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EFAC Australia

Essentials

If you're looking for preaching resources may we recommend the following:

Expo Preaching

EFAC's Expository Preaching platform. Here you will find a range of sermons by EFAC members. You are welcome to add your own sermons provided they use expository methods and on the condition that you provide either a full text or at least a detailed outline of the sermon in the Message Text section.

Australasian Academy of Homiletics

The Australasian Academy of Homiletics brings together teachers of Homiletics  across Australia and New Zealand for the purpose of studying the place of preaching in theological education, discussing and sharing ideas and methods, and fostering scholarly research in Homiletics and other related disciplines.

Useful for articles on preaching

The Centre for Biblical Preaching 

Our mission  at the Centre for Biblical Preaching is to encourage and foster expository preaching and teaching in local churches throughout Melbourne, Australia, and in other countries, by providing workshops, conferences, seminars, and mentoring for preachers.

We strive to be a training centre that effectively equips churches throughout Australia and the rest of the world in expository preaching. This vision is founded on the conviction that the first and most important mark of a healthy church is faithful exposition of God’s word.

The Centre arose from the unique and ground–breaking partnership between St. James’ Old Cathedral in West Melbourne and the Church Missionary Society—Australia.

This Webinar with Rev Dr Mike Bird and Rev Heather Cetrangolo was held at Ridley College on June 7th 2022

 

JerksAtWorkJerks at Work: Toxic Coworkers and what to do about them
JESS WEST
WHEATON: CROSSWAY, 2020

This recently published book offers excellent advice to church leaders. It’s great to see a non Christian writer who recognises the impact of sin, both on the way we lead and on the behaviours of others. You can substitute ‘parishioner’ here for ‘co-worker’ and find good advice on how to deal with challenging people who sap our time and emotional energy. As a social psychologist West categorises different kinds of toxic co-workers (the kiss up/kick downer, the free rider and the gaslighter, to name a few) and describes how best to engage with each of them.

Tim Foster is the Vice Principal of Ridley College and the Director of the Ridley Centre for Leadership.

Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity — and Why This Harms EverybodyCynicalTheories
By Helen Pluckrose And James Lindsay, 2020.
Pitchstone Publishig, 2020
Reviewed By Tim Horman

Helen Pluckrose, editor of Aero magazine, and James Lindsay, a mathematician and cultural critic, have written Cynical Theories to explain how Critical Theory has become a driving force of the contemporary culture wars, and to propose a “philosophically liberal way to counter its manifestations in scholarship, activism, and everyday life.” Their book traces the evolution of postmodern and post-structuralist theory over the last 50 years, showing how these theories have moved beyond the academy and into popular culture, particularly the modern Social Justice Movement. Cynical Theories is a story about how the “despair and nihilism” of postmodernism found confidence, which then developed into the sort of radical conviction “normally associated with religious adherence.”

The story, as Pluckrose and Lindsay tell it, begins with the ‘postmodern turn’ of the late 1960’s. Postmodern and post-structuralist academics such as Jean Lyotard, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault, began to deconstruct what the authors call the “old religions” of human thought, which included traditional religious faiths like Christianity, secular ideologies like Marxism, and “cohesive modern systems, such as scientific approaches to knowledge, philosophical liberalism, and the concept of progress.” Early postmodern theory achieved this by questioning the capacity of language to produce meaning, by rejecting the legitimacy of metanarratives, and emphasising the endless deferral of truth or objectivity, since ‘truth’ is merely the socially constructed effect of language games. Such ideas were effective at dismantling those ‘old’ modes of thought, but not particularly useful for reconstructive social change.

Stephen Hale and Greg Hammond OAMGregHammondStephenHale

Moving into a new phase of life has been challenging for those of us who are recently retired from working for one organisation full time. Whatever we had planned or anticipated has been changed or put on hold by unforeseen circumstances or, more recently, thrown into chaos by the pandemic. It has been both an interesting and yet frustrating time.
In the early phase of retirement, the following is a random selection of observations.

