Evangelism

Strategic hospitality

Marsha Dale shares how she was challenged to 'Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.'
Marsha is an MDiv student and is in Ministry with her husband Marc at Resurrection Church, Lockridge, WA

I heard a great pod cast on Strategic Hospitality by John Piper on the Desiring God website. In it Piper reminds us that we have freely received the liberating power of God's hospitality, making us a new and radically different kind of people. He challenges us to freely give, reflect the glory of his grace as we extend it to others in hospitality.

I love Pipers analogy...the physical force of gravity pulls everything to the centre of the earth. In order to break free from earth-centred life, thousands and thousands of pounds of energy have to push the space shuttle away from the centre. There is also a psychological force of gravity that constantly pulls our thoughts and affections and physical actions inward toward the centre of ourselves, our homes, our friends, our lives. Therefore the most natural thing in the world is to neglect hospitality.

Being a Church on Mission

Bishop John Harrower gave an outstanding Ridley College Anglican Institute Lecture on 11th April 2016 at Ridley College. It was the best attendance at one of these lectures, with a packed room.

In one sense the lecture was a wonderful window into John’s ministry as Bishop of Tasmania from 2000 to 2015. On the other hand, it gave us a great insight into the biblical and strategic leadership that was reflected in John’s episcopate. John spoke movingly of the courageous leadership he exercised in response to the sex abuse challenge. In many ways, he set trends which became the norm elsewhere.

When John started in Tasmania in 2000, he shared his vision that the Diocese of Tasmania would be known as ‘The Missionary Diocese of Tasmania’, and challenged every Anglican to live as a ‘missionary disciple.’ He concluded his first presidential address with these stirring statements:

  • You elected me, trust me.
  • You elected a missionary, let us be missionaries together.
  • You elected an innovator, let us be innovators together.
  • You elected a change agent, let us change together.
  • You elected a missionary bishop, let us be a missionary diocese.

The full text of John’s address can be found on the Ridley College website or by contacting the Diocesan office in Melbourne. Simply by listing some of the headings of John’s address under the title of ‘What can a Bishop and Diocesan Leadership Team do?’, you get get the feel of what John was on about.

Articulate vision, and the principals and messiness of mission

  • Build trust
  • Release resources to the margins
  • Monitor the pace of change
  • Review performance

John Harrower set a powerful example in Tassie for 15 years. It strikes me that it is a model that many more should consider adopting in other parts of our nation today. There are too many Dioceses that are being held back by a lack of a clear sense of vision and the lack of permission giving that should be at the heart of the episcopate. A bishop is there to promote the good of the church not to hold it back.

Stephen Hale is Vicar of St Hilary's Kew and Chair of EFAC Australia

Being a Church on Mission

Bishop John Harrower gave an outstanding Ridley College Anglican Institute Lecture on 11th April 2016 at Ridley College. It was the best attendance at one of these lectures, with a packed room.

In one sense the lecture was a wonderful window into John’s ministry as Bishop of Tasmania from 2000 to 2015. On the other hand, it gave us a great insight into the biblical and strategic leadership that was reflected in John’s episcopate. John spoke movingly of the courageous leadership he exercised in response to the sex abuse challenge. In many ways, he set trends which became the norm elsewhere.

When John started in Tasmania in 2000, he shared his vision that the Diocese of Tasmania would be known as ‘The Missionary Diocese of Tasmania’, and challenged every Anglican to live as a ‘missionary disciple.’ He concluded his first presidential address with these stirring statements:

You elected me, trust me.
You elected a missionary, let us be missionaries together.
You elected an innovator, let us be innovators together.
You elected a change agent, let us change together.
You elected a missionary bishop, let us be a missionary diocese.

The full text of John’s address can be found on the Ridley College website or by contacting the Diocesan office in Melbourne. Simply by listing some of the headings of John’s address under the title of ‘What can a Bishop and Diocesan Leadership Team do?’, you get get the feel of what John was on about.

Articulate vision, and the principals and messiness of mission
Build trust
Release resources to the margins
Monitor the pace of change
Review performance

John Harrower set a powerful example in Tassie for 15 years. It strikes me that it is a model that many more should consider adopting in other parts of our nation today. There are too many Dioceses that are being held back by a lack of a clear sense of vision and the lack of permission giving that should be at the heart of the episcopate. A bishop is there to promote the good of the church not to hold it back.

