I am not an Anglican, but I have been profoundly influenced by the Anglican Church. I am so thankful for years of being faithfully taught the bible at Anglican churches and I am thankful for my time at Moore College. The Sydney diocese is a very influential diocese. Not just in the Anglican Communion, its influence stretches to the broader Christian world. That is why the election of the next Archbishop of Sydney is so important. It has been very encouraging to hear of people already praying for and working hard to get the right man for the job. Needless to say, this man is stepping into a job that is too big for him, or anyone else for that matter, so he needs our support in prayer. He obviously needs to be a man of evangelical character as well as a great communicator and leader but is there anything he can’t be?
I was talking with a mate who I met at Moore College. He is no longer in Sydney but has strong ties to Sydney Evangelicalism about who should be the next Archbishop. He said this:
“The next Archbishop must not be an egalitarian because every time a diocese or denomination chooses to allow women to be the lead pastors of churches the push to fully accept practicing homosexuals into all spheres of church life is pushed by the next generation. If you capitulate on the women’s issue the next generation will capitulate on the homosexuality issue. If the Sydney Diocese appoints an egalitarian then he will push for women being able to fill any role that a man can and that is one of the paving stones on the road to liberalism”
We have seen this scenario played out in the Anglican Church but also in other denominations. But what about you, do you think the Sydney Diocese would go down this line if they appointed an Egalitarian as the next Archbishop?
At Resolved we have many people coming through looking for a new church. When I ask them what are they looking for in a church there are a lot of different responses. Some are legitimate some are selfish. Most Christians these days change churches every 5-7 years so we need to know what to look for when we are finding a new church.
Here are the things you should look for when finding a new church:
- Expository preaching – Expository preaching is where the sermon is derived from a text of scripture. Expository preaching is not where we take a verse from Habakkuk and verse from Romans and then a verse from Colossians and make points from each passage. The main job of an expository preacher is to help you see what the biblical text says and apply it to your life. Expositional preaching is key to a good church because the expository preaching is the best kind of preaching if you want to hear God speak in his scriptures.
- Biblical theology – Biblical theology is where every scripture is seen as part of the rest of the Bible and so every story, verse, and word is meant to be interpreted as part of the whole Bible. This helps us interpret the Bible rightly because we see the Bible as one whole big story that reveals who God is and what he has done and not a collection of stories or sayings in which we find a hero to model our lives on or a verse to inspire us. The Bible is primarily about God not us and biblical theology helps us see this.
- The gospel – The gospel is the message that we have been created in the image of God but we have sinfully rejected God. In his great love, God sent his son to die on the cross in our place, taking our punishment so that through faith in Jesus we could be forgiven. This is the gospel. This is the thing that should be emphasized in the pulpit every week, in fact this is the thing that should drive the church. If you go to a church that consistently muddies up the gospel, either by preaching a message which sounds like an Anthony Robbins talk or denying an aspect of the gospel, you need to find another church because this is not a church which is teaching you about God.
- Leadership – Leadership is important and the Bible is very clear on what biblical leadership is and isn’t. If you are unsure of what biblical leadership looks like, read 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. If the leadership in the church you are checking out doesn’t reflect the leadership that is modelled in the scriptures then it is not the church for you.
- Discipleship – Discipleship is the process where you grow in your knowledge and love of God. If you are looking for a new church you have to ask if this new church has a discipleship program or process. Of course expository preaching is central to any discipleship strategy but there are many other ways where discipleship can take place. Make sure you are going to grow in your love of Jesus at the church you join.
- Service – Have you got avenues to serve? This doesn’t mean that they will ask me to serve in the way that I want to serve. For example you shouldn’t just go to a church if you want to play guitar and they need a guitarist but you should be going to a church where you can pitch in and help.
Is there anything you would add to this list?
I believe that Elder government is the biblical model of church government. But the question is do you need to kick off a church plant with it in place? Does a church plant need some kind of specific church governance structure?
