Give

Give to a worker

  • Give
    A
    South Asia • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Adam and Avril Friend
    Africa • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Adam and Helane Ramsay
    Chiba City • QNNSW Branch
  • Give
    Adrian and Anita Lovell
    Bolivia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Amy Stephens
    Argentina • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Andrew and Margie Newman
    Africa • QNNSW Branch
  • Give
    Andrew Buchanan and Abi Tandiseru
    Indonesia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Anna Radkovic
    Africa • VIC Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Anthony and Trudi Elyard
    Africa • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    B
    Middle East • WA Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Bill and Linda Colyer
    St Andrew's Hall • QNNSW Branch
  • Give
    Brenton and Mel Kilby
    Africa • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Bruce and Libby Hayes
    Nepal • QNNSW Branch
  • Give
    Bryan and Sarah Haro Leon
    Ecuador • TAS Branch
  • Give
    C
    Middle East • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Chenny Thie
    East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Chris and Erin
    South East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Chris and Grace Adams
    South East Asia • VIC Branch
  • Give
    Chris and Julie Dean
    South East Asia • VIC Branch
  • Give
    Chris and Karen Webb
    Broome • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Chris and Kristy Galea
    Europe • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Chris and Stef Overhall
    Chile • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Colin and Catherine Puffett
    Europe • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Craig and Lisse
    Middle East • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Craig and Samantha McCorkindale
    Cambodia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    D
  • Give
    D and T
    Asia • SANT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Dan and Marg
    Middle East • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Daniel and Olivia Webster
    Africa • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    David and Beck McIntyre
    East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    David and Cathie Sandifer
    Badhoevedorp • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    David and Jennifer Juniper
    Africa • WA Branch
  • Give
    Dene and Rachel Hughes
    East Asia • QNNSW Branch
  • Give
    Derek and Rosemary Snibson
    Darwin • VIC Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Derk and Susan
    South Asia • WA Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    E
    South Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Elizabeth
    Middle East • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Elle Bryce
    East Asia • QNNSW Branch
  • Give
    Emma Payne
    St Andrew's Hall • VIC Branch
  • Give
    Frances Cook
    Chile • SANT Branch
  • Give
    Gavin and Megan Rosser
    Jordan • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Gillian Akers
    Europe • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Gillian Law
    Europe • QNNSW Branch
  • Give
    Gordon and Ruth Russell
    Nepal • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Howard and Michelle Newby
    Philippines • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Howard and Trisha Spencer
    Belgium • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    I
    South East Asia • VIC Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Ian and Jenny Wood
    Darwin • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    J
    South East Asia • WA Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    J and P
    Eurasia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    J and S
    Central Asia • QNNSW Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Jason and Hannah Fairclough
    Europe • WA Branch
  • Give
    Je
    Middle East • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Jeremy and Jill Horrocks
    Cambodia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Jim and Tanja French
    Europe • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Jo
    Middle East • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Joel and Tiffanie Atwood
    The Pacific • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    John and Deb
    Middle East • VIC Branch
  • Give
    Jon and Deborah
    South East Asia • VIC Branch
  • Give
    Josh and Nici
    South East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Josh and Steph Mackenzie
    North Australia • VIC Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Josh and Susannah Apieczonek
    Europe • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Jotham Booker
    Europe • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Julie
    South East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    K
    South East Asia • SANT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    K
    South Asia • TAS Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Karina Brabham
    Europe • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Keith and Marion Birchley
    Papua New Guinea • QNNSW Branch
  • Give
    Kellie Nicholas
    East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Klaus and Jude Hickel
    Europe • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Kylie Zietsch
    Africa • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    L
    Middle East • VIC Branch
  • Give
    L and C
    South East Asia • QNNSW Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Lachlan and Candy Grice
    St Andrew's Hall • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Lauren Raiter
    Europe • VIC Branch
  • Give
    M
    Middle East • QNNSW Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    M
    Africa • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    M
    St Andrew's Hall • SANT Branch
  • Give
    M and K
    South Asia • VIC Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Maggie Crewes
    Cambodia • SANT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Malcolm and Ainsley Purdey
    Chile • SANT Branch
  • Give
    Malcolm and Leanne
    South East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Martin and Julie Field
    Argentina • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Marty and Jenny Foord
    Rochor • WA Branch
  • Give
    Matt and Bex Ooi
    East Asia • VIC Branch
  • Give
    Matt and Jen Lim
    East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Matt and Lisa Pearson
    Gunbalanya • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Matthew and Ellen Tyler
    The Pacific • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Maurice and Amanda Jacobson
    Cambodia • TAS Branch
  • Give
    Michael and Jean Burke
    Africa • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Michael and Rani Grivas-Allison
    Belgium • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Mike and Karen Roe
    Africa • SANT Branch
  • Give
    Mike and Katie Taylor
    Africa • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Miriam Bradshaw
    Europe • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Morgan and Olivia
    Middle East • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Na
    South East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Nathan and Diane Lovell
    Africa • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Nathan and Maki Clapham
    Chiba City • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Nick and Kysha Davies
    Latin America • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Nick and Rebekah
    South East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Pedro and Joy Oliveira Woolmer
    Latin America • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Peter and Terry Blowes
    Argentina • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    R
    Eurasia • QNNSW Branch
  • Give
    Ray and Sandy
    Middle East • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Rebekah
    South East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Rowan
    South East Asia • VIC Branch
  • Give
    Ryan and Lynne Verghese
    Africa • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    S and D
    St Andrew's Hall • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    S and E
    South Asia • VIC Branch
  • Give
    S and M
    Middle East • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    S and P
    Middle East • WA Branch
  • Give
    Sam and Bec
    St Andrew's Hall • VIC Branch
  • Give
    Sam and Shan-Shan Chrisp
    East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Sam and Sharmila Budhathoki
    Nepal • WA Branch
  • Give
    Simon and Jessica Cowell
    Bari • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Steven and Sandra Parsons
    East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Taulama Siuhengalu
    South East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Tim and Olivia Mulherin
    Cambodia • VIC Branch
  • Give
    W and S
    Middle East • NSW & ACT Branch