Stephen Hale

Ministries to New Arrivals

Katrina and Jonathan Holgate share how they have seen ministry grow up among refugees in Perth, WA. Katrina and Jonathan were formerly at St Alban’s, Highgate, and are now at St Matthew’s, Guildford.

Imagine: You can’t quite hear, you don’t know the geography of where you are living, the rules are all different and seem to be harsh. Living here in Australia, we live with much tacit knowledge. We know how the school system works, how public transport works, where (generally) places are within your city or region. Refugees (and often backpackers) don’t have this tacit knowledge that we all live with not realising what seems obvious.
Jesus taught us the parable of the good Samaritan; Deuteronomy 29:11 says that we can only have a relationship with God if we treat the alien in our camp well; Leviticus 24:22 says we must have the same laws for the alien as we have for ourselves. It seems to us that we are living outside of God’s ordinances when it comes to the way we treat asylum seekers and refugees here in Australia.

In this context, we have been ministering to refugees for several years. God gave us plenty of opportunity to welcome the alien whilst we were at the Parish of St Alban’s Highgate. During ‘mission week’ one of the younger members of the congregation suggested an outreach to some of our local backpackers. We soon discovered the local backpacker hostels were largely populated with refugees. Their most desperate need was to learn and practice English, to develop an understanding of Australian culture and, believe it or not, our colloquialisms.

Coalition Building

An Australian expression of The Gospel Coalition is up and running, seeking to unite and energise evangelical and reformed Christians across Australia.

On 23 July in the Brisbane Town Hall the launch of The Gospel Coalition Australia (TGC AU) was held. You may know of The Gospel Coalition USA, which consists of a council of 54 men of reformed and evangelical convictions, most of them pastors or theological educators. The purpose of the US coalition is to advocate gospel-centred principle and practices to younger Christian leaders, to link like-minded people across denominational, class and ethnic lines, to renew the contemporary church in the ancient gospel. They do this most visibly (in Australia) by running an impressive website, posting articles and essays themed in  channels including Current Events, Ministry, Arts and Culture, Bible & Theology and Faith & Work. The website also hosts blogs, contains resources of various kinds and aggregates relevant external material. This website has grown popular in many reformed and evangelical circles in Australia (apparently Sydney is the city with the 6th highest number of visitors to the website in the world, including all US cities), and so TGC has built a certain amount of loyalty and brand recognition in Australia. TGC USA also get on the ground in the US by running regional chapters which hold regional conferences.

Some leaders in Australia were attracted to the TGC project of rallying reformed and evangelical Christian leaders together from across denominational and other lines, and linking them regionally. What about  a chapter of TGC where I am? they asked. After all we are fellow travellers with the US leadership, and there’d be an advantage in linking to the established  TGC brand. And so the US leadership linked two Australians with the same desire, and in time an Australian council of 13 men — all pastors of churches — was formed to establish The Gospel Coalition Australia. An Australian website, sister to the US one, went up, featuring Australian content and contributors, and a National Consultation with a wider circle of Australian Christian leaders from across denominations and states was organised in Brisbane, to engage a wider circle as supporters and to discover any sticking points or issues that might cause other reformed and evangelical Christian leaders to stand aloof from the enterprise.

At that National Consultation in Brisbane about one hundred Christian ministers from around Australia looked over details of the foundation documents of TGC, spent time in regional groups discussing how TGC AU might contribute to the strengthening of gospel ministry in the Australian states, and also spent time in groups devoted to particular interests — church planting, or public theology, or women’s ministry, for example. The council worked hard to introduce itself, its reasoning and hopes for TGC Australia, and the results of this consultation will no doubt stand it in good stead for discussions about their priorities and next steps. The Consultation was itself a great gift, bringing like-minded Christian leaders from around Australia together for a few days, to meet, discuss and encourage one another.

Ben Underwood, Shenton Park, WA

English Classes at Church

Kaye and Ian Malcolm

Kaye and Ian Malcolm write about starting free English classes in a local church, for the benefit of those who appreciate an English speaking context accessible to those whose first language is not English.

Essentials:: Tell us about how the idea of English as a Second/ Additional Language at Karrinyup came about.

