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Archbishop election update • Madagascar famine Service in weakness• Christian books for 2021
Election Synod set for May.
Nominations open for Archbishop’s election “We now have a way forward that... allows delegates to meet”: Diocesan secretary Daniel Glynn.
Names are being put forward members will then move to the large gatherings,” says diocesan as nominees for the Synod that will elect the next Archbishop of Sydney. The Archbishop’s summons was issued on January 25 laying out the times, dates and venue for a one-day “ordinary” session of Synod, followed by the Election Synod. Due to changing COVID restrictions in the past few months, the summons differs from what was originally foreshadowed last year. The message, sent to all eligible Synod members, calls them to an ordinary session of Synod on Monday, May 3. The session will be preceded by a service at St Andrew’s Cathedral. Synod
International Convention Centre secretary Daniel Glynn. “But (ICC) at Darling Harbour for the I am pleased that we now have a ordinary session, at which Bishop way forward that complies with Peter Hayward will preside and current health requirements give the address. and allows delegates to meet in Bishop Hayward, as the as safe a manner as possible to longest-serving bishop, will fulfil the responsibilities of the act as the Administrator of the Synod.” Diocese with powers normally Synods in Sydney comprise given to the Archbishop. The hundreds of elected delegates, sessions from May 4-7 have been both lay and clergy, from every set aside for the Election Synod, parish as well as diocesan as needed. organisations. “Bookings needed “The electoral process is to be made at the ICC instead of governed by ordinance and has the usual venue, Wesley Theatre, proved difficult to manage given to allow enough space to comply the unprecedented restrictions with COVID-safe practices,” Mr of COVID-19 and changing Glynn says. public health orders regarding Now that the summons has
SouthernCross February 2021
volume 27 number 1
been issued, nominations are open. The process has changed slightly from previous years in that nomination forms can be submitted by a single Synod member (rather than two or more) – although a nominee still requires the support of 20 Synod members in order to be formally nominated. While people may be anxious to know who has been nominated, the names will not be made public until they have been confirmed. Confirmation involves the required number of nominators, plus safe ministry checks and the agreement of the person nominated that their name may go forward. Archbishop Glenn Davies will retire on Friday, March 26. His term was extended from his original retirement date of July 2020. “Determining the time and location for these sessions has been a significant challenge for our diocesan secretary,” Dr Davies says. “I am grateful for his navigating the changing regulations for a gathering of up to 800 people in a COVID-safe manner. “It has been a demanding exercise and we are in Mr Glynn’s debt for securing the ICC for such an important week in the life of our Diocese, as we seek God’s guidance in electing the next Archbishop of the Diocese of Sydney. I am sure all Sydney Anglicans will be in prayer for the work and outcome of the Election Synod.” SC
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28 APRIL 2021, 7:00PM Speaker: David Williams
All Nations, All Ages, All In? A biblical look at homogenous approaches in the local church.
Mum’s the word
“We’re hoping we’ll learn lots so we can share lots”: The Rev Jodie McNeill with Jamberoo’s new mothers’ minister, Gemma Bartlett.
When a parish looks to put on the rector at Jamberoo, sought an extra worker, it might hire a grant from Mothers’ Union someone for music, youth, or Sydney, he applied for the funds men’s and women’s ministry. to hire a part-time mothers’ But when the Rev Jodie McNeill, minister.
A mothers’ minister? He has his reasons. “As a small and growing village church, we only have limited resources and if it were not
Jamberoo hires a mothers’ minister.
for the generous offer of the grant from MU, it’s unlikely we would have raised funds for this specific role,” he explains. “When I heard about the grant I thought, what if we had a person who could give their energy to discipling mothers and helping them to have the home as a centre of ministry and mission? “To tailor the position to the organisation supplying the grant seemed to be a natural direction. And I trust that, as mothers are encouraged to minister to others, they will be including women who are not mothers and not married, because they will then see their homes as a platform for ministering to anybody.” W hen it came to hiring someone for the position, Mr McNeill didn’t hesitate. He rang Gemma Bartlett – who, along with her husband Matt and their three kids, have been long-term members of nearby Shellharbour City Anglican Church. Says Mrs Bartlett: “Jodie and [his wife] Mandy and Matt and I had dinner together and chewed
the fat on intergenerational ministry... and then a couple of weeks later Jodie called me and said, ‘I just want to run something by you’. “He read this job description out... and I honestly expected him to ask, ‘Do you know of anyone who might be interested in a position like this?’. I was thinking it sounded amazing – it just ticked all the boxes of what we had discussed – and then he said, ‘Actually I was wondering if you might like to take the position!’. “I really do love families learning together in church and I’m quite passionate about it, but I’d never pictured myself being in a role where that’s my job... It was incredibly humbling and exciting all at the same time.” The family will now make Jamberoo their home church and, while the job is only 10 hours a week, Mrs Bartlett is excited by the possibilities. “My focus to begin with is just to get to know every woman in the church,” she says. “I think it’s really vital we see motherhood
PROTECTION AND CARE FOR EVERYONE
as something that all women are called to do within in the church family – not just those who have children – and encouraging them to be looking ahead and behind them: ahead to who’s in front of them that they can learn from, who can disciple and mentor them, and looking behind them to the young women coming after them. “So then, all the women of the church are practising Titus 2 together, developing relationships and connecting with other women in an organic way... we’re very excited to be part of it”. Glenda McSorley, the president of MU Sydney, says those at MU choosing where the grant money should go were unanimous in their enthusiasm for Jamberoo. “There’s a real opportunity for great growth and for the project to go really well there, because it’s a motivated group,” she says. “Our members pray about this all the time. Being a parent nowadays is a tough gig, and our baseline is that we want
to support families. I know it’s not the world’s way, but we see that God has a plan for families – and it works if you give it half a chance!” Mr McNeill says he was struck by the global reach of Mothers’ Union when he attended the Gafcon 2018 conference in Jerusalem. “I saw just how huge MU is in Africa especially, and how they consider MU to be a platform for women’s ministry more generally,” he recalls. “[Since then] I’ve often asked myself why wouldn’t we try some of the things that are working globally among our brothers and sisters in the Anglican communion? This job is an opportunity for the Mothers’ Union here to grow in its strength in local church ministry, and for us to explore what we can learn from MU in Africa and beyond. “I think it’s an exciting experiment. We’re hoping we’ll learn lots so we can share lots, with the dream that mothers’ ministers may well be a thing for others in the future.” SC
Anglicare Careers As a Christian organisation we provide accommodation, care and community services to people at all stages of life and have a long-standing service spanning 160 years. Working at Anglicare gives you the best opportunity to make a positive difference in people’s lives. With close to 4000 staff of over 100 different nationalities, working in a large variety of jobs, there are many ways to grow your career with us.
“I am committed to strengthening our culture of ‘safe ministry’ through education and professional development of our clergy and lay people, as we seek to maintain the standards of Christian ministry which are grounded in the teaching of the Bible.”
Glenn Davies, Archbishop The Professional Standards Unit receives and deals with complaints of child abuse or sexual misconduct by members of the clergy and church workers. A Pastoral Care and Assistance Scheme is available to provide counselling and other support to victims of misconduct or abuse. The Safe Ministry Board formulates and monitors policy and practice and advises on child protection and safe ministry for the Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney.
Abuse Report Line 1800 774 945 SouthernCross
If you genuinely care about people and share our vision, mission and values, we welcome your application to join us, as we work to see Jesus Christ honoured, lives enriched and communities strengthened. Anglicare – Serving people in need, enriching lives, sharing the love of Jesus.
To find out more about our current vacancies contact the Anglicare Recruitment Team on 02 9421 5344 or go to www.anglicare.org.au/careers ANG5681
Open Doors reports global persecution has increased during the pandemic.
Christians count the cost of following Jesus Persecuted Christians across the world have been treated more harshly during COVID, a new report has found. The annual World Watch L i s t , f ro m i nte r n at io n al organisation Open Doors, ranks the top 50 countries where Christians experience the most discrimination and persecution. This year, it also includes information about how COVID has resulted in even greater suffering for Jesus’ people in these countries. Murray Noble, the lead researcher at Open Doors Australia, says that during the height of the pandemic “Christians were refused lifesaving aid in countries across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In India, 80 per cent of people who received emergency relief from Open Doors were first denied aid from official emergency relief. Some were told, ‘Your church or your God should feed you’.” He adds that the “double persecution” of Christian women and girls – through forced marriage and sexual violence – also increased: “This gender-specific persecution was exacerbated during COVID-19 lockdowns as many women and girls were more vulnerable to domestic violence. This includes an increase of reporting of kidnapping, forced marriage and forced conversions.” The World Watch List report, which covers the 12 months to September 30, 2020, noted that persecution has continued to rise over the past 14 years – and that this year, for the first time, only countries with “extreme” or very high” levels of persecution featured in the top 50. These countries account for 309 million of the estimated 340 million Christians who are targeted because of their faith. 6
Persecuted but faithful: Christians leave church in Nigeria – the country which has the highest level of violence towards believers in the world, and now ranks at number nine on the World Watch List.
Says Mr Noble: “On this year’s World Watch List, Nigeria ranks at number nine – the first time the country has entered the top 10 – [and it has] higher levels of violence than any other country. Extremist groups across Nigeria continue to have the freedom to kill, kidnap and abuse. “Just last month we heard the shocking news that Christians in the Nigerian town of Garkida were attacked on Christmas Eve by the extremist group Islamic State West Africa Province. Shortly after the attack, five of these Christians were executed, including a 14-year-old child.” This is the 20th year that North Korea has topped the list, with Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya,
Pakistan and Eritrea maintaining their places behind it. Yemen, Iran, Nigeria and India round out the top 10. Mozambique (45) entered the list for the first time as a result of increasing Islamic extremist attacks on individuals, schools and churches in a broader sweep across the country. The government has placed restrictions on freedom of religion, and Christians in the nation are also endangered by the operation of drug cartels. “It is more important now, than ever, to stand united and pray with our brothers and sisters in Christ,” Mr Noble says. “The persecuted church are the best mentors for our faith.
photo: Open Doors
These are Christians who have truly learnt the cost of following Jesus, and yet they continue to faithfully follow him, no matter the cost. “While exposing the lived reality of millions of Christians around the world, the World Watch List reminds us that we shouldn’t pray for persecution to end. Rather, we should pray that persecuted believers are strengthened and prepared to endure persecution, building a courageous faith – knowing that wherever the gospel is being shared, persecution exists.” SC For more details about the World Watch List see www.opendoors. org.au SouthernCross
The Bible is true and can be trusted! Presenting clear and compelling historical and scientific support for the Bible’s reliability, A Defence of the Bible brings together wide-ranging evidence and equips Christians with ready information to answer critics. Now in it’s third edition, A Defence of the Bible answers the common arguments used against Christianity and the Bible, including detailed responses for four major misconceptions:
u That Christianity is “just another religion” u That science through the Theory of Evolution can explain our existence with the need for God
u That the Bible is merely a collection
of ancient myths and is full of mistakes
u That Jesus Christ, if he ever existed,
was merely a good man and was not God
Dr Gary Baxter spent five years compiling information for A Defence of the Bible, which draws on an extensive variety of sources, anchored by the author’s formal scientific knowledge and his biblical faith. Dr Baxter has a PhD in synthetic organic chemistry from Monash University.
