This is part one of a three part series on Sydney Anglicans’ preaching. See intro here.
1. The unfashionable culture of ‘safe-guarding’.
We do this a lot. You often hear the ‘slippery slope’ argument used when change is suggested. Some people find this quite stifling. I certainly have at times. But I thank God for it. Overall, I see it as a commitment to preserve the Gospel tradition that has been passed down to us. We get it wrong sometimes. But more or less the things we are keen to safe-guard are good things.
2. A commitment to Biblical Theology.
Listening to some recent US preaching courses, I have noticed that what they are hailing as a breakthrough in biblical preaching, has been part of our diocese for decades now. Give thanks for Graeme Goldsworthy and others.
3. The sermon meal involves a lesson in the kitchen.
Justin Moffatt wrote a great piece on this. Basically it’s the difference between preaching the point of a passage vs preaching the point of a passage and showing how you came to that point. Sydney preachers, typically more than others I hear, show bits of their exegetical work in their sermons. Some see this as a big ‘no, no!’. I don’t.
4. Congregation numbers are rarely determined by who is speaking.
We have a number of ‘great’ preachers in Sydney, but rarely do our Church attendance figures fluctuate when the ‘great preacher’ is present/absent for any length of time. There is a consciousness in our culture (maybe its tall-poppy, and that’s perhaps changing) that the preacher is not what makes a sermon great.
5. Sydney Anglicans have flown the ‘Reformed Evangelical’ flag for over 200 years.
Not so much about preaching, but if you are sitting under evangelical preaching in the Sydney Diocese, you’re experiencing a tradition. Reformed Evangelicalism in Sydney has been, more or less, the dominant form of Anglicanism since the First Fleet. It’s longevity and consistancy is unique for Australia (and perhaps the world?). This tradition may be the reason why your fellow Sydney Anglican brothers and sisters are slow to catch onto the latest trend. Historical awareness show many trends to be vapor puffs. Globally Anglicanism does not always appear to be a tradition you would want to be part of, yet in Sydney it’s been pretty solid for a while now. I’m not convinced that this movement has become a museum just yet.
*BONUS* 6. It converted me!
Well that is not actually true. God converted me, through his Spirit, through a number of human aides, at a time I don’t remember. But the point is that the preaching of Sydney Anglicans has made up a huge portion of my diet for almost 30 years now. And (at the risk of… well … making too much of it) ‘it has brought me safe thus far.’
What else have I missed?….