General Worker Support

Select a Branch

Please select the branch you would like to give to. This refers to the CMS branch that will process your donation.

NSW & ACT

QNNSW

SANT

TAS

VIC

WA

Tax-deductible Workers and Projects

Select a Branch

Please select the branch you would like to give to. This refers to the CMS branch that will process your donation.

NSW & ACT

QNNSW

SANT

TAS

VIC

WA

Give to a Campaign

Select a Branch

Please select the branch you would like to give to. This refers to the CMS branch that will process your donation.

NSW & ACT

QNNSW

SANT

TAS

VIC

WA

  • Give
    Ramsay Schooling
    QLD & NNSW Branch
  • Give
    Aboriginal Missionary Work
    Tax Deductible • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    CMS Overseas Aid Fund
    Tax Deductible • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Indigenous Ministry in North Australia
    NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Aboriginal Missionary Work
    Tax Deductible • SA & NT Branch
  • Give
    CMS Overseas Aid Fund
    Tax Deductible • SA & NT Branch
  • Give
    Indigenous Ministry in North Australia
    SA & NT Branch
  • Give
    Aboriginal Missionary Work
    Tax Deductible • WA Branch
  • Give
    CMS Overseas Aid Fund
    Tax Deductible • WA Branch
  • Give
    Indigenous Ministry in North Australia
    WA Branch
  • Give
    QNNSW CoMP
    QLD & NNSW Branch
  • Give
    QNNSW Regular Giving
    QLD & NNSW Branch
Your Gift
View Your Gift
Please select a frequency
  • • Branch

