EFAC Australia


Wei-Han Kuan catches up with Mike Raiter, out-going Principal of the Melbourne School of Theology.

Michael Raiter moved to Melbourne from Moore College to become the Principal of the Bible College of Victoria in 2006. He has steered BCV through a number of significant changes, including moving to a new location and adopting a new name, Melbourne School of Theology (MST). It was announced earlier this year that he would not seek to renew his contract beyond the end of 2011. Essentials caught up with Michael recently.
Michael, why have you decided to leave MST?
On the positive side, I really want to spend more of my time in teaching and preaching—it’s a ministry that gives me great joy and encouragement.
There are joys and frustrations with every job, and I increasingly found the demands of administration and management wearing me down. There’s also the constant pressure to watch student numbers each year. It’s what I call ‘the tyranny of enrolments’. Of course, any college needs good enrolments or it simply can’t function, but enormous pressure is placed on the person at the top. I’m never asked about the calibre of the students who study at MST. I’m only ever asked, how many? There are ebbs and flows in enrolments, and I’ve seen both over the past 5 years. There’s been a modest increase this year and, hopefully, that trend will continue. But ultimately, I want us to keep on attracting godly, able students with a heart for the gospel and mission—and I believe we’re doing that.
You’ve certainly steered the college through a lot of change in the past few years. You’ll be remembered as the principal who sold Lilydale and changed the name of BCV to MST, won’t you?
You know, the reality is that there have been other, very significant, changes. We’ve combined the Chinese department on to the same site, which has been a big plus. And we’ve made the aviation department more independent, which was a logical move for us. The Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths has the potential to make an enormous impact in the church and the world. There’s been an incredible amount of change.
One of the more controversial changes has been the loss of the residential model of training. But we’ve gained a wonderful, modern, functional facility. God has blessed us with this light, airy, welcoming place that people actually want to hang around in. The reality is that we’re living in an image-based culture, with more part-time rather than full-time students. So having an attractive facility closer to where many potential students live is a real blessing.
The college just celebrated turning ninety. Age is a mixed thing. On the one hand, it signals that we’re safe, reliable, trustworthy, unflinching in our commitment to world mission. These are things we have a responsibility to maintain. But on the other hand, it also means that we’ve been around a long time, and we can appear and feel weary. We all agreed the college needed rejuvenation.
That begs the question, which change are you most proud of?
In many ways the things I’ve already mentioned are externals. The real strength of a college is in its faculty. I’m proud of the men and women who are serving at MST. They take personal godliness seriously, love and submit to the Scriptures, and have the necessary clarity about the Gospel. Those are things that we can never take for granted.
What about those people who say that you’ve also made the college more Anglican?
I don’t think that’s true at all. I’ve worked hard to maintain the college’s interdenominational character. That’s part of its history. And it’s one of the things I personally enjoy most about the place. But two out of the three latest appointments to faculty have been Anglican. I would have preferred if they were Baptist, Church of Christ and Brethren, but the reality is that you have to go with the best qualified applicant, otherwise you’re not doing the college or the students any favours. Really, denominational affiliation plays no part in making appointments. And, finally, they were Council appointments—it’s not just up to me.
I mean the same thing could be said about our faculty’s gender balance. We esteem women in ministry and in leadership, but again, we have a duty to go with the most qualified applicants.
The other thing that we’ve tried to do is to lower the age profile of our faculty. So all three of our latest appointments are under 40, and have either recently completed or are completing their doctoral work.
It seems like you’re leaving MST in good shape. What sort of person do you think the college needs next?
Well, it’s not up to me to decide! You can have two basic types of principal: either the preaching, teaching type, who will give the college a wider profile; or you can have a manager who is gifted, and finds enjoyment in, the administration and many issues to do with just running a college well. They got the former when they appointed me. It would be ideal if you could get both in the one person, but I think they are pretty rare!
And what’s next for Mike Raiter?
I would like to focus more on preaching and teaching. As a family, we would prefer to stay in Melbourne. We’ve really come to love this city. We’ve made friends and formed good networks—including among the EFAC types. We have a daughter about to enter Year 11 (senior high) and so it would be good not to move, for her sake. But you know, we’re open to overseas work. I’d need a lot of persuading to pursue parish ministry in Sydney. I mean, they have large and full colleges there, and the Gospel needs in Melbourne and other cities seem so much greater. We’ll wait and see what God has in store for us.
Mike, thanks for talking with us. I’m sure you’ll have many friends in the wider EFAC family praying for a good next step for you, and for MST.

