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EFAC Australia

Evangelism

THE CURATE’S EGG

Rob Imberger gets people to talk about Jesus.

By far the highlight of my move to Bendigo thus far has been the opportunity to share the gospel with at least five people, none of whom I had previous relationships with. Yes, you may have thought it was the search for decent coffee (see previous column), but no, I have more high-minded and spiritual-sounding aspirations now! (That, and I already found my new coffee haunt within four days).
Anyway: this gospel-sharing has been so exciting, sparking a burning fire that all of these people come to know Christ. Two of these opportunities have arisen out of infant baptism visits, which is (if you’ll allow me to wear my heart on my sleeve) the most convincing reason why churches should offer infant baptism: not to get the babies talking about Jesus but to get their parents talking about Jesus. I’m reading through the Gospel of Mark with one particular family, an outcome neither they nor I could ever have envisaged after our first unremarkable visit. God is good!
Other gospel opportunities have arisen by the by and, as the new kid on the block, it’s frankly easier to be blunt and forthright: I have no bridges built to burn! (I’m only half-joking). I suppose the upshot of all this is Praise God for the awesome privilege of being involved in His work, through believing and promoting that the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).
Now, some of you might think this is a regular occurrence for us ministers. After all, when the sermon’s written and the pew sheets are printed, have we not all the time in the world to evangelise the masses? Strangely not. If you ask me or your own Vicar, we will tell you that we tread a well-worn but necessary path, much of which consists of doing the ordinary mundane administrivia that in fact enables (rather than hampers) the more spectacular work of saving souls. That’s why you’ll see us, for example, writing emails, finalising rosters, having cups of coffee, taking days off, reading books. All of this, in some measure, helps free us up and be poised for the kind of awesome opportunities I’ve had of late.

Peter Adam reports on lessons learned from Don Carson’s mission in Melbourne.

Ridley Melbourne was founded in 1910
. As one of our Centenary Celebrations, we decided to run an evangelistic mission to Melbourne from 23–27 August.
We booked Don Carson four years ago. We brought together a loose coalition of churches and ministries to support the mission, to be run over five week night evenings, in one central city location, close to public transport and easy parking.
Each night Don spoke, and expounded a passage from John’s Gospel. Each talk stood alone, but the five talks also progressed through the Gospel.
Each evening we began with live music at 7:00 pm. People were welcomed at 7:30. Don was briefly interviewed, then we presented a pre-recorded interview with a believer. The musos sang, then there was a dramatised performance reading of the Bible passage.
Don spoke for 45 minutes, with the Bible passage on the screen behind him. People texted in questions during the talk, which were answered by Don afterwards.
Then we explained the response process and people filled in their cards. There was a final, familiar hymn like Amazing Grace, and the evening ended with advisors ready to talk with enquirers at 9:00 pm.
People from many churches—not just Anglican—came and brought friends. Here are the numbers from each night:

Rhys Bezzant reviews the legacy of the 20th Century’s most prominent Protestant.


1959, the year Billy Graham visited Australia, was a high water mark for evangelical faith in this country, as well as a tumultuous turning point in Western culture. Castro’s revolutionaries took power in Cuba, and Berry Gordy borrowed $800 to set up a recording business to be called ‘Motown’. Texas Instruments announced the invention of the microchip, and the first military casualties were recorded in South Vietnam. The birth control pill was legalised, and the reform-minded John XXIII was elected Pope. JFK announced that he would run for President, and the film Ben Hur was released. An American Federal judge ordered the racial integration of buses and trams in Atlanta, and a Southern farm boy (and sometime brush salesman) from North Carolina filled the MCG (as it had never before or since been filled) to preach that old-time religion.
Graham explained how men and women might be born again, and appealed to the crowds at the ‘G’ to do just that, by placing their trust in Jesus Christ, and in his death for sins and resurrection to new life. And thousands were converted, perhaps the closest thing Australia has come to revival. Churches were filled, theological colleges (not just of evangelical persuasion) experienced increased enrolments, and a new generation of leadership for the churches was born. Some fifty years later, what do we make of Graham’s legacy? This article wants to suggest some lessons that we can draw from his successes as well as his shortcomings, as we examine the big picture of Graham’s ministry, and how it has impacted the world in which we live, and especially Christian culture, US politics and revivalist faith.