Kay and Ian: Well, having spent periods abroad, we know what it’s like to be in a foreign-language speaking environment. After a period teaching in China, we had the opportunity of welcoming many Chinese students to our home when they came to Perth for further study, and we could see how much they appreciated getting into an accessible English-speaking context. As linguists, we could see how further training would help them.

Essentials: How did you go about getting it up and running?

Kay and Ian: We talked and prayed about it with interested friends within the congregation and brought a proposal to the Parish Council. The idea was that we would offer free English classes in the church facilities for one morning a week. The only charge would be $4 for morning tea. With the help of a core group of teachers we would offer classes at a range of levels, during school terms. Once the proposal was approved, we put publicity in local newspapers and on shopping centre notice boards.

Essentials: What helps and hindrances did you encounter?

Kay and Ian: We were not the only church offering this kind of service, so we benefited from being in contact with other groups. We also found useful resources online, and we took advantage of university libraries and language bookstores offloading stock to enable us to build up library resources. Once we got started, the regular attendance soon grew to the twenties, though we needed to cope with the fact that the same people didn’t necessarily come each week. One complication which arose was that some mothers wished to bring their babies or small children with them. We accommodated this as best we could, though decided not to extend our service to child minding.

As the work got known we had wonderful support from volunteers from the church who provided practical back- up. There were also offers from qualified people outside of the church. We needed to explain that, as this was intended as an extension of the church’s ministries, it was important for us to have a team who shared our Christian commitment. Some ESL/EAL ministries use the Bible as the main teaching resource. In our case, we initially invited people interested in exploring the Bible to stay on over lunch after the three-hour class for some overt Christian instruction. A new development is for individual teachers to spend an optional 15 minutes after the lesson concludes looking at the biblical implications of themes raised in the lesson or pursuing biblical storytelling.

Essentials: What are one or two encouraging stories?

Kay and Ian: We found it encouraging that some people who came to us on Friday took the opportunity to go to a class in one of our associated churches on another day of the week. Some also showed interest in meeting in a home on another day of the week for an “easy English” Bible study. At the Karrinyup church, when there were special events for Christmas and Easter, some of the students came along. We were impressed that one of our students was prepared to travel by public transport 90 minutes each way to come to our classes. One special production by the students was a collection of articles written by them under the title Write around the World, where they contributed descriptions of the places they had come from. One of the great outcomes of the English classes was the sense of community which developed. We would go on end of term picnics, and some of the students invited teachers to meals in their homes.

Essentials: What do you think the value of ESL/EAL ministry is? What opportunities does it present?

Kay and Ian: Our experience shows without a doubt that this service meets a need, both for language help and for social interaction on the part of the people who participate. It also draws out gifts and abilities on the part of church members and helps to make the church accessible to people who might not otherwise have contact with it. Above all, the value of this ministry is the opportunity it presents to share the gospel in life and word.

Essentials: What is the next step forward for the ministry that you hope to see it take?

Kay and Ian: Given the option to stay on after the lesson and consider biblical implications, nearly all the students are taking it. The enthusiasm to continue with this is strong. With interest in the Bible growing we are thinking and praying about how best to meet this welcome demand.

Rethinking Reaching Australia Part 2

Glenn Hohnberg continues with his challenge to our thinking and practice of evangelism in this second part of last years Mathew Hale Library Lecture.

We are not reaching Australia with the great news of Jesus. 2012 McCrindle Research showed that despite Australia's population doubling since 1966, one million  fewer people go to church now than in 1966. Even considering the dead nominalism that may have existed in the 1950-60s, this ought to be very confronting.

Why are we failing to reach Australia? In the first part of my article I boldly proposed two 2 major reasons why this is so. First, we focus our evangelism on our local, geographic neighbours, the people we live near. Due to the cultural changes of the last thirty years, these are the people we almost never see. While focusing on them we  neglect those that we see every day at work.

Second, our churches, the centre of Christian life and thinking, devote very few resources to adult evangelism. And so adult evangelism doesn't succeed, thus perpetuating a cycle of not discipling and training in adult evangelism. 

Perhaps things are harder now than they have ever been.  However, the most crucial things have not changed and these should give us great confidence in trying to reach Australia.