­
EFAC Australia

General

Difficult times require real leadership.

However, without meaning to tread on any political toes,I do not think it is unreasonable to suggest that in wider society ours is an age not overly blessed with courageous and capable leadership. We continue to lift up our hands in prayer for our political leaders, at the same time as we often find ourselves throwing those same hands up in despair and frustration.

What then of leadership in the church?

One of the aims of EFAC is “to function as a resourcegroup to develop and encourage biblically faithful leadership in all spheres of life.”. Many of the elements of this edition of Essentials touch on that issue of leadership. We hear from the new Archbishop of Sydney,Kanishka Raffel, as he begins his new responsibility in leading that diocese forward. Andrew Katay and Simon Manchester both reflect on the nature of preaching as a means by which Christians are led to real gospel transformation. Mike Flynn wrestles with the paradox that church leaders matter both more and less than we think.

Alongside these contributions we attend to the sobering reality of failure in church leadership. Such failure may or may not be more frequent in the present moment, but it is certainly being played out in a more public and seemingly disturbing way than at any time in recent memory. Peter Brain faithfullyand calmly guides us through answering that difficult question, ‘what can we say in response to sexual sin in Christian leaders?’. Similarly, Chris Porter draw sour attention to a recent book guiding churches in their healing from emotional and spiritual abuse.

In all of this we turn continually to one who cleanses, defends, and preserves his church, prayingthe Collect for the 16th Sunday after Trinity: “O Lord, we beseech thee, let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church; and because it cannot continue in safety without thy succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness; through JesusChrist our Lord. Amen.”

Lampada alicui trado

My pompous Latin heading indicates that I am, this issue, passing on the torch of the Essentials editorship-in-chief to others and leaving the Essentials editorial team. In God’s providence I have recently accumulated two new ministry roles, and after six years’ involvement with the Essentials editorial team, I took this as a cue to resign from this rewarding, but involving, responsibility.

I have used a pretentious Latin heading, not only because I think Latin should be more widely known, but also because Latin lends an appropriate sense of gravitas (more Latin) and tradition (from Latin trado; hand over, bequeath) to the activity of producing Essentials. EFAC represents Anglicans who are formed by, and love, the reformed and evangelical character of the Anglican Church. We are convinced that the faith of the disciples of Jesus Christ is well preserved and articulated in that reformed and evangelical understanding of the gospel, of the Christian life and of the church and her ministry, and we want to encourage one another in it and commend it to others. Essentials plays a part in that mission, and I hope that it has done so by returning consistently to the things which unite and animate us: the gospel of the grace of God in Christ, the Scriptures, evangelism, the life and ministry of the local church, prayer, Bible study groups, training new ministers, mission, addressing the issues of the age in the light of the eternal truth of God, and celebrating those who have gone before us, inspired and mentored us. I also hope that Essentials continues to be read and appreciated across Australia, and addresses the concerns, circumstances and labours of EFAC members in a positive, irenic, creative and thoughtful way.

I have tried to put together this summer issue in a way that showcases these perennial evangelical emphases. Small group Bible studies, prayer, training new clergy here and abroad, reflecting on the Scriptures, music in church, and more besides, all receive attention here. I trust these articles are not simply one more tired repetition of well-worn themes, but are fresh, current, encouraging reminders of what we are convinced will honour Christ and serve his people well. Essentials is, from here, in the capable hands of my fellow editors Gavin Perkins and Mark Juers. God willing, there will be new names joining them to carry the torch. As always, we encourage you to be in touch to let us know what you have appreciated, or what you’d like to see treated in these pages.

BEN UNDERWOOD

 

John R.W. Stott

John Stott was born in London on 27th April 1921. In honour of the centenary of his birth date we have produced this special edition to reflect on the remarkable ministry of the Rev Dr John Stott. It is hard to think of any other figure who has had a more profound impact on evangelical Anglicanism as well as global evangelicalism than John Stott. Indeed as Michael Cromartie quipped, ‘if evangelicals could elect a pope, Stott is the person theywould likely choose.’

Although many of us never met the man, he still profoundly impacted us. My first contact was via his classic little book Your Confirmation when, at 14, I was doing confirmation classes. It would be lying to say it had a great impact on me at the time! In 1975 I was there when he delivered the Bible Studies on Ephesians at the AFES National Conference in Bathurst. Each session was captivating and gave me a whole new perspective on understanding Scripture. I can still visualise the Conference and was thrilled when the print version emerged as God’s New Society. During my time at Moore College, I had a case of second year blues and had a mid-year holiday in Tasmania. I read I Believe in Preaching year holiday in Tasmania. I read I Believe in Preaching by Stott and came back fired and up and back on track. One could go on and on from CMS Summer Schools to Lausanne Congresses, to papers and many books. One way or another John Stott has impacted many of us in profound and deeply personal ways.As the founder of EFAC, it is fitting for EFAC Australia to honour him with this special issue of Essentials. I want to acknowledge the help of Peter Adam and Mark Juers in dreaming up the list of articles and to each of the contributors for writing such an inspiring set of articles.

Bishop Stephen Hale Chair, EFAC AUSTRALIA  and EFAC GLOBAL

To look through the collection, see the article list on the left.

Publishing of Essentials is made possible by a paid membership so if you're not currently a paid-up member/subscriber we encourage you to become one so we can continue to fund this very worthwhile journal. Our Membership form is here.

What will the church be known for in 2020? This is the question that I’ve kept coming back to time and time again over the last few months. Will we be known for suddenly unleashing a bandwidth surge of low budget worship services onto the internet like a great wave every Sunday? Will we be known for watching on helplessly as society and the economy crumbles, all our normal strategies for practical support hamstrung by physical distancing? Will we be known for losing half of our young people who didn’t like the way we “pivoted”? Perhaps there is even a longer and sadder thread that we will only become aware of as hidden stories slowly start to surface. Or perhaps we will look back at 2020 and retell a story of greater fruitfulness and missional creativity! I certainly hope we are known for our love and unity in Christ.

­