Rev Dr Rowland Croucher’s second in his series - Questions and Responses (2) (Q&R2) a volume of hopefully five or more paperback volumes examining the kinds of serious questions people ask pastors and other counsellors…
Rowland Croucher writes from his long experience as a pastor, and pastor-to-pastors. He says he does not ‘claim to be omniscient, so as “truth” can be differently discerned from person to person - depending often upon who’d got hold of them when they were impressionable’ - he attempts to appraise the evidence from his own academic/theological study and personal experience (‘aware that I too was “gotten hold of” when a pre-teen in the Plymouth Brethren group in which I was brought up’).
In this second book in the Q&R series we have three biographies - about John Claypool (American Southern Baptist and later Episcopalian), John Stott (an Anglican and England’s ‘Mr. Evangelical’), and Latin American Archbishop Oscar Romero (made a saint by the Catholic Church in October 2018). ‘They help us respond to the question “How do the best-put-together people get to be like that?”’
Who’s John Claypool? Rowland says ‘he was the most brilliant “preaching writer” (or “writing preacher”) in the English language I have ever read.’ John Stott, he says, was the most influential Evangelical leader - together with Billy Graham whom Rowland wrote about in QR1- in the world during the second half of the 20th century.
And El Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero was one of the greatest modern exponents of the experience - and cost - associated with following Jesus on the dangerous path of practising social justice…
As a heterosexual, white, educated, straight and great grand father …. Dr Croucher has a chapter which confronts the controversial issues surrounding Marriage Equality: Rowland Croucher says - ‘undoubtedly the most dramatically-shifting social paradigm shift in our contemporary world’. (hewrites as chaplain to the nation’s Christian LGBTI communities).
So how do the best put-together people he’s met get to be like these Christian leaders? ‘They submit to some form of Spiritual Direction.’ He writes: ‘[At a crucial time in my journey] I’m glad I found a wise counsellor/director, and I also submitted to a seminary-course on the subject.’ There’s a whole chapter on all that.
Which also relates to another common question posed here: ‘How can I be happy/happier?’
In the QR series, he plans to study three aspects of one of humankind’s greatest obsessions - making (more) money. The first relates to Economic concepts (in this book). Other chapters in future volumes will look at relevant theological and political issues.
What does a healthy church look like
The three important chapters on ‘What does a healthy church look like?’ examine how churches deal with the four ‘categories/experiences’ of our Christian life together: our worship, koinonia/community, formation, and mission.
The material here was culled and summarised from many seminars and conferences he’s led around Australia - and elsewhere - on this challenging question over five decades…
Epilogue – by one of his grand-daughters
Finally he concludes with a thoughtful epilogue written by one of his teenage grand-daughters…
Rowland credits his pastor-wife Rev. Jan Croucher - nicknamed ‘The Mother Teresa of the Baptist Union of Victoria’ - who passed away two years ago - with this series of books addressing the toughest questions folks in the church - and outside it - are likely to ask:
’My wife Jan was renowned for practising the kind of koinonia which invariably left people feeling happier after they talked with her’.
Footnote: If you’d like a signed copies of one or both of these helpful books, they’re available for a discounted $20 each (and postage free in Australia) from the author. ($5 from each sale goes to help Ugandan girls get an education via International Needs Australia.)
Simply credit CBA (JOHN MARK MINISTRIES) 063 191 0090 1840 (don’t forget to include your name there). Then message Rowland Croucher on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and postal address, with quantity, and the name/s of any you’d like to give as a gift...
They’re also available from Coventry Press (Bayswater Victoria) and from The Book Depository and elsewhere. Dr Croucher has been an unfailing supporter of the young writer program since its inception and will be at the young writer conference on 10 August in Melbourne with his books.
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