Conference finds reasons to be Anglican

Russell Powell
June 2011
Conference website

A Sydney conference has been told the next generation of leaders needs to be given better reasons to become Anglican, rather than independent, church planters. More than 120 rectors, assistants, theological students and lay people have attended ‘Sydney and Anglican: A fresh look at mission’.

In an address entitled ‘Thank God I’m Anglican’, Moore College lecturer Dr Michael Jensen says he is met with blank stares when he talks to students about the advantages of being Anglican candidates. “We were always, and rightly, evangelical first and anglicans second.  But we’ve reached a point in our life together where people are saying why be anglican at all?” said Dr Jensen. “We have an inability to explain what the advantage of being an anglican might be other than the old adage ‘It’s a good boat to fish from’.” he said.

Anglican vision

The session was the first of several which explored such topics as ‘Leadership in an Anglican context’, ‘Lessons from Connect 09’ (the Sydney Anglicans outreach two years ago) and ‘Mission and Future Generations’.

Dr Jensen, one of the organisers, said there was no reason for evangelicals to ‘hide’ their denominational allegiance.

“Evangelical software needs some ecclesial hardware to run on. It’s not catholic to say this. Other protestants are saying exactly the same thing. Mark Dever and Tim Keller for example. They’re not embarrased by the denominational hardware that they cast their evangelical software in. Why are anglicans so embarrased about our ecclesial hardware.”

He called on church planters in particular, to consider their options carefully.

“Do it yourself ecclesiology is much harder than it looks, as church planters and independant church people will readily testifty and the results are rarely better than the things that we have already.”

Dr Jensen, who lectures in doctrine and church history, made a passionate plea to the next generation “My conviction is that not only is being evangelical the most authentic way of being anglican, we’ve been saying that for years, but also that being anglican is the best way of being evangelical in australia in the 21st century.”

Engagement urged

Others to address the one-day conference on Friday, 17th June, included Dr Greg Clarke, CEO of Bible Society Australia. Dr Clarke told the audience at St Phillip’s, York Street, that there was much to be gained through positive engagement with Sydney, especially through the media. Sydney people “want the gospel more than we want to give it” Dr Clarke said.

Four rectors addressed the conference.The Rector of Christ Church Inner West, Andrew Katay, urged Anglicans in leadership positions need to build leadership skills. Justin Moffatt, who leads St Phillip’s, York Street, where the conference was held, spoke about the challenge of mission in the city and John Dickson, rector of Roseville, outlined the congregational vision which has just been adopted by his North Shore church. Alan Lukabyo, of Dundas, interviewed social researcher Mark McCrindle about mission to Generation Y. Mr McCrindle said contrary to the ideas of many, those in Gen-Y are passionate to causes, but not to meetings and were a ‘low-compliance’ generation, when they couldn’t see a reason for compliance. He said their spirituality was not ‘compartmentalised’.

Andrew Nixon, the executive director of Connect09 and now head of the Year 13 program at Youthworks, outlined the lessons learned from the 2009 outreach and stressed the need for the Connect09 to be just the ‘first step’.

Sydney businessman Tim Sims, who has spent months on a research project on Sydney Anglicans and who has been addressing mission area meetings, agreed on the positive start provided by Connect09 but said there was a need for ministry leaders to ‘caucus about how to take it forward.’

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