Young punks and silver bullets

Michael Kellahan

The Ministry Training & Developement Spring Ministry Intensive is the conference to book into your calendar for August next year.

In 2008 they provided the platform for Mark Driscoll’s stinging 18 point critique of the Sydney church scene. I don’t think I’ve seen a talk in Sydney that ever produced as much controversy as that one. He called for changes - big changes - to the way we minister - if we were to reach unchurched Australians with the gospel.

In 2009 William Taylor, Mark Dever, John Woodhouse and Phillip Jensen told us there are no silver bullets in ministry - beware any ‘quick fixes’ that are on offer from over the Pacific.

Driscoll wasn’t named. Reformed Charismatics were. The challenge this time was to not depart from a ministry of the word and prayer - keep our confidence in God working the same way he always has.

Taylor or Driscoll?

So, do I believe William Taylor or Mark Driscoll?

It would be wrong to see the 2009 Conference as a corrective to 2008. The truth is we need to hear both messages and not some middle ground.

Driscoll’s diagnosis of our failure to connect is exactly what we need to prayerfully consider - without being defensive. We musn’t be shooting blanks! Much harder to judge is whether Driscoll’s remedy is the right one. This generated much heat and some light over the last year.

William Taylor was also spot on - we must not to rush to a remedy other than faithful gospel ministry. This will not look spectacular and will involve suffering, scriptures, prayer, discipling people…

We need to hear and act on both messages. Get the talks. Come next year.

The young punks must not go chasing after silver bullets. Yes, take risks and throw yourself into missional church plants. But don’t think that ministry like this will be glorious and spectacular.

The old guard must not so protect the structures that they stop the flourishing of new ministries or the reform of structures that need change.

Whether in a parish or a diocese, it gets harder and harder, to keep a right sense of urgency and the need for innovation.

These issues of tradition, reform, and innovation are not new ones. They are fundamental to the Prayer Book. This tension is basic to any church which would grow.

We’ve got to keep going back to the Scriptures to check that we are preaching the same timeless message. We’ve also got to let the word of God set the agenda in figuring out how are ministry methods can be timely.