Update. The Revd Tim Meyers has been appointed Principal of MST commencing in 2012.

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John Stott’s ministry was Christ-centred, Biblical, prayerful, personal, gracious, strategic, unifying, multiplying, world-engaging and international.(1)
Imagine a cadet in the early 1970s tramping the hills of Singleton in New South Wales to share pocket-sized tracts with another lone Christian during a rough and bawdy camp. That cadet was me, those little tracts were Becoming a Christian and Being a Christian,(2) and that other cadet went on to be a senior community leader. For many, our first encounter with John Stott was through his extraordinarily extensive literature ministry. It’s hard for us now to imagine just how little evangelical literature was available 50 years ago. Stott’s Basic Christianity soon became a classic, translated into many languages. It robustly
gives a defence of the faith in the face of modern criticism, while winningly commending it. The book is simultaneously an apologetic and an evangelistic work, as well as being a comprehensive foundation for discipleship. It was exactly what I needed at University.(3)
Others know John Stott through a conference, such as a Church Missionary Society Summer School, an Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students Annual Conference, or a convention at Mount Tambourine, Katoomba or Belgrave Heights. As a young Christian I was taken to hear his studies on Ephesians. They left an indelible impression on me. Stott set a high standard of Biblical exposition which engaged with contemporary issues. I can still remember Stott saying how he prayed daily ‘that he would be filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:18b), and how he regularly set aside time for prayer on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly cycle. He was a clear and succinct preacher and teacher, characterised by his pithy and memorable headlines and outlines. His expositions were studded with many an eloquent turn of phrase. Illustrations were drawn from a wide spectrum. These often included references to etymology and word use in a range of ancient literature. Without being unduly prescriptive, his application was characterised by disciplined theological reflection. He argued that the preacher was to have the Bible in one hand, and the newspaper in the other, and that the sermon needed to express the interaction.(4) Indeed, one exercise he gave preachers was to think through a theological response to the newspaper headlines each day.
John Chapman considers Stott’s greatest contribution to the Australian church was this modelling of expository preaching and the subsequent training it occasioned, in a range of contexts.(5) Chapman reports that following a Church Missionary Society Summer School in the late 1960s or early 1970s, Dudley Foord and he instituted the College of Preachers, where groups of ten clergy were trained at the residential conference centre, Gilbulla, in expository preaching.(6) One cannot assess the profound effect Stott’s exemplary preaching has thus had on Christian life in Australia and beyond. At the time the authority, infallibility and unity of the Scriptures was doubted by many churchmen, especially those in the academy. Biblical faith was regarded as fundamentalist, naive, uneducated and sentimental. Stott demonstrated that evangelical faith was intellectually credible, historically rooted, coherent and compelling, with major implications for the transformation of every aspect of the individual and society.(7) I was privileged to attend a Diocese of Sydney clergy conference where Stott modelled such exposition. It was hosted at my old school, where there were extensive grounds. After speaking, Stott would relax by searching out Australian birdlife at the end of an enormous telescope, with yours truly ‘providing security’ at a distance.
This brings me to a side of Stott which, on reflection, is frankly amazing, given his heavy and wide-ranging public ministries and responsibilities. Stott was wonderfully personable and gracious. This was both his character, but also a ministry strategy. Whenever our paths crossed, at a conference or an airport, he would always ask after my ministry, with an encyclopaedic memory and prayerful interest. He was the mentor of mentors: a 20th Century Simeon, whether with trainee clergy in the United Kingdom, with University students across the world, or with post-graduate theological students from the global south. This is now reflected in the ministry of Langham Partnership and in the intensive mentoring work that so characterises the ministries of the various International Fellowship of Evangelical Students groups today.(8)
Stott’s commitment to the development of character in Christian leaders was plainly evident in every aspect of his ministry. Almost 30 years since its publication, I Believe in Preaching(9) is still a favourite with Ridley preaching classes, partly because it has substantial chapters on the integrity and humility of the minister of the word.
The pairing of Stott’s rigorous Biblical mind with his humble and gracious character meant that he was used by God to bring together Christians from all over the world for cooperation in mission. This is an under-acknowledged and little known aspect of his ministry. Stott had a substantial role in crafting The Lausanne Covenant at the original Lausanne Congress in 1974.(10) This provided a theological basis for joint mission which the ecumenical movement plainly failed to achieve. The covenant privatized core issues, such as the uniqueness of Christ and the authority of the Scriptures, while naming and bounding secondary issues.(11) Out of the 1989 Lausanne Conference in Manilla, the Australian Lausanne Emerging Leaders in Evangelism network and conference was instituted. This developed into Arrow Leadership Australia, an interdenominational training program for emerging leaders. In a similar way, Stott’s work has brought together evangelicals in the Anglican Communion. He has provided them with resources and modelled a means of making a positive contribution for renewal and reform. Indeed, this very magazine and the organisation it represents probably wouldn’t exist if it were not for John Stott!
As I’ve reflected on John Stott’s influence on my life, I’ve realised how indebted I am to him, through his writing, teaching, ministry strategies and personal style.(12) Many of his commitments and priorities are my commitments and priorities. Future generations may not realise the source of their heritage and commitment to Biblical authority and exposition; to Biblically-founded and motivated engagement with the world; to mentoring and personal work; and to strategic ministry in universities and nations. Whether they are an ex-Hindu student worker in India; a Burmese Langham Scholar at Ridley Melbourne; a Sudanese pastor reading the Africa Biblical Commentary; or trainers at a Preaching Workshop in Papua New Guinea, all these friends are deeply indebted to Stott. This monumental legacy is in many ways unsung and taken for granted. My hunch is that that’s the way Stott would want it. Praise God!