1. Be open to God's leading

In this new season of one's life (even in the midst of the pandemic) it is critical to be open to God's leading and to being a part of what he would have one do. It is tempting to want to have a plan about the future before retirement occurs, but "letting go" is important and often requires time to reflect, listen and discern how you can best use your God-given gifts in fruitful ways.
When you have spent all or most of your career working for one organisation, it can be hard to think outside the lens or prism of that organisation. Shortly before "early retirement", I received some good advice – trust God and let go of the future, so you can think about it through a new lens, not the old lens of your first career (Greg).

This has always been tricky, but particularly so in the last two years for those entering this new phase of life, as lots of things have been on hold. Strengthening one's prayer and personal devotion is key to reflecting, listening and discerning.

2. A change in identity

Most of us get part (frequently a large part) of our sense of identity from our work and the offices or roles we occupy. It has been hard to get used to the idea that you no longer have a seemingly key role, place, influence or profile.

I think I'm still sorting this through and that includes moving in and out of locum roles (Stephen). In grappling with this issue, I have found Brian Rosner's work on being made in the image of God, being known by God and being in Christ as the Biblical keys to personal identity particularly helpful (Greg).1

3. Flying solo

One area we both find the hardest is working from home and having to do most stuff for oneself. We both miss the workplace and connecting with people, the informal chats over tea or coffee and the asking of questions of colleagues which can open up new solutions to problems. Juggling multiple involvements with no back up has been a challenge.
During the many lockdowns I lined up walks with different people most days in order to attend to my need to connect and be with others (Stephen). Before, during and after lockdown, I have needed to purposefully arrange time to meet with others for conversation and mutual encouragement (Greg).

4. Consider volunteering

It is unlikely in this new phase of life, that you will need to have a full-time paid role, not that a labourer should not be rewarded for their work. There are many charities and other "for purpose" organisations that rely on volunteers to make the vital difference in the delivery of services.
Even if you do not "get outside the church bubble" as suggested below, consider giving some of your time to a local charity or other "for purpose" organisation. For example, could you volunteer in an aged care residential home to enhance the lives of residents through a skill you have, or simply spend time talking to residents to help relieve the scourge of loneliness.

5. Exercise more

During lockdowns there wasn't much else one could do, but it did have its rewards and is a key thing to build into one's life when it's not as dominated by paid work. It builds resilience and guards against the creep of inertia! (Stephen)
In working from home, and using public transport less (especially since the pandemic began), I have found myself walking less and missing the quiet thinking time that came with short walks to the rail station, between meetings etc. It is important to not only find time for exercise, but also find new ways to quietly think about the challenges of the day or week.

6. Keep reading and engaging

Coaching or mentoring younger leaders and professionals is a great way of keeping in the loop as well as listening to the many podcasts that are out there. They'll help you know which books to consider reading and you'll at least be aware of the ones that are out there.

7. Re-establish old friendships

Most of us have long term friends who we may not have kept up regular contact with due to demands of work and family. Reach out and reconnect. Chances are they were thinking the same thing!

8. Get outside the church bubble

This was important for me (Stephen) and something I've wanted to do for years. I'm volunteering with an organisation that cooks meals for those in need using food that would otherwise be thrown out. The level of professionalism and sheer hard work is amazing.

9. Be more available for your family

With more flexibility there is more of a chance to be a part of your parents' and children's lives and (if you have them) especially the grandchildren. If one isn't tied down every weekday or every weekend this is quite a new thing!

10. Learn to relax

It may seem strange, but it has taken a bit of getting used to having the occasional afternoon or day when you have nothing more to do than clear a few emails! Learn to relax and enjoy these moments. I still find this difficult at times (Greg).

Greg Hammond is a former partner of King & Wood Mallesons and since "early retirement" has served on the boards of several not-for-profit organisations - a second career. Among other roles, he is Chair of Anglican Community Services (t/as Anglicare Sydney) and a director of the Australian College of Theology, G&C Mutual Bank and Opportunity International Australia.
Stephen Hale is the former Lead Minister of the St Hilary's Network and a Regional Bishop in the Diocese of Melbourne. Stephen is the Victorian Director of Overseas Council Australia and Chair of EFAC Global and EFAC Australia. He doesn't really think he is retired as such, he's just not working for an organisation full time


