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What attitudes do Queensland Baptist Pastors have to Whole-Life Discipleship and Faith and Work Integration? Based on a survey using the language of Tom Nelson’s famous apology for “pastoral malpractice,” Ian Hussey and Dave Benson note encouraging overlap, but call for clearer institutional intentionality, built on a more robust theology of image bearers seeking shalom as their mission in the world.
Full Title : The Attitude of Queensland Baptist Pastors to the ‘Whole-Life Discipleship’ and ‘Faith and Work Integration’ Movements: Where Are We and What Do We Need to Do?
Kansas Pastor Tom Nelson made a famous pastoral “apology” to his church for failing to train and equip them in whole-life discipleship to live their faith through their frontlines. He confessed, instead, to seeing congregants as serving his agenda as a pastor. Nelson’s apology was documented in a 2014 Christianity Today article which CT rated as one of their Top 40 articles from the thirty-six-year history of Leadership Journal.
This paper positions his apology within a larger movement, and reports on research into the current attitudes of Queensland Baptist (QB) pastors to the propositions inherent in Nelson’s apology and article. Various statements capturing the heart of the “Whole Life Discipleship” (WLD) and “Faith and Work Integration” (FWI) movements were used to elicit responses from QB pastors, regarding the theological views, attitudes, and strategies of pastors with respect to these propositions. Analysis was conducted with a view to implications for training at Malyon Theological College and equipping the emerging generation of pastors in QB.
A series of recommendations are made, including stronger institutional alignment with WLD language and frameworks, alongside intentional partnerships with leading parachurch networks; adoption of a more holistic anthropology for formation and theological reflection; and clarity when defining terms and communicating this vision, avoiding overstatement that tends to come with a narrower FWI frame, instead centring on shalom as the heart of God’s mission to bless the world.
After working as a high school teacher for three years, Ian moved into pastoral ministry. From 1993 to 2010 he was the solo then senior pastor of Nundah/North-East Baptist Church, during which time the church grew from 35 to 500 people. Ian teaches and researches in the areas of pastoral leadership, preaching and research methods. He also oversees the development of postgraduate research at Malyon.
Dave is passionate about commending Christ and his kingdom in Australia’s post-Christendom culture. He has lectured part-time at Malyon College since 2009 in the areas of Evangelism, Apologetics, Worldviews, Faith and Work Integration, and Practical Theology. This parallels Dave’s work as Director of Malyon Traverse (the centre for bridging church and culture), consultation work in the Christian Schooling sector, and with his wife, Nikki, leading the house church, Christ’s Pieces. Dave now works as Director of the Centre for Culture and Discipleship, with the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.
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