‘Facing the Future’: AJMS review

I was encouraged by the recent review of Facing the Future, sent to me by Rena Pritchard, the Senior Editor of Acorn Press.

 As you may know I contributed a chapter, A New Openness to Change, to the book which was published in 2009.

 Darren Cronshaw (Pastor of Auburn Baptist Church) wrote this review for the local church and mission edition of the Australian Journal of Mission Studies.  He writes,

My favourite chapter is John Harrower’s modelling of “a new openness for change” (pp.203-212). It seems the Tasmanian Diocese heard the challenge not to merely try to do what they have done in the past, but with more effort, but to look for a new way of being church. In the 1990s decade of evangelism, church attendance in Tasmania declined 30%. But in 2000, Harrower started as bishop with a mandate to be a mission bishop. At his first Synod he declared:

You elected me, trust me.
You elected a missionary, let us be missionaries together.
You elected an innovator, let us be innovators together.
You elected a change agent, let us change together.
You elected a missionary bishop, let us be a missionary diocese (p.205).

He shared a vision of “Every Tasmanian committed to Christ”, declared the diocese “The Missionary Diocese of Tasmania” and encouraged every Anglican to be a “Missionary disciple” (p.204). He promptly made a public apology to child sexual abuse victims, gave increased authority to rectors, prioritised recruiting new leaders, and farewelled some who did not come on board. Archdeacons became “mission support workers”, archdeaconries became “mission networks”, parish priorities became “Mission Action Plans” and bishop visits included “mission conversations”.

“Mission conversations” became a dominant metaphor and practice for diocesan life: leaders came together to discuss mission and how to join with what God was doing in their neighbourhood. The Bishop’s office resourced creative evangelists and invited schools and agencies to re-examine their mission. And the Bishop modelled honest evaluation by making public three external reviews of his work, to foster a culture of review in the diocese. When many things might divide a diocese, Harrower sought to focus everyone around missiology. This was an exciting chapter of denominational restructuring and resourcing for mission

 Read Darren’s review here.

 See also Imagining a different church, and my chapter A New Openness to Change.

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