Give to another worker from

  • Give
    A
    South Asia • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Adam and Avril Friend
    Africa • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Adam and Helane Ramsay
    Chiba City • QNNSW Branch
  • Give
    Adrian and Anita Lovell
    Bolivia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Amy Stephens
    Argentina • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Andrew and Margie Newman
    Africa • QNNSW Branch
  • Give
    Andrew Buchanan and Abi Tandiseru
    Indonesia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Anna Radkovic
    Africa • VIC Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Anthony and Trudi Elyard
    Africa • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    B
    Middle East • WA Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Bill and Linda Colyer
    St Andrew's Hall • QNNSW Branch
  • Give
    Brenton and Mel Kilby
    Africa • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Bruce and Libby Hayes
    Nepal • QNNSW Branch
  • Give
    Bryan and Sarah Haro Leon
    Ecuador • TAS Branch
  • Give
    C
    Middle East • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Chenny Thie
    East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Chris and Erin
    South East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Chris and Grace Adams
    South East Asia • VIC Branch
  • Give
    Chris and Julie Dean
    South East Asia • VIC Branch
  • Give
    Chris and Karen Webb
    Broome • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Chris and Kristy Galea
    Europe • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Chris and Stef Overhall
    Chile • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Colin and Catherine Puffett
    Europe • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Craig and Lisse
    Middle East • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Craig and Samantha McCorkindale
    Cambodia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    D
  • Give
    D and T
    Asia • SANT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Dan and Marg
    Middle East • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Daniel and Olivia Webster
    Africa • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    David and Beck McIntyre
    East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    David and Cathie Sandifer
    Badhoevedorp • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    David and Jennifer Juniper
    Africa • WA Branch
  • Give
    Dene and Rachel Hughes
    East Asia • QNNSW Branch
  • Give
    Derek and Rosemary Snibson
    Darwin • VIC Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Derk and Susan
    South Asia • WA Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    E
    South Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Elizabeth
    Middle East • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Elle Bryce
    East Asia • QNNSW Branch
  • Give
    Emma Payne
    St Andrew's Hall • VIC Branch
  • Give
    Frances Cook
    Chile • SANT Branch
  • Give
    Gavin and Megan Rosser
    Jordan • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Gillian Akers
    Europe • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Gillian Law
    Europe • QNNSW Branch
  • Give
    Gordon and Ruth Russell
    Nepal • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Howard and Michelle Newby
    Philippines • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Howard and Trisha Spencer
    Belgium • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    I
    South East Asia • VIC Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Ian and Jenny Wood
    Darwin • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    J
    South East Asia • WA Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    J and P
    Eurasia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    J and S
    Central Asia • QNNSW Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Jason and Hannah Fairclough
    Europe • WA Branch
  • Give
    Je
    Middle East • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Jeremy and Jill Horrocks
    Cambodia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Jim and Tanja French
    Europe • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Jo
    Middle East • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Joel and Tiffanie Atwood
    The Pacific • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    John and Deb
    Middle East • VIC Branch
  • Give
    Jon and Deborah
    South East Asia • VIC Branch
  • Give
    Josh and Nici
    South East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Josh and Steph Mackenzie
    North Australia • VIC Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Josh and Susannah Apieczonek
    Europe • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Jotham Booker
    Europe • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Julie
    South East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    K
    South East Asia • SANT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    K
    South Asia • TAS Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Karina Brabham
    Europe • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Keith and Marion Birchley
    Papua New Guinea • QNNSW Branch
  • Give
    Kellie Nicholas
    East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Klaus and Jude Hickel
    Europe • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Kylie Zietsch
    Africa • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    L
    Middle East • VIC Branch
  • Give
    L and C
    South East Asia • QNNSW Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Lachlan and Candy Grice
    St Andrew's Hall • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Lauren Raiter
    Europe • VIC Branch
  • Give
    M
    Middle East • QNNSW Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    M
    Africa • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    M
    St Andrew's Hall • SANT Branch
  • Give
    M and K
    South Asia • VIC Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Maggie Crewes
    Cambodia • SANT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Malcolm and Ainsley Purdey
    Chile • SANT Branch
  • Give
    Malcolm and Leanne
    South East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Martin and Julie Field
    Argentina • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Marty and Jenny Foord
    Rochor • WA Branch
  • Give
    Matt and Bex Ooi
    East Asia • VIC Branch
  • Give
    Matt and Jen Lim
    East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Matt and Lisa Pearson
    Gunbalanya • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Matthew and Ellen Tyler
    The Pacific • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Maurice and Amanda Jacobson
    Cambodia • TAS Branch
  • Give
    Michael and Jean Burke
    Africa • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Michael and Rani Grivas-Allison
    Belgium • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Mike and Karen Roe
    Africa • SANT Branch
  • Give
    Mike and Katie Taylor
    Africa • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Miriam Bradshaw
    Europe • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Morgan and Olivia
    Middle East • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Na
    South East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    Nathan and Diane Lovell
    Africa • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Nathan and Maki Clapham
    Chiba City • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Nick and Kysha Davies
    Latin America • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Nick and Rebekah
    South East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Pedro and Joy Oliveira Woolmer
    Latin America • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Peter and Terry Blowes
    Argentina • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    R
    Eurasia • QNNSW Branch
  • Give
    Ray and Sandy
    Middle East • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Rebekah
    South East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Rowan
    South East Asia • VIC Branch
  • Give
    Ryan and Lynne Verghese
    Africa • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    S and D
    St Andrew's Hall • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    S and E
    South Asia • VIC Branch
  • Give
    S and M
    Middle East • NSW & ACT Branch • Tax Deductible
  • Give
    S and P
    Middle East • WA Branch
  • Give
    Sam and Bec
    St Andrew's Hall • VIC Branch
  • Give
    Sam and Shan-Shan Chrisp
    East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Sam and Sharmila Budhathoki
    Nepal • WA Branch
  • Give
    Simon and Jessica Cowell
    Bari • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Steven and Sandra Parsons
    East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Taulama Siuhengalu
    South East Asia • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Tim and Olivia Mulherin
    Cambodia • VIC Branch
  • Give
    W and S
    Middle East • NSW & ACT Branch

