Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Article: How one church is reaching the most secular society

The Relevant magazine shares the story of how a congregation belonging to mainline denomination is going against the trend...and reaching a significant number of people in their secular context.   visit here to read the article

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Conference: Craft of preaching

Craft of preaching - 4th to 5th October 2016
Do you ever wonder what’s behind the scenes of some of the sermons you hear at big preaching conferences with famous preachers?  Have you always wanted a practical preaching conference where you can learn some new methods for constructing a sermon and honing your homiletical skills?
Three top teachers of preachers will preach a sermon and then tell you how they got there, with plenty of time for Q&A. 
Workshops will provide hands-on experience with practitioners dedicated to homiletical issues. 
Bring your specific examples and questions to ask. 
Foundational, collegial and encouraging, this conference is a unique opportunity to tend the craft of your preaching among peers old and new.

Speakers
Tom Long, Bandy Professor Emeritus of Preaching, Candler School of Theology
Anna Carter Florence, Peter Marshall Associate Professor of Preaching, Columbia Theological Seminary
Karoline Lewis, Associate Professor of Biblical Preaching and The Marbury E. Anderson Chair of Biblical Preaching, Luther Seminary (pre-conference class)
Jana Childers, Dean of the Seminary and Professor of Speech-Communication and Homiletics, San Francisco Theological Seminary

For more information visit https://www.luthersem.edu/celebration/wpp.aspx

Confirmation Program: Confirm not conform

Confirm not conform is a confirmation program that celebrates questions and choices.  It provides a safe place for people to explore the breadth of the Christian tradition, to ask questions and express their doubts, and to discover what they truly believe.

The Lutheran version of the program covers:
SESSION 1: INTRODUCTION TO CONFIRM NOT CONFORM
Introduces the premises of the Confirm not Conform program and establishes group expectations.
SESSION 2: WHERE DO YOU STAND: THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO WHOM
Explores where youth are starting from and what they currently believe.
SESSION 3: WHERE DO YOU STAND: MEET YOUR MENTOR
Establishes the mentor/youth relationship. Mentors attend this session.
SESSION 4: HERETICS R US
Discovers how heretics through the ages have shaped our faith today.
SESSION 5: SCRIPTURE: A MAD DASH THROUGH A GOOD BOOK
An overview of the Bible and how it is put together.
SESSION 6: TEACH US TO PRAY: THE LORD’S PRAYER
Closely examines several versions of the Lord’s Prayer, followed by a Prayer Lab where youth can
explore different ways to pray.
SESSION 7: TRADITION: THE NICENE CREED
Presents the history of the church up through the writing of the Nicene Creed. Youth are invited to
define the meanings of some basic concepts of faith.
SESSION 8: TRADITION: CHURCH HISTORY CONTINUED
Youth develop a creed through the Council of CnC. A brief presentation of the history of the
church through the 1700s.
SESSION 9: FAITH IN ACTION: PAIN TO POWER
Explores how God helps us transform the pain in our lives into the very power we need to
transform the world. Mentors attend this session.
SESSION 10: FAITH IN ACTION: HOW WE CAN HELP
Examines those things that can help others, those things that don’t, and why we help others at all.
SESSION 11: FAITH IN ACTION: THE ISSUE OF POWER
Focuses on the role that power plays in living out our call to be Christ’s body in the world.
SESSION 12: SCRIPTURE: THE BIBLE BY HEART
Youth learn to use a concordance to help them select a passage of Scripture to memorize. Mentors
attend this session.
SESSION 13: TRADITION: OUR NECK OF THE WOODS
An overview and exploration of the history and beliefs of the Lutheran Church.
SESSION 14: TEACH US TO PRAY: THE SACRAMENTS
Discusses the meaning of the sacraments in the Lutheran Church.
SESSION 15: TRADITION: THE CHURCH THROUGH THE YEAR
Explores the seasons of the church year and examines some of the materials used in worship.
© 2013 CnC
SESSION 16: TRADITION: THE PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS
Discusses how all who are baptized are ministers in the church, and how the church sometimes
sends mixed messages about that.
SESSION 17: WORLD COUNCIL OF RELIGIONS
Explores the basic tenets of other major world religions.
SESSION 18: WHERE DO YOU STAND: THE POWER TO CHOOSE
Revisits the statements of faith youth looked at in Session 2 and explores how they have changed
over the course of the program. Mentors attend this session.
SESSION 19: FAITH IN ACTION: MAY WE PRESENT
Helps youth design a presentation for the church council about their service project. This session
is held the week before the group meets with the church council.
SESSION 20: WHERE DO YOU STAND: WHERE DO YOU GO FROM HERE?
An evaluation of the program and brainstorming about youth’s ongoing ministry in the church and
the world.
For more infomation visit:  http://www.confirmnotconform.com/

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Artilce: Which comes first evangelism or apologetics?

Tony Payne in an article appearing on http://gotherefor.com/offer.php?intid=29407 asks Which comes first: apologetics or evangelism?

This might seem a strange question, because it is often not only hard to answer but seemingly unimportant. In a gospel conversation with a friend over coffee, apologetic-style questions and gospel proclamation are often all mixed together. Who can predict or determine which comes first, and why would it matter?

However, the principle of whether apologetics or evangelism comes first does matter, and will affect our practice and activities—especially those we plan in advance, but even those that happen on the run.