Adrian Lane serves as Senior Lecturer in Ministry Skills and Church History at Ridley Melbourne. He is currently on a six-month secondment to the Mathew Hale Public Library, Brisbane, a ministry of the Simeon Association.

1. An abridged version of this tribute was initially given at the John Stott Memorial Service held at St Andrew’s Anglican Church, South Brisbane on the 21st August 2011, organised by the Queensland Branch of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion.
2. Becoming a Christian, InterVarsity Press, London, 1950; Being a Christian, InterVarsity Fellowship, London, 1957.
3. Basic Christianity, InterVarsity Press, London, 1958. Interestingly, John Arnold advises that the content of Basic Christianity is based on university addresses, including those given at the famous Sydney University mission, ‘What Think Ye of Christ?’ in 1958. It was during this mission that Stott lost his voice before the last address. Arnold states that Stott ‘croaked the gospel that night’. Nonetheless, the response was so significant Stott later remarked that on subsequent visits to Australia he never failed to meet someone converted that night, a clear testimony to the power of God in proclamation.
4. This is reflected in the title of the American edition of I Believe in Preaching, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1980, which is Between Two Worlds.
5. John Chapman, My Critique of Current Preaching, Compact Disc Recording, Croydon, NSW: Sydney Missionary and Bible College Graduates’ Preaching Conference, 2006. See also Chapman’s comments at the John Stott Memorial Service, St Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral, Sydney, 28 August, 2011, www.sydneyanglicans.net.
6. Personal conversation, 29 August 2011.
7. See, for example, Your Mind Matters, InterVarsity Press, London, 1972; Christ the Controversialist, InterVarsity Press, London, 1973; Issues Facing Christians Today, Marshall, Morgan and Scott, Basingstoke, 1984; and The Radical Disciple, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, 2010.
8. In Stott’s tradition, this ministry of mentoring was generally described as ‘personal work’. Stott’s emphasis on expository Bible study, both in public and private ministry, coupled with the process and personal ministry strategies of various American groups, such as Navigators and Lay Institute for Evangelism (Student Life), was a powerful fusion. It created a style of discipleship in University ministry that churches have been unable to replicate.
9. Op. cit.
10. The Lausanne Covenant, World Wide, Minneapolis, 1975. Stott served as Chairman of the Drafting Committee for the Lausanne Covenant, adopted at the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in 1974. The Covenant serves as a theological basis for the Lausanne movement, including subsequent Congresses in Manilla (1989) and Cape Town (2010). It has also been adopted by many other ministries for similar purposes.
11. More generally, however, it is only fair to note that many have challenged Stott’s position on annihilationism, and have considered him unclear on the priority and foundational nature of the gospel in relation to social concern.
12. Incidentally, Stott’s rare Biblical affirmation of the gift of singleness (1 Corinthians 7:7) and his example of positively using this gift for the extension of the kingdom have also been personally pastorally significant.