Phillip Brown offers us a new resource to help answer atheists.

The most common objection raised by the New Atheists is that there is no sufficient proof that God exists and therefore no need to believe in Him. Behind this objection lies a problem relating to the nature of proof. The problem concerns the kind of proof that New Atheists are looking to find. For example, the Bible describes Jesus as the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). What form of proof might Christians offer in support of this claim? Asking a Christian to provide proof of this would be like asking a person in the street to provide empirical evidence that yesterday exists. Even though both parties to the conversation would accept that yesterday exists, neither could prove it because it is the wrong type of proof that has been requested. The type of proof that a person might be willing to accept may not necessarily be the type that is available, because this will necessarily depend upon the nature of the thing being investigated. Excellent grounds for believing the truth of Christianity’s claims can be found in history, morality and its rich cultural heritage. None of these things amount to proof in a scientific sense,
but science is inadequate to establish the claim of the truth of the claim of Jesus Christ to be God.
Since the events of 11 September 2001, religious adherence has had an increasing vocal opponent labelled the ‘New Atheism’.(1) Whilst atheism in the past focused on abstract philosophical arguments, particularly those of a metaphysical discourse, the attacks of the New Atheism rely on metaphysics combined with philosophical ethics, pragmatic morality and scientific rationality, right up to anthropogenic extinction.(2) But are these rhetorically turbo-charged opinions actually logically viable? And, how should a Christian respond?
Early in 2010 the Melbourne Anglican Diocese established a committee to address this debate. Their research led them to seven common questions posed by the New Atheists and a brochure was produced to answer them.
1. Can you prove God exists?
2. Was the world created or did it evolve?
3. Doesn’t Christianity cause violence and wars?
4. Isn’t science the only reliable knowledge?
5. Doesn’t Christianity endorse slavery?
6. Is the God of the Bible a monster?
7. How can you believe in a God that allows evil and suffering?
This article begins with the brochure’s answer to the first question: Can you prove God exists?
The brochure is available on line at the General Synod web site and the Melbourne Anglican Diocese web site: www.melbourne.anglican.com.au

Phillip Brown was once a graduate student in philosophy, and is now the pastor in charge of St John Chrysostum, Brunswick West, Melbourne.

1. Victor J. Stenger, The New Atheism: Taking a stand for science and reason (Prometheus Books, 2009) pages 11–12. See also Tina Beattie, The New Atheists (Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd, 2007).
2. Ibid, page 17.

Julie-Anne Laird offers us her first-timers’ impressions of a global evangelical gathering.

An eighteen-year-old girl got up the front to tell us all that her father had decided to go back to North Korea to tell all his friends and family about Jesus. She hadn’t heard from him for four years. She presumes that he is dead. She has that same burden for her country knowing it could cost her life. There was not a dry eye in the place.
A woman spoke of how her husband, a doctor, had been killed when trying to help the Afghani people with medical aid. Instead of being bitter or angry, she did nothing but praise Jesus.
A guy on my table had been imprisoned for his faith in a country I can’t mention. He had been separated from his family for four years, had lost his home and all his money, and was desperate to be united with his wife and four children. At the end of the week we discovered that while he was in prison all fifteen in the jail cell came to know Jesus through him!
A Muslim guy became a Christian and was a humiliation to his family. He kept on trying to love them and show them what God was like. His father, at this death bed,
said to him ‘I love the God you love, because he is a kind and generous God. But I cannot believe in your religion.’ And then he died.
You could not sit at Lausanne and not change. To see 4000 from all over the world, living for Jesus and worshipping Him together was just amazing. All week I kept on thinking about how if this was what heaven was like, then I cannot wait to get there! But more importantly I long for everyone to be there!
Being at Lausanne was an ­encouragement as well as a ­challenge. I felt more and more dissatisfied with where the Church is at in Australia and the West in general and wondered if fear has totally consumed us when it comes to talking about our faith to those around us. Admittedly it is socially not the right thing to talk about Jesus and people will slowly back away if you’re too enthusiastic (I’ve discovered!) but we do have the freedom to share the gospel. So the question for me was: Why are we so afraid to talk about our faith when we really don’t have anything to lose? Where has our passion and zeal gone for Jesus? Have we lost our first love or are we focused on other things or distracted by life? Have we given over to apathy and don’t have perseverance for the relationships around us? Or are we just so discouraged and have tried and tried to talk about our faith that we end up thinking that God doesn’t really work in people’s lives and have given up praying?
So for me, I came back from Lausanne with a renewed passion for prayer, a renewed passion to talk about my faith with everyone, and a passion to train up evangelists.
If you want an impressive evaluation of Lausanne have a read of Ian Langham’s blog. (http://ianlangham.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/15-things-worth-taking-home/)

