Pointers 2008


Articles include :
  • EMERGING CHURCHES IN MELBOURNE – There is a growing  movement of churches around the world that are  reinventing themselves or starting afresh as new congregations which take seriously their missionary challenge. ‘Missional’, ‘new paradigm’, ‘fresh expression’, ‘ new expressions of ’, ‘emerging’ and ‘emerging missional’ are among the terms used to describe these new ways of being and doing church. Among the experiments in emerging churches are Alternative worship, Cell church, Pub church, Cyber church, House church, Café church, Table church, Liquid church, Celtic church, Youth church, base ecclesial communities,new monasticism, commonpurse communities, mosaic multicultural groups, festival celebrations, art cooperatives and missional orders. In his book on emerging churches in the United Kingdom, Stuart Murray offers an overview of many of the different approaches.
  • Marriage in Australia: Changes and Challenges –  At the Lausanne Researchers’ Conference in April 2008, Peter Bentley presented a preliminary paper looking at the changes to marriage: status, place and wedding arrangements. The focus was on marriage in Australia with particular attention to Christian understandings of marriage. His interest in these topics has been stimulated over the last ten years by reading articles in newspapers and magazines, and having discussions with people at weddings and social events about marriage and relationships. This article is based on the Conference presentation.
  • Conversion in Singapore – Singapore is a multicultural and multi-faith city. New charismatic churches and Christian cathedrals sit next to ancient Taoist and Hindu temples and Moslem mosques. Some new religious movements such as Soka Gakkai and Satya Sai Baba have had considerable success in gaining converts. Among certain parts of the population there has been considerable movement from one religion to another, but in other parts, very little movement. A recent book by Chee Kiong Tong, Rationalizing Religion: Religious Conversion, Revivalism and Competition in Singapore Society, published by Brill, Leiden, 2007, has analysed the changes and the trends. The author’s insights tell us not only about Singapore but more generally about the dynamics of religious conversion.
  • Australian Clergy –  Every denomination counts its clergy differently. Some include those who are retired while other denominations do not. Some include those who are in non-pastoral positions while others do not. The lines between those who are ‘ordained’ and those who may be taking leadership but as non-ordained leaders varies greatly from one denomination to another.
Articles include :
  • Lay Leadership and the Vitality of Rural Congregations – Within rural Australia, a great range of patterns of  organisation of ministry has emerged. Declining and ageing populations and increased costs and limited availability of full-time clergy have forced congregations to re-think how effective ministry can be conducted. Lay forms of leadership have become common. But it is not just a matter of necessity. Some people have argued that in giving ministry into the hands of lay people, it is giving it back to the whole church where it should reside.
  • WORLD YOUTH DAY 2008 –  World Youth Day 2008 was held in Sydney, Australia, with the Theme: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). World Youth Day, as an event, was established by Pope John Paul II in 1986, with the first being held in Rome, “to bring together young Catholics from around the globe to celebrate and learn about their faith on a more regular basis.” The Catholic body responsible is The Pontifical Council for the Laity.
  • Unravelling Identity: Immigrants, Identity and Citizenship in Australia
    Trevor Batrouney and John Goldlust
    For me, living overseas raised most poignantly the question of my national or ethnic identity. When I was living in Thailand, I was often asked where I came from. I was not sure how to answer that. I was born in England, but had lived in Australia. I had a British passport at that time, but I was on leave from work in Australia. I was very conscious of being a ‘Westerner’ rather than a Thai, having more in common with Americans and Europeans rather than Thai people, not only in my appearance but in my habits and my ways of thinking.
  • Financial Giving to Churches – This article reviews the financial giving patterns of church attenders. It reveals very different cultures of giving across denominations. However, a common trend is that more involved and motivated attenders tend to be more generous givers.
  • Recent Publications in the Religion-and-Film Field – Peter Bentley’s (2007) article in Pointers: Bulletin of the Christian  Research Association entitled “Visual Faith?” provided a good overview of recent internet resources pertaining to movies and the visual media ministry and claimed: “Images are all around us, but it sometimes takes a second look to see what is there” (p. 15). The same advice applies equally well to the many references relating to the emerging interdisciplinary field of religion-and-film (aka sacred cinema, spiritual cinema, holy film, cinematic theology, cinematheology, theo-film, celluloid religion, film-and-faith, film-faith  dialogue), which nowadays is slowly turning into an excitingly innovative cottage industry. The following is a brief, roughly categorised compilation of selected 2004-2008 items for your enjoyment and edification.
