The aim of these studies is to help you reflect on living as Christian in Australia in the twenty-first century.
What the studies are about
As Australian Christians we have the challenging task of living in a modern and postmodern world while living out a faith whose roots are pre-modern.
The foundational events of the Christian faith: Jesus’ incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection, occurred almost 2000 years ago. We read and study scriptures first written thousands of years ago, and collected as a canon some 1500 years ago. We administer sacraments first described in those ancient scriptures and continue to welcome people into the church and to gather as a community in words and actions modelled on ancient sources. We are part of the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church built upon the one Lord Jesus Christ, but we are divided by two millennia from those who first gathered as Church and proclaimed Jesus as Lord.
How are we to live as Christians in the twenty-first century?
This series of four studies will begin to look at what it means to be Christians in twenty-first century Australia. The studies will examine some history, so we understand where we are and how it is that we got here. They will look at two of the biggest challenges facing Christians today: living in a religiously pluralist world after centuries of Christian domination in the West; and caring for creation at a time when human progress and development is causing environmental damage and degradation. Finally, the last study will look at the political implications of twenty-first century Christianity. Are we ready to be martyrs?
Guidelines for the leader
Leading a group to use these studies requires no special skills. The material can simply be worked through in the order it appears. The leader should invite different people to read several paragraphs each, pausing from time to time to invite brief comments or observations, without allowing these to deflect the group from the flow of the material.
When it comes to the questions, divide into groups of no more than five or six people each. Invite each group to bring back to the larger group two or three insights they found particularly helpful or challenging. These will need to be brief.
Please feel free to adapt the material to the needs of your group. If you find that one or more studies require more time, you may like to adapt it to spread it over two sessions.
Allocate about 90 minutes for each study. People will expect you to keep fairly strictly to this time.
The structure of each study
Each study has been built around a common structure:
An opening prayer.
Some questions to open up the topic.
Some material to read and questions to discuss.
Some things to do.
A closing prayer.
Study 1 Living in the modern (postmodern) world
Study 2 Living as one faith among many
Study 3 Living as part of God’s good creation
Study 4 Living as Christian radicals