and calling they will be far more effective in their local mission and outreach. As Bishop Lesslie Newbigin wrote in his 1994 book The Open Secret, “Mission is the proclaiming of God's kingship over all human history and over the whole cosmos. Mission is concerned with nothing less than all that God has begun to do in the creation of the world and of humankind. Its concern is not sectional but total and universal.'