Julie-Anne Laird is an evangelist extraordinaire with the Melbourne University Christian Union.

Andrew Curnow introduces the Diocese of Bendigo.

When Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’
This very evocative quote from our Lord comes from Luke 5 where Jesus calls the first disciples and lays down before them what was to become the mission of the Church. Two thousand years later it is the mission of the Diocese of Bendigo and just as it was for Jesus disciples, so it is for us who fish in the Diocese of Bendigo. We are called to ‘put out into deep water’.
What this has meant for me as Bishop in my leadership is that I have brought to the Diocese a deep passion for mission. I was deeply inspired some years ago by the work of missionary Bishop, Lesslie Newbigin, and the missiologist, David Bosch. In Transforming Mission (page 10) Bosch writes:

The missionary task is deep and broad.
The whole church bringing the whole gospel
to the whole world.

The Diocese of Bendigo covers about a third of Victoria. In Australian terms it is geographically manageable; being about seven hours long and five hours across. The Diocese begins about half-an-hour north of Melbourne at Mt Macedon. Bendigo is an hour-and-a-half from Melbourne. Eighty per cent of the Diocese is within an hour-and-a-half of Bendigo; the remaining twenty per cent is in the Mallee. Bendigo is a city of 100,000 people and the next biggest city is Mildura, five hours away to the north west.
There are 35 parishes and two affiliated congregations: the View Hill Fellowship and a Chinese Church, the House of True Light. The Parish of South East Bendigo is the largest Anglican parish in rural Victoria. The Diocese is diverse in terms of Anglican culture with every expression of Anglicanism to be found in the Diocese.
Enough of the geography! How is the Diocese being intentional about mission? The most significant strategy has been to get every parish and affiliated congregation to adopt a Mission Action Plan. The MAPS are based on the four Gospel values: Give, Grow, Teach and Serve.
For almost five years I have been encouraging parishes to work on one or two goals under each value and across the Diocese I believe we are beginning to bear fruit. In some parishes we are seeing the numbers of people attending Church grow.
Two other strategies I mention are the work of our Diocesan Board of Ministry. It has endorsed three forms of ordained ministry for deacons and priests:

Stipendiary Ministry (those in charge of parishes)
Ordained Local Ministry (supporting stipendiary ministry)
Ordained Pioneer Ministry (This is a more explicit ‘fishing’ or evangelistic ministry.)

The Ordained Pioneer Ministry focuses on work in the wider community, outside traditional church structures. We currently have five OPMs: three involved in community ministry, one in indigenous ministry, and one to Bendigo’s cycling community. This is a new and exciting initiative, but very early in its development.
The other strategy is Back to Church Sunday. Again this initiative is in its infancy, but based on experience in the UK I am deeply committed to embedding it in the life of the Diocese.
Lastly, as Bishop I see myself as a missionary. I am out there to encourage and equip our ministers, and at the same time, in any way I can, proclaim the Gospel of the Good News of Jesus! 

Right Reverend Andrew Curnow
Bishop of Bendigo
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Anglican Diocese of Bendigo
4 Myers Street, PO Box 2, Bendigo Victoria 3552
www.bendigoanglican.org.au

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