Saturday, October 31, 2009

Who would I want as the next Anglican Archbishop of Sydney

When no one reads your blog, you feel a certain freedom to ask questions that you might otherwise keep to yourself in polite company. Via a couple of biographies, I've been exploring the history of the Sydney Diocese recently and at the same time sitting in Synod. I hear Peter Jensen's masterful presidential address (without being happy about all its content) and observed his excellent skills as a chairman. I am thankful to God that he is our archbishop. But I believe he will retire in 2013, which really isn't all that far away.

Who comes next?

My ideal archbishop would be:

  1. Reformed and evangelical in his theology
  2. An able theological thinker, evangelist and preacher
  3. Experienced in managing something large and nebulous involving strong headed clergy
  4. Extensively experienced in parish ministry
  5. Someone with a proven church planting track record
  6. Capable of being trained to deal effectively with the media.

Have we got one of them somewhere? You'd probably find all those bases covered if you put together all our existing bishops, but I don't think Archbishop of Sydney is normally a role you job share!

There's a strong potential candidate at Moore College (and recent developments at the college mean it would not be 'left in the lurch' if he was elected) but synod old timers with long memories might perhaps present something of an obstacle. And synod might be reluctant to have two MTC principals in a row.

I wonder if this might be a unique opportunity to do something I wouldn't normally contemplate.

What about going outside?

Is it possible that someone like Richard Coekin at the Co-Mission Initiative or Willian Taylor at St Helen's in London might fit the bill? OK they're Poms, but God even loves Poms, that's how wide the love of Christ is. And really, they are Sydney Anglican in everything except geography. They seem to do well on every point on my list I think.

Now I just have to persuade the ACL powers that be. Which could be a problem, because it might require me to actually pay my membership renewal this year!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

You don't turn 100 every day

What do you get when you mix helium, goats, cake and the Bible? You get the 100th birthday of the Anglican Parish of Pennant Hills & Thornleigh (now know as St Mark’s Pennant Hills).

We’ve used the anniversary as a major outreach in our community and ‘massaged’ the date to fit in the period of the Jesus All About Life campaign. (Did you know that if you google ‘Jesus has answers’ – which is the tagline in the JAAL campaign – the second result is!).

We’ve knocked on doors every Sat and Sun afternoon for the last 6 weeks offering ‘a reverse gift for our birthday’ – a copy of the Essential Jesus gospel of Luke produced as part of Connect09.

We organised a petting zoo and jumping castle to be set up out the front of church after our 10am service and put on a BBQ, Birthday cake and helium balloons. We prayed like crazy it wouldn’t rain.

I spoke on Colossians 1:1 – 6, emphasising that God’s purpose for every human being was faith in Christ, love for the saints and the hope that is stored up in heaven.

How did it go?

Well we normally get about 60 adults now days at 10am. This morning there were over 100. Some of them had come because of the visitation program and some had been invited by friends and family. One guest told me that she really wants to connect with church and another indicated that she wanted to do our Christianity Explained course starting next week. Another person has asked to talk to a pastor about what it means to be a Christian. Three of the non-Christian husbands that I regularly pray were there and heard the gospel and were challenged to respond to it with faith, love and hope.

Would you believe light rain started just as the service finished, but it didn’t slow the kids down and they loved the animals and the jumping castle.

God is good.


Friday, October 16, 2009

It's nice when they say what the Bible says

At the beginning of chapter 3 of his church planting manual, Tim Keller has a section on 'Church Planter Leadership Qualities' where he says

The single most important thing a leader needs in order to lead is holy, loving,
Christ-like character.
We've been working through the New Testament book of 1 Timothy at church recently and this has been the dominant theme for me as a leader in Christ's church.

It's a humbling theme, because at the end of the day that character comes only by the work of God as I spend time with him and grow in my knowledge of him and my trust in him. There are no short cuts to character. There is no 'purpose driven character' course that I can implement to fast track it.

And I can't compensate for immaturity of character with emotive preaching and flashy leadership. Godly preaching and godly leadership arise out of godly character.

I'm glad God is big.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

How come?

In the last few weeks I have, for various reasons, sent emails to several Anglican rectors in Sydney.

Not one of them has replied to my email, even to acknowledge it.

I hope this is because I'm also a rector and as a matter of prioritisation they've put my email to one side because they're too busy responding to the emails of thousands of unbelievers interested in investigating the claims of Jesus or beginning the joyous journey of following him.

But I have my doubts.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

The shame

And yes, reflecting on the stuff in my previous post I was irresistibly drawn to Google my own name.

The shame, the shame.


The things some people bring to your attention.

I can't help wondering what the apostle who wrote chapter 1 of 1 Corintians would make of websites like this.

Or maybe I'm just jealous that there isn't one about me.

Or maybe I'm just disorientated by the fact that my little blog that no one reads gets quoted (along with Justin Moffatt's, which presumably all thinking people read).


Thursday, October 1, 2009

I’m not sure I buy the whole ‘theology of city’ thing

As I’ve got back into Keller’s church planting manual, I’ve been reminded of just how big a deal he makes about ‘the city’ (not just his beloved NY but ‘the city’ as a concept). And I’m not sure I buy it.

Some of the significance he attaches to it is for pragmatic reasons; he highlighting Paul’s strategy for reaching the empire via its urban centres and that’s all good, sensible stuff. He highlights the globally strategic position occupied by his city NY and it’s barrenness with regards to the gospel. Sure.

But he also argues that cities (by which he seems to mean inner cities not suburbs) are important because that is where the cultural elites live. That might be true of his city NY, but is it true of my city Sydney? Do the academics and business leaders and politicians and artists and intellectuals live in the inner city in Sydney? I would have thought you were more likely to find them in the inner west or the leafy eastern suburbs or the north shore or near a beach somewhere else. Do we count those places as ‘the city’? Are Newtown and Balmain ‘the city’? It is not clear to me that Sydney works or is set up the same way NY is. I don’t think, as Keller suggests of NY, that new migrants concentrate in the inner city of Sydney (although overseas students might). They’re more likely to end up in the south western suburbs. Is an inner city church really the strategic place to reach out to the elites and 'culture shapers' in the context of Sydney?

He also speaks of the city as ‘the place of spiritual searching and temple building’ and asserts that ‘the city’s intensity makes people religious seekers’. I’m not sure that we have that intensity in Sydney; it certainly doesn’t resonate with my experience. Don’t we associate rural places like Byron Bay and Nimbin with spiritual seeking in our part of the world?

And I’m not sure the theological significance of the great city that Revelation speaks of in terms so vivid it sometimes makes me ache for it, spills over in a more generic way imbuing earthly cities with the theological significance that Keller seems to attach to them.

I guess, in the light of Keller’s objective to focus on the opinion makers and culture shapers, it is not obvious to me that St Andrew’s Cathedral is more strategically located than somewhere like St Mark’s Darling Point, St Stephen’s at Newtown or St Whatever’s at Manly.

And clearly none of them are as strategically located as St Mark’s Pennant Hills!