  • Spiritual Capital ? – All businesses need financial capital. Their achievements are measured in the financial capital that they accumulate over time. But businesses need more than financial capital in order to function effectively. They need staff with the appropriate skills and capacities – sometimes referred to as ‘human capital’. The relationships between staff and with suppliers and clients which enable people to work effectively together, qualities of respect, trust and goodwill – sometimes referred to as ‘social capital’ – are also fundamental to the operation of every business. These forms of ‘capital’, financial, human and social, are needed for the effective operation of every human organisation and community, not just businesses. All human communities, whether as small as a family or as large a nation or a multinational company, need resources (which can be measured in financial terms), human skills and capacities, and relationships through which people can act effectively together. Recent literature has argued that there is yet another important factor: spiritual capital.
Articles include :
  • Is Decline in Religion Inevitable? Religion and Young People: A Global Perspective – In many countries the task of passing on the Christian faith to younger generations is proving very difficult. In some countries, such as Australia, most young people have little interest in religious organisations. As shown in the graph on this page, young people identify less with Christian groups than do older people in Australian society. It is tempting to believe that this must be the inevitable pattern : that inevitably the  forces of secularisation will mean that young people lose interest in religion. However, one of the papers presented at the 2008 Lausanne Researchersʼ Conference challenged this through a global review of young people and religious involvement.
  • 5th Lausanne Researchers’ Conference, Geelong, 8-12 April 2008 – Sixty researchers gathered at the Geelong Conference Centre early in April. It was a splendid opportunity to share the research in which we are engaged. Thirty-three papers were offered by the participants, covering a wide range of topics. Each presenter had 45 minutes to describe their research and to engage in conversation with colleagues about it.
  • Transforming Melbourne Painting a Picture of Churches and Community in Melbourne – Christian mission to the city of Melbourne needs a concerted and cooperative effort. It needs all the churches to be involved, working together for common ends. In order to begin the task, an accurate and detailed picture of the church and of the city is needed. No-one has ever ‘painted a picture’ of the whole work of the churches in Greater Melbourne. No-one has ever undertaken to provide a canvas showing all the Christian Churches – their locations, activities, services, and schools. Did you know that there are probably more than 1,800 local churches in the Greater Melbourne area? There are at least 60 Chinese-speaking churches across Melbourne. But how many other ethnic-speaking congregations and parishes exist? How many house churches are active?
Articles include :
  • Why the Lausanne Conference Will be Different –  The 5th International Lausanne Researchers’ Conference will be held at the Geelong Conference Centre from Tuesday 8th to Saturday 12th April 2008. More than 65 people have registered to attend the conference. We are looking forward to a most worthwhile occasion. The Lausanne Conferences are different from other conferences that I attend. They offer something special to those looking at issues of Christian faith and mission.
  • Spiritual Development – A major global challenge for our age is the spiritual development of young people. The Western growth of individualism has laid the responsibility of choice about religious faith and the development of a sense of identity firmly in the hands of individual young people, rather than being something handed on by the communities into which they are born. It has left millions of young people around the world feeling confused about life. On the other hand, some young people have reacted strongly to Western individualism and consumerism by an unquestioning, even fanatical, commitment to their religion or ideology. The result of these two developments around the globe has led to a rise in conflict between the confused and the ‘overcertain’. An understanding of spiritual development is critical to helping young people find meaning and purpose in life and, ultimately, in resolving some of the world tensions.
  • Moving Beyond Forty Years of Missing Generations – Around forty years ago, the age profile of church attenders matched the wider community, but, since the 1960s, younger generations have gone missing. Latest results from the 2006 National Church Life Survey confirm the size of the current gap between church and community, as well as denominational variations. This is ‘old news’ but the need for effective responses by churches are more urgent than ever. In the next two decades, older and younger generations will need to negotiate through a significant period of transition. Perhaps the time is coming for the gap to begin to close.
  • The Global Picture – Issues in Counting Religious Numbers

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