General Worker Support

Tax-deductible Workers and Projects

Give to a Campaign

  • Give
    Ramsay Schooling
    QLD & NNSW Branch
  • Give
    Aboriginal Missionary Work
    Tax Deductible • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    CMS Overseas Aid Fund
    Tax Deductible • NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Indigenous Ministry in North Australia
    NSW & ACT Branch
  • Give
    Aboriginal Missionary Work
    Tax Deductible • SA & NT Branch
  • Give
    CMS Overseas Aid Fund
    Tax Deductible • SA & NT Branch
  • Give
    Indigenous Ministry in North Australia
    SA & NT Branch
  • Give
    Aboriginal Missionary Work
    Tax Deductible • WA Branch
  • Give
    CMS Overseas Aid Fund
    Tax Deductible • WA Branch
  • Give
    Indigenous Ministry in North Australia
    WA Branch
  • Give
    QNNSW CoMP
    QLD & NNSW Branch
  • Give
    QNNSW Regular Giving
    QLD & NNSW Branch
Total Gift

$0 / Month

Continue
21 May 2019

Teaching theology in Indonesia


CMS missionary Andrew Buchanan explores the differences between Indonesian and Western culture, and how that shapes the way he teaches theology in a way his listeners can understand.

I remember as a young adult doing Introduction to the Bible as I started the Moore College Preliminary Theological Certificate.

At the time, I was familiar with and had responded to the existential edge of the gospel, that Jesus offered me eternal life having died for my sins on the cross and having risen from the dead. That was a transforming message for me in my shame and guilt as a dysfunctional teenager.

But in that Introduction to the Bible course, I learned how Jesus’ ministry and work made sense within a larger story. This story was worked out in human history through promises to one people group, Israel, but is in fact the story of God creating and redeeming the whole of humanity and creation. This helped me understand the Bible much better, widening my vision beyond my desire to become a ‘better person’ to embracing the world-wide scope of God’s mission in the world.

A strong vision for God

Having a strong vision of God and his work in Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit, is foundational to (even if not sufficient for) a healthy church. Promoting this vision has always been a major part of my motivation in theological education. Many in the Indonesian church would also agree on the centrality of biblical studies and doctrine for developing this vision. However, it is very challenging for locals to develop the technical skills needed to interpret biblical languages or to mine insights from significant theologians of the past. I came to a college that had no-one with training in New Testament. I was drafted into teaching doctrine subjects in my last two years there when the only local to gain post-graduate qualifications in that field in the last thirty years became ill. Most ministers who have master’s degrees choose pastoral theology or social studies which have adequate Indonesian language resources and connect with their direct experience.