A Defence of the Bible is published in large-format paperback, consisting of 186 full colour pages with 205 images and 584 footnotes Where to buy: $15.00 KOORONG In store or online at www.kooyong.com.au
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Reader comments: “Before I read A Defence of the Bible, I already believed that the Bible was the true and accurate Word of God, but I also knew that I couldn’t completely persuade an unbeliever of that fact. I dread the thought of being challenged - I simply couldn’t produce any reliable outside evidence. Studying A Defence of the Bible changed the situation entirely. Dr Baxter has made the material in this book both meaningful and memorable, presenting it in a clear and powerful way. As I read chapter after chapter of real, irrefutable evidence, God used this book not only to strengthen my own faith but also to prepare me to share that faith with others. I’m praying that He will use it to bless many others.” Sarah T, Victoria Australia “I just wanted to write you a quick note to say that I have just finished reading your book. It was absolutely incredible! I am sure I will refer to it again and again. I am especially excited about sharing it with one of my work colleagues.” Randy M. Indiana USA “You are a blessing and I appreciate how God is using your passion for Him to help educate and support other Christians. It is becoming more and more important to put into the hands of believers the answers to some of the questions that are being asked about creation, Jesus and religions. Thank you for what you have done in putting together your book.” Steven M, Australia
You can be kept informed on biblical apologetics by going to Gary’s website: adefenceofthebible.com and subscribing to his fortnightly blog
My canine co-chaplain Working together: The Rev Mitchell Herps with his workplace welfare dog, Mac.
Mitchell Herps Ministry in any context can bring about many learning opportunities. Interestingly, when I joined the Air Force as a chaplain I didn’t think one of those would be becoming a workplace welfare dog handler! We have military working dogs within the Air Force, but Mac – my workplace welfare dog – is most certainly not one of those. He is a yellow labrador who spent the first four years of his life at Guide Dogs Victoria, training to be an assistance dog and working as an “ambassadog”. Put simply, he was one of the faces of the organisation, getting out and about at community outreach events and fundraisers.
Mac came to me at the I have the privilege of being beginning of last year through a involved in the everyday lives program being developed within of people on the base. Through Air Force chaplaincy – working these connections I earn the right on the expectation that therapy to provide spiritual advice, be a dogs would have a positive listening ear, comfort those who impact in the workplace similar grieve and most of all, tell them of to the known benefits in schools, what Christ has done for them. hospitals and nursing homes. Much of my daily role includes Ministry with a workplace getting out and about across welfare dog is different. But the base. I visit workplaces, beyond the morale boost Mac engage with people who have brings, he has enabled me to roles in administration, aircraft build connections. The average maintenance, physical security, Australian probably doesn’t know logistics, firefighting and the name or the face of their medicine, as well as some fastlocal minister, but across the jet pilots. base where I am posted – RAAF When I take my dog to the Base Tindal near Katherine in the gym to greet those attending a Northern Territory – I am fairly physical training session, I often certain everyone knows Mac, and hear excited voices saying, ‘Mac’s by extension they know me! here!’. When I attend a meeting,
2021 Lent Appeal
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This Lent, ABM asks you to consider making a donation in support of St John’s Theological Seminary in Zambia, Asset-based Community Development Project in the Philippines and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mission Grants. Your donation will empower people during this pandemic. To make a secure donation online, please scan the QR code with your mobile device. 8
he does a lap of the room, bringing a sense of calm. He’s even had the privilege of meeting our Prime Minister, our Minister for Defence and our Chief of Air Force – and to express to them the way in which Mac puts a smile on people’s faces is a great joy. I’m still learning to be a chaplain in the RAAF. But it is a ministry that is well worth the challenges. You can find out more about Defence chaplaincy at www. defenceanglicans.org.au. SC The Rev Mitchell Herps studied at Moore College – his final year sponsored by the RAAF – and spent two years as an assistant minister in Camden before becoming an Air Force chaplain in 2019.
Together as one To find out more, please visit: abmission.org/Lent21 SouthernCross
Griefshare at Sadleir supports those who mourn.
Bring the grief to the comfort of God “We know you are free now from all of your struggles But you know what? We’re missing those kisses and cuddles But we know you are safe as in Gods’ arms you rest And know for that short time we were truly blessed.”
These words are penned by Jan, a widowed grandmother who lost her infant grandson several years ago and her husband a year ago. She has found great comfort and support in attending Griefshare, a support group at St Mark’s, Sadleir for those who are mourning the passing of loved ones. This Bible-based support group covers grief, suicide, murder and difficult relationships and is open to all members of the community. “They really love coming because they can relate and share openly about their grief,”
says Ans van der Zwaag (right), pastoral carer at Sadleir. Griefshare began last year, with two online groups and one face to face. The demand for online groups was unexpected. “We already had so many people who had deaths of family members or close friends,” says Ms van der Zwaag, who was formerly a counsellor. “I didn’t want to run it online. I thought, ‘How will people cry and share?’ But I was getting inquiries from New Zealand and Queensland – people asking me if I was running the group online. I thought, maybe God is telling me something.” To her surprise, the online groups were just as powerful as the in-person group. “I always say, ‘Do you have your tissues? Do you have your Bible?’” she says. “God has used the group in a powerful way. They realise
they’re not alone in all this.” Each session involves watching a video with testimonies, plus personal reflection and discussion time. The group helps people to approach their grief with input from the gospel by taking them through topics such as forgiveness. “People say you have to move on, as if you leave something behind,” Ms van der Zwaag says. “[The group] says we move forward. We discuss false beliefs about
God and other false thoughts we can have, like ‘Time will heal’. People seem to take comfort in God’s word.” It’s easy to miss how much pain people are facing, even a year or two after the passing of a loved one. The Rev David Morgan, senior minister at St Mark’s, says, “It’s made me aware of a need in our church that I wasn’t aware enough of. People are in so much pain. [Griefshare] gives them a space to express and share that pain, while considering that pain in light of the gospel. It’s a wonderful ministry to people in our church and to people in our community as well.” Adds Ms van der Zwaag: “Pray that as people go through Griefshare they can really see God is ultimately our rock and our refuge. I feel privileged to see how God is at work.” SC
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Appalling famine in Madagascar set to worsen
Rain desperately needed: The Rev Tsiavandeza Gaston buys water in Ambovombe.
When the Rev Berthier Madagascar in November, he had died of starvation, and 200 youth and elderly people are Lainirina called the Archbishop of Sydney’s Anglican Aid from
had just heard that five family members of one of his friends
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people had died in his village. Since then, if it were possible, the situation has deteriorated. “The worst of the famine is occurring in the Diocese of Toliara in southern Madagascar,” Anglican Aid’s CEO the Rev Canon Tim Swan told Southern Cross. “The growth of this diocese has been phenomenal. [It] was formed in 2006 with one church. Now, there are over 100 churches in the diocese, including a cathedral and Bible college, with people converted from the worship of evil spirits.” Toliara is one of the five dioceses across Madagascar where Anglican Aid supports the training of Bible college students. Now, it has set up a fund to help combat the rising famine. In Toliara, the effects are concentrated in one parish, Amboasary, where a deacon – the Rev Tsiavandeza Gaston – oversees ministry. The famine began last August after a severe lack of rainfall, which led to crop failures. Now, 120,000 children,
affected by acute malnutrition. Deacon Gaston reports that people are so desperate for food they have started eating ash combined with tamarind fruit or cactus leaves. He asks for prayer for rain in the area, for the rivers and underground water sources to be filled and for a long-planned water supply connection to be built. Adds Canon Swan: “Famine and drought in this area is not new – so much so that they have a word for it in the local Malagasy language. They call it kere. This year, kere is very severe. “I’m grateful to Anglican Aid supporters, enabling us to send funds that the local Anglican churches will use to buy and transport rice, beans and water. This is the same diocese where we are sponsoring students training for ministry and they will help distribute food.” SC To contribute to the Madagascar famine appeal, see https:// anglicanaid.org.au/madagascanhunger-crisis-emergency-appeal/ SouthernCross
The new bishop of the northwestern NSW diocese follows in his father’s footsteps.
Armidale chooses a Chiswell The Rev Rod Chiswell (right) the Armidale Diocese for the past 25 years as vicar of Mungindi, Walcha and South Tamworth respectively, so he knows the challenges of modern ministry in rural and regional areas, as well as their rich history. The Rev Brian Kirk, vicar general of the Armidale Diocese, spoke for the Synod when he told the election session: “We have come through drought, bushfires and a pandemic and I quick to welcome the election. am looking for a man of God for “Rod is a faithful pastor, a such a time as this – someone fine preacher and one who will who is full of faith and full of the hold fast to the faith once for all Holy Spirit, who has been shaped delivered to the saints,” Dr Davies and raised up by God to lead this said. “He is an answer to many diocese through further difficult prayers.” times ahead, keeping our eyes Speaking to the local media ‘focused on Jesus, the pioneer and after the election, Mr Chiswell perfecter of our faith’ (Hebrews described the bishop’s role as that 12:2).” of a servant. As Metropolitan of NSW, “The clergymen in the parish Archbishop Glenn Davies was have the responsibility of
proclaiming the gospel to that community and helping the parish to grow more like Christ as they teach God’s word to them... the bishop role is an oversight role where you are trying to support the clergy to do that in their community,” he said. Echoing the Armidale Diocese’s mission statement, he said: “All of us are on about introducing people to Jesus and helping them home to heaven”. SC ANG6346
will be consecrated as Bishop of Armidale on February 27 – taking on a role he has been familiar with for most of his life. Currently serving as the senior minister at St Peter’s, South Tamworth, Mr Chiswell was elected in November by the Synod of the diocese in which his father served for all his ministry, including 23 years as bishop. “It is an interesting situation with Dad having done that job for all those years in the past,” he said – adding that he felt daunted by the challenge but believed “God can use ordinary people to accomplish his purposes” and “those God calls to a task he equips for the task”. Bishop-elect Chiswell is married to Jenni and they have two children and three grandchildren. He has served in
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Service in weakness Congolese celebration: Graham and Wendy Toulmin (rear) with new graduates Mr Toulmin helped train in dentistry.
