A ministry manifesto


We had a talkfest here in Sydney recently called ‘The Festival of Dangerous Ideas’, at which participants could experience the frisson of discussing daring and explosive concepts with a soy latte in hand. Most of the ideas were in fact rather conventionally dangerous in a green-left sort of way, although gay activist Dan Savage received special marks for his dangerous idea that abortion should be made mandatory for 30 years to make a dent in the worldwide population problem. (The audience, having escaped the womb safely themselves, felt confident to clap.) (more…)

photo | Joe Lanman via flickr

A fresh agenda

Everyday Ministry

I have never migrated from one country to another. The farthest I have ever moved was 500 miles from our family farm to go to university in Sydney. It was more than 30 years ago, but I can still remember the swirling sense of excitement, anxiety and disorientation of those early months in the Big Smoke. New streets, new transport, new housemates, new church… new everything. (more…)

The vision splendid

Resource Talk

In 1988, when Matthias Media opened its door (there was only one) in a dingy office in Kingsford, where a stingy ray of sunlight struggled feebly down between the houses tall,1 our ambitions were pretty modest. We wanted to make a difference—to produce really first rate resources that would help people at the coal face of gospel ministry—but as we turned out the first copies of The Briefing on the Gestetner duplicator that lived in the little back room near the toilet, I can’t say that our vision reached very far afield. We hoped to produce some good material for the network of churches in our own local area and region, and anything beyond that would be a bonus. (more…)

Sydney’s next Archbishop

Thought, Sola Panel

I enjoyed Paul Levy’s rollicking post on Reformation21 the other day about the current election campaign among Sydney Anglicans for our next Archbishop—particularly the bit where he referred to The Briefing as one of the unfortunate gifts that Sydney has inflicted upon the world. For a mob of upstart colonials like us, having someone from the Mother Country even acknowledge our existence causes an involuntary touch of the forelock. But to admit that we have become the means of God’s grace to the Brits by being a thorn in their flesh—this is a compliment beyond telling. (I will ask our British distributors to inflict a life-time gift Briefing subscription upon Paul as a mark of appreciation.) (more…)

Matthew 5:17

Bible 101

Are Christians free from the law? This age-old question has often been answered in two wrong ways. The error on one side is often described as ‘legalism’—the idea that Christians are bound by some or even most of the Old Testament law. This might mean that Saturday should be our Sabbath (on which no work is done), or that circumcision or other Old-Testament-style rituals are necessary to salvation, or that certain foods or forms of clothing are out for Christians. (more…)

What separates us from the Bible?

Sola Panel, Sola Panel

I was suggesting last week that the Bible is not written from an alien, different world, but addresses the world we live in. But there is something that stands as a divide between us and the Bible; something that prevents us from grasping hold of the Scriptures and applying them rightly to our lives. (more…)

The alien world of the Bible

Sola Panel, Thought, Sola Panel

In a good quality book manuscript recently submitted to us at Matthias Media, I came across the following sentence: “The world of the Bible is not our world—its context, language, customs, knowledge, beliefs and social systems are far from those we experience in the twenty-first century. It is in many respects an alien world, where it is easy to become lost or confused.” (more…)

Chappo and the magic potion

Pastoral Ministry, Review

I’m not sure John Chapman would have approved of this article, on two counts. For a start, it speaks more positively of him than he would have been comfortable with; but more particularly, this article tries to do two things at once, a vice that Chappo decried in many a trainee preacher. (more…)

Playing the man and not the ball

Life, Thought, Sola Panel

I’ve been pondering the unwelcome reality of disagreements with friends.

My recent Briefing review of Michael Jensen’s book on Sydney Anglicanism* reflects a difference of opinion between Michael and me that we are still in the midst of discussing. I’m also in the process of writing something in response to John Dickson’s ebook on women and sermons, and this too will highlight disagreements with John about some important issues. (more…)

The secret of training

Everyday Ministry

What is so special about Wayne Bennett? Wayne Bennett, for the uninitiated, is one of the most successful rugby league coaches of all time. Before Bennett, St George were a talented collection of chronic under-achievers. With Bennett, they became a team, won the minor premiership in the first year, and won everything the year after that. (more…)

Doubting your doubts

Resource Talk

When did you last doubt the truth of Christianity?

Notice that I asked when, not if, because I’m assuming that this is one of the temptations that is common to man—the temptation to turn away from God, to doubt his goodness, his faithfulness, even his reality. (more…)

Has the personal evangelism ship sailed?

Everyday Ministry

When I first arrived in Sydney in 1981 as a keen young curly-haired Christian from country NSW, I knew nothing about expository preaching or house-parties or quiet times or the importance of things being ‘helpful’, or any of the other commonplaces of modern evangelicalism. (more…)