Reformation Sunday at St Peter’s Nightcliff was celebrated with a modernised version of the 1552 Holy Communion service. The ten commandments were recited, and we confessed our ‘manifold sins’ acknowledging we ‘cannot bear the burden of them’. Our sermon series, “Big Words that end in Shun”, focused on justification, as we read Romans 3:21-26.
Yet this wasn’t a history lesson, nor an attempt to revive the good old days, but another opportunity to reflect on the central truth that “in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last” (Romans 1:17).
Unlike many parts of Australia and the world, by God’s grace, Darwin has so far been relatively unscathed by the pandemic. Yet the impact of the virus has still changed some ministries.
Of course, not all change is useful reformation. Not all change is good. And some change might be neutral. So how do we decide what to change and whether it’s important? We may enquire of change: will it enhance the proclamation of the good news of Jesus in order to help everyone grow in him? This has different implications for different ministries I’m involved in.
At the church I’m a part of, we speak about being a ‘church family’ as we enjoy the rich diversity of people God has brought together, from various ages and life stages, races and workplaces. We want everyone to grow, and Laura Wolfenden (College alumna) works hard at kids church lessons—teaching the same big words we’re learning through sermons, starting with predestination. While people’s ages might change, the gospel content does not.
After a 10-week stint of online church in 2020, church restarted with three services instead of two. Previously they were different in style and demographics, now they are similar in demographics and the style changes from week to week at all three. What did not change? We have the same Bible readings and sermons for all services.
There are massive cultural differences across the Diocese of the Northern Territory. This is illustrated by our synod. It requires a lot of people, time, and money resources, and our synod service includes Bible readings and songs in four different languages. While the language might change, the gospel content does not.
Beyond the Anglican church, Christian Conventions Darwin is a non-denominational group running two conferences: ‘Building Blokes’ for men, and ‘Preach the Word’ for Bible teachers. While the audience and spheres of application may change, solid Bible teaching remains central.
A recent ministry highlight has been two boys growing in their knowledge and love of God. They both attended ‘Mega’, our holiday kids club. One is part of a Christian family who attend church regularly. The other came because a postcard in his letterbox invited him. The first one told his parents he asked Jesus to forgive him for the first time. The second one is hearing Jesus’ name for the first time. The same good news, proclaimed to two different children, is doing the same good work of drawing people to Jesus.
Please pray that God continues to work as his gospel is proclaimed in the Top End.