Article 7 of 9 on the Diocesan Mission
Article 8 is Diocesan Mission Progress
The last of the four policies of the Diocesan mission is: –
To reform the life of the Diocese (including our culture, ordinances, customs, use of resources, and deployment of ministry) to encourage and enable the fulfilment of the fundamental aim.
While the point of this policy is reform, we need to remind ourselves first of the fundamental aim of the mission that this policy refers to.
The fundamental aim of the mission is: –
To multiply Bible-based Christian fellowships, congregations and churches which equip and nurture their members and expand themselves, both in the Diocese and ”in all the world“.
It is to fulfil this fundamental aim that the fourfold policy has been worked out. To we need to call upon God to change us especially in our compassion for the lost. We need to establish church planting churches and new fellowships to reach our society with the gospel. We need to multiply the number of both lay and ordained ministers of the gospel. All this will require the fourth of the policies, reforming the life the Diocese.
Some reforms will come as an automatic result of any success in the mission. If there were an increase in the number of churches the size and composition of our synod would have to be reconsidered. With something like 800 members already the Synod could not cope with a large number of new churches.
Other reforms may be necessary in order for us to reach new and more people. The Anglican culture is attractive and comfortable to those of us who are members, especially those of us who have grown up in it from childhood. However, if we are going to reach new people and different people, we will need to adapt to them. How we do that without losing the fundamental core of our heritage is not going to be an easy task. We will need to return to discover what is our faith at its core and how can we best express that to the city of Sydney.
Living inside a culture like Anglicanism it is very hard to see how much of our inheritance is non-essential to the gospel we preach and could be jettisoned without faithlessness. It is also hard to see what obstacles we place in the way of the lost to hear the gospel. It is like learning a language – I learnt English before kindergarten and find it hard to see what is so difficult for an adult to learn it. When I try to learn somebody else’s language I discover just how hard it is. When I look critically at English it is a language so full of irregularities and irrationalities it is a wonder that any of us can learn it. So too with Anglicanism. For the outsider it is very obscure and difficult to enter.
However, our concern is not ultimately with Anglicanism but with Christianity. If the core of Anglicanism is not Christianity, then we are in great trouble. But if the core of Anglicanism is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, then removing the accretions of history and making it accessible to 21st century Australians will not be faithless but will be the right expression of Anglicanism in our day.
It is important for the Cathedral of the Diocese to give the lead in this reforming work. What happens within the Cathedral gives tacit approval to the parishes for similar reforms. We must help our Diocese in making these reforms and not hinder it by holding to archaic and obscure expressions of the gospel, implying that evangelistically motivated reform is detrimental to Christian life.