A year spent in Australia when hours’ notice. Others, who had overseas mission was the plan. Months spent attempting to return to Australia amid lockdown, quarantine and other crises. If anyone needed reminding that God works through our weaknesses, it was laid out for all to see on the final day of the Church Missionary Society’s annual Summer School in Katoomba last month. “Embracing weakness flies in the face of what Australia values and celebrates,” said the executive director of CMS NSW & ACT, the Rev Canon John Lovell, reflecting on the Apostle Paul’s struggles in 2 Corinthians 12 – and the effect of COVID on the work of men and women the society has sent out to serve. “Our missionaries have been wrestling with this for most of 2020, as many of you have,” he said. “As recently as yesterday I received yet another email with news of likely flight cancellations for some of our missionaries trying to return to Australia for home assignment. For a time of rest; for time with family. When we are weak, then we are strong.” He added that some missionaries needed to pack up their lives and ministries and come home with less than 48 12
been commissioned to go out at the end of last year’s Summer School, were commissioned a second time at this year’s conference as “they have not yet been able to leave”. “There have been some wonderful reflections and examples of what it looks like to trust God and his continued work through many difficulties, hardships and weaknesses during 2020,” Canon Lovell said. He shared the thoughts of one missionary, who wrote: “I do not want to pretend that it has not been a hard year in so many ways, or that this rollercoaster of delayed travel hasn’t taken its toll on heart and mind. But I am thankful for this experience to grow me to be more like Jesus, the Son who prayed to his Father, ‘Your will be done’.” Added Canon Lovell: “As we have heard from the missionaries themselves, they go – and we send them – in weakness. They need our prayers for them and for the people whom they go to serve. They need our care and our financial support. “They do this in the sufficiency of God’s grace, and in the knowledge that God’s power is made perfect in weakness.” SC
SIX CANCELLED FLIGHTS, YET TRUST IN GOD Graham Toulmin, who served in DR Congo for a total of 34 years with his wife Wendy, says the difficulties of travel associated with COVID – which resulted in six cancelled flight bookings – made them wonder if they would ever get out of the country. “When we finally got out it took us two months and four days to get home, with three quarantines on the way!” he says.
anything,” Mrs Toulmin says. “We just laughed all the time, because you can’t do anything about it.
“In those situations, you’re constantly praying. You’re Congo went into lockdown in constantly open and calling March, so for some months out to God, and that’s it was impossible to travel something I don’t want to anywhere within the country, lose... I know people do it here in crises – bushfires let alone outside it. With no decent internet connection, or sickness and so on – but we should be doing it all the all air travel was booked (and time.” rebooked, and rebooked) by CMS mission support officer She said their Congolese Geoff Dyson in Sydney – Christian friends were an with some flights cancelled amazing, ongoing example even before they could be of how to trust God in all confirmed. situations, recognising their In the end, the Toulmins own weaknesses and relying drove 500 kilometres from on God’s strength.
their home in Congo to Uganda. They quarantined in Kampala, in London and then in Australia, arriving in Canberra on November 26 (above) on a repatriation flight organised by the Federal Government. “We
“They taught us all the time,” she said. “We are absolutely kindergarten children by comparison. Their trust is amazing. “Christians in Australia have begun learning some of that stuff during COVID. I just hope they don’t lose it!”
Robert Menzies College offers scholarship support for international students.
Care for the COVID-affected at Macquarie It’s going to be a very different and supportive environment, and about God and the things they academic year at Macquarie University in 2021, but for staff at Robert Menzies College – the Anglican not-for-profit residential college on campus – the array of difficulties created by COVID have provided unexpected opportunities to offer care and support. Last year the college assisted 46 international students who were given financial aid through a NSW Government temporary crisis accommodation scheme, focused on those at risk of homelessness. However, the Master of the college, the Rev Dr Peter Davis, realised more support was needed. “What I said to our staff when COVID hit was that, at such a time, it’s really easy for an organisation to turn inwards and look after itself,” he says. “This was a time for us to dig deep into our core identity – which is a caregiver organisation – so we needed to be working as hard as we could to care for the residents that we had, and to care for those who might need us. And that’s what we’ve done.” The 46 students the college took in needed “everything”, he says, “but what they needed most was a quiet, peaceful place to study. [Here] they knew they had a quiet
they didn’t have to worry about whether they were going to be homeless next week. “They’ve been living in college ever since, but we wanted to help these men and women in 2021, because the Government support only goes for 20 weeks after they come into the college. So, we’re giving those who need it a sizable scholarship so they can stay for the remainder of their studies this year.” Some students finished their studies in 2020 or are planning to go back into share accommodation, but 33 students have gratefully accepted the RMC scholarship offer. Dr Davis expects the final bill to be a substantial $220,000 and, while the college is planning to cover more than half of this itself, it has also opened an appeal for anyone keen to support the college – and the students – in this way. He believes the college’s attitude during COVID has commended the gospel to the overseas students, who are mainly from Hindu and Muslim backgrounds. “We’re very upfront about our faith here,” he says. “We basically tell people we’re a Christian college and you’ll find this is a place where people talk openly
find important. “I had one guy here in my office early on in the piece, a Muslim guy... and he was astounded. He said, ‘Why are you doing this? You don’t even know us!’ And I said, ‘Because you need help’. “People could see that the college was really giving everything it could to support them at a time that they needed it. And everybody knew that it sprang from our Christian faith.” Arun (right), a Masters’ student who came into the college in second semester last year, found himself broke shortly after lockdown began and sought to make up the shortfall by delivering food by bicycle. Before too long, he was told all his family members back home in India had COVID. His father contracted typhoid as well, and his mother’s severe asthma meant she wasn’t expected to survive. He was paying his parents’ medical bills, supporting his pregnant sister financially as well – and then he got beaten up by a group of youths for the Uber Eats order he was trying to deliver. Dr Davis says that by the time Arun came into college in August, “he was very distressed, so we spent some time talking together,
I prayed for his family and his Mum in particular”. Says Arun: I don’t believe Christianity, but I really had hope. I prayed to every God – Allah, Jesus, Krishna – everyone. And I am still getting the goosebumps. All thanks to Peter [Davis]. He used to pray to Jesus every day... I am so glad that I met this guy. “I feel God himself made me get out of the [share] house I was supposed to stay in... he himself has directed me to RMC.” Says Dr Davis: “[The students] need support in every sense: emotional support, spiritual support, academic support. We just want to provide them with that environment in a really stressful time”. SC To give to the RMC COVID appeal or for more of Arun’s story, see https://www.mycause.com.au/ page/239138/rmc-covid-relief
“A rare opportunity to show God’s love” His Christian faith and a family experience of dementia first drew Dr Stephen Judd (right) to the field of dementia care. He has now been made a Member in the General Division of the Order Of Australia (AM) in recognition of his work. Dr Judd stepped down last August as the chief executive officer of the independent Christian charity, HammondCare, SouthernCross
which he had led since 1995. He has been succeeded by former NSW Premier Mike Baird. In the Australia Day Honours list, announced by GovernorGeneral David Hurley, Dr Judd was given the AM for significant service to older persons living with dementia. “I was chief executive of HammondCare for 25 years and our focus was on dementia
and palliative care,” Dr Judd says. “[The important thing is] the work continues. At the end of the day, it’s the people on the ground who are making a difference in peoples’ lives each and every day.” Dr Judd sees the award as an opportunity to raise awareness. “One of the reasons why I am happy to accept this is to keep dementia on the agenda. At the moment we know exactly how 13
many people each and every year get prostate cancer and get breast cancer – 19,000 and 17,000 respectively – but we have no idea how many people get dementia each year, so I’m hoping that in the future we continue to measure that number so we actually know how many people have dementia.” Behind the years of passionate contribution are the reasons Dr Judd originally swapped a career in information technology for dementia care: “because my mother had dementia and she lived with us for the last decade of her life, and I wondered whether or not we could do a better job in that space”. Dr Judd, who is a member of St Andrew’s Roseville, has also made a distinctly Christian contribution. “It does mean that you get a rare opportunity to show God’s love to his creation in very special and practical ways and continue to share with him in building his kingdom.” Other Anglicans honoured include Wendy Carver, the CEO of Lifeline (Harbour to Hawkesbury), given an Order of Australia Medal for service to community mental health, and the late Denise Bannon, a former warden of St Mark’s, Revesby, for service to the community, particularly youth and Indigenous people. Janet Kneeshaw of Pymble, a volunteer organiser and chorister at St John’s, Gordon, was recognised for service to the performing arts, and to the community. In another major award announced on Australia Day, chaplain John Kewa (below) was
named Wollongong’s Citizen of the Year for 2021. Mr Kewa, the manager and chaplain of the Mission to Seafarers at Port Kembla, rallied the Illawarra community to help the stranded crew of the Ruby Princess, docked at Port Kembla during the COVID-19 outbreak. Hundreds of care packages and letters of support from local schoolchildren were delivered to the ship. The crew unfurled a large banner saying, “Thank You Illawarra” when the ship finally sailed out of Port Kembla. Bishop Peter Hayward is president of the Port Kembla Mission to Seafarers and Mr Kewa attends Dapto Anglican Church. Says Mr Kewa: “The Ruby Princess became the main source of COVID-19 outbreak and they were looking at who was going to be responsible but there was one thing that was missing: no-one ever mentioned the 1200 staff and crew. But [they are] human beings and, for us, if we were going to do anything to live up to our mission and our ministry that was the moment.” Mr Kewa says he posted a message on Facebook to the crew of the Ruby Princess. “The simple message was: It’s not your fault, we are thinking of you and we will do our best to reach out to you. That message reached about 80,000 people in just 24 hours.” It was difficult to get assistance through, but his persistence paid off. “Their mental health situation was one of my main concerns and I’m really thrilled with the community response,” he says. “Our ministry is not the standard kind of parish church. It’s a special ministry where we remain almost invisible in reaching out to almost invisible people. “That’s what makes us really proud as a Christian organisation in the Illawarra, that it was such a strong witness living out the gospel in action on a day when we were needed.” SC
For the good of others
Dr Glenn Davies
s we commence a new year in 2021, I am sure
that many of us look forward to the suppression, if not elimination, of the Coronavirus, which has threatened lives and livelihoods. We welcome the imminent distribution of some of the vaccines that have been developed and are currently in use in other parts of the world, and I am grateful for so many who have offered prayer each night at 1900hrs for COVID-19 research. Our prayers have been answered. We praise God for this, as we do for our governments – who have managed the pandemic in Australia in far more effective ways than other Western democracies. 2020 was a challenging year for many of us, as we found new rules and regulations imposed upon us. While we may have chafed at some of the restrictions, our responsibility was not to evaluate how proportionate the Government’s response was to the risk of COVID-19 spreading. Rather, our response as Christians, as well as citizens, was to follow the Government’s directions, as I have argued in previous issues of Southern Cross. This does not mean that our Government’s response is above SouthernCross
From the Archbishop.
