Stylish same-sex campaign glosses over real issues

Excellent analysis of the marriage debate by Archbishop Jensen. We need more courageous voices like this!

We are in the midst of a sustained and brilliantly orchestrated campaign to radically alter the marriage laws of this country to allow same-sex marriage.

Three slogans carry the message: ”marriage equality”, ”marriage won’t change”, ”it’s inevitable”. Of course, the difficulty with slogans is that they are not arguments and, so, are hard to refute, except by slogans in return.

via Stylish same-sex campaign glosses over real issues.

VirtueOnline – News – Exclusives – 2011 – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

A good summary of some of the issues facing the persecution of faithful Anglicans by some apostate denominational leaders:

Litigation remained the hallmark issue in 2011 for the Episcopal Church. Four dioceses found themselves in a continuing broad battle for parishes and properties in the dioceses of Pittsburgh, San Joaquin, Ft. Worth and Quincy. Individual property battles continued to rage from Southern California to Connecticut. Seven Virginia churches valued at nearly $40 million, returned to the Fairfax County Circuit Court in 2011 after being remanded by the Virginia Supreme Court. The battle brought by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia against CANA, the US branch of the Anglican Province of Nigeria, will go well into the New Year.

via VirtueOnline – News – Exclusives – 2011 – THE YEAR IN REVIEW.

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway: Twenty-First Century Excommunication – WSJ.com

This is a very sad event from last year and is a salutary warning:

When the Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, N.Y., left the Episcopal Church over disagreements about what the Bible says about sexuality, the congregation offered to pay for the building in which it worshiped. In return the Episcopal Church sued to seize the building, then sold it for a fraction of the price to someone who turned it into a mosque.

via Mollie Ziegler Hemingway: Twenty-First Century Excommunication – WSJ.com.

Smothered by emasculated language…

Nothing new under the sun.

‘Young people in our country are smothered by emasculated language, which lays waste all thought and feeling; by the time-wasting frivolities of television; by the hullabaloo of the cinema. (And by sport. And by political indoctrination.)’, Aleksandr Solzhenetsyn, “The Oak and the Calf – A Memoir”, p247.

Media Release from Ridley Melbourne Board – Peter Adam Retirement

From the Ridley web site. Peter has done an outstanding job at Ridley and as a student I have seen first hand the wonderful impact he has had.

Media Release from the Ridley Melbourne Board

Canon Dr Peter Adam will resign as Principal of Ridley Melbourne at the end of study and long service leave in January 2012.

In announcing his decision, Board Chair, Claire Rogers, reflected on Dr Adam’s service to Ridley: “Peter has exercised significant biblical and theological leadership across Australia and internationally.  His distinguished service of the College over several decades includes Board Member, Adjunct Lecturer and most recently as Principal.”

“While tirelessly teaching, preaching, mentoring and writing, for a decade of students, he has also been instrumental in helping Ridley achieve financial stability, a skilful leadership team, strategic focus and an academic faculty of great strength”, Ms Rogers said.  “We acknowledge that this hasn’t been an easy decision for Peter, one that has been underpinned by much prayer, consultation and reflection.”

Dr Adam, reflecting on his time at Ridley, said “I thank God for the great privilege of serving as Principal of Ridley over the last ten years.  It has been a great pleasure to work with faculty, staff, students, supporters, and the Board, to grow and develop this vital and strategic ministry. I pray that God will provide for Ridley, and continue his rich blessing on the training of men and women for gospel ministry throughout the world.”

via Ridley Melbourne, Theological College –.

Request: Help for the church in Broome : Anglican Church League, Sydney, Australia

This is a great cause – there is a great gospel work happening in Broome and a great gospel work that needs to be done.

Bishop of North West Australia, David Mulready, is urgently seeking help for the church in Broome. Opportunities abound, but finance is lacking –

“We urgently need generous partners who might catch the vision to have a significant and specialist Indigenous ministry in Broome.”

Read all the details in this PDF file.

via Request: Help for the church in Broome : Anglican Church League, Sydney, Australia.

A Blacker Shade of Grey – Mark Durie

Thanks Mark for your courage and wisdom. I pray for God’s blessing on your ministry.

Last Saturday I had prepared a motion to bring before the Anglican Synod of the Diocese of Melbourne. Unfortunately it was not possible to present the motion.  Here is the motion, and an edited version of the speech which I had prepared to present.

via St Mary’s Vicar’s Blog.

The blog has more posts with stats on late term abortions and interactions with opposition.

Reflections on the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne Synod 2010

A few short thoughts on this years Synod.

The Charge/Vision was a positive and needed challenge to increase the health of the local churches. I pray God’s blessing on the outcome. There look to be some good opportunities to review property assets and re-use them strategically in different places.

