Ben Pfahlert, over at the Sola Panel blog, has some fairly positive comments to make about Mark Driscoll’s criticisms of Sydney. Make sure you read the comments too as they also, with the odd qualification, seem fairly positive in their take on Driscoll.
Archive for the 'Sydney Anglicans' Category
Since the spirit of spreading ‘friendly-fire’ is upon us I thought I’d chip in with a thought or two of my own. Driscoll’s ‘skewering’ of Sydney got me thinking about his ministry and similar ministries from other missional-minded reformed peeps coming out of the States.
But first some disclaimers: First off, although I never heard Driscoll’s talk itself Gordon’s notes gave me a fair idea of where he went and what his criticisms were. As I’ve already stated I resonated with many of them as one who understands something of the Sydney paradigm of ministry. I also thought one or two of his points were probably wide of the mark or perhaps failed to understand the Sydney Anglican context well enough. All and all I greatly value his critique and hope that people will give it some serious thought.
What I was left wondering however, was what has Driscoll learned from ministry in Sydney? I hope he posts some reflections on his time there and what he has learned – but I thought that, until he does, I’ll mention something that I think he (and others like him) could benefit from in the Sydney paradigm of ministry.
I’ve been listening to his podcasts and podcasts from other Acts29 church planters for two or three years now. I’ve listened to some of their Sunday preaching and I’ve listened to their conference talks. I’ve been greatly encouraged and built up in the gospel through these talks and I’m going to keep on downloading them and enjoying them. What I have found a little concerning is the quality of bible handling on occasion. I’ve often struggled with the way narrative passages tend to get a bit spiritualized and moralized where it looks like hard work hasn’t been done on the text. Its clear that hard work has been done on the whole sermon but I sometimes wonder about the work on the text.
In this light I think Sydney ought to be applauded. Their commitment to hard work on the text, to text driven and directed preaching, is of the first order. Preachers like Phillip Jensen, John Woodhouse, John Chapman, Simon Manchester and others have provided me with great models of exposition in the past. Yes, I think Driscoll is right when he says that their (Sydney peeps in general) preaching is sometimes weak on application – I feel that too – but I don’t want to have to be in a situation where I pick one or the other, I want both. I think God calls us to both. So to Mark and the reformed missional crew I think you could learn something from Sydney here that would only make your ministries even stronger and more faithful.
Well Mark Driscoll has a reputation for being controversial and he kept that intact down-under with two talks he presented to the Sydney crowd at a training day. His second talk – from the notes I’ve read – seems to be something of quite a brave critique of operations in Sydney. I think it’ll generate quite a few blog responses in the not to distant future. For the low down you can check out Michael Jensen’s brief thoughts here, Mike Jolly’s summary of Driscoll’s points here and Gordon Cheng’s notes from the two talks here. With my own denomination, the Church of England in South Africa (CESA), borrowing a ton from Sydney I wonder if Driscoll would have pretty much the same critique for us? I’d have to listen to the talk myself before passing judgment, but from a surface point of view I resonate with a lot of his points from my own experience here. That said, a few of his points don’t quite make sense to me and I fear he might be missing the boat a bit on some – but they’re all worth looking at and thinking through (In reading remember that, as Mike points out, this is friendly-fire).
Is this Sydney-Anglicanism beginning to go missional on us? I hope so, bearing in mind how much they influence my own denomination (although missional cracks are beginning to appear here too).
The peeps from the Briefing have started their own blog: Sola Panel. If you can put up with a bunch of Reformed Aussies then you’ll probably enjoy this blog. I was especially excited to see that Mark D. Thompson is one of their contributers – his book ‘A Clear and Present Word‘ has been one of my best reads in the last two years or so. They’re good gospel guys – go give them a look.
My good friend Sam Groves (I know ‘good’ is a strong word considering the disparaging comments he sometimes addresses to me on this blog) has a great church plant on the go in Pietermaritzburg under the name ‘Church on the Ridge‘. A week or two ago his church hosted a missions team from Moore College in Sydney. Today he emailed me a link to the Sydney Anglicans website where there is an article discussing some of the students’ feedback from their time in Maritzburg and South Africa in general – its worth a read.