criticism, though I acknowledge that the intention of each Public Health Order proclaimed throughout last year was for the public good. Human laws are usually made with good intentions. Yet, God’s law is more than good intentions, it is perfect for our world. The Old Testament word for “law” is the Hebrew word torah, which essentially means instruction. It is God’s instruction for his people as to how they should live as his image-bearers in his world. Although there is a common misconception that law for Old Testament believers, let alone New Testament believers, is something harsh and unforgiving, this is not the witness of Scripture (Psalm 18:21-23; Luke 1:6). Even a casual reading of Psalm 119 will reveal this to be the case: “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long” (Psalm 119:97). Even before Mt Sinai, Abraham joyfully kept God’s law (Genesis 26:5). Keeping God’s law, for Abraham, was a response to God’s grace. Abraham knew his sins had been forgiven and that God had accounted him righteous in his sight (Genesis 15:6). Abraham’s obedience was the outworking of his faith and the response to God’s grace – what we might call the “covenant dynamic” of grace/ response. “The law of the Lord is perfect”, as King David declares, “reviving the soul” (Psalm 19:7). Jesus did not come to abrogate the law, but to fulfil it (Matthew 5:17). Hence, the Apostle Paul can describe God’s law as “holy and just and good” (Romans 7:12). Indeed, he declares the law is “spiritual”, which is a reference to the Holy Spirit’s identification with the law and God’s guidance of Israel to Mt Sinai and beyond (Nehemiah 9:11-20; cf Isaiah 63:11ff). The freedom that the new covenant brings is that the judgment for breaking God’s law has been borne by Christ Jesus on our behalf. We are no longer “under the law” (that is, under the judgment of the law) but “under grace” (Romans 6:14). While Christians are not under Mosaic Law, with its regime of ceremonial and civil laws for the nation of Israel, God’s moral law (as Article VII of the Thirty-Nine Articles puts it) is still binding upon Christians. This distinction can be seen from Paul’s arguments about Jewish identity markers, such as circumcision, where he intriguingly teaches the Corinthians that: neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God (1 Corinthians 7:19). It is intriguing because circumcision was part of God’s law, yet Paul sees no obligation to keep this requirement. Nonetheless, there are clearly commandments of God that should be kept. This will require discernment by Christians as to which of God’s commandments in the Old Testament are mandatory and which have been fulfilled and are no longer binding upon Christians. Cranmer’s answer to this question may be seen in his introduction to the service of Holy Communion, where the Ten
Commandments are read by the minister, with the response from the congregation after each commandment being: Lord have mercy upon us and incline our hearts to keep this law. And, after all the commandments are read: Lord have mercy upon us and write all these thy laws in our hearts, we beseech thee. It is lamentable that the Ten Commandments are so rarely read in our churches, presumably to save time, replacing them with Jesus’ summary of the commandments. Yet we should not be beguiled into thinking that Jesus’ summary is a replacement, let alone an abrogation, of the Ten Commandments. I recognise that some Christians differ on the applicability of the Ten Commandments under the new covenant. I also recognise that while some may consider all things to be permissible, Scripture teaches us that not all things are edifying. In all our behaviour, therefore, our aim should not be to seek our own good, but the good of others, for thereby we shall glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:23-31). SC
PRAYER Father God, we thank you for your mercy towards us and pray that you would use us to declare your promises to the people of greater Sydney. We trust not in our own worthiness for this task, but in your bountiful grace. Strengthen us for every opportunity to declare with a clear conscience the reason for the hope that we have with gentleness and respect, grounded in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Amen. SouthernCross
Helping school leavers stick with Jesus Tara Sing
massive transition occurs each summer for
graduating Year 12 students as they farewell the familiar structure of school for the freedom and responsibility of adulthood. As they do this, many also leave church and faith behind: data from the National Church Life Survey shows that a third of Christian school leavers will walk away from church by the age of 19. Laura Anderson says there’s a lot that Christians can do to help young people like her keep following Jesus in this transition time. “It was mainly stopping [attending] the youth group that was the big change for me,” says Miss Anderson, who graduated in 2017. “I didn’t really know [what I was doing].” The care from people at her church, along with watching her older sister graduate two years earlier, helped her to settle into post-school life and continue following Christ.
WHAT MAKES LEAVING SCHOOL A DANGEROUS TIME FOR FAITH? In the Rev Michael Williamson’s 16 years of parish ministry, witnessing school leavers losing their way was an annual event. The current director of Year 13 – Youthworks’ gap year program for school leavers – says there are many reasons why this occurs. “It happens because Christian school leavers are forced to become an expert in all kinds of new things overnight, especially work, money, education and relationships,” he says. “With all that going on, many fail to grow in their faith and become pygmy Christians – not by choice, just by circumstance.” The incoming director of Year 13, the Rev Stephen Shearsby, agrees that students are not prepared for this time of transition. “We put on a lot of pressure with their education and the HSC and eventually it goes away,” he says. “But unfortunately the pressure doesn’t end, it’s just the next pressure. It’s a heavy burden. Jesus’ burden is much lighter, that’s what we want people to hear. Year 13 encourages kids to think about that.” It’s vital for Christians to actively support young people in this time. “The scary statistic [about young people walking away from church] hasn’t changed in 20 years,” Mr Williamson says. “We haven’t responded as churches to this statistic, so we have to respond on the ground.” SC SouthernCross
The challengse of caring for young people after Year 12.
Here are five things you can do to help young people at your church follow Christ as they leave school: 1. KNOW AND CARE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IN YOUR CHURCH “Make sure you know them well so you can love them,” Miss Anderson says. “There were a few people who were probably 15 years older than me who would ask how I was going, how uni was, and were good at making sure that I felt like I was becoming more of an adult.” 2. INVEST IN THE SPIRITUAL LIVES OF SCHOOL LEAVERS Investing in young people “is for everyone, but not everyone does it,” says Mr Williamson, who believes the prime time to invest is months before exams, not after. “The issue is not what happens in January, but what happens once their exams finish. Don’t back off from students who are still studying.” Adds Mr Shearsby: “Intergenerational mentoring helps kids transition. When there’s no more youth group, they’re not quite ready to jump into being an adult. Year 13 is an intensive boot camp for [adult life as a Christian], and it’s fantastic, but you need some sort of mentoring or discipleship going on at church.” According to Miss Anderson, one simple way people can do this is to ask about faith. “Ask people how they’re going, where they are at with Jesus and how you can pray for them.” 3. INCLUDE YOUNG PEOPLE IN CHURCH LIFE The people who encouraged Miss Anderson to get involved in the church community made a huge difference to her spiritual growth. “I didn’t join a Bible study until two years out of school, but that has been very helpful,” she says. “I joined because people asked me to. I found I was used to talking to people from church, but not used to talking with them about the Bible. That was interesting to realise. We probably don’t talk as much about the Bible as we should outside of the service or Bible study.” 4. HELP THEM CONNECT WITH CHRISTIAN PEERS AND LEADERS
“Jumping in early and connecting well before you start uni puts you six to 12 months ahead of settling and knowing what to prioritise. “It’s about making a network, meeting campus workers, encouraging people to prioritise ministry and give it a go before they get there. The key thing is getting a network and peer support and plunging them deep into Bible teaching.” Adds Miss Anderson: “It’s good to join a Bible study or a Christian uni group. That’s another thing that’s been a real encouragement: making Christian friends my age. Especially if you’re at a small church, or at a big church. It’s really helpful.” 5. PRAY FOR THEM OFTEN Mrs Norved prays school leavers will take responsibility for their faith. “As they see what God is saying about our priorities, there is a mindshift,” she says. “Moving into adulthood, they need to think it’s not my parents’ faith, it needs to be my own. [We want them to ask] is this going to shape what I do for the rest of my life?” “Pray for their faith,” Mr Shearsby says. “That is the issue – faith formation and discipleship and getting roots down. Specifically, they have challenges with growing up and having more independence – that can be harmful, in a way. For navigating those decisions in life… there’s tons to pray.”
Sophie Norved believes it’s key to connect young Christians with others. She works with the Two Ways Ministries team to co-ordinate Launch camp, aimed at helping first-year Christian uni students connect with each other and with their campus Christian groups before studies start.
Mr Williamson adds: “Churches will sometimes remember to pray for the HSC. Pray they will stick with Jesus, irrelevant of the HSC, irrelevant of their performance, but beyond HSC, through schoolies. Pray they will stick with Jesus through their choices in the next year, their work choices, apprenticeship, whatever.
“When you get to uni, your head is so full that it can be really easy for the Christian part to slide off the agenda,” she says.
“Pray they will choose to be and stay a Christian and express their faith as opposed to disappearing with the world.”
