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EFAC Australia

Essentials

DominicSteeleIn this article, taken from the EFAC/Peter Corney Training Centre online conference, Dominic Steele explains why Australian pastors need to make a strategic shift in their thinking. Dominic is the Lead Pastor of Village Church, Sydney.

Australian church leaders need to make a philosophical shift across the board, away from leading for recovery and towards planning to lead for endurance.

We need to start using the catch-cry, “Not recovery, but endurance”, in order to set our people’s expectations right.

Back in May, the Australian Prime Minister announced that he expected we would be at meetings of up to 100 by the end of July. Across the board, the reaction of church leaders was pretty much, “Wow, that’s faster than we thought.” And then various state governments fell over themselves to announce the easing of restrictions in late June as quickly as they could. And we started to plan for recovery. But since then, so much has changed. Among pastors, there are now two different mindsets. Some pastors still have in their heads a plan of a trajectory towards recovery. They are thinking, “How can we get back to what we were?” But the other, wiser position is to plan for endurance. The big virus outbreak in Victoria has caused a rethink. Government rhetoric has changed. The language coming out of the National Cabinet is explicitly promoting the strategy of suppression rather than elimination. That means recovery is not in sight. Back to normal is not going to happen anytime soon. We, as church leaders, should be planning for a continuation of the virus in the community—and for an ongoing level of anxiety in both our church members and the wider community.

DIFFERENT CHOICES

In my own situation, we expect this will work out as some people wanting to meet physically in the church building, some being unwilling to meet in anything larger than home group sizes, and some wanting to remain at home. Some of that caution is going to be very reasonable. People in high-risk groups, or those exhibiting symptoms, or those with sick kids will rightly choose to stick with the online option. And we should expect the percentage of our membership which will choose to go either way will vary depending on the prevalence of the virus, their own risk status, or the risk status of someone close to them, and just general anxiety levels. But that’s the reality of ministry for the next 18+ months. And we need to make strategic and budget decisions in line with at.

There’s not going to be a single moment soon when we go back to live church and the streaming nightmare is over.

PARALLEL MINISTRIES

In light of this, a wise strategy will be to create smaller public meetings and parallel live streaming ministries. This will require us to invest in technology and develop new gifts. For example, teachers will need to work out how to simultaneously relate to those in the room and to the broadcast audience. (Incidentally, I recommend doing the broadcast of the live service, rather than pre-record on the one hand because of cost. Pre-recorded work takes so much longer, and live programming makes viewers feel so much more part of it.) The choices I think are easier in the kids’ ministry, because the schools set the lead. If the schools are on physically then it makes sense for the kids’ ministries to be physical. If schools are online, then the kids’ ministries should be online. If a parent doesn’t want to come to church, but schools are operating, we can suggest that parents use a school-style drop-off and pick-up after the service. Unfortunately, we don’t have that choice in the adult ministry.

DEALING WITH REALITY

Now, having said all that, I don’t like it. Theologically, any time a Christian can’t gather with their brothers or sisters is a spiritual tragedy. We are the body of Christ together. It’s not good to be alone. We are connected to each other and to our head, Christ. And we can’t be the church if we aren’t connected. And we can’t truly be connected if we don’t gather. Nor do I like it pragmatically. We have a world going to hell and its only hope is the clear proclamation of the Lord Jesus. The best online ministry it is not as effective as an in person ministry. Nevertheless this is the reality we live in. Here are some recommendations to help us respond to it.

1. Restart Sunday physical meetings as soon as you are able to, within the Health Department guidelines. Don’t wait for a better day. Note that not everyone will come on the first day. The physical restart will be raggedy. Don’t worry about overcrowding. Don’t be disappointed when it isn’t as good as you hoped. And don’t look at photos from last year of everyone gathered happily together. Don’t wait for the perfect day. It’s either never going to come or it’s a long long way down the track. So as soon as the health department guidelines allow, just start.

The physical restart will be raggedy. Don’t  be disappointed when it isn’t as good as you hoped.

