This book by the Reverend Doctor Rowland Croucher the Pastor’s Pastor of over 40 years has been ‘coming to us’ for a couple of years as I for one have written of this exciting tome at least twice in my column.
And here it is – the first volume:
The 50 toughest questions my clergy and counselling friends are regularly asked. - Questions and Responses
This needs a little background. Rowland Croucher was the Senior Pastor of Australia’s largest Baptist congregation in the 1970’s - Melbourne’s Blackburn Baptist, now re-badged Crossway. He sought a change and ended up pastoring a massive congregation in Canada and returned home after a relatively short time having encountered ‘Pastor for Lunch’. Upon his return he established / invited by World Vision to be a ‘pastor to pastors’. Then John Mark Ministries emerged in the 1990s - its initial goal was to minister to Ministers / Pastors who had experienced ‘negative’ church life..
He’s spoken to pastors’ conferences all over Australia and has been called upon by many international similar seminars where he addressed issues fellow ministers had upon their hearts with the difficulties of pastoral ministry with those who thought they knew more than any jolly-come lately minister.
He found himself swallowed up in this - that the John Mark Ministries - had to expand and so it did. I am pleased to report and acknowledge that I was one of thousands of fellow ministers who consulted Rowland Croucher and came out the other side to - engage in astonishing ministries, one of which is the ‘young writers’ with Christian Today.
One of the techniques Rowland Croucher employs are long walks. Walking and talking, and in his case, listening with an occasional word of wisdom. Moreover Rowland, soon to be 81 lost his beloved wife Jan,14 months ago, and through his grief and bereavement, has a fuller ministry quiver.
There is no possible way I could even attempt to summarise ‘Questions and Responses’. There is, as one might dare to say - “too much, too instant, too readable” – one powerful thought to grab your attention, then another, then another – it’s this constant impact that is so appealing.
Some of the chapters need our attention as levers in this arena of how to handle the questions of life in ministry.
The first chapter deals with Abuse ….. that’s got our attention. The second with the prophet mavericks. Here are true champions who are frightening to the ecclesiastical establishment. He understands the social justice ‘stuff’ and its importance as to how it benefits the evangelically minded.
His chapter on the Pharisees comes out of a different corner – I recall Rowland Croucher on our “beach walk” 20 years ago suggesting those who came against me were the ‘pharisees’ and I saw where that was heading, and my response who? “No, everyone thinks they are right, that’s the dilemma”.
Rowland Croucher is not short on talking about the biggies, such as the remarkable eternal impact of Billy Graham, then speaks about Gandhi and the other world religions. It’s interesting stuff.
Australian Missionary News Interview with Rowland Croucher
Joys of thought
Rowland Croucher has this beguiling nature whereby those to whom he ministers have the ‘joy of the Lord’ in their heart while being challenged about some pretty tricky issues.
Some of my colleagues place Rowland Croucher on the ecclesiastical spectrum as ‘centre left’. I’ve always maintained I’m in the perfect centre and everyone else is on my theological right or left. Rowland Croucher is much the same, sometimes he veers right and sometimes he veers left. When he speaks of the theological emphasis on “love” he’s on my left, when he speaks of prophets he’s on my right. If we’re honest, we’re much the same with this spectrum analysis.
His theological analysis of “What would Jesus do” is perhaps the most controversial section of his book, as following Jesus sees (personalising it) me on a cross, even today, a cross of pastoral abuse, a cross of theological / colleague distancing…. What about my responsibilities to my wife of 41 years and my adult children and grand children. It all becomes too …..
Published in Australia by Coventry Press
Copies of the book can be obtained online: Simply send $25 (includes postage within Australia) to John Mark Ministries (http://www.jmm.org.au/) account details 06 3191 0090 1840, and include your name.
Then email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name (again) and address. You should get a (signed) copy within one or two days.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html