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Sent into the world
How do we fit into God’s plan for the nations? Simon Gillham writes.
e see in the Old Testament a clear sense of
God’s great plans for the world: a plan to bless people from every tribe and nation through his chosen people Israel. They were God’s treasured possession, a holy nation set apart to draw the people of the world to himself. A servant nation – a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the ends of the earth. They did not live up to that role, and their failure caused us to look forward to a new Israel, a new servant of the Lord. God’s precious and holy Son. An eternal King and priest. The suffering servant of the Lord who, although despised and rejected while on earth, restored Israel and also became the light to Gentiles through his own suffering and death. He brought salvation to people from every tribe and nation. So, how do we fit in to God’s plan for the nations? Look at John 20:21 where, after he had risen from the dead, Jesus appeared to his disciples and said: “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you”. In the Old Testament the nations were to come to Israel but now Israel, the servant of the Lord, has been sent from God to the nations. Jesus was sent from the Father, and he now sends his disciples. All four gospels have a version of this. In Mark it’s just the SouthernCross
Mission thoughts from Moore College.
women who were sent from the empty tomb to go and tell others. In Luke it’s the broader group of disciples. In Matthew it’s the Great Commission of chapter 28. There’s different colour, different details but the same basic idea: Jesus, the sent one, sends his followers out to the world – to the tribes and nations. This is where we get the English word “mission” from. It comes from the Latin word for being sent. This is the heart of what mission is all about. You won’t find the English word “mission” in the Bible (apart from once in Acts 12), but if you’ve ever wondered where in the Bible it talks about mission – and mission to the nations – you need to look out for the “sent” or “sending” words. In the New Testament, the book that has more of these words than any other is John’s Gospel. So, let’s see what it tells us about mission – mission to the nations. WHO IS SENT IN JOHN? If you look at the different groups or individuals who are “sent” in the pages of John’s Gospel, you will find that it refers four times to disciples (John 13:16; 13:20; 17:18 and 20:21), and three times to the Holy Spirit (14:26; 15:26; 16:7), but 41 times to Jesus. So, do you see that whenever we talk about being sent, or about mission, we have to remember that it is all about Jesus, and all refers to Jesus? God the Father is the sender. He has sent the Son and intends to bring all things under the Son’s feet. This is the essence of mission. There are four categories of reference in John that describe Jesus as the one sent by the Father. There are verses that talk about: 1 his unique identity (5:37-38; 12:44-45); 2 his saving/bringing life (3:17; 6:44); 3 speaking or teaching God’s word (12:49; 14:24); and 4 doing God’s will/work (4:34; 10:35-38). So, in what ways are we sent just as Jesus was sent? We’re certainly not sent as the unique one, or the one who saves and brings life! However, we are sent to do God’s will (John 13:15-17) and to speak or teach God’s word (John 17:18-22). WHAT MISSION IS ABOUT Lots of things go on in the name of mission, but what we see in John’s Gospel is that bearing witness to Jesus – speaking and teaching the word of God – is what it’s all about. If mission does not have speaking about Jesus at its core it is not Christian mission. So, what about all the other things that go on under the name of “mission”? How do all of the other good things that Christians might do fit into this? Only those who live according to God’s will are credible witnesses. Lives of obedience commend the gospel, adorn the gospel, may even win a hearing for the gospel but they are not the gospel – and they are not mission unless those who are sent are sent to speak. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be involved in all kinds of other good things locally and all over the world. Working for justice, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, advocating for the powerless, providing education and shelter and comfort and mercy – all of these are great things and the right thing to be doing as we are able – whether or not they result in an opportunity to evangelise. However, if we talk about all of those things as mission, we miss the point. In John’s Gospel, this is the mission: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes SouthernCross
in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (3:16). God sending Jesus is what it is all about – and he sends you and me, too, to tell the world about Jesus. To be witnesses. To testify to the truth. In Matthew’s Gospel, instead of the sending “mission” word, the focus is on “making disciples”. But do you see that the point is the same? “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20). How do you make disciples? Baptising, bringing to faith and teaching – growing to maturity. But notice that the teaching is about obedience. Teaching them to obey everything Jesus has commanded. And what was the last thing that Jesus commanded? Go and make disciples of all nations! That means that every single Christian has a part to play and a responsibility to bear in making disciples of all nations. HOW CAN I “MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS”? Doesn’t that just seem too big? Too complicated? A specialist’s job? One of my great frustrations with people like me is that we too often turn what should be the normal Christian life into something you need to be trained or qualified to do. I’m not talking about being a church leader or preacher – I do think you’d better get some good training for that. I mean disciple making. Jesus’ approach to disciple making was to call 12 men to follow him. They followed him around, watched his life and listened to what he said. There were crowds of others too, who followed him
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around, watched his life and listened to what he said. A great disciple maker, Paul, told people to follow him – as he followed Christ. And people watched his life and listened to what he said about Jesus. I wonder if anyone is watching your life and listening to what you say. In fact, let me be honest: I don’t wonder. I know they are. Your children and the children of friends. Your friends and neighbours. People at school, people at work, people you play sport with. The question is not whether people are watching and listening, but what they are seeing and hearing. Are they hearing about Jesus? Are they hearing your testimony – are you a witness to Jesus? I don’t mean that you never talk about anything else, but that you do talk about Jesus and people get that there is nothing bigger or more important in your life than Jesus. Do you know the difference between a witness and a bystander? They both see what happens – they both have the experience – but the witness is prepared to talk. Followers of Jesus are called to be witnesses, not bystanders. You don’t have to be an expert. You don’t have to memorise some script. But you will need to speak. I lived in Africa for eight years and, up until COVID, regularly travelled back there. The church in Africa continues to grow like wildfire – even though very few people are trained as Christians. Why? Because ordinary people talk about Jesus. Many of them will just repeat something that they heard someone else say. Retell a Bible story, sum up what the preacher said on Sunday, be honest about what a difference it makes to have a hope beyond the grave. Could you do that? All of us can do that. Some of us can do more and should think about doing more. We have all been sent to the nations to make disciples and some of us should cross the street to do that, some of us should think about crossing the city, moving suburbs to live where we can do that with others who don’t know Jesus. But some people reading this should think about crossing oceans, too, to take the gospel to the nations. There are more than 4 billion people in the world who don’t know Jesus – who live without the light of the world or the hope of glory. Not only don’t they know Jesus, but many of them don’t even know someone else who knows Jesus. How will they hear unless we are prepared to go? If you are wondering whether it might be you who needs to think about going, talk to your friends and your minister about it and see what they say. For all kinds of reasons, you might not be able to go far yourself, but I wonder if you know of someone else in your church who should be thinking about this. Have you ever told them that? Could you be used to raise up and send someone else? And whether it’s you or someone else who goes, we are all sent. The best thing we can do to get ready to go further is to make sure we are going nearer to start with. Who are the people that you can invest time into this year, that they might come to know Jesus? Who will you let watch what you do and hear what you say, and hear you bear witness to Jesus? Just as the Father sent him, so he sends us! SC
The Rev Dr Simon Gillham is vice principal of Moore College, head of the Mission department and lectures in ministry and mission. 20
Sharing the gospel with wealthy neighbours Tara Sing
esus said it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye
of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom. But In Sydney, there are many who are rich and with whom we are called to share the gospel. Sydney is home to seven of the top 10 earning suburbs in Australia and the average wage across the city is above $75,000. How do we take the gospel to our neighbours, friends and family who are considered wealthy?
BARRIERS TO THE GOSPEL “Money cushions [people] from need and their need for God,” says the Rev Andy Bleach, assistant minister at St Clement’s, Mosman. In the 2016-2017 taxation statistics, Mosman ranked as the seventh highest-earning suburb in NSW. While there is definitely a mix of high- and middle-income earners in his local community, Mr Bleach observes wealth has provided many with a false sense of security. “People don’t think they need a saviour. That’s the biggest barrier.” Things are similar in Northbridge. “We find it very challenging to have conversations about Jesus with our neighbours,” says the Rev Simon Flinders, senior pastor of St Mark’s, Northbridge. The peninsula community in Sydney’s north was the fourth highest-earning suburb, with an average taxable income of $169,365. “The mindset towards the gospel of a lot of people is polite indifference,” Mr Flinders says. “We don’t encounter people who are openly hostile to the faith, but we do encounter people who don’t see the point and can’t understand the relevance of Christ and the gospel in their lives. They are self-sufficient, independent and have very little interest in thinking about the claims of Jesus. “We are asking ourselves about whether we need to be bolder, or approach conversations differently. As a church we have warm relationships with the community but not a lot of SouthernCross
Reaching the rich.
conversations about Jesus. Our task is to persuade people they have a need they aren’t aware of.” The lifestyle and hobbies of many affluent families are an additional barrier. “People aren’t around so much, off to holiday homes or away on the weekend,” Mr Bleach says. “Private schools have clubs and sports that go across the weekend. The lifestyle that goes along with having money [can mean that] people aren’t around to hear the gospel or don’t make time for it.” START WITH PRAYER The Rev Richard Lane has a simple starting point when it comes to evangelism. “Begin in prayer, meet people where they are at and go where the Spirit leads,” says the rector of St Stephen’s, Bellevue Hill, whose suburb had the fifth highest average taxable income in NSW. “Whether they are rich or poor there are the same basic needs. I have had rich and poor in our church over the years but it has always been the same gospel message.” There are no shortcuts to sharing the gospel, adds Mr Flinders. “Evangelism is hard and slow work. Our commitment to praying for people is the most important thing we are doing. We can’t convince people they need Jesus without the Spirit’s work.” REMEMBER THEY NEED JESUS Money may provide temporary relief from many of life’s pains and problems, but it eventually fails and is exposed as a false idol. “Wealthy people are real people in real situations, and they will have real problems as well,” Mr Bleach says. “Meet people where they are at, go out and engage with them. It’s about real relationships.” Mr Flinders agrees relationships are key, but says niceties aren’t enough. “We don’t want people going to their graves thinking we were respectable but never feeling the effect of the gospel. As much as we want to love, and be generous and kind, we want them to hear the claim of Christ’s lordship on their lives.” SouthernCross
He prays the Spirit will help his church members speak boldly about Jesus with the non-Christians in their community. “I’d love people to be praying that we would be really brave to share the gospel at every opportunity even if it will be uncomfortable... I’d love people to be praying that God would send his Spirit to awaken people’s hearts so they can see they need everything he offers.” WHO IS ACTUALLY RICH? We spoke to those who are ministering to the highest-earning suburbs in NSW, but it’s important for us to reflect on what it means to be rich and how we can objectively define the term. The 2018 Global Wealth Report from Credit Suisse Research Institute noted that if a person had $5559 in the bank, this made them richer than half of the world. Many of us are doing better financially than we realise, and are also susceptible to relying on money and not seeing our need for Christ. Mr Bleach points to 2 Corinthians 8:9: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich”. “That’s richness, isn’t it? That we know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he says. “That’s where true riches are. That’s a helpful thing for us to remember as we engage in this community, as we point people to our Lord Jesus, who truly makes us rich. We might be rich for a short time in this age, but we can’t take it with us when we die. That’s a helpful verse to keep in mind for anyone as well, to help people remember true riches are in Jesus.” Adds Mr Flinders: “People in my suburb have a weird definition of rich. Most people think that someone else is richer. Naturally people in our society don’t drift towards acknowledging ourselves as rich. We end up defining ‘rich’ by what we have. “Biblically, the rich are anyone who has enough to share with others. Our concept of what makes someone rich is a long way from how the Bible would think of it.” SC 21
Worldview and Christian mission
have a friend who was once a committed Buddhist.