2011 AGM

Edited minutes of the 2011 EFAC Australia AGM held on 27 May 2011 at St Matthew’s, Wanniassa, ACT.

1. Present: Chris Appleby, Glenn Davies (Chair), Trevor Edwards, Paul Hunt, Lynda Johnson, Geoff Kyngdon, Phil Meulman, David Smith, Kim Smith, Peter Smith, Richard Trist.
2. Apologies: Peter Brain, Stephen Hale, John Harrower, Luke Isham, Peter Jensen, Wei-Han Kuan, David Mulready, Steven Tong.
3. The Chair led a study on Hebrews 10 and prayed for the meeting.
4. Minutes of 2010 AGM were received.
5. Branch Reports
a. NSW. Dave Mansfield has been appointed Chair.
b. Canberra. A small but enthusiastic group.
c. Victoria. Prayer was requested for a future strategy regarding the Training Officer.
d. Western Australia. A positive report on the recent clergy conference.
e. South Australia. Encouraging news.
f. Queensland. Some good recent appointments.
g. Tasmania. Victoria is continuing to oversee Tasmania.
h. Northern Territory. Michael O’Sullivan has been appointed Chair.
6. Chairman’s Report. Glenn reported on a successful lecture tour. He indicated that he will retire at the next AGM in 2012, after ten years in the position.
7. The NEAC 2012 Report was distributed and David and his committee were thanked for their preparations.
[See inside front cover for latest update on NEAC.]
8. Treasurer’s Report. Financial statement was received. The treasurer reported a balance of $12, 212.96 at the end of 2010. Subscriptions are up due to the growing use of the website. It was also agreed to provide up to $2000 to EFAC Victoria for management costs of the website and so that it will be constantly updated.
9. Essentials Report was accepted with thanks.
10. The following were elected for the next 12 months:
a. President: Peter Jensen
b. Vice-Presidents: Peter Brain, Trevor Edwards, John Harrower, David Mulready
c. Chairman: Glenn Davies
d. Deputy Chairman: Stephen Hale
e. Secretary: Richard Trist
f. Treasurer: Chris Appleby
g. Members of Executive:
Glenn Davies, Stephen Hale, Richard Trist, Chris Appleby, David Smith.
11. General Business
a. Kim Smith spoke on the proposed launch of an Anglican Relief and Development Fund in Australia in Adelaide at NEAC. The following motion was passed: “That the EFAC Executive welcomes the establishment of an Australian branch of the Anglican Relief and Development Fund and consents to the inclusion of the following clause in its governing by laws and constitution: ‘A person shall not be entitled to be a trustee or office bearer of the Association unless their nomination has received the written consent of the Federal Executive of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion Australia.”’ Kim Smith was commended for his initiative in this ministry. It was agreed that written consent will be given to the current trustees (Richard Condie, Glenn Davies, Stewart Gill, Lesley McGrath-Woodley, Kanishka Raffel, Kimberley Smith and Richard Trist) and Board of Management (Richard Condie, Glenn Davies, Kimberley Smith and Richard Trist).
b. Correspondence from Buninyong was considered.
c. Subscription fees will be reviewed next year.
d. EFAC Victoria Draft Statement on Gender and Ministry was noted.
12. The 2012 AGM will be held on Friday 27 July in Sydney.

