Jones casts Southern’s vision for family ministry in Australia

Communications Staff — February 18, 2010

Southern Seminary’s vision for Family Equipping Ministry has begun to spread across the globe in recent months.

Timothy Paul Jones, professor of Christian leadership and education in Southern’s School of Church Ministries, spent several weeks last fall in Australia speaking at two conferences on family ministry for the Anglican Church in Sydney.

Jones first spoke at Youth Works College, a small school in the Australian bush, where he urged attentive students to become leaders who take the lead in leading Gospel-centered homes that will, in turn, positively impact local churches. The college also sponsored a youth ministry forum for which Jones served as the keynote speaker and he also served as keynote at a conference on a theology of children’s ministry, which staff members of some 50 churches attended.

“They were hungry to hear about family ministry,” Jones said. “Their churches are actually more segregated than ours are in terms of age. They will have a worship service for each generation – adults, children, older adults – and they are hungry for ways to connect the generations.

“I also had the privilege of speaking at one of the largest Anglican churches in eastern Australia, Menai Anglican Church, to all their weekend services and proclaimed to them the vision for family ministry. The people were incredibly kind and gracious and open and it was good. Literally, Southern Seminary is having an impact with Family Equipping Ministry around the world.”

Unlike the Anglican Church in its home country, England and also in the United States, the Sydney diocese is conservative and largely holds to biblical inerrancy and inspiration, a complementarian view of gender roles in the home and church and an orthodox interpretation of the 39 Articles of Faith.

One unique factor in Australia is that public schools include Bible classes. The school system operates out of a genuine pluralism and offers classes in Christianity and other world religions such as Buddhism and Islam, among others. Jones said he encouraged conference attendees to capitalize on the opportunity in public schools for the sake of the Gospel.

“They have an incredible opportunity to be able to get a hold of the kids in public schools at that level,” Jones said. “One of the things I encouraged them to do that they didn’t seem to be doing as a whole was to make contact with those kids’ families.

“I told them, ‘You have a unique opportunity in your culture that we don’t even have in ours in America. You can make contact with and make some sort of connection with the parents of those kids you have in Scripture classes in public school, then you have huge opportunities there.”

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