The failure to even debate the abortion motion was very sad. Even The Age had already reported on the significance of the tabled motion. See also the convicting commentary by David Ould.

The increase of late term abortions as a result of state government legislation two years ago is horrific. The general number of abortions is horrific. The failure of Melbourne Anglicans to demonstrate biblically informed conviction on this matter is horrific. We have condoned sin and the cost has been bloody indeed.

Why is it that the diocese can get manage a pro-life motion regarding the end of life but not the start of life?  Synod has forfeited any right to speak for the marginilised and the oppressed.

I was encouraged that some from my church had been to the “March for the Babies” (also on last Saturday) – and I remember two years ago a large group from Holy Trinity Doncaster participated. Amongst Bible-believing ultrasound-viewing Christians there is little confusion.

There were so many great things that did happen at the synod, unfortunately this lament overshadows them all.

One small theological reflection – it seemed strange hearing Synod referring to as “the church” and then the local church referred as “the parish”. This seems to overemphasise the Synod. The NT and also Article 19 would ground the church in the local congregation. Let’s refer to Synod as Synod and refer to the local congregation as Church. This is not congregationalism, but merely putting things where the Anglican articles put it.

XIX. Of the Church.
The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.

Mission to Melbourne: Casey Growth Corridor

Berwick Anglican Church is located in the heart of the Casey growth corridor.

Friends will know that this area is significant to me, as my first curacy (Anglican assistant minister’s position) was in Cranbourne which is also in the Casey growth corridor.

This south east part of outer Melbourne is one of the fastest growing areas in Australia.

The population of the shire is 247,000 people, but that is projected to grow to 380,000 over the next 25 years. That will make it bigger than our country’s capital city Canberra (assuming little growth there!).

Scripture Alone: what it is and what it ain’t | Culture analysis | Sydneyanglicans.net

Scripture alone doesn’t deny the limited value of tradition as an authority. Very helpful article.

What does this mean for evangelical Anglicans (and other inheritors of the Reformation) today? Scripture is the final authority to which all Christian thinking must be subject. However, it’s either arrogant or simply naive to imagine we are the first readers of Scripture, or that we can or should read it without reference to that tradition. And if a reading of Scripture is proposed that breaks with the witness of the tradition of faithful Christian readers down the two millennia of its being read, we do well to hear alarm bells ringing.

via Scripture Alone: what it is and what it ain’t | Culture analysis | Sydneyanglicans.net.

Phillip Jensen talks to Mark Dever about long pastorates

Mikey Lynch blogged this great interview of Dever talking to Phillip Jensen about long pastorates. This is very timely as these are the exact issues I have been trying to raise on this blog recently.

PJ says it’s horses for courses, but also says that NCLS data shows the denominations with the longest pastorates are the ones with the greatest steady growth, and the ones with the shortest pastorates have more decline. To sustain a long ministry you need to be a person who is growing and developing as a leader. He also talks about his own 28 year pastorate at St Matthias. He generally advises avoiding the 7 year itch.

He talks about the typical growth, plateau, decline phases. He says of the third stage that the parish needs to be ‘reinvented’, so to speak, rather than hark back to the old growth phase. He also talks about the need to do more than just teach, also to implement the changes that should come as a result of teaching.

Mark Dever interviews Phillip Jensen – short version from Audio Advice on Vimeo.

Negatives of Long Pastorates

What are the downsides of pastors who stay in one place for 10, 15, 20 years?

These are the problems I’ve heard about, some I’ve seen, but most of them I disagree with:

  • the pastor may run out of spiritual insight or spiritual energy over the long haul
  • the church may stagnate and won’t change under the pastor who won’t change (‘we tried that n years ago, didn’t work’)
  • it makes it hard for the next pastor to follow in the footsteps of such a long ministry
  • it is unfair for people to be ‘stuck’ with one pastor for so long
  • people need a diversity of pastors to learn new or different things
  • the people are transient and will move around anyway
  • long ministry may tend to be more inward looking rather than evangelistic

Any others?

Ministry Transience: How Does Our Training Prepare Us?

A great article by Jodie McNeill on the problems of ‘uprootedness’ caused by Bible college placements at different parishes: Stolen generation of church planters.

Let me give you the theoretical Anglican Diocese of Melbourne scenario (in reality there is much more flexibility and diversity): Say you are a committed lay leader in your Anglican church for 10 years. You are encouraged to go to Bible college and join the ordination stream. You will then go to a different church every year for your four years of college as part of your field education training. You then graduate, get ordained, and do a two year curacy in one place, and then a two year curacy in another place. Then you are given a PiC (Priest in Charge position), in your fifth year after graduation/ordination (typically).