1. Brian Rosner, Known By God: A Biblical Theology of Personal Identity (Zondervan 2018).

PeterBrain.pngHaving recently celebrated my 75th birthday means I have been retired from full-time ministry for five years. When I retired from Armidale in 2012 I joked, ‘rooster today, feather duster tomorrow’! Thankfully,   someone said to me, ‘Peter, don’t forget that feather dusters are still useful!’ I value that comment because I have not found retirement an easy gig, even though it has been very fulfilling. I have had to work hard at reminding myself of truths which I have always believed – truths such as my worth not in being a pastor but as one justified by faith and adopted by God, and of the priesthood and ministry of all believers. I am also thankful to God for the example of many older believers and must be content, like them, to take a back seat and look for opportunities to minister in different ways. Retiring from stipendiary ministry does not mean retiring from ministry.

It is actually a great relief not to have all the institutional and local-church leadership responsibilities. Locum stints have reminded me of this, as I have once again felt the great pressures upon those who are serving as Rectors and Vicars. I have a growing appreciation of the demands of local-church pastoring, especially during the pandemic.

I have resolved not to fall into that most debilitating sin of being a grumpy old minister, which Hebrews 12:15 calls ‘bitterness’. The antidote that I am learning to employ is thankfulness to God for what I can do rather than moaning about what I can no longer do, for the younger pastors under whose ministry I am privileged to sit and the people in the congregations who are there because of God’s sovereign work of grace in them as in me.

Hebrews’ exhortation in 10:24-25 has reminded me that church is not about me – I am to intentionally consider how to help others to love and good deeds. It is a team game, where we run and train together, professing Christ (10:23) by turning up every week to spur each other on. Could we ever imagine Pat Cummins going fishing or water skiing when a Test is on?

We are conscripts in Christ’s service. Where did the (mistaken) concept of believers being volunteers come from? I do know that it is the source of much discouragement to local church pastors and leaders, and a danger to those who have fallen into its seductive arms. The alternative? To recognise that the greatest gift we can give our brothers and sisters in Christ is to turn up every week (planning trips away or catch-ups with friends mid-week rather than on Sundays), with an expectant and considerate heart.

Healthy congregations cannot be built on faithful preaching alone but on the backs of disciples who encourage each other with thoughtful words (Ephesians 4:29) and selfless actions (Galatians 5:13).

Many retired people have been a great blessing to me. One was Jean, whom I met in Wee Waa as she and the music team were tuning up. ‘Bishop,’ she asked, ‘what do you think of all these new tunes to the old hymns?’ I replied, ‘Jean, there are many young people around the Diocese who are singing these old hymns because of the new tunes.’ I was much encouraged when she replied, ‘Well that’s good enough for me!’

She gave up her ‘druthers’ because she was glad younger believers were benefitting from those older hymns. The second was Billy, who moved into an Armidale nursing home to be with his wife. The icing on the cake of that selflessness was his asking me to buy $100 worth of gospels and tracts so he could share Christ with the old people! I want to be like them. Retirement means I now need to consciously look for these opportunities, but they are there. Retirement gives me more time to pray for these opportunities to share, and for the people God has led me to.

I am learning to know my limits (the heart is willing but the boy is weak – oops I just noticed the typo – the body and the boy are weak) and I need to examine my motives. Mind you, if I had waited for my motives to be faultless in ministry I probably would not have done anything! So I tell Satan to get lost, whilst asking our Lord for forgiveness and grace (Hebrews 4:14-16 is so realistically encouraging). Selfcare is vital so we can work and pray well until He takes us home. The line from Morning Prayer, ‘whose service is perfect freedom’, has been on my heart for 55 years; I thank God for it and for those who have exemplified its truth to me.

W H Griffith-Thomas’s words remain true.

What I have, He claims;
What He claims, I yield;
What I yield, He takes;
What He takes, He fills;
What he fills, He uses;
What he uses, He keeps;
What he keeps, He satisfies.

Bishop Peter Brain is the former Bishop Of Armidale who these days has a great ministry as a locum. He is married to Christine and they have four adult children and multiple grandchildren. Peter published Going the Distance in 2004. Somewhat appropriately the sub title is ‘How to stay fit for a lifetime of service'.