Wonderfully, he has come to know the Lord Jesus as his saviour. But he had a lot of questions. The trouble was that his Christian friends kept answering questions he wasn’t asking. One of his big questions was, “How can you say God suffers?” He was given lots of great answers explaining why people suffer – but he wasn’t confused about that. He knows people suffer. My friend couldn’t get his head around the idea that God might suffer on the cross. The reason this was such a big issue for him was because of his worldview. Imagine a Christian doing street evangelism in Paris. They ask a group of French uni students: “If you died tonight and God said, ‘Why should I let you into heaven?’, what would you say?” Every single student looks confused and replies: “That wouldn’t happen because God doesn’t exist”. The evangelism approach isn’t working because of worldview. Imagine a gospel worker in a strongly Islamic country, chatting with a Muslim woman and telling her Bible stories. The woman seems very interested in the gospel. The worker says, “You can choose to follow Jesus”. The woman replies, “No, I am not free to 22
make choices like that”. The conversation ends as it does because of worldview. So, what is a worldview? It is a metaphorical pair of spectacles. My spectacles enable me to focus on what I’m looking at so I can see clearly. A worldview is the set of cultural values and assumptions that enable people to see and focus clearly on the world they live in. We all have a worldview. And because none of us (apart from the Lord Jesus) have reached a state of sinless perfection, we are shaped by the cultures we live in – in helpful and unhelpful ways. It is easy for me to focus through my worldview – to look at you and the world around me through a set of cultural values and assumptions. But it is much harder for me to focus on my worldview because, unlike a pair of spectacles, I can’t easily take off my worldview and examine it.
WORLDVIEW AS A MAP When we try to get somewhere new without a map, we quickly get lost. And, as mission historian Andrew F. Walls so helpfully observes in his book Crossing Cultural Frontiers: Studies in the History SouthernCross
Mission insights from CMS Summer School.
of World Christianity, our worldview is a lot like a cultural map. For example, if I am in a conversation with someone who doesn’t make eye contact, my default worldview informs me they are being evasive or deceitful, or perhaps are desperately shy. In another culture, the default worldview would say the person is being respectful or polite, or perhaps is sensitive to gender differences. I was in my final year at high school when I became a Christian, so I already had a worldview map. I had a set of cultural values and assumptions that helped me navigate life in middle-class England pretty successfully. If you became a Christian any time after early childhood, your experience will be the same. Our worldview map isn’t wiped clean and instantaneously replaced with a brand new, completely different one because we come to faith. Rather, it is in an ongoing process of change. The wonderful and amazing news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that no matter who you are, where you live or what your worldview map looks like, you can repent and believe the gospel. You can have the worldview map of a Sri Lankan Buddhist, or a French atheist, or a secular Australian, and come to know Jesus. All of us start following Jesus with faulty worldview maps that SouthernCross
need to be transformed by the power of God’s Spirit by his word. This transformation is what discipleship is all about. So, before you repented and believed the gospel, what did your worldview map look like? Where was God on this map – and where were you? Before I became a Christian my worldview map had me right in the centre. Around me were my school friends. A bit further out was my family. Right on the edge of the map was my headmaster. He was a distant figure who would only feature prominently if I got into trouble! Where was God? The headmaster was a little dot on the edge of my Google map, but you’d have needed to zoom right out to find God... a far-off figure in a distant country. If I kept the rules, he’d stay far away and I wouldn’t have anything to do with him. When I repented and believed the gospel, my map wasn’t instantly transformed. Just after I put my trust in Jesus, God became much more important, but I can’t honestly say he moved straight to the centre of my map. It has been a long process of Christian discipleship to move God towards my map’s centre and know him as a loving heavenly Father, not a forbidding headmaster. If you are an Anglo Westerner, I’d be surprised if your 23
pre-Christian worldview map didn’t have you at the centre with God out on the edge, or perhaps not on your map at all.
ANALYSING WORLDVIEW While it is difficult for anyone to analyse their own worldview, it is especially difficult to analyse the worldview of Western countries and cultures right now. We live in a world that knows where it has come from but doesn’t know where it is going. The terms we use to describe Western culture are mostly “post” words: post-Christian, post-modern, post-colonial, post-truth. Our worldview is changing very quickly. When it comes to analysing cultural worldview, the broadest categorisation used by missiologists and anthropologists divides cultures into three major groups: guilt-innocence, shame-honour and fear-power. Fear-power: This map is filled with supernatural forces – spirits, witchdoctors, sorcerers. It tells you that your village is in a world controlled by the spirits, where you try to gain power in the face of fear. Honour-shame: This map is dominated by your family and community. It is controlled by community expectation, where you try to bring honour to your people and avoid shame. Guilt-innocence: The centre of this map is you. You live in a world controlled by individual conscience, where you try to maintain innocence and avoid guilt. We then make the following generalisations: that traditional cultures are controlled by fear and power; most Arab and Asian cultures are governed by shame and honour; and Western cultures such as Australia, England, the United States and Europe are guilt and innocence. Guilt and innocence cultures make decisions based on whether things are right or wrong, defined at one level by the rule of law and at another by social norms and expectations. Yet I don’t think that is the world we are living in now. Guiltinnocence is eroding as the worldview of Western culture, and one place where this is evident is in politics. In a guilt-innocence culture, it ought to matter a great deal when politicians tell blatant lies. Political parties used to lose elections because they had reneged on election promises. But nobody expected Donald Trump to speak the truth in the recent general election. We see post-truth, and post-truth politics, all around us. I think Western cultures are moving from a guilt-innocence culture to a pain-pleasure culture. We make fundamental decisions based on what will bring us pleasure and avoid pain.
PAIN, SHAME, GUILT, FEAR When we look at these four worldview emotions in more detail, they are all emotions of the fall. Genesis 3 is the story of things falling apart and, as that happens, these emotions appear. God creates a beautiful, flawless world in Genesis 1 and 2. He creates man and woman in his image and makes them stewards of the world. He gives them dominion over every living thing – his delegated authority to rule in love. But in chapter 3, things fall apart. Instead of exercising dominion over the serpent, Eve listens to its crafty manipulation: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Of course, God didn’t say that. God said they could eat from any tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and 24
evil, “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”. To which the serpent replies, “You will not surely die”. So, Eve eats from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and gives some to Adam. And he eats, too. It is at this point that we see the emotions of pain, shame, guilt and fear emerge. As chapter 3 continues, God speaks words of judgement against the serpent, then against Eve, and finally against Adam. One outcome of God’s judgement is that they now live in a world of pain. In Genesis 3, our rebellion has various consequences – broken relationships with God, with each other and with creation. Then there is the spectrum of emotional consequences – pain, shame, guilt and fear. None of these existed in Genesis 1 and 2 and none of them exist in Revelation 21 and 22. While these emotions inform different worldviews, they are not exclusive. If you live in an honour-shame culture, you will still experience guilt, pain and fear. If you live in a fear-power culture, you will still experience shame, guilt and pain. Every human being experiences all these emotions. And every human culture also experiences all these emotions. All societies understand guilt-innocence, shame-honour, fearpower and pain-pleasure. But different societies will balance these emotions in different ways. And they will often preference one or two of them over the others. However, while sin creates guilt, shame, fear and pain, the one gospel addresses all of them. There is no such thing as an honourshame gospel, different to a guilt-innocence gospel. The mission world has talked a lot about honour and shame over the past 15 years. We sometimes hear that people living in honourshame contexts need a different gospel – an honour-shame gospel. But there is only one gospel. And the one gospel addresses shame, guilt, fear and pain. What people in honour-shame contexts need is to hear the one gospel explained in a way that preferences the honour-shame lens – the lens through which they see the world most clearly.
LEARNING WORLDVIEW MAPS So, let’s bring all this back to the idea of worldview maps. Imagine you are talking to a friend who is not Christian. You want to share the good news of Jesus. An important part of your witness is to listen before you speak to understand their worldview map. Who sits at the centre of their worldview map? Is it themselves? A group of people – perhaps nuclear family? Or extended family or the wider community? What emotions motivate their movement around the map? Are they trying to do the right thing? The honourable thing? The pleasurable thing? The powerful thing? Where is God on their map? Is he there at all? Are there other spiritual forces on their map? Compare their worldview map with your own. Look out for differences and similarities. And, after lots of listening, think about how the gospel both relates to and challenges their worldview. We are not trying to change the gospel to fit their worldview. The good news of Jesus will challenge, shape and change their worldview – just as it has challenged, shaped and changed yours. SC Dr David Williams is director of development and training for CMS Australia at St Andrew’s Hall in Melbourne. This is an edited version of a talk given at CMS Summer School last month. SouthernCross
When Bible study feels like a chore (or worse)
homas* sounds tired when I bring up the subject of
Bible study. There’s a long list of reasons why he has found his mid-week church group difficult. “You wouldn’t think that people still need help making conversation with each other,” he says with a sigh. He also finds the lack of commitment from other members frustrating, along with the hostility of members who are there. “It’s hard not to take rejection personally when people say they can’t make it because they’ve got work commitments, exams, or are just tired. They don’t realise that I also work and have kids, too.” When Katie* moved churches, she went from doing Bible studies with people who met weekly and socialised frequently, to a group that didn’t do the things she loved about her old Bible study. Socialising outside the group time was less frequent, and the Bible study met less often than her previous one. This lack of connection only intensified the awkward moments. “There were a few incidents where I felt very judged for asking questions I had about what the Bible was saying,” Katie says. “I questioned God’s reaction to the Israelites, and one member raised her voice and demanded I stop questioning God. It made SouthernCross
discussion very uncomfortable and made me feel like I needed to pretend to agree with everything.” While many people have wonderful experiences of growth groups, perhaps you can relate to Thomas’ or Katie’s experiences of Bible study. Sometimes meeting with one another in a community is challenging and can feel like a chore.
WHY GROUPS DON’T FUNCTION AS THEY SHOULD “Well done for persevering,” says the Rev Archie Poulos, head of the Department of Ministry at Moore College. “The way our world tends to function is, if something doesn’t go the way I want, I’m out of there straight away. The fact that people are disheartened means they’re pushing on. That’s the work of the Spirit of God.” He observes many factors that feed into why groups don’t work well, including: • pragmatic factors such as the day, time and location; • attendees solely seeking their own growth rather than the growth of others; • unstable group attendance, with some groups having a 25
Not too busy for the Bible
different make-up of people every week and other members hardly attending; • different levels of Christian maturity and understanding; • relational dynamics and disharmony; • theological differences and tensions. “Most dysfunctional groups have a majority of people who are partly engaged,” Mr Poulos says. “When you turn up and have people with arms folded, it says, ‘I’m distant from you’. Or, someone may inadvertently say something that you take really personally.”