I wish I could say that I have had a deep and life-long relationship with the Reverend Doctor John Stott and that his work has long influenced my thinking about scripture and church doctrine. Even better, I wish I could call him a friend. But alas, it is not so. However, I think I can safely say that John Stott would have happily considered me a sister in Christ and accepted my heart-felt appreciation for his life’s work and witness. He strikes me to have been a kind man, who somehow managed to write in a fashion that intertwined academic rigour with human warmth,
kindness and genuine humility. I find this a striking combination and indeed, as striking as the manner in which Jesus himself interprets the truth of scripture in the gospels. The Reverend Stott had a gift for speaking the truth in love and I consider him to have been a great blessing to the body of Christ.
In actual fact, John Stott only came into my life relatively recently. I dare say I am possibly one of the least qualified people to comment on the impact of his scholarship and preaching, since I have probably been exposed to about 0.5% of the works he so faithfully produced. So I don’t boast in my own knowledge; but here’s something I can boast in: it is a fact that it was John Stott’s book, The Cross of Christ, that first led me to understand, perhaps before I could accept it, that I was evangelical. I had never in my life had someone properly explain the atonement to me. The word ‘atonement’ was mostly ridiculed by the teachers and pastors that had ministered to me up to that point. This is not to disrespect any of my brothers and sisters in Christ, but to say, through the ministry I had received, I had developed questions that no one had ever answered in a way that had meaning for me: How could a loving God require the satisfaction of his wrath by such cruel means of suffering? What’s so important about Jesus shedding his own blood?
Coupled with my query about accepting a cruel image of God, I also had other concerns, which were becoming stronger, the more I studied scripture and grew in my knowledge of God. I wondered, ‘If Jesus’ death on the cross was really only the highest exemplar of God’s sacrificial love, what could it achieve? What could it change?’ If forgiveness was all the cross stood for, what did this add to God’s mercy reflected in the sacrificial system already employed by his people? I remember taking these questions to Richard Trist. I told him I wanted to understand how evangelicals understood the cross and he sent me straight to The Cross of Christ. John Stott fixed me good.
I read the book in two days and must have mentally cried out ‘yes’ about a hundred times. ‘Yes, yes, yes! That is what I believe.’ John Stott’s defence of the words ‘satisfaction’ and ‘substitution’: truth spoken in love and very convincing! Naked I stood in the face of my absolute and total reliance on Jesus Christ to pay the price for my sin that I could never pay, so that I could know my Father in heaven. John Stott gifted me with his truthful words and his heart of love for the Lord. What a blessing to us, that in-between pastoring his flock and long hours of study, he one day typed the following words.

‘We cannot escape the embarrassment of standing stark naked before God. It is no use our trying to cover up like Adam and Eve in the garden. Our attempts at self-justification are as ineffectual as their fig-leaves. We have to acknowledge our nakedness, see the divine substitute wearing our filthy rags instead of us, and allow him to clothe us with his own righteousness.’ (The Cross of Christ)

Heather Cetrangolo serves as a Curate (Children and Families) at St Thomas Anglican Church, Burwood, Melbourne.