Seven clues for Retirement for Ministers of the GospelPeterCorney

1. Start preparing well before you retire. Pastoral ministry is busy, and the deadlines are relentless; sermon and service preparation every week, constant pastoral needs to attend to, regular committee meetings, marriage preparation, funerals, planning meetings, etc, etc. This can cause one to keep putting off planning ahead for retirement. The constant demands can also mean we can lose contact with old friends and valued relationships, neglect hobbies, and other interests, that will be important in retirement.

2. During full time ministry it is important to keep up other interests, relationships, hobbies, and ministry activities outside the parish. Many of these can be continued after you move from full time ministry. Retirement doesn’t mean we cease ministry! The pace and the pressure changes and the influence may narrow but our vocation can continue. In my case I have always been involved in training, coaching, and mentoring younger leaders, both within and outside my parish ministry, and that has continued into my retirement from full time ministry. The Arrow leadership program which I was privileged to head up, happened while I was still in parish ministry and when I moved from full time ministry gave me a continuing field of very meaningful service at a level appropriate to my energy at that stage of my life. In retirement I and a small group of retired friends from the church we attend, started a ‘Shed’ for men and women that is focussed on woodwork projects, musical instrument making, furniture projects both new and restorations, etc. The core group also act as a maintenance team for the Church. The group is open to anyone to attend and has become a great opportunity for members to invite their retired friends who don’t attend a church. The level of fellowship enjoyed shows the need for ongoing relationships for retirees.

3. Be prepared for loss, particularly a loss of recognition, status, and perceived significance. Parish ministry is a very public role. You are known, recognised by many people, and appreciation is often expressed. Retirement can bring a sense of loss of the recognition that comes with belonging to and being a significant person in that community. Someone said, “you know you’re irrelevant when no one knows or speaks your name.” That is what many older people feel in some nursing homes when no one visits them anymore. It is also why the federal governments initiative and funding to assist people where possible to live longer in their own homes and street is so important. Retirement usually means physical relocation to a new house and suburb for parish ministers which can also produce a sense of loss, loss of community, loss of a familiar place and contacts. Retiring to a beach house isn’t always a good idea! It can seem ideal at first but can become very lonely and isolated from friends and family. This needs careful thought and planning.

4. As our retirement continues and our physical strength and abilities change, we can feel that there is not much we can contribute to the Kingdom now. Billy Graham, perhaps the most significant and effective evangelist of the modern era, wrote in his later years in a book entitled Nearing Home “The time God has given you is not without purpose.” That is an idea we need to keep hold of as we age, as Psalm 31:15 puts it “My times are in your hands.” So therefore they are not without purpose. Discovering that purpose needs to become part of our regular prayers as it will change as we age. There is also the challenge to avoid becoming too focussed on your own health and the aches and pains of advancing years rather than the needs of others!

5. Be prepared for a change in life structure. Full time work gives a particular structure to one’s daily life and so it is important to develop a new one or one can drift into a vague boredom. At first the relief from the pressure of full-time work is welcome but eventually the need for structure and purpose asserts itself. It is important to maintain, even create new disciplines for your daily life. Especially in your devotional life of prayer and the study of God’s word. I thought that once I retired that my daily prayer life would be easier now that I have more time and less interruptions! In my case I found the challenge to keep and grow in these disciplines didn’t get any easier, it just changed in its form. I have had to develop new routines and methods and goals. Our new structure needs to also include regular daily physical exercise as our body ages. To keep mentally alert and relevant by reading, learning, and growing is as important now as it was in full time parish ministry. Supporting, mentoring, and discipling younger people is a great way to keep abreast of the new challenges contemporary culture presents to our faith and discipleship.

6. For those of us who are married there is another adjustment to being around more at home. The plus is that we now have more discretionary time to do things together, but we need to spend some time discussing this with our partner rather than making assumption’s about what we will do!

7. Dr Robert Clinton, who taught and researched for many years at Fuller Seminary on Christian leadership, made the observation that Christian leaders who “finished well” observed five things during their active ministry: (i) They kept perspective. (ii) They had many spiritual renewals. (iii) They maintained spiritual disciplines. (iv) They adopted a constant learning posture. (v) They maintained a relationship with a mentor, and they also mentored others. It seems to me these five things are also worth pursuing into retirement.

Peter Corney is Vicar Emeritus of St Hilary’s Kew

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