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND? Mr Poulos believes all Bible studies have a life cycle, and draws his observations from research into group development. The Bruce Tuckman team development model outlines four key stages of a group life cycle: forming, norming, storming and performing. It’s important to recognise which stage your group is in and contribute appropriately. “One thing to help with Bible study is to make sure we are praying for the other person in our group right from the early days,” he says. “The group life cycle matters and you have a contribution to make towards that. What you’re doing is putting funds into the goodwill bag that will help you for the rest of the group’s life.” Be mindful of the positive influence you can have on the group. “As you say, ‘I pray for you on Friday mornings, how can I pray for you this week?’ that activates the prayer life in other people,” Mr Poulos says. “There’s often not much reason why you’re together, but the divine answer is that God has put this group together.” Keep reflecting on the blessing of gathering as God’s people. “It’s an incredible honour,” Mr Poulos says. “The challenge is not what I get out of church, but what I can contribute. [Gathering] is a divine blessing for me and others, and we have to be reminded of it as well.”
LEAVING IS NOT A RASH DECISION It’s important that, even if the group is tough, our exit should not be hasty. “If it’s tough for you, it’s tough for the whole group,” he says. “In the first instance you need to ask, what can I do to help the group? What do you do to help the leader? Keep praying for them, and let them know you’re praying for them. Ask them how you can help.” Sometimes, sadly, the relational dynamics of a group mean that it is appropriate to leave. “Romans 13 says, as far as possible, strive to live at peace with one another,” Mr Poulos says. “Sometimes there are issues that make it really hard. Sometimes there is the blessing of departure – either you or other people. “First of all, strive to change yourself and if that doesn’t work there are times that you move on. Don’t do this reflection on your own. It’s easy to justify ourselves and to put down another person. It’s always good to have somebody else who can help you with that, asking someone to check how you’re thinking and hold you accountable to thinking it through Christianly.” An important element, he says, is to recognise “that we are both Christian and creatures. And so God gathers us together around his word, and by the encouragement with each other around his word he grows us as Christians.” SC *not their real names 26
f I could go back and have a conversation with
20-year-old me, one area of life I’d love to sort out is my daily Bible reading. Not just about cultivating good disciplines, but more fundamentally about what’s at the very heart of what I’m doing when I read. Personal reading of the Bible ought to be the bread and butter, if you like, of the Christian life. We all know of stories in ages past where Christians would give over a significant amount of time for daily reading, and the idea of “No Bible, no breakfast” is still key for many people. At the beginning of the year my social media feed was peppered with suggestions about Bible reading plans for the coming 12 months. There are people out there who are clearly very organised and have created their own plans. Others offered links to programs developed by various organisations. All are extremely helpful in encouraging us to keep reading our bibles. Yet it seems that for many (is it possible to say the majority?) of us, those who love God and his word, there is a genuine struggle to “fit in” daily Bible reading. Rather than give another top 10 reasons or ways to read your Bible, I thought it would be good to visit the fundamental reasons why we read the Bible. It’s not rocket science! We have God’s very words written for us for our instruction, help, encouragement and understanding. They teach and remind us of God’s character and nature (Ex 34; Ps 86:15). The Bible declares God’s love for us and teaches us that without Christ we are God’s enemies, and reconciliation with God only comes through trusting in his death for us (Rom 5:10; 1 Cor 15). The Bible instructs and teaches us about living as God’s people, as well as rebuking us (Ps 1; Matt 7:24-28; Ps 119:9-16, SouthernCross
105; 2 Tim 3:16; Heb 4:12-13). We read the Bible because only then can we truly make sense of ourselves and the world. Jesus tells us that he is “the way, the truth and life” (Is 45:19; John 14:6; John 15:26). We read the Bible because it is God’s very word to us (1 Thess 2:13) There’s more to say, of course, but these are some of the fundamentals of why we read the Bible. Recently I’ve been doing some reading about Susannah Spurgeon, and I stumbled across a little article about the approach she and her husband, Charles Spurgeon, had to Bible reading and prayer. This stood out for me: Their approach was simple – they believed the Bible to be true, trustworthy, and sufficient because of the infallibility of God Himself. And, trusting in the reliability of the Bible, they read it faithfully, confidently, and expectantly. Everything that they needed to know about God and about how to love one another was contained in the Bible. Charles imagined that if the Bible merely contained the words of man, it should be discarded. However, he believed the Bible to be “God’s handwriting” and, therefore, authoritative. Susie said that it was “well to ponder every weighty sentence” of God’s “loving voice”. There are many voices keen to have my ear, but Susannah Spurgeon reminds us that the Bible offers us God’s loving voice and we should be ready to listen. I have several luxuries that ought to allow me to be diligent in daily reading. First, the flexibility in my timetable. Sometimes I commute to the city on the train; sometimes I drive. Some days I work at home. Other days I’m visiting women in their local church or at conferences. Whatever my day holds, it shouldn’t be difficult for me to find the 15 minutes or half hour for Bible and prayer. Second, I don’t have children who need my attention in the mornings or evenings. This brings a freedom in determining my SouthernCross
routine. Third, I have a supportive husband who encourages me to read God’s word – indeed, he prays for me in this. Yet despite these privileges and circumstances there are occasions when I genuinely struggle to be disciplined, joyful or even expectant as I sit down to read. You know your own reasons or struggles in prioritising Bible reading. Another factor for me, I think, is the increasing use of technology. I get lots of my information via social media or short articles. Reading more substantial things like books is reserved for holidays. I digest things via sound bites. The trap is allowing this to be the norm for Bible reading as well. With the Bible on my phone, I get the “verse of the day” or read the next chapter or section of the book I’m in, but I’m not getting the benefit of reading in context or reading more substantively. I read small chunks – which of course is better than nothing – but what I’m missing is that slow, deliberate engagement with God through his word. With all the disruption of 2020 it might be time to create new and profitable habits in 2021. If you haven’t yet organised your own reading for the year, why not take 10 minutes as you finish reading this to consider what and how you might read in the coming three months? If you have a plan, consider who you can invite to join you – keeping one another accountable. Think about some changes, even small ones, you can make to ensure you can capture that 15 or 30 minutes each day for a slow and quiet reading of God’s word. It really isn’t rocket science. SC
The Ven Kara Hartley is Archdeacon for Women in the Sydney Diocese. 27
Wedding minister’s new role at Newport
“Very excited”: Judy and Richard James (picture here on holiday) look forward to serving the people of Newport.
Following 11 years as senior wonderfully converted and all of Newport was among the parishes recent arrival, both he and Mrs assistant minister and “wedding evangelist” at St Thomas’, North Sydney, the Rev Richard James has become the rector of Newport. “Throughout the wedding ministry the goal was to be meeting non-Christians, sharing the gospel with them and praying that they would be converted,” he says. “Six hundred and 50 weddings later…” he laughs. “Most of the couples were in our home for a five-week marriage course and a six-week Christianity Explained course. A number were
them heard the gospel, but after 11 years I thought, ‘Should I keep doing weddings for the next eight years?’ “I don’t know if people realise it, but only 10 per cent of weddings happen in churches now – even a lot of Christians don’t get married in a church. There were a number of elements to it, but I thought it was time to finish up.” Mr James and his wife Judy had planned to finish at St Thomas’ in July last year, but when COVID occurred that put any other plans on hold. During lockdown
On December 13 the Rev James Delanty became rector of Leura, moving from an assistant minister’s position in the parish of Earlwood. After 17 years in the parish of West Lindfield – 16 of them as rector – the Rev Phillip Read became rector of Penshurst on December 17.
Crossing Church near Penrith The Rev Aleks Pinter has moved from 2015-2019, then served as from Bondi-Waverley (with an assistant minister to St John’s, eight-month stint as acting Beecroft until the end of 2020. rector of Malabar) to the Central Coast. He will become rector at The Rev Craig Hamilton became Wyong on February 10. rector of Pitt Town Anglican Church on January 17, after 13 After 28 years of ordained years as an assistant minister in ministry, the Rev Ray Goldman the parish of Glenmore Park and will retire from the parish of Mulgoa. Huskisson on February 14.
On January 11, the Rev Peter Wood became rector of the parish of Kurrajong. He was the founding pastor of Ropes
The assistant minister at The Rev Ian Barnett will retire Moorebank since 2015, the Rev on February 19. He has been Stephen Gilmour, becomes rector the rector of Figtree Anglican of Sans Souci on February 10. Church since 2008.
he contacted, and eventually both the Jameses and the parish could see they were a good match. The couple began their ministry on December 8. “It just worked out wonderfully, so we’re very happy and they’re very happy,” Mr James says. He adds that, amid the visible wealth on the northern beaches, he is “very encouraged to find [in the parish] people who really love the Lord... I’m very excited – as is my wife. We really believe this is where God wants us to be.” Mr James says that, given their
James are seeking to get to know parishioners to see what is most needed at Newport. “Two things I’m particularly doing are visiting every member of the church in their home and hearing their story, plus doing the best to make Sunday as good as it can be. When I was younger, I wouldn’t have done those visits, but now I think, ‘Why on earth would I not go and see the people I’m called by God to minister to, and just expect that they should turn up on Sunday? We’ve had some great times!”
VACANT PARISHES List of parishes and provisional parishes, vacant or becoming vacant, as at January 25, 2021: • Albion Park • Cabramatta* • Cherrybrook • Cronulla • Eagle Vale • Figtree • Granville • Greenacre* • Gymea • Harbour Church • Huskisson • Katoomba • Keiraville • Kellyville
• Menangle • Minto • Mosman, St Clement’s • Paddington • Peakhurst/ Mortdale • Pymble • Rosemeadow* • Ryde • Toongabbie • Wahroonga, St Paul’s • Wilberforce
*denotes provisional parishes or Archbishop’s appointments
Positions vacant, classifieds and book review.
