Evangelism

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

Rethinking Reaching Australia

Glenn Hohnberg challenges our practice and thinking about evangelism in this
first part of last year’s Mathew Hale Library lecture. Part 2 follows in our next issue.

Are we reaching Australia with the gospel? According to 2012 McCrindle research, 1 in 4 Australians attended church in 1966. In 2013 fewer than 1 in 14 attended church. The population of Australia has doubled since 1966 and yet there are a million fewer people going to church now than then. Even if a significant amount of church attendance in the 1960s was dead nomi­nalism and a culture of church-going rather than true belief, what the numbers show is that we are certainly not reaching Australia with the great news about Jesus.1

This begs the question as to why. The gospel is the same and God’s power is the same and yet we seem to be going backwards in reaching Australia. This article proposes that there have been profound changes in Australian culture in the last thirty years driven by changes in our working lives which our evangelistic strategies fail to reflect. But this is not the only difficulty. Coupled with this is a failure in our church culture to devote ourselves to the evangelising of Australian adults. And so we are failing to reach Australia.

We will begin by looking at culture changes driven by working changes in the last thirty years and then our church culture. In the next issue we will look at some ways forward for reaching Australia.

Read more: Rethinking Reaching Australia

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

Bullish about Lausanne

As he departs the chair, Doug Birdsall reflects on the Lausanne Movement.

These are encouraging days for the Lausanne Movement, as we see the momentum from Cape Town 2010 continue. Let me tell you why I am bullish on Lausanne, why I believe it should command the respect of Christian leaders around the world and why I believe The Lausanne Movement should attract the generous investment and financial support of churches, foundations, ministries, and individual donors.
1. Legacy of truth and trust. Billy Graham and John Stott were two of the greatest evangelical leaders of our time. They shaped the Lausanne Movement and have personified its vision and values. They summon us to be our best selves.
2. Authoritative documents that provide wisdom for the global church: The Lausanne Covenant; Manila Manifesto; and The Cape Town Commitment.
3. Grandeur of vision: The whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world.

Read more: Bullish about Lausanne

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.

Read more: Rethinking Reaching Australia Part 2

How to Nurture New Believers

One on one with Deb Sugars.
One of my great joys in ministry is meeting one to one with new or young believers. My focus in this article is on discipling new and young believers, often a much-neglected area of ministry. We work hard to bring people into the kingdom—for them to hear the gospel, and respond. It is vital that we continue to work hard to help them become established believers, who have deep roots in Jesus, as their Lord and saviour. What does this look like?
A ‘disciple’ is someone who knows Jesus, and follows Him, someone who has a relationship with Him, has responded to his offer of forgiveness, and has received his grace. Discipling includes people hearing and responding to the gospel, and people growing in faith for the rest of their lives, through these stages. The time frame is different for each person.
New believers are particularly helped to grow In Christ by being discipled. Those who may not be ‘new’ believers, but who have had little exposure to the Bible, and need some help to read and understand it for themselves are also greatly helped.
What goals are we aiming for, as we disciple a new, or young believer? These three Bible passages give us some core ideas:

Read more: How to Nurture New Believers
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