2. Plan for a parallel physical and online structure with ebbs and flows in between. We’ve been going for 5-6 weeks now in Sydney. I am praising God, actually, that our evening church physical attendance is back to pre-COVID levels. And, surprisingly, as we have gone back physically our evening online audience has only dropped by a third. Sunday morning physical attendance is 50-60 percent of what it was. We started higher, with around 66 percent. But, as the anxiety levels have gone up in NSW the last five weeks, attendance has slipped back. My hunch is that there are 20 percent of our people whom we won’t see in the building for 18 months—perhaps longer. And there’s another 20-30 percent who are going to ebb and flow between the online and the physical. Potentially, physically, those staying home are safer. But spiritually they are worse off. And they will be spiritually worse off the longer they stay online. We know it’s true. We need to warn our members of the spiritual risks (the Health Dept is doing a great job of warning of the physical risks).

3. Plan for parallel Bible study/pastoral care groups with some groups meeting physically, some online. The churches with the most highly developed pastoral care structures with the highest percentages of members in Bible study/community groups before COVID, who are able to continue to roll out pastoral care along the pre-existing lines, seem to be weathering this best. In our area, the sense I am getting is that for many churches evening church and Bible study/community groups have restarted meeting physically, whereas the groups linked to morning congregations, are perhaps meeting 50% online and 50% physically. And we went through the morning church community group roll and realised that there are some members in each group that meets physically who would prefer to be online and some members who are in online groups who would prefer to be physically present. And if this isn’t going to go for three months and we are not planning for recovery, but are planning for 18 months, for endurance, we need to talk to those members who would rather a physical group, but who belong to groups where the others want to meet online, about changing groups (and vice versa).

4. Work out strategies for continuing to connect online with new people while you are restarting your physical connection ministries. If your goal was recovery and you were reopening physically then you would wind back a few of the support structures for the online ministries. But if your goal is endurance you want to continue to work on strategies for connecting online with new people. I checked with our membership connection pastor and she said that 194 new people have given us their contact details since March 18 through our online ministry. And we have, since the start of July, seen eight of those people make it along to physical church and into our weekday community groups. And for the face-toface Introducing God course that starts next week for us most of the 15 people expected are people have started watching during COVID-19 and we have connected with them, and they have come to physical church at least once since the start of July and are now going to do that course.

5. Develop a culture after church where it’s not widespread mingling, but rather going deeper with a few. It seems like the advice of the health department for pubs, clubs and cafes is for a maximum group size of ten. This has implications for churches. After morning church we want to ask people to grab a coffee from the coffee person and then go and sit and talk with a group rather than standing around flitting between large numbers of people. Or, on Sunday nights after church, we are serving takeaway and then, rather than sitting in big groups of 20, we are setting up tables and putting six chairs per table. So the ethos is to go deep with a small group. I have been surprised at how quickly we have been able to change our post-church community culture. And it has meant people are staying around for the 60 minutes after evening church, and 45 mins after morning church, that we want them to. Remember, as you restart physical after-church community, that you will need a new parallel team to take a lead in the Online Community structures, whether that is a post-church zoom group or something else. We made a mistake here. As our leadership’s attention was on restarting physical church, we at first neglected the online community that we had spent all those months creating. This was to our detriment.

SPIRITUAL HEALTH RISKS

Finally, there are lots of people warning of the physical health risks. But the spiritual health risks are even more significant. There are some who are in high-risk groups and others for whom anxiety levels are sky-high. But for some, there is a spiritual war going on which is undiagnosed and it’s presenting as physical. The devil has sold the lie to some of our people, ‘Don’t go to the place where the word of God is—that will kill you!’ We need to pray for our people that they resist the devil and where necessary we need to pastor them. To call that lie what it is, and to warn them that “If you go on for 18 months on the trajectory you are following then, humanly speaking, there’s every chance you won’t be standing at the end.”

The content of this article has also been published at www.thepastorsheart.net and at au.thegospelcoalition.org. Republished here with the author’s permission.

ClareDeevesTheology from the Couch, a recent online event from Western Australia, featured a talk from Clare Deeves on the blessing of being adopted as God’s child in Christ. She was kind enough to let Essentials rework it into an article.

In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, ‘Our Father in heaven’, and in Ephesians 1 we read that in love God the Father ‘predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.’ There is a stunning change of place involved in this adoption. Think of what we were before God adopted us (whether we knew it or not): deserving of wrath, far away, without God and without hope in the world, slaves to sin. And it is God’s pleasure and will to adopt us! Now we may—and should!—call God our Father, and take our place with him, as his.

