Homiletical Health Check
- Written by: Mike Raiter
Homiletical Health Check: The State Of Preaching In Australian Churches
I’m in a reading group and we’re discussing Chris Watkins, Biblical Critical Theory. We were asked to summarise the book in a couple of sentences. If you know this 600+ page brilliant analysis of the Bible and Western culture (a book none of us have yet finished), then I could no more summarise it in a few words than swim the Pacific Ocean. I feel the same sense of being set a daunting task in analysing the current state of preaching in both the evangelical Anglican scene and the wider church scene. But I love a challenge.
My approach has been to choose at random 10 evangelical churches from 10 Anglican Dioceses (Northern Territory, Brisbane, Armidale, Sydney, Bathurst, Melbourne, Tasmania, Adelaide, Perth, and N.W. Australia). While I’m personally acquainted with a couple of the preachers, I’d never heard any of them preach before. And I’ve kept the church and preacher anonymous.
Then I’ve randomly selected 10 non-Anglican evangelical churches from Brisbane (I’d just returned from there and so was still in the zone). The churches are Baptist, Independent Baptist, Pentecostal, Church of Christ, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Brethren, Christian & Missionary Alliance, and Salvation Army. I didn’t know any of the preachers, nor had I heard them before. Again, I’m not identifying any of the churches.
Revitalising Youth Ministry
- Written by: Brian Holden
In 2022, Brian Holden led a group of children’s, family and youth ministers on a tour of Queensland churches with growing children’s and youth ministries. This trip took place as part of a ‘community of practice’ - intentionally exploring different approaches to working with young people. They attended some of the youth events and meetings, and met with the youth leaders, staff and clergy in each church. The following is a collation of thoughts from the team as they reflect on what we learnt.
INVESTMENT IS KEY
If you prioritise children’s ministry it will grow … Some churches did this by investing in modern buildings, spaces and resources. Others had everyone in the leadership read and discuss books like Growing Young: Six Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church (by Kara Powell, Brad Griffin and Jake Mulder, Baker Academic, 2016) to better understand how to grow children and youth ministry and why it is important.”
“The churches we visited had children and youth as a strong part of the church’s culture and DNA. This was clear when we talked to the senior leaders – they had taken the time to invest in the ministries to young people.”
Church Revitalisation in Tasmania
- Written by: Joel Nankervis
Joel Nankervis is the minister of Circular head Anglican church, Tasmania. Mark Simon spoke with him about revitalising the church.
Mark: how would you describe the state of the parish when you commenced?
Joel: The church is based in Smithton, in the far northwest of Tasmania. The town’s population is 4000 people. The main industries are farming, fishing and forestry. The town has an ‘end-of-the-road’ feel to it since there’s wilderness to the south and nothing but ocean to the north and the west. Many residents of the town and surrounding areas have historically been part of the Brethren church, and more recently, Pentecostal churches have emerged, as well as those who identify as Anglican. But many of these Christians of whatever background had become disconnected from church life.
Focusing specifically on the Anglican parish, when I began in 2017, it had been 20 years since the previous stipendiary minister. Circular Head was an Enabler Supported Ministry for those 20 years. Under this model, a local team was raised up of leaders, including 1-2 locally ordained people, and this team was supported by a trained member of clergy called an Enabler, who covered 3-4 parishes. This model operated for around 20 years in Tasmania but has now ceased across the parishes that were using it. The local leaders had become quite tired after the years of doing ministry this way. The congregation had dwindled to around 20 people.
Pastoral Statement on Same-Sex Relationships and Marriage
- Written by: Stephen Hale
EFAC Australia Pastoral Statement on Same-Sex Relationships and Marriage
- We acknowledge that offering a theological and pastoral response related to human sexuality and sexual practice in our cultural setting is complex, contentious and challenging. We also acknowledge that it is one of the major challenges facing us as a church at this time, especially in seeking to witness to the hope of the gospel.
- We offer our full assurance for all who are same sex attracted that they are loved, valued and welcome in our church. Our identity as believers is founded in the new life we live as God’s children. We are all one in Christ Jesus regardless of ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.
- We uphold the formularies of the Anglican Church of Australia, which are grounded in the Bible’s teaching. The Christian rite of marriage is between a man and a woman. Both Jesus in Matthew 19:4-5, and St Paul affirm what God has instituted across all ages in the words of Genesis 2:24
“For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
The introduction to the Anglican Marriage Service (APBA Order 2) upholds this unbroken conviction in this way.
Scripture teaches that marriage is a lifelong partnership uniting a woman and a man in heart, mind and body.
In the joy of their union, husband and wife enrich and respond to each other, growing in tenderness and understanding.
Through marriage a new family is formed, where children may be born and grow in secure and loving care.
Finding a good youth minister
- Written by: Graham Stanton
Where can I find a good youth minister?
In over twenty years of youth ministry training there is one question I’ve been asked more than any other. The most frequently asked question comes from church leaders, be they rectors, vicars, or senior pastors who all want to know, ‘Do you have anyone good who we could employ to be our youth minister?’
There’s a lot to like about that question: These churches want to employ people to work with young people. These church leaders don’t just want anyone, they want someone ‘good’. And there’s an assumption that training institutions (or at least those that I’ve been connected with) are the kinds of places where you’d go to find such a ‘good’ youth minister.
Unfortunately, going hand-in-hand with the most frequently asked question is my most frequently given answer: “Sorry, but no, we don’t have anyone who’s particularly looking for a new position right now. But if you send someone to start training, we could help you form them into a good youth minister over the next three to four years.”
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