I am a football tragic. I played rugby union, love rugby league, my grandkids play soccer and in the last few years I have developed a passion for Aussie rules.
Last year I was leaving a Sydney Swans game after having earlier watched one of my granddaughters play soccer. On the way home with some mates, we turned on the radio to get live league and union scores. It then dawned on me that how Australians do football today, is similar to how they do spirituality.
They are eclectic and their spirituality is a smorgasbord of different religions, practices and traditions. It is not that Australians are becoming less spiritual, they are just becoming less Christian.
Morling graduate Mark McCrindle, who is the director of McCrindle Research, points out that more Australians see themselves in the spiritual, but not religious category, then all Protestant denominations put together. However, we should not despair as we have a wonderful opportunity to take the Gospel to our communities that are open to spiritual things but are often dabbling in a variety of paths.
We need to be passionate about equipping the Church to meet the challenges and potential ministry opportunities of our day.
I believe Morling College (Sydney) and Vose Seminary (Perth) coming together as one college empower us to meet the challenges of our day, in fresh and better resourced ways.
To take the Christian worldview, discipleship and the message of salvation into our schools and communities. I was interviewing a retired rugby All Blacks player and the New Zealand team is, of course, the pinnacle of that sport. I asked him why the All Blacks are so great. He said, “We have a simple mantra, which you hear in the junior rep games right up to test football.” The mantra can be summarised as the three Ps. That is Position, Possession and Passion. They apply to any ball sport.
You need to play the game in the other team’s half, have the majority of the ball and play as if your life depended on it. The three Ps will normally produce victory. Like life, it is about the basics.
Our coming together really strengthens us for Kingdom ministry. Coast to coast, we are wonderfully positioned with excellent campuses near major universities, strong denominations and first-class online programs. We will be one of the largest theological colleges in the Southern Hemisphere. Apart from our historical strength of Bible and Theology that remains central to all that we do, we have been blessed in the development of our Counselling, Chaplaincy and Spiritual care programs, as well as our Post Graduate Teacher Education degrees.
We also possess great students, strong teaching faculty, caring student services and good resources. Of course, what really counts is the possession of the Word of God and having the risen Christ in our midst. And I believe we have the passion, as it is a new day full of God-given opportunities.
I was listening to a well-known Australian Rugby Captain giving his thoughts about the game. He said in his view, that passion was overrated, and one simply needed to focus on good strategies. He had the first two Ps, but not the third. Maybe that explains why Australia rarely beat New Zealand under his watch – because the All Blacks have the passion!
In Christian ministry and theological education, I suggest we desperately need the third ‘P’.
With the apostle Paul we need to be really distressed about those outside of Christ (Acts 17:16). We need to be passionate about equipping the Church to meet the challenges and potential ministry opportunities of our day. We are at a time where people are desperately searching for hope and faith but have questions about the relevance of the Church. Morling is committed to meeting that challenge based on the three Ps.
Together in Christ’s strength we will seize the day!
Ross Clifford is Morling College’s Principal and a football tragic.