As I write this it seems that everything has changed. A number of media commentators have already begun to speculate as to what life will be like once the COVID-19 restrictions are eased. Will there be a new ‘roaring 20s’ post-pandemic as there was post-WW1 and Spanish Flu? Will there be a reassessment of value and meaning after so much upon which we have come to depend was so radically upended?

In 1625 an outbreak of the bubonic plague killed more than 10,000 people in London, during which time the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral was the poet-priest John Donne. In his biography of Donne, John Stubbs writes of the fear that gripped London during lockdown.

‘Certain of waking up with the telltale sores on their bodies any day, people were gripped by criminal fearlessness to seize and enjoy what they could while they were still alive. Donne understood what motivated the spirit of suicidal hedonism that was loose in the city. [In a sermon he] described those who said to themselves, “We can but die, and we must die… Let us eat and drink, and take our pleasure, and make our profit, for tomorrow we shall die, and so were cut off by the hand of God”.’ (John Stubbs, John Donne: The Reformed Soul, Norton and Co. 2006, p. 424-5).

Will we see a revival of this same worldly fearlessness and hedonism, much like was witnessed in the 1920s? What we can be certain of is that even as the world stops its ears to theAs I write this it seems that everything has changed. A number of media commentators have already begun to speculate as to what life will be like once the COVID-19 restrictions are eased. Will there be a new ‘roaring 20s’ post-pandemic as there was post-WW1 and Spanish Flu? Will there be a reassessment of value and meaning after so much upon which we have come to depend was so radically upended?

In 1625 an outbreak of the bubonic plague killed more than 10,000 people in London, during which time the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral was the poet-priest John Donne. In his biography of Donne, John Stubbs writes of the fear that gripped London during lockdown.

‘Certain of waking up with the telltale sores on their bodies any day, people were gripped by criminal fearlessness to seize and enjoy what they could while they were still alive. Donne understood what motivated the spirit of suicidal hedonism that was loose in the city. [In a sermon he] described those who said to themselves, “We can but die, and we must die… Let us eat and drink, and take our pleasure, and make our profit, for tomorrow we shall die, and so were cut off by the hand of God”.’ (John Stubbs, John Donne: The Reformed Soul, Norton and Co. 2006, p. 424-5).

Will we see a revival of this same worldly fearlessness and hedonism, much like was witnessed in the 1920s? What we can be certain of is that even as the world stops its ears to the word of God and lives for the present moment, the word will not be chained. The eternity set in the hearts of each person will certainly be reawakened for some by the failing of earthly confidences and the collapse of worldly forms of security.

This edition of Essentials includes good food for thought in our ‘lockdown’ state, as well as continuing to make a contribution to issues that will no doubt return to the prominence in the not too distant future. Jodie McNeill reflects on some flexible ministry methods and opportunities during the recent bushfire season, and now during the suspension of public services. Chase Kuhn asks a theological question about the nature of church particularly relevant to those with an ecclesiology centred on gathering and fellowship—are we still the church if we cannot meet? Chris Brennan thinks through the issues of ministry resilience, expectations and burnout. In two separate but related pieces Andrew Judd and Steven Daly contribute to the ongoing conversation on same-sex marriage and human sexuality. We also join Ivan Head as he leads us into the deep riches of Romans 8. Finally, the issue also includes several book reviews, on the assumption that, while some of us are working frenetically at the moment, others among us might have some spare time to dig into a worthy tome!

Gavin Perkins
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LonnyBendessiAboriginal Christian and growing leader, Lonny Bendessi, shares his remarkable story with Essentials

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

I was born in Adelaide. My family on my mother’s side is from a small place called Ceduna, which is 800km far west of Adelaide, we’re known as the West Coast mob. My father is from Western Australia, his mob are the Wongi mob from Kalgoorlie. I’m the second child of four in my family but I have a lot of cousins and we all call each other brother and sister. I found out I had a lot of first cousins who spoke English as a second language, they’re living out bush and wouldn’t live in the city.