What our past teaches us about youth ministry now Craig Roberts From a Ministry for Youth to a Ministry of Youth: Aspects of Protestant Youth Ministry in Sydney 1930-1959 by Ruth Lukabyo
hen I was a youth in the 1980s, I looked forward to
Tuesday nights when I could watch the next episode of The A-Team. The A-Team were four disavowed former members of a US Special Forces unit who fought injustice. Every episode included some derring-do and always finished with the team’s leader, John “Hannibal” Smith, saying, “I love it when a plan comes together”. Reading Dr Ruth Lukabyo’s 2020 monograph, From a Ministry for Youth to a Ministry of Youth: Aspects of Protestant Youth Ministry in Sydney 1930–1959, Hannibal’s catchphrase rang in my ears. That’s because the research helps fill a missing piece in Australian church history and draws conclusions about effective youth ministry. It is first and foremost a scholarly work not aimed at popular culture, but it does teach us from history how we might most fruitfully engage with popular culture to reach the next generation with the gospel. This is exciting for those invested in youth and children’s ministry – which should be all of us. The book maps the contours of Christian youth ministry in Sydney over the past century and, in doing so, provides pastors,
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parents and church leaders with historical proof that a principled approach to youth ministry is key to a successful ministry to young people. Lukabyo considers “success” in terms of numerical growth of young people involved in a resilient ministry that has an impact on the wider church. In other words, a ministry that raises up and replenishes its leaders and positively contributes to local churches. She shows how the beginning of the 20th century saw a move within liberalism from emphasising individual salvation to championing the social ramifications of faith. From the 1930s, as liberalism began to recede within Sydney’s churches and conservative evangelicalism gained ascendency, the focus of youth ministry changed from one of psychological improvement – advancing a new social order and an emphasis on the nurture of those youth who attended – to outreach-focused witness. Lukabyo observes four distinct characteristics in this effective witness: 1 peer ministry;
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2 youth leadership; 3 conservative, evangelical theology; and 4 empowering young people to share their faith with other
youth. T.C. Hammond, while principal of Moore College, wrote in 1940: The fundamentals of the Christian faith have not been taught with sufficient care for years. As a result, the youth of our day are often ill-instructed. We have too many purveyors of a cheap gospel which makes its appeal solely to the emotions and does not supply a solid background of Bible fact on which the awakened soul may confidently rest. Lukabyo’s study closes with the 1959 Billy Graham Crusade, noting that some 60 per cent of those who made decisions for Christ were young people, most of them already involved in a local church. The 1959 crusade is viewed as the high watermark of conservative evangelicalism in Australia, which stood on the shoulders of 30 years of effective youth ministries in local churches. Looking back on those ministries – in churches, schools, universities, and parachurch organisations – over the preceding century, Lukabyo sets out some key markers for effectiveness in the ministry model of the 1930s and 1940s: 1 youth ownership and empowerment; 2 a “bottom-up” leadership model; 3 support from key people in church leadership (rectors, parish councils, bishops); 4 engagement with schools and local communities. We see that there is no single right model of youth ministry. However, principles clearly emerge from Lukabyo’s historical study, the social sciences and from Scripture that all point in a fruitful direction. As former Archbishop Peter Jensen observed when he launched the book, we are compelled toward both faithfulness
and freedom: faithfulness in evangelical ministry and freedom in finding new ways to implement theologically driven principles. In short, Lukabyo finds effective youth ministries are those that respect the agency of young people. They are not “Christians in waiting” but individuals loved by God and capable of responding now to the gospel of grace, becoming mature, lifelong, disciplemaking disciples of Christ. An effective youth ministry looks to nurture these young people into Christian leadership with the support of key church leaders, and has strong links to schools through SRE and lunchtime fellowship groups. The importance of relational discipleship is something Anglican Youthworks has been quietly championing for 20 years now. A recent Youthworks survey of Sydney churches found those that adopted a principled approach to their youth and children’s ministry saw the greatest growth through the volatility, uncertainty and complexity of 2020. Churches with a commitment to continuing relational discipleship grew as they found creative ways to video conference, equip parents and engage young people along a pathway of Christian discipleship toward maturity in Christ, despite restrictions. This contemporary proof of principles being the key to an effective youth ministry is underscored by the historical proof uncovered by Lukabyo in her research. It’s why we can expect that an effective youth and children’s ministry will underpin a thriving, flourishing, growing church. It’s this synergy that makes me want to say, “I love it when a plan comes together!”. SC The Rev Canon Craig Roberts is CEO of Youthworks.
ONLINE ON CAMPUS Youthworks College offers both the Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Theology or Ministry. Study at our Newtown campus or in an online classroom with an experienced tutor. (02) 8093 3400 firstname.lastname@example.org youthworkscollege.edu.au
Youthworks College is an affiliate of the Australian College of Theology, CRICOS Code 02650E.
CHRISTIAN BOOKS TO SHAPE YOUR 2021 Hannah Thiem Living in a content-saturated society, we have seemingly unlimited options in terms of what we read, listen to and watch. There’s always something new and, usually, there’s an algorithm ready to recommend it. Why not take a moment as the year starts and consider what content would be helpful for your Christian walk this year? Rather than consume what’s directly in front of us, together let’s choose to be equipped, encouraged, challenged and reminded of the love of Jesus. We’ve compiled a list of books designed to help you stop, reflect and make 2021 the best year yet for your relationship with God. We’ve included recommendations for books that will help grow your faith, whatever you’re looking for. BE EQUIPPED TO SHARE THE GOSPEL
THE INTERSECTION BETWEEN CHRISTIANITY AND CULTURE One of the casualties of the pandemic for many of us was that evangelism slid off the list of priorities. Rather than focusing on who we could invite to a Christmas service, we might have been worrying instead whether that service would be able to go ahead.
If you’re looking to get your zeal for sharing the gospel back (or discover it in the first place!), we recommend Sam Chan’s How To Talk About Jesus (Without Being THAT Guy). Short and funny, Sam brings an awareness of our current context and urban loneliness, demonstrating again and again how the gospel is good news for Australia. LOOKING TO GROW THE FAITH OF YOUR KIDS? The beautiful picture book Wherever You Go, I Want You to Know by Melissa B. Kruger is a prayer from a parent to child that whatever they do in life (even if they go skydiving!), their deepest hope is that their child will love Jesus. Quirky and fun, Kruger’s book provides an opportunity to discuss with our kids what following Jesus might look like at different life stages. Sarah Cameron from the EQUIP team says the book is a firm favourite among her kids and helps her reflect and refocus her priorities for them, too. HELP TO SEE LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS Ruth Baker’s Are We There Yet? was written to encourage those feeling lost or stagnant in their journey of faith. In her review on our website, Verity Stead shared that this book is perfect for anyone experiencing feelings of frustration or inadequacy in their faith, providing understanding and a way forward. “It was incredibly helpful for my own faith... [It] enabled me to critically reflect on the influences that negatively affect me”.
Stephen McAlpine’s Being The Bad Guys – How to Live for Jesus in a World That Says You Shouldn’t recognises the changing position of the Church in society, and how this will affect Christianity going forward. McAlpine explores key points of tension between secular society and the Bible, and shares strategies to hold onto and share the truth. Scheduled for release this month, the book is full of hope and opportunities to continue to be the light in a society that seems to be rejecting it. THE POWER OF FAITH IN LIGHT OF SEXUAL ABUSE Rachael Denhollander’s powerful memoir What Is a Girl Worth? explores her experiences once she decided to expose the sexual abuse by US sports physician Larry Nassar. The book is challenging, but showcases the power of God working through Denhollander, allowing her heart to forgive. Her faith is interwoven right throughout the book, which highlights institutional abuse. This is my favourite book for the year (I know it’s a little early to be calling that!) and I cried reading her prayer for those complicit in the abuse. STILL REELING FROM THE IMPACT OF THE PANDEMIC? Where is God in a Coronavirus World? by John Lennox is a simple, easy-to-read defence of the Christian understanding of God in the face of what Lennox calls “a perplexing and unsettling time” when “most of our old certainties have gone”. In his review on our website, Bishop Robert Forsyth said the book points clearly to Jesus, “reminding us of the resurrection and guarantee of welcome and justice.”
Praise God from whom all singing flows Judy Adamson Voices of Fire Streaming on Netflix
have often wondered, watching episodes of The Voice
(and, in the past, Australian Idol), what it would be like to have a musical reality TV series where faith underpins everything that happens. This is the idea behind Voices of Fire. The six-part Netflix series follows the efforts of Bishop Ezekiel Williams, of Faith World Ministries in the US, to fulfil a long-held dream of creating “the world’s most diverse and inspirational choir”. Jesus wants his people to be one body of believers, he reasons, so it makes sense to build a choir that is a true melting pot of races and backgrounds – not just to sing God’s praises as one, but to potentially draw a wider range of people to Christ. The word goes out, and 3000 people apply to be part of his choir. Three thousand! And most of them are from the area surrounding his church in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Can there possibly be that many good singers from such a small area? Remarkably, there can. Bishop Williams and those helping him with the project – a local gospel legend, a choir master and a music director – invite 300 of the applicants to three days of auditions. After day one, the bishop muses, they already have “50 phenomenal singers” for a planned choir of 75 people, so he enlists the help of his famous nephew, singer-songwriter and record producer Pharrell Williams. Pharrell advises him that what he’s looking for are “unicorns” – that is, men and women with the kind of vocal gifting you don’t see every day. Yet he, too, is blown away by the level of voice and faith commitment that keeps walking through the door. Singer after singer speaks of the voice they have as a gift from
God, and of surviving physical, mental, relational and life hardships by the grace of God. Says one: “Many of us may be damaged goods but... God has a purpose for our lives”. This is a joy to hear and to watch, as they sing songs of faith and thankfulness in which every word has meaning – so much so that some are brought to tears by it. We don’t really see the ethnic diversity Bishop Williams hopes for at the outset. The vast majority of people auditioning are African American (perhaps that’s the dominant people group closest to the church?) and, for those who aren’t, many find producing the desired gospel “sound” a real challenge. Having said that, Bishop Williams tells them that “Jesus is equal opportunity... all he’s interested in is your heart”. And those who are selected for the choir, and pour everything of themselves into the process, certainly reap the rewards. Full-on gospel singing isn’t usually my thing, as it often looks more like performance than worship. In Voices of Fire that does appear the case at times but, then again, it’s also a very different kind of worship from what I’ve experienced for most of my life. As we meet the singers and watch them go through the process of rehearsal and preparation for the choir’s debut performance, it’s clear their worship comes from a place of deep faith and trust. You may not always agree with how they express that faith – or with how Bishop Williams and his team express theirs – but amid the almost constant secular diet now available on our screens, it’s uplifting to watch a series in which the desire to praise God is unashamedly central. SC