Monday 25 May 2015

Journal of Contemporary Ministry 1 (2015)

Thanks to Rob Bradshaw for the heads up on this one...

From Harvest Bible College in Australia comes the first volume of the Journal of Contemporary Ministry, which ‘will act as a place for reporting research and
discussing issues related to contemporary ministry, including related theological and
biblical questions’.

The table of contents is below, along with abstracts of the main articles.


About This Journal

Jon K. Newton

Peer-Reviewed Articles

Philip Hughes
The Multi-Dimensional Issue of Culture and Christian Ministry
The categories of the theology of culture developed by H. Richard Niebuhr in Christ and Culture can be applied to approaches to ministry. Empirical studies of the church in northern Thailand demonstrated that in terms of architecture, the forms of service and other observable forms, the churches were often ‘counter-cultural’. However, in other ways, such as in the themes of sermons and how they were developed, there was a strong Thai cultural flavour. Observations show that many mainstream Australian churches express themselves in ways which are counter to contemporary culture, for example in their architecture and forms of music, although their values and emphases often reflect contemporary culture. Charismatic churches more frequently use contemporary forms of architecture and music, but are counter-cultural, for example, in their teaching on many aspects of life, such as pre-marital sexuality. Heelas and Woodhead argue that charismatic churches are closer to contemporary culture in the ways they are open to the ‘subjectivity’ of formation of the self in contemporary Western societies, and suggest that may explain their greater appeal to many younger people than the appeal of the mainstream churches. There are several dimensions to ministry, including, for example, contextual, substantive and essential, which may all relate to culture in different ways. The challenge for theology is to work out in which dimensions ministry should be cultural, in which it should be ‘counter-cultural’, and in which it should be seeking to transform the culture.

Juhani Ensio Tuovinen
Cultural Differences between Australian Denominations on Coming to Faith
In 2001 and 2006 church attendees in many denominations across Australia were surveyed about various aspects of coming to faith. Many substantial similarities and differences were found, such as the importance of various factors in bringing them to faith and the ages at which they came to faith. The results indicate that there are important cultural differences in the way coming to faith is understood and acted on in the various denominations. In this paper the empirical evidence from two national surveys will be considered, highlighting what the various denominations can learn from each other.

Graeme Vincent Flett
Visual Technologies within a Consumerist Culture
The use of visual technology is now a familiar medium of communication in most churches across New Zealand and Australia. Its accessibility and effectiveness in branding has had wide appeal especially to those leading large churches, who are eager to promote their identity, enlarge the size of their existing congregation(s), and expand influence within a consumerist-culture of lifestyle choices. Large Pentecostal churches are some of the most adept at utilising and absorbing these visual technologies, and do so, to great effect. This creates a level of vulnerability within Pentecostalism which largely goes unnoticed – the hidden absorption of a consumptive way of being. The pragmatism of its leaders to be relevant within this culture creates its own blind-spot. This quest for relevance tends to negate the need for theological critique and a robust process by which to evaluate various visual technologies thus allowing elements of secularity the scope to shape and re-shape congregational identity.

In this paper I discuss to what extent these visual technologies (an aberration of contemporary culture) are shaping a Pentecostal ecclesia and the behavioural patterns of its participants. A brief explanation of how images work is offered. This is followed by a case study of East Auckland Elim Christian Centre (EE) and its use of visual technologies. (EE is one of the largest churches in Auckland). The paper argues that while EE is very effective in communicating its identity and vision, its absorption of visual advertising practices (and thus of popular culture) makes it susceptible to the secular forces that run counter to the gospel, and may even in time, undermine the integrity of its own vision.

Andrew A. Groza
With the Curiosity of an Oddity from a Bygone Era: the Gospel and Our Culture Network (GOCN) conversation and its contribution to mission to the West
The Western church inhabits a post-Christian context, which is just as significant a mission field as any from a non-Western background. Not realising this fact will cause the church to perpetuate paradigms of self-understandings and models of mission that do not fit this new reality, thereby draining the church’s relevance for today. The Gospel and Our Culture Network (GOCN) have been addressing this issue for decades and the literature they have produced gives theological grounding for mission to the West. An exploration of their major tenets can help focus and reenergise the church’s self-understanding and motivation for mission. The effects of one such church that has sought to apply one of the central motifs spurred by the GOCN conversation reveals the benefit of this deep theological reflection.

Pastoral Reflections

Jeremy Weetman
In Praise of Pastors

Student Articles

Asanga De Costa
What is the preferred/dominant leadership/authority style that can be used as a tool that is both culturally appropriate and biblically justifiable, to identify and develop emerging leadership of Sri Lankan Pentecostal/modern church?

Theses Listing

Book Reviews

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