I grew up in Adelaide until the age of 5 then Mum told me we’re going to Ceduna because that’s where we’re from. I stayed there until the age of 9 and that’s how I found out who I was, and that my people are the Wirangu people in the south and the Kokatha people just north of there. We stayed in a small community called Koonibba. It was interesting growing up there, as kids we would run amuck, didn’t care about anything, it was freedom. At home sometimes you’re surrounded by alcohol and violence but my mum and my cousins we all had each other. We’d all jump on our bikes to go out bush, ride around the whole community, make BMX jumps and climb trees.

The Last ThingsLastThings
DAVID HÖHNE
CONTOURS OF CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY
IVP, 2019

(Author’s disclosure: David Höhne is presently supervising my M.Th.)

The Last Things are generally presented as four in number, being death, judgement, heaven and hell. In this volume David Höhne gives us six last things, taken from what may seem an unexpected source, namely the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. As soon as you think about it though, expounding eschatology using the framework of this prayer makes a lot of sense. The first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer are big petitions, oriented towards God’s original and ultimate purposes for his creation. They set out a vision for our faith and hope and, as they are given to us to pray by Jesus Christ, we may expect that they do express the will and plan of God. To organise the teaching of Scripture about the last things under the heading of God’s name being hallowed, God’s kingdom coming and God’s will being done seems like a sane and sound approach to eschatology. The last three petitions also lend themselves to being expounded with reference to ultimate things: daily bread is about the sustenance of life—will God sustain our lives despite death? Forgiveness of sins counts most of all at the last judgement, and deliverance from temptation and evil is the hope of the new creation.

Apart from the use of the Lord’s Prayer as an organising framework, another distinctive of this work is that it seeks to say what can be said about the End from our current situation, living in what Höhne call ‘the Middle’. The Middle is the period between the resurrection and the return of Jesus. Höhne wants to describe the experience of Christian hope in this situation theologically. In the Middle we have the gospel, which is a promise from the past, for the future. In the Middle we do not see the Beginning or the End, but we have these promises, which are the means by which God gives himself to us. God is with us, the people whom he is perfecting, through his word of promise and by his Spirit. Life in the Middle is the life of prayer, the church calling upon God to fulfill the promises he has made, and trusting that he will. This is an experience of faith and hope expressed in prayer.

A third feature of this work is that it engages pretty seriously with both Karl Barth and Jürgen Moltmann. This makes it a stretching read. Höhne aims to construct his eschatology using the resources of Scripture, organised by the Lord’s Prayer, drawing on the methods of Biblical theology that Moore College is well known for developing, leaning also on Calvin for theological method, and sifting Barth and Moltmann so as to integrate their best insights and critique their inadequacies. The Contours in Theology series is a set of ’ ‘concise introductory textbooks’, but this is not an introduction to a first year theology course’s section on eschatology. It is more at the level of an introductory textbook for a later specialist course in eschatology. Just so you know.

The chapters on the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer come in two sets. To give you an indication of the guts of the book, let me describe the first of these sets of three chapters. The first set focusses on the hope that God’s heavenly fatherhood will be perfected on earth. This is traced first through the theme of the hallowing of God’s name. Philippians 2:9-11 is the touchstone promise, that ‘in honour of the name of Jesus every knee shall bow’. Höhne traces the theme of the hallowing of God’s name from Moses and the Temple through the Exile and to the Word made flesh who is given the Name above every name, through whom God’s Name is and will be hallowed on earth as in heaven. The next chapter traces the theme of God’s fatherhood perfected on earth by the coming of his kingdom. 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 is the touchstone promise. There we learn that after the destruction of the enemies of the Messiah, finishing with death, he will hand the Kingdom over to God the Father, and God will be all in all. The chapter expounds the biblical development of the Spirit-empowered Son of God, chosen from the people to deliver the people. Jesus is that Messiah, ‘mighty over sin, death and evil’ (p. 113). He is not only king but rather king-priest, establishing right worship and leading the people in it. These things he does through the shedding of his blood, and sending his Spirit to gather his church. This church lives by God’s promise of the defeat of death in the resurrection of the dead, and the consequent entire advent of his kingdom on earth as in heaven. The next chapter is on the doing of God’s will on earth as in heaven. The touchstone promise is Ephesians 1:3-10 where we learn that the mystery of God’s will is that he intends to sum up all things in the Messiah. This chapter traces the planned and mysterious choices of God in bringing this will to pass. God plans ‘to bring blessing to the many by the choice of the one/few’ (p. 168). Jesus is the focus of God’s plan for creation, and in this life he is the interpreter and executor of God’s will, the one through whom the will of God is known and done on earth as in heaven. Through him the will of God in blessing and the curse will be perfectly realised.