The problem of being reluctant to deal with theology

However, there is more going on than just the academic difficulty of these subjects. A reluctance to deal with theology can be seen in much preaching. I remember two sermons a few years ago that, inspired (somewhat woodenly) by Langham preaching training, went verse by verse through their respective passages from the prophets, speaking clearly about what God was calling us to do. However, on getting to the verses talking about God, they skipped over them entirely, conveying none of what those verses revealed about God and his ways. This displayed clearly what I have observed in many other sermons. No wonder, then, that the theological vision of many church members is virtually indistinguishable from the general religious atmosphere of Indonesia, where being religious is about gaining supernatural blessing and/or showing oneself an upright member of society.

My initial explanation of these observations was to see them as the result of a kind of reductionist theology (which can indeed be found in some theological academic circles in Indonesia) which sees talk about God as being really about human faith and ethics. However, most ministers sincerely subscribe to the church’s confession of faith which is orthodox and Christ-centred. Rather, I am told that what congregation members want is teaching that is ‘practical’ and ‘relevant’. Since knowledge of God is highly practical and relevant, it appears to me that what is happening is that most preachers have not learnt how to talk in any depth about God in ways that make sense (cognitively and practically) in their congregations.

Indonesian theology needs to be done differently

My working hypothesis is that much theology in Indonesia, conservative or liberal, faces the West. Textbooks and curricula are written by foreigners or Indonesians who have studied overseas whose implicit audience are their Western teachers. These resources are very much shaped by questions that have been important to Europeans. Most obvious are liberal/conservative controversies such as the relation of the Bible and history, which appear to have been imported whole. More subtle is the Western emphasis on the individual soul before God, and the (educated) delight in logical consistency and coherence. This works well enough for an increasing number of well-educated, modern Indonesians, who tend also to be the thought leaders in their Christian communities. But it does not connect easily with most people in my area (whether students or congregation members) who understand via story and metaphor and whose sense of identity is more collective.

This analysis has shaped my lecturing in the last few years, including my Doctrine lectures. To structure my teaching, I chose three major metaphors of the church—family, kingdom, congregation—that describe who we are in relation to God (Father, King, Creator) and with implications for how we live (including maturity, mission, and blessing). These are biblically given concrete metaphors which are richly developed through the biblical story (this received more emphasis in my biblical studies subjects) but can also incorporate many of the major topics that have exercised Christian thinkers during the centuries. This framework does seem to enable the students to begin thinking theologically, that is, to look at life and ministry in the light not just of the Bible’s ethical commands but also in the light of who God is.

An example of the difference

As a simple (and simplified) example, I would ask them why people go to church, for blessing or for maturity? They liked this question because the answer is obvious: blessing. This reflects that local Christians do have a strong sense of dependence on God for their daily needs, but much less sense of God’s fatherly love that wants them to grow to become a family like Christ. A quite practical observation about church life turns out to have theological roots. Understanding this guides how the Bible’s rich picture of God is preached in a way that builds up what is weak and reinforces what is strong.

Developing this framework into lecture courses has required all the exegetical and theological skills that my training in Australia provided, aided by the missiological and social science investigations of my doctoral studies. Will this framework help them talk more richly about God in their teaching and pastoral ministry? That will depend on a lot more than my lectures. What needs to develop is biblically grounded language about God that becomes how the local community talks about God. Like language development, this is an organic process that can only be encouraged, not directed.

Conclusion: Develop local ways of talking about God

Clear theology is also not without its costs. Effectively preaching God in Christ as the basis for our identity is far more likely to offend local idolatries in a collective culture than sermons encouraging people to be nice to each other or to be pious. Nevertheless, many people have a thirst for clearer biblical teaching, as reflected in the popularity of the many good teaching and training programs the denomination has been promoting (such as Langham preaching and Evangelism Explosion). However, as my example above suggests, these will not have lasting effects unless the church develops local ways of talking about God.

 

Give

There are many gospel-poor communities that don’t have the resources to train local believers. Can you contribute to the building up of the local church overseas? Find out more at cms.org.au/give