I want to suggest that evangelism should be regarded as prior to apologetics, both logically and in the emphasis of our outreach. I have a number of reasons for saying so, but here I want to focus on just one—the nature of the gospel we proclaim.

The gospel is essentially a piece of news. When we ‘evangelize’ we announce that certain momentous events have taken place in history, the meaning and significance of which radically change the state of affairs and require a response from every person.

Evangelism is rather like what Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies did in 1939 when he made the following announcement: “Fellow Australians, it is my melancholy duty to inform you officially, that in consequence of the persistence of Germany in her invasion of Poland, Great Britain has declared war upon her, and that, as a result, Australia is also at war”. Certain momentous events had taken place, the meaning of which meant that the situation for everyone in Australia had radically changed.

The gospel is like that. It’s the announcement that a man has died and risen from the dead, and that this means something now for our world—notably, that God has appointed this dead-and-risen Man (his own Son) as the Lord and Judge and Saviour of all, and that entry into his kingdom via repentance and the forgiveness of sins is now available to people from every nation in the world.

This is what we broadcast, and (like Menzies’s broadcast) it doesn’t need much introduction or preamble, nor very much effort to establish a common interest in the importance or relevance of the message. If this momentous news is true, then it quite obviously changes everything for every person in the world. We all now live in a world ruled by the man who rose from the dead.

Mind you, what was said by Menzies may well have generated questions from his listeners: Is Menzies telling us the truth? If Germany is still invading Poland, why is this prompting Great Britain to declare war? Should Australia be part of this war? And so on.

In much the same way, the news about Jesus will also generate questions: Is it possible or plausible that someone should rise from the dead? Who is the God who has crowned him as Lord and Judge and Saviour? Why is repentance and forgiveness necessary? What does this mean for me? And more, no doubt, besides.

We’ll find ourselves answering all sorts of questions about the announcement. We will do all we can to persuade people that the announcement is indeed true and faithful, that as a result it is hugely significant, and that a response is therefore imperative.

Some of these questions we may anticipate as we make the announcement and explain its meaning. But logically and conceptually and ideally in practice, the apologia (or defence) follows the announcement, and is shaped by the announcement.

If our message was not an announcement of news—if it was something else—then this may not be the case. If our message, for example, was a qualitative claim that Christianity as a religion is beneficial or satisfying, and thus worth believing and following, then a great deal more preparatory and ‘apologetic’ work (if that is the right word) would need to be done. We would need to establish what constituted “beneficial and satisfying” (in terms that resonated with our hearers); we would need to deal with any of Christianity’s beliefs that were radically inconsistent with the beliefs of our hearers (for example, regarding science or sexual ethics); we would need to defend the actual record of Christianity from attacks that it had not, in fact, been beneficial or satisfying; and so on.

The qualitative superiority or desirability of Christianity is something that we would need to argue towards—and (in my observation) an increasing amount of Christian outreach activity has this character.

By contrast, the gospel is something we argue from—that we proclaim as momentous news, and then defend and explain.

Here then is the question that this brief reflection raises: What would be different about our personal and corporate evangelistic activity if we prioritised the gospel announcement, and let apologetics follow along behind?

First published in Vine Journal #3 (April 2016).

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Tony Payne

Tony started Matthias Media back in 1988, and is now its CEO. In the intervening years he has raised a family of five (with his wife Alison), completed a theology degree at Moore Theological College, and written or co-written numerous books and ministry resources—including The Trellis and the Vine, Fatherhood, Guidance and the Voice of God, and The Course of Your Life. He is also the Director of the Centre for Christian Living at Moore College.

Book: Gift and Promise, the Augsburg Confession and the heart of Christian Theology

Gift and Promise shows that the theology of the Augsburg Confession is as much a gift to the world today as it was when first presented in 1530. Building on a book started by Ed Schroeder (three chapters are presented in the first part), nine of his students present the theology of the Augsburg Confession in language that makes it accessible to those without a scholarly background, including pastors, students, and lay people interested in Lutheran history and theology. Gift and Promise establishes the theological “hub” of the Augsburg Confession—what the Confession itself calls the “central teaching of the Christian faith” —in the doctrine of justification by faith alone. That hub is traced to its source in Luther’s theology of the cross. Each chapter presents how that central hub is articulated in the articles of faith that comprise the Ausgburg Confession. Lucid, powerful, and insightful, the expositions in this volume are written by expert theologians, historians, and scholars who aim to present the crucial and practical message of the Christian life in the Augsburg Confession for all.

Contents include:
1. Preach One Thing: The Wisdom of the Cross—Edward H. Schroeder
2. Necessitating Christ: The Clue to Handling the Scriptures—Edward H. Schroeder
3. Why the Cross Is at the Center—Edward H. Schroeder
4. The Trinity as Gospel—Arthur C. Repp
5. Sin—Kathryn A. Kleinhans
6. Church, Ministry, and the Main Thing—Marcus Felde
​7. The Promise of Baptism for the Church Today—Steve E. Albertin
8. Christology at the Table—Marcus C. Lohrmann
9. On the Other Hand: God's Care for the Creation and Its Dilemmas—Marie A. Failinger
10. The Ethics of Augsburg: Ethos under Law, Ethos under Grace, Objective Ethos—Michael Hoy
11. A Lutheran Confessional Exploration of Gospel Praxis—Steven C. Kuhl
12. Mission—Jukka Kääriäinen
Afterword—Catherine Lessmann