Thursday, 9 September 2010

New Horizons in Local Church Theology

St Peters Vertical LOGO

Sounds like an impressive book title. But no, I’m just working on next year’s preaching plans.



However, the new horizon bit is true. Our church has, in the space of the last couple of years, suddenly achieved a whole bunch of major goals that they’ve been working on for years. We now have a ‘rectory-standard dwelling’ next to the church (for us to live in, and it’s lovely), and come November, we’ll be made a ‘provisional parish’ (no longer a branch church of our neighbours up the road at Gerringong). 

In other words, in the living memory of some of our members, St Peter’s has grown from a half-dozen old ladies sitting up the back to a decent-sized church with a couple of congregations, and enough resources (people, time, money, property etc) to stand on our own two feet, metaphorically speaking.

It’s been a long time coming…and so now there’s a bit of ‘now what?’ floating around. All ambitions have been achieved. The last thing we want to do is sit back and cruise – this town is enough of a retirement village already!


So…it’s time to start looking for a new horizon – new things to aim at, under God. And I’m thinking that a decent chunk of a preaching program would be a good thing to get that ball rolling.

Here’s what I’ve come up with, thus far, in a very very draft sense. Comments welcome.


9 weeks, 3 lots of 3

Weeks 1-3: Church

1. Who is the church? Where is the church?

2. What is the church for? Why is the church?

3. When is the church? How is the church?

(OK, so the grammar is a bit stilted, but you can get some sense of it)

Weeks 4-6: Our Church

4. An evangelical church (not just as a theological persuasion – but saying, who we are is based on the first three weeks and how the gospel shapes a church). But I’ll use the Douglas-Bebbington quintilateral to describe things: activism, biblicism, crucicentrism, conversionism, all held together by a high view of God’s sovereignty

5. A church for the Heads – ie all of our local community. We’re the only mainline church in town, so I figure I can claim it without controversy. Church should work for people of all ages/stages etc.

6. A church for all – not just our own patch, but also seeking to be for the Shoalhaven region/mission area, to be part of our diocese/local evangelical scene, and to be part of our world (ie ‘mission’)

Weeks 7-9: Us

Less developed, but basically growing out of the D-BQ (TM) – activism implies serving each other/others; crucicentrism a willingness/expectation to suffer rather than look after our futures; conversionism a personal commitment to God and his people; biblicism a love of the Word and obedience of it; sovereignty a dependence on grace expressed in prayer and more.


Simone R. said...

Do you have bible passages in mind yet?

Anthony Douglas said...

Only for the first three - stuff like Exodus 19, Matthew 16, John 4, Ephesians 2/4, 1 Corinthians 4, John 17, Hebrews 12, Acts 2. There's a good chance you could figure which gets used where.

byron smith said...

What do you mean by "a high view of God's sovereignty" and how does it relate to evangelicalism? (or in other words, why did Bebbington leave it out?)

Anthony Douglas said...

Oops. I should also answer the last question. From memory, Bebbington defines evangelicalism historically, and arrives at his four points by observing characteristics found in evangelicalism across the centuries. The process is designed to find as many discrete points as possible that are common to all generations. So he's definitely not looking for a unifying factor per se - yes, his four need to hang together, but the whole point is to understand each of them as distinct. It's quite reasonable to leave out 'the glue' from his list of four.

But I like to keep it in, because it means that I can define evangelicalism as a theological position, not just a historical or sociological category.