EFAC Australia

Bringing the Gospel to our World

Are we tempted to trust more in methods for gospel growth, than in the gospel itself?

The Anglican Futures Conference in Melbourne in March was a great time. Lots of people (465) from all states and New Zealand, excellent organisation, stimulating plenary sessions and a great variety of highly appreciated workshops. And finished with a financial surplus. The Conference touched on a number of important areas in our life as Anglican Christians and this issue of Essentials follows up more of those matters.

We have more summaries of some of the papers and discussions of other issues as well. Jude Long continues to give us some insights into Indigenous matters and Peter Brain critiques the significant General Synod Report of the Viability and Structures Task Force. (Peter has further material in Facing the Future: Bishops Imagine A Different Church Stephen Hale (Ed), Andrew Curnow (Ed) ISBN 9780908284900).

Plans, methods, schemes and models continue to proliferate in the attempt to bring the gospel to our world. Many of them represent ways in which God has blessed the work of his servants. However evangelicals know better than to trust in the repetition of things that worked somewhere else. What we ought to continue to trust in is the gospel itself and the Lord who continues to spontaneously expand his church, to use the words of Roland Allen.

Allen has wise words for a generation entrenched in method. “By spontaneous expansion I mean something which we cannot control. And if we cannot control it, we ought, as I think, to rejoice that we cannot control it. For if we cannot control it, it is because it is too great for us, not because it is too small for us. The great things of God are beyond our control. Therein lies a vast hope. Spontaneous expansion could fill the continents with the knowledge of Christ...” That was in 1927. It seems that he was right. A number of our book reviews highlight the same story.

In the face of competing stresses, opposition, and white-anting, evangelicals are under pressure to be ashamed of the gospel. But most evangelicals are unlikely to give it away. We are more likely to be tempted to trust in gospel methods than in the gospel.

Dale Appleby, Essentials Editor