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EFAC Australia

Essentials

Practical principles for growing a congregation and being a transformational leader.

There is sometimes a real tension between biblical theology and some of the pragmatics promoted by proponents of Church growth. But there can also be a false dichotomy created between them, particularly by those who do not understand the difference between ministry and leadership.(1) To plant a new church successfully requires not only ministry by a godly and biblically-grounded person but also ministry by a leader with a certain set of gifts and abilities. It is also true that to renew and grow a small church in serious decline requires not only ministry by a godly and biblically-grounded person but also ministry by a transformational leader: someone who has acquired or will learn particular skills and is able to initiate a particular process.

If a leader wants their church to grow what do they do? Where do they start? Well there are no simple pre-packaged solutions but here is a set of principles to follow:

The leader has to accept responsibility and be accountable for growth or decline.

This is an edited version of the 2008 EFAC Victoria AGM Dinner address by David Williams, the new CMS Australia Director of Training and Strategy

Bible and Mission

Missiology is perhaps one of the newest disciplines in the theological world, and perhaps also one of the most problematic. If you work in a theological college teaching Greek, everyone is pretty clear what your job description is. If you teach New Testament, Old Testament, Church History, even Doctrine or Ethics, there is fair degree of clarity about what your academic discipline involves. But Missiology, as a theological discipline, is a bit of a minefield. What is mission? How do we determine its boundaries? The boundaries of mission have spread wider and wider. But as Stephen Neill said, "if everything is mission, nothing is mission."

The debate about the nature of mission took a decisive turn at the Lausanne Conference of 1974. At Lausanne, the voice of 2/3rds world theologians was heard loudly and clearly, particularly speaking into the debate on the relationship between evangelism and social responsibility within mission. The 1974 Lausanne conference and the contributions made by Rene Padilla and Samuel Escobar marked a sea change in the evangelical world's understanding about mission. Padilla and Escobar argued along the following lines: an aeroplane needs two wings to be an aeroplane. Mission needs evangelism and social responsibility to be mission. Mission is an inseparable, integral, holistic blend of proclamation, evangelism, social action, advocacy, justice.

Review: Al Stewart's MEN – firing through all of life (Blue Bottle Books, 2007)

by Doug Petering

 

The latest 2006 National Church Life Survey confirms that Church as a whole finds it really difficult to connect with unchurched men. This volume suggests solutions and speaks to real needs of Aussie men in their middle years.

Al Stewart, the forty-something bishop of Wollongong, speaks refreshingly from the midst of his own challenges. His passion for presenting the Gospel to the men of his generation sits easily alongside his love of wild pig shooting in the outback with his mates, while trying to keep his aging body in shape at the gym and training for half marathons.

The thesis of this book comes from Henry David Thoreau's 150 year old diagnosis: "The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation." Stewart reflects, "If he was right 150 years ago… it's surely even truer today. Why does this happen to us? Does it have to be this way? Are there any answers?" It coincides with my own observations of many men in mid life who appear to be on a treadmill where the slope seems to get steeper with every passing year.

A Sermon
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us

The Bible is full of people needy for forgiveness.

A man and a woman. Rapturously in love. They share some fruit. Disaster.

A king and another man's wife. A moment of passion. A child conceived, a husband despatched. The prophet speaks - a lie exposed.

Two friends. Three years of shared life - of learning, of laughter, of wonder. Denied. Denied. Denied again. A rooster crows - deceit uncovered.

Adam and Eve. King David. The Apostle Peter.

The Bible is full of people needy for forgiveness and, my guess is, so are our churches.

Sometimes we have acted with such deliberateness and calculation and even anticipation that we know we need to be forgiven even before we have sinned. Sometimes we know it as a word slips from our mouth or a thought rises in our heart and we regret it instantly. Sometimes we are completely oblivious of the wrong we have done and it is not until the photograph of our car arrives in the mail that we are aware of our need for forgiveness! Sometimes we are reminded on an annual basis that there is much that remains unforgiven. In many families, everyone knows that there can be no happy anniversaries until someone says 'sorry' and someone else says 'I forgive you'.

Is 'Conservative Evangelicalism' a contradiction in terms?

Tom Frame

When Anglicans talk about the theological parties, factions, tribes and movements that inhabit the global Communion, there is frequent mention of 'conservative evangelicalism' as though conservatism and evangelicalism belong naturally together. After all, it is widely thought, Evangelicals are usually conservative while Evangelicalism usually attracts conservatives. In parts of the Anglican Communion (and I am thinking here predominantly of affluent First World nations with large liberal constituencies like the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia) the fact that someone owns up to being an Evangelical is bad enough; that most apparently exhibit the attitudes and actions of social and political conservatism makes them doubly reprehensible. Am I exaggerating? No, I don't think so.

There are senior Anglican leaders in Australia who fear that the rise of the Religious Right in America might be replicated in this country if all forms of religiously inspired or expressed forms of conservatism are not denounced. This leads them into outright opposition to all complexions of Evangelicalism because, they would contend, it leads to an ideological and ecclesiological agenda that is anti-democratic, anti-intellectual, anti-libertarian and anti-modern. This is a very serious allegation. But what of the evidence cited in support of the charge? In my view it is very thin and inadequate to sustain a conviction.

Bishopdale College, Diocese of Nelson, New Zealand

Tim Harris was Adelaide's Archdeacon for Mission, Evangelism & Church Growth and Senior Minister of the Kensington-Norwood Anglican Team Ministry. But he's now the newly appointed Dean of Bishopdale College. The editor, Wei-Han Kuan, interviewed him about this move.

WH: Tim, I read on their website that you've just been appointed to Bishopdale College. What can you tell us about the College?

TH: Bishopdale Theological College emerged from a vision shared by the Diocese of Nelson, NZ for a clearly Anglican and evangelical theological college addressing the needs for ministry formation in that diocese, but also available more broadly to Anglicans and those of other denominations throughout NZ (and beyond!). The College was authorised by the diocese in 2006, and is now up and running.

WH: OK, so what will your new job involve?

by Paul Barker

In 2005 I preached a series of sermons on the so-called Seven Deadly Sins. That focused my thinking to reflect on the nature of preaching to bring about change in people's lives. I looked at the ethical injunctions in the epistles and considered how they indicated a move from sin to virtue can happen.

The doctrine of mortification of sin is not considered much. I don't recall a lecture on it when I trained for ministry. However this article is not so much a theological argument. Read John Owen for that.1 I am addressing preachers. It seems to me this is a crucial doctrine for preachers to grasp if our preaching is to be truly powerful under God.

The issue is, how do we put sin to death? If preaching is, in part, to train in righteousness, where does the power to change come from? Can human beings change themselves to be more righteous? Paul says in Romans in 6:12 "Let not sin reign in your mortal bodies to make you obey their passions". And, in Romans 8:13 "If by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body you will live".

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