I hope you get the idea, that this is not a book narrowly focused on what will happen in the End. It is a book about the whole plan of God from the beginning, through the middle and to the end. The End is known through promises received and believed in the Middle. These promises must be carefully considered and their various strands thoughtfully integrated. These promises are rooted in God himself, and contain the hidden fullness of what they offer even from the beginning. These promises all find their ‘Yes’ in Jesus Christ. So if you work through this book you will get a whole theology, really, not simply eschatology. There are discussions of the four last things to be found here: death (and resurrection), judgement (and forgiveness of sins), heaven (and the new earth) and hell. There’s the millennium, the beatific vision and other topics too. But Höhne wants the book to ground eschatology in our ordinary Christian lives, so he repeatedly asks, ‘What can we know?’, ‘‘What should we do?’ and ‘What can we hope for?’ in the here and now, in the Middle that precedes the End. He wants to include our current eschatological experiences of prayer and church in his account of the last things.

This is, then, rather an ambitious book, and will ask readers to do some work. This is its biggest weakness for a general readership. I did not skip easily from page to page, but I am glad to have made the effort. Its best strengths are firstly its creative and useful way of framing eschatology through the Lord’s Prayer. (I’m tempted to try a topical sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer after reading this book.) A second strength is that its account of the End is consciously and explicitly drawn from the beginning and addressed to us where we really are: in the Middle. Another way of saying this is that it is evangelical, founded on the gospel. The last strength I will mentions is its many stranded approach: using biblical-theological methods, grounded in lots of exegesis, but also reading theologians, most obviously Calvin, Barth and Moltmann, and allowing them to extend and refine this eschatology where their insights seem valuable.

In a time of great disruption and change, how is Jesus calling all Christians to engage with our wider cultural context? Peter Corney provides a renewed vision of Christian responsibility and working for the common good. Peter Corney OAM is the Vicar Emeritus at St Hilary’s Kew, author, and these days a mentor to young ministers and Christian leaders.

The current ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests, particularly as demonstrated in the US media, jolted me into a fresh consideration of the role of Christians in social and cultural transformation. While I deeply sympathise with the core concern of the protest and the majority of the protestors, it was disturbing to see the level of violence and disorder and the reactions of Donald Trump. For those of us who witnessed the civil rights demonstrations in the sixties under the leadership of the Rev. Martin Luther King and other Christian leaders with their insistence on non-violent action, the comparison was a disturbing commentary on the present changes in our culture, its moral leadership and the source of its ethical motivation. I was reminded of lines from W. B. Yeats’ poem ‘The Second Coming’, written in 1919 at the end of WW1 and at the outbreak of the great flu pandemic. The seeds of Europe’s social, political and economic fragmentation in the 1930s and 1940s were sowed at this time. The bitter harvest of those seeds were the Great Depression, Fascism and the destruction wrought by WW2:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood dimmed tide is loosed and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

The Whole Counsel of God: Why and How to Preach the Entire BibleWholeCounse
TIM PATRICK AND ANDREW REID
CROSSWAY, 2020

Tim Patrick and Andrew Reid have done us a great service in producing this challenging and practical apologetic for preaching systematically through the entire Bible. They recognise there are many good contemporary resources on how to preach. ‘Instead, this book is about what to preach, and about how to plan and manage a long-range, ordered, and deliberate preaching program.’ (p. 23) The authors’ foundational conviction is that God has revealed himself progressively, that these words have been inscripturated, and that they are sufficient for the establishment of his people and their ongoing growth. Most importantly, they argue that all of these words are necessary for the growth of God’s people today. So, ‘we wish to encourage preachers to make it their goal to preach the entire Bible because we are convinced that all of it is the word of God for us.’ (p. 22) They recognise that this is ‘a monumental ambition.’ (p. 23) Indeed, their argument ultimately leads to this challenge: ’All vocational preachers should set themselves the goal of preaching though the entire Bible over a thirty-five-year period.’ (p. 81)

