On New Year's Day 2001, we welcomed the 21st Century. As we come to this new Century in Australia we are truly blessed with a wonderful country, one of the great democracies of the world, and a diverse and rich society, combining our Aboriginal culture and the diversity of many cultures who have settled here over the past two hundred years.

Christianity came to Australia on the first fleet and has been part of the dynamic history of this country since. However, as we approach the 21st Century the churches and Christianity face challenging times, with overall church attendances decreasing and Australians finding many other alternative forms of religious and spiritual expression. Indeed across the Western world traditional denominations are all facing some decline as they are caught up in a first world pattern which involves a growing questioning and even distrust of institutions. The Law, Medicine, Government, Education and the Church do not enjoy the same levels of public confidence or respect, and even in an age of spin doctoring much has to be done if they are to recover their integrity particularly in the eyes of many young people.

For Christians and the churches, I believe, this means we need to go back to the basics of our faith and rediscover who we are as the people of God. Too easily the Church has been seduced and compromised by the society we live in. At the same time, particularly in the areas of education, welfare and social justice, the Church has been at the forefront of many developments in these areas.

These studies are designed to encourage Christians to reaffirm the foundations of their faith. They are not asking you to accept narrow, type-cast definitions but they are asking you in the light of Scripture, Reason and Tradition to look at your faith and see how you are travelling into the 21st Century.

I hope these studies offer challenge and encouragement, but most of all they are designed to help you explore your faith and enjoy the company of others. These studies are about being enabled by our rich tradition to embrace the future.

The five studies and the associated Scripture readings are:

1. GOD : Exodus 3:1-14 / Acts 17:22-28

2. THE BIBLE : Isaiah 40:6-11 / Hebrews 4:12-13

3. PRAYER : Nehemiah 1:1-11 / Luke 11:1-4

4. THE CHURCH : ITS WORSHIP : Genesis 28:10-17 / Romans 15:1-6

5. THE CHURCH : ITS MISSION : 1 Peter 2:4-9 / Matthew 5:11-13

Each of the studies follows a regular pattern. You may want to negotiate one or two areas, but you should always be willing to be flexible.

Prayers are printed for the beginning and end of each study, but the members of the group may want to contribute their own.

Any group that would like to offer comments about the preparation of this study or suggestions for improvement, their comments would be valued should they take the time to put pen to paper. Maybe you would prefer to go all modern, and Email your response.


Remember that at anytime during the five week home group you would prefer not to comