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EFAC Australia

Essentials

Book Review: Why Men Hate Going to Church

David Murrow, Nelson Books, 2005

I happened on this publication in the men's literature section of my local Christian bookstore, which many of you will know is very small compared with the women's section of the bookshelves. The title sounds a bit provocative and the contents challenge many of our notions of "Church". Nevertheless it's a valuable document if you're looking to connect with men in and around your church.

David Murrow has the advantage of a layman's perspective and he claims to have worshipped in congregations of "every stripe". His broad observations and pointers square with many of my own experiences in working among men in the church context over 25 years or more. His observations start with the obvious, i.e. churches have a male attendance averaging only 35%. In other words women outnumber men almost two to one. This is in line with the Anglican community in the Melbourne Diocese according to the 2006 National Church Life Survey.

Book Review: The Word of His Grace: A guide to teaching and preaching from Acts

By Chris Green. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 2005, 978-84474-075-7,189pp., $A19.99, paper.

Many factors conspire against creating and sustaining an evangelistic culture in our Christian communities. In my experience, one of the key antidotes is the regular preaching and teaching of Acts. To this end, Chris Green, Vice-Principal of Oak Hill College in London has written an overview of the book specifically for the preacher, and this serves as a very helpful foundational tool.

This book is not a commentary. Green begins by outlining key principles for understanding Acts in toto, then in Section 2 breaks the book into 7 "panels", examining in more detail the themes conveyed. A particular strength in these two sections is Green's outlining of Luke's careful narrative structure, and the various narrative devices he uses, such as parallelism, escalation and contrast. Green is keen to show that Luke has not simply written a chronology, but has carefully structured his account with theological purpose. This exposes and highlights key truths and helps answer some of the recurring theological and pastoral issues raised by the book.

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.

The Annual Preaching Survey of the Year's Best Books

This is an edited version of the original article which may be access from www.preaching.com/resources/features/11569918/#

Reprinted with permission from Preaching magazine, March-April 2008. Copyright © 2008 Salem Communications. All rights reserved. For more information visit www.preaching.com. The website and magazine is an excellent resource!

Preaching is intimately related to books and study, and this goes all the way back to biblical times. Preachers and books simply go together, and the most powerful combination of preacher and book comes when just the right book is available at just the right time in order to clarify and focus the preacher's thoughts on the biblical text and the challenge of preaching.

Biblical Studies

If preachers are integrally tied to the study of books, this is especially true when it comes to books helpful in Bible study for the preparation of expository messages. Over the past several decades, something of a renaissance in evangelical biblical scholarship has occurred, and we are now in a season of publication with many of the most mature biblical scholars reaching the point of maximum scholarly production.

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'.

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.

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?

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