Rev Edward Vaughan
Ed is currently the rector of St John's Anglican church in Darlinghurst. He is married with three children. Having studied at Moore College he ministered in parishes around Balmain and Rozelle for 13 years before moving to Ireland for a few years to be rector at an Anglican / Church of Island parish in south Dublin.
While Ed was stationed in Dublin he took his family on a holiday to Donegal. (County Donegal is in the far north of Ireland). There they found a big church, and wondered which denomination it belonged to. They walked all around it and could not find a sign anywhere. As they got to know the place, with its small local community, they realised that everyone knew which church it was, what the Mass times were and who the priest was. Here was a community that needed to discover its missionary imagination and to think beyond the locals to the visitors and holiday makers who didn't know such basic information. In times gone by they had no need for outreach because the whole community shared the same faith. Things are very different in Ireland now.
The Anglican parish of Darlinghurst is a very complex place. It is full of young secular people living alternative lifestyles, and has a large gay population. The most common response to Gospel overtures is indifference rather than hostility.
Before starting anything new in the parish, Ed led his parish through a discernment process and through times of waiting on God for direction. It took a whole year of listening not only to in the pews but also those not in the pews. Several prayer meetings were held where people were asked to bring their phones. After prayers they were sent off to various destinations around the parish. On the way they walked in silence and recorded their observations with the camera and sound recording functions of their phones. The idea was to listen to all the words being spoken, to what they heard, saw and smelt as they went around parts of the parish. Then they returned and reported what they had discovered.
From this they determined that God was calling them as a parish to be 'a people of freedom and a presence of blessing'. One initiative that emerged from this time of discernment was a café for street people manned by parish volunteers. The café provides a safe place for street people and others to come, and a place to start conversations and to make real connections with them. The parish has also found the Alpha programme very helpful in their context.
Greta would probably describe herself these days as a charismatic Pentecostal. There is a wide variety of diversity under the 'Pentecostal' umbrella ranging from Church of Christ renewal movements to charismatic churches and to the more vivid expressions of the Holy Spirit found in Vineyard churches. Of interest is that new churches form flowing from new experiences of the Holy Spirit rather than splits over doctrinal differences.
Most Pentecostal churches follow a four-fold Gospel model
- Jesus is Saviour
- Jesus empowers us by the Holy Spirit (through personal encounter with Him a person is empowered to give witness to Him
- Jesus is the Healer (we are empowered to ask for healing)
- Jesus is the soon-coming King
Pentecostal churches do have a population spike with the 15-29 year olds, but this comes at a cost which is generally the under representation of over 55 year olds. These churches do challenge us to be continually open to the Holy Spirit and to make the Gospel tangibly relevant now, today.
Rev Pete Davies
Pete is an ordained Baptist minister, married with four children and several grandchildren. He currently serves as the Director of Church Development for the NSW & ACT Baptist movement. He has over 15 years of pastoral experience and 3 years of evangelisation training with Ambassadors for Christ International.
The Baptist churches consider autonomy to be a value, and thus have no hierarchical structure. This means that as I go visiting churches throughout NSW and the ACT I have the task of a bishop but not the authority that goes with it. Leading Baptists is like shepherding cats.
Baptists are very strong on the importance of making a personal decision for Jesus Christ. The majority of Baptists believe that the gift of faith is offered to all mankind.
Baptists have been known for their evangelistic crusades and big events with big tents which often happen on an annual basis. Sunday night appeals and altar calls remain common experiences in our churches. Personal evangelism has always been encouraged. We have found the Alpha programme very useful. By and large overseas immigration has kept our parish numbers up.
There seems to be a trend in Baptist churches away from event evangelisation to process evangelisation. This is recognising that it takes time for people to come to the point of giving their lives to Jesus, and that it takes time for the Gospel message to find a home in hearts. We are learning to be present to people better, and to do more listening and saying less than before.
We are finding DVDs very useful as teaching aids and discussion starters in small groups.
If you can get newcomers to stay long enough, grace will happen. There is a move to seeing evangelisation as something that the whole community has a part in and not reserved for the pulling power of an exceptional guest speaker. At the same time we are experiencing a shift in proclaiming the Gospel of salvation to proclaiming the Gospel of the kingdom.
We are challenging people to be radically weird for the sake of Jesus, so that it is clear to others the difference that faith in Jesus makes in our lives.
It is Jesus' job to build the church. It is our job to make disciples.
After this panel discussion we had a break for morning tea where we were invited to discuss two questions:
Q. Which idea you heard today could translate easily into your parish?
Q. What possibilities are there in your parish for denominational collaboration?
The next issue will feature the homily from Friday's Mass at the Conference.
Some of the workshops have been made available as podcasts via www.xt3.com
To access them visit http://www.xt3.com/library/view.php?id=17454
Some of the talks and workshops are now available from http://www.proclaimconference.com.au/resources.
Several video clips, transcripts, handouts and slide presentations are downloadable from that link.