Bishop David Robinson
What Church does God now require?
I've been thinking about this question for a good while now and, especially over the past few days, have begun to focus on three key themes.
First, the church is both ancient and modern. That is we have a history and that history is important. It tells the story of who we are and shapes what we are to become. At the same time, as a modern church, we are called to change and to be in mission. Being disciples of Jesus is to be open to transformation, both at a personal level and corporately. Since the beginning of creation, God has been calling people into relationship with him - he calls you and me, and he calls the people around us too. The fact that many in our society do not recognise the call of God does not mean that God is not calling them. Nor should this become an excuse for our (the Church's) failure to adapt, to make the message of Jesus recognisable to those who do not yet know him.
Second, we are both diverse and unified. Diverse in the variety of traditions found in our diocese where we span catholic and evangelical traditions in our liturgies. Unified in that we are all called to the same mission, by the same Jesus Christ. We recognise that different people respond in different ways to what happens in our Sunday services and, while many are comfortable with a more traditional style, we recognise there is a need for variety and experimentation if we are to connect with our families, friends and strangers who have long since given up on church. The trick in doing this is grace - being willing to listen, to share and to encourage one another even when we don't see eye to eye. We do well, at this point, to remember that the church does not exist for itself but for those who as yet do not know Christ - our focus is outwards and not inwards - we are to be all things to all people by all possible means so that some might be saved (1 Cor 9:22).
Third, we are a people filled with the Holy Spirit journeying and learning together. If there is one lasting impression I bring away from Texas it is the need for continuing education. It didn't matter where people came from, they all stressed the importance of education and training for ministry for all members of the church. Discipleship and ministry require a commitment to God and a willingness to learn. I have seen both of these things evident in many people since coming to the diocese along with the desire to see others come to faith in Christ. The challenge that lies ahead of us all is how best to provide opportunities for learning, for growth and for mission in a diocese where great distances separate us.
Please pray that God would give us wisdom as we seek to become the church that God requires for mission in the many places that we live and work and play.
Bishop David Robinson
It's hard to imagine that three months have passed since I was ordained Bishop of Rockhampton. Jan and I have spent these first few months settling into our new home and beginning to discover the many different aspects of life in Central Queensland.
So far I have been delighted to see so much life and vitality in the people I have met and in the parishes we have visited. There is a strong sense of seeking God's purpose for our lives together and a willingness to engage in the task of mission. This will be a challenge, especially in some of the more remote areas of our diocese, but my sense is that we are up for the challenge!
I count it a great privilege to have led three confirmation services over the past few weeks. In each service I have asked the question why are you here? What has led you to this place and this time in your journey with Christ?
It's a good practice, every once in a while, to pause and take some time to think about our relationship with Jesus - is it moving forwards, moving backwards, or is it simply the same as it's always been? It is helpful to reflect on faith to ask, what doubts and fears do we have? And to ask how much of our relationship with Jesus is simply habit? Have we been doing things this way for so long that we no longer stop and really think about what we are doing.
Over the next few weeks we celebrate Advent and Christmas; as we do our attention is drawn to the coming of a new kingdom under the kingship of Jesus. This is a kingdom that challenges and draws us ever forward, calling us to new ways of being, to living as Christ in the world today.
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus it is good to reflect on questions like the ones above because it is important for us to know where we have come from in order to make wise decisions about where to go. Our past has shaped us and makes us the unique individuals and communities that we are - but we are not to be tied to the past, but rather to be active agents of change working, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to make God's kingdom present in the world today.
As I reflect on my journey to this point and the journey ahead I see three focal points for my ministry in the immediate future that will, under God, enable us for the task ahead. They are:
Each of these tasks brings its own set of challenges and I look forward to being in conversation with you over the months and years ahead as we seek to grow God's church in Central Queensland.
May the peace and joy of Christ be yours this Christmas,
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