So by the time you are running your first parish, for the past 10 years you have been gone to 8 different parishes (incl. the current one). Imagine all the moves that your spouse and family have made in that time. Imagine all the committed ministry relationships which have been started and stopped suddenly this whole time. How does this prepare you for a long term pastorate? Surely this only feeds the culture of not putting down deep ministry roots?

Certainly this model does give you a good introduction to the diocese and exposure to a wide range of ministries, and helps you to build some good mentors and ministry networks. There are some real benefits. In fact one of the reasons I got ordained was because I wanted the benefits of this model.

In our own experience we have put the brakes on the system by doing longer student placements, and three year curacies instead of two. The diocese have been very supportive of my training and pastoral needs, year by year. We have deeply loved every parish we have been involved in and tried to give of ourselves sacrificially in every one of them. But at the end of the day, we feel very hungry to care for God’s people in one place for a long time.

Are we training for a church culture of ministry transience or ministry longevity?

Long Pastorates: Phillip Jensen on Ambition and Tenure

Though not exactly on the topic of the value of staying in one ministry a long time, the below quotes from Philip Jensen are relevant.

One bad reason for shorter pastorates is a sense of ministry careerism. The minister is jumping up the ladder, so the current pastorate is only a means to an end. This will always stifle bold faithful bible preaching:

“Any preacher who would ever wish to change the church must undergo one fundamental change of heart: he must destroy any desire or ambition for personal advancement or acceptance within congregation or denomination, especially that rationalized ambition ‘that when I come to power I will be able to change things for the better’. As long as a man desires to be a bishop or a moderator, he will not be a faithful preacher of the Word of God, or a preacher who will change the church from worse to better”

If long pastorates involving unashamed teaching of the Word of God are important, then they probably require some kind of security of office. See this quote on bold preaching and tenure:

“We are not answerable to one another, or to the congregation, or even to ourselves, but to God. It is why some form of tenure is so important to faithful preaching of the gospel. The preacher who is under the authority and financial control of the denomination or of the congregation will be severely hampered in preaching the predictably unexpected message of God. It is why preachers must be willing to risk all, even sacking and imprisonment, if they are going to be faithful to preaching the gospel.”

Quotes from Phillip Jensen, Preaching that Changes the Church, in “When God’s Voice is Heard: Essays on Preaching Presented to Dick Lucas”, edited by Green and Jackman, IVP, 1995, p143.

What better gospel witness is there than a minister resigned to boldly proclaim the word of God in one place, to one people, for a long time – come what may? Is this not a beautiful ideal?

Lifelong Pastorates

This is a wonderful lecture by Robert S. Rayburn on “Ministry By the Generation” (direct mp3 link)

He argues that historically Protestants have mostly had an expectation of lifelong or near lifelong pastorates.

I know many of us will immediately think of problems with this, and in my own denominational context it is extremely unlikely.

But what a wonderful vision for those who love the local church and want to shepherd across the generations in one place!

Ministry Longevity

This is a major issue for evangelical ministry, longevity in one place. Great article below:

The structure of our training effectively forces ministers into at least a decade of moving and moving again. This is wrong for people so committed to the importance of good relationships. There is a real danger that ministers disconnect from the very people they should be connecting with – in the church and the parish. Like military families, it ends up being easier to just have deep relationships with other military families that understand the strange lifestyle.

via Putting down ministry roots | Mission-minded church | Sydneyanglicans.net.

The Sola Panel | Sticking it to the man, or The case for church history, Part 2

Great great great article on Sola Panel.

Thus, stuffy and archaic as some would see it, the recitation of the Apostles’ Creed is potentially the most dangerously subversive act of cultural terrorism one might engage in on a Sunday. Far from being a hidebound exercise in dusty conservatism, it is potentially an act of absolute rebellion and revolution against the system, the man, the company, the establishment, the corporation or simply ‘them’—however one wishes to characterize those who hold the levers of cultural power.

via The Sola Panel | Sticking it to the man, or The case for church history, Part 2.

you need 4 conversions « Shane’s Blog

Shane hits the nail on the head here. I remember hearing Peter Adam talk about these four conversions also:

we want to see

1. conversion to Jesus as the Son of God (God’s grace)

2. conversion to the bible as the word of God (God’s government)

3. conversion to the church as the community of God (God’s gathering)

4. conversion to the world as the mission of God (God’s scattering)

via you need 4 conversions « Shane’s Blog.

Love and Marriage » Bill Muehlenberg’s CultureWatch

Big Billy M weighs in on the marriage vow dialogue:

So if you are seriously considering marriage, my first word of advice to you would be to abandon any foolish thoughts about using such self-destructive phrases as “as long as our love lasts”. That is a recipe for disaster, and will pretty well guarantee that your marriage will be very short-lived indeed.

via Love and Marriage » Bill Muehlenberg’s CultureWatch.