When I was at bible college I read a bunch of stuff on church governance and I was convinced that the bible dictated church government and so when I dreamt about my church I dreamed of a church with a strong elder board and a strong system of church leadership. So this is what I started. The only problem with church government is that you need a clear plan of directing people and leading this structure because structure can turn toxic very quickly and they can stagnate the church. Looking back this is what happened. I didn’t know exactly how to lead these groups so I didn’t lead them well and so people got frustrated, things didn’t get done and the church stagnated.
We are now at a place where we asking some big questions of what an elder board should do in a church our size. One of the most helpful books I have read on this is Sticky Teams by Larry Osborne.
All this being said I do think that the elder and elder governed model is the biblical model of church government. But I wish I worried about church government later.
If you are planting a church you do need to think hard about church government. Because church government is biblical but also because getting it wrong can stunt growth and can hurt people. But you also need to think about when to implement the structure. If you get this worng it can also stunt growth and hurt people.
Don’t implement your church government until you know exactly how it will function and what that looks like for your church.
I get asked all the time “Why aren’t you an Anglican?” The questions could be posed as “Why aren’t you insert denomination of your choice here?” Because Resolved is an independent church. But the reason I get asked why I am not an Anglican is because I grew up in an Anglican church, I have been a member of five Anglican churches and I went to an Anglican theological college. So it is a good and right question to ask.
But before I get to the reasons why I am not an Anglican I want to say I am so thankful for my heritage. I am thankful I went to the churches I went to as I learnt a lot from each one of them. I am thankful that I went to Moore College. I wouldn’t change the experiences I have had in Anglicanism for the world. They have shaped me in a profound ways.
But that being said, like a good sermon, I have three points as to why I am not an Anglican.
- Evangelical Anglicans are compromised because of their affiliations
- Infant Baptism
- Church government
Evangelical Anglicans are compromised because of their affiliations
Yes it is a very provocative statement. But if we have a look around the Anglican communion you have people that are flat out denying crucial aspects of Christianity. The Resurrection is denied, penal substitution is attacked, people argue against the reliability of the scriptures. These people aren’t on the outer wings of Anglicanism they are the leaders of various branches of the church. Now the main argument for staying an Anglican is that that evangelical Anglicans are changing Anglicanism from the inside. But is this true? In 1966 Martin Lloyd Jones at the National Assembly of Evangelicals organised by the Evangelical Alliance issued a call for evangelicals to come out from within denominations that had both Liberal and Evangelical congregations. John Sotto used his position as the chairman to publicly rebuke Lloyd Jones and say Anglicans were staying in effect to make a concerted effort to turn the ship of Anglicanism around. But has this happened? Is the Anglican ship turning around? Have we made any progress in the last 40 years? I think the answer is no, therefore, I think we need to be very careful at being in the same communion with people who are obviously not Christians. I do not want to be in communion with people who are arguing against the gospel therefore I am not going to be Anglican.
I came into college believing in baptising children. But I studied the scriptures and other arguments and I have not found a convincing biblical or theological argument for infant baptism. If I was an Anglican I would have baptise infants which I think is unbiblical therefore I not going to be Anglican.
When I look at the Bible I think church government is clear. There are elders who are pastors of the church and who lovingly lead the church (Acts 20:17,28-31, 1 Timothy 3, Titus 2 etc. ). There is not just one elder but a clear plurality of elders. So when I see Anglicans with a parish council/ warden/ Priest system of church government I see this as denying what I the plain teaching of the Bible and therefore I am not going to be an Anglican.
These are the three main reasons I am not an Anglican I hope you can see that they are biblical/theological in nature. But I want to say very strongly that I consider Anglicans who are evangelicals as brothers in Christ who do preach the gospel ad for that I am very thankful. I will also work with my Anglican brothers and sisters in the gospel because we have unity in the gospel.
What do you think? Are my reasons legit?