Bondi: Closing Reflections
Our team has had a brilliant week in the eastern suburbs. We’ve been treated to marvelous hospitality, to the beauty of creation, and to the encouragement of seeing the fruit of the gospel in Bondi Anglican Church and the community in which the saints here are situated.
We’ve also been treated to the wisdom and openness of ministers Martin and Blake. It’s been a real blessing for us students to see, feel, and hear how they go about ministry in this part of the world. Here are two particular things that stood out.
1) ACCOMMODATION. Senior minister Martin, who has a wealth of church-planting experience behind him, wants to minimize any impediments to the gospel. Theologically, of course, the gospel is powerful and can’t be impeded. Culturally, however, there are things that we Christians can do to make it easier for the gospel to gain a hearing and, under God, acceptance. A less formal style of Anglicanism, for example, is one way that more in Bondi might be opened to hearing the gospel; the Thursday and Friday night events on parenting and busyness likewise illustrate that Christians share some of the concerns of others in Bondi. While this is often referred to as “contextualization”, Martin acknowledges that this can sometimes be misunderstood as watering down or otherwise changing the message. Instead, he prefers the term “accommodation”.
2) PARTNERSHIP. Martin and Blake have been happy, at various times and in various ways, to lend full-hearted support to other churches and missional communities in Bondi. There have been theological differences; but they remain convinced that where the core Christian convictions of the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and its saving benefits for humanity are shared, so too can mission be shared. For us students, in a context at College in which differences of opinion and emphasis are rightly debated as we work out our theology, this was a really important reminder to keep these things in proper perspective. The gospel is bigger than our differences, and none of us has a monopoly on God’s truth. Where God’s working, let’s work together.