Although not their primary purpose, Patrick and Reid argue refreshingly for preaching solely from Scripture, given its ‘inspiration, perspicuity, inerrancy, sufficiency and authority.’ (p. 224) They remind us of how fortunate we are to have the written word of God (p. 36) and, more particularly, they argue well for the authority of both the Old and New Testaments (pp. 52-58). The authors remind us of the need ‘to let the Bible set our agenda.’ (p. 71) They note there is a significant difference between saying, ‘What does God say about X?’ and ‘What does God say?’ Asking the latter question should ensure appropriate proportionality in our preaching and, concomitantly, in our theological debates and lives. It should ensure we are alert and committed to what God is alert and committed to, proportional to his revelation. Simultaneously, it should prevent us from making claims where God is silent. As preachers, it forces us to ask the questions, ‘Why is this passage in the Bible?’, ‘How does it contribute to the whole?’ and ‘What would we lose if it wasn’t there?’

Patrick and Reid argue especially well for preaching that recognises the progressive and cumulative nature of God’s revelation. In other words, preaching that lives and breathes biblical theology. ‘The goal is to understand the theology of the passage itself; where the theology fits into the progress of the revelation of God’s purposes outlined in the Bible, which find their focus in Jesus; how it engages with the theological priorities of the Bible already revealed; and how it contributes to further develop that theological revelation.’ (p. 91) In addition to the integration of biblical theology, Patrick and Reid also argue for the integration of systematic and gospel theology into the regular preaching series (pp. 94-101). On this basis they argue against, for instance, preaching a doctrinal series synthetically, or having special evangelistic sermons. Incidentally, I am very mindful that the biblical, theological, pastoral and homiletical skills required to preach through the entire Bible in this way are substantial. The authors exemplify the implementation of their proposed preaching program by dividing the Scriptures into six different sections and planning for series from a variety of genres throughout the year. Where there is more than one preacher, they discuss the principles by which they have chosen preachers for texts. For those at home in reformed evangelical contexts, their illustrative program will not be unfamiliar and is quite accessible. However, for those used to using the common lectionary, moving to their proposal will require significant change and congregational training, which they address on pages 223-7.

While having great sympathy for the overall thrust of the authors’ argument, I have wrestled nonetheless with some of the theological, pastoral and practical implications of their 35-year plan. While recognising that all of the Bible is God’s word and is helpful, I need more help in understanding how, for example, the food laws or the dimensions of the temple need equal treatment compared to the New Testament passages of their fulfilment. The theological question is also raised as to whether some parts of Scripture are more pertinent than others to God’s people at certain times and contexts. Of course, the danger is that many pertinent parts are avoided because of the preacher’s competence, disposition, theological position, contextual misreading, external pressures, or any number of other reasons, so one well understands the authors’ fallback position. Pastorally and practically, covering the Gospels and significant sections of the Old and New Testaments only once in 35 years may be unrealistic, even within a strong biblical theological framework, where one is constantly bringing to the congregation the biblical, systematic and gospel implications.

In our own Australian context, for instance, surely the issues addressed in 1 and 2 Corinthians bear repeating more than once every 35 years!

I wonder whether the authors may be placing too much freight on the sermon, even when it is accompanied by a weekly Bible study before or afterwards. Indeed, the book could be strengthened by more discussion of the place of the sermon within the broader task of training all in the whole counsel of God. Enabling families to train each other and their children, greater use of an adult Sunday School program, as is so ably done in many North American churches, greater use of a year or more at theological college and even greater encouragement of individual learning will take pressure off all that is being asked here of the sermon, which includes teaching, exhortation and evangelism. It would also give greater freedom to the preacher to use the sermon for those ministry aspects of the word of God for which it is best suited and needed in that particular context. Indeed, changing one’s focus from the sermon to training by numerous means for all in their various stages of life and discipleship takes pressure off the sermon while still giving it a high place in congregational life. Such a focus does ask more of a preacher. It means charging them with the assessment and implementation of a congregation’s teaching needs, including the preaching program. Nonetheless, that is the role we see Paul adopting in Ephesus, as outlined in Acts 20.

Such considerations aside, The Whole Counsel of God is a great encouragement to read, both for its affirmations and its challenges. Australians have much to be thankful for in terms of our contribution to biblical theology. This integration of biblical theology and preaching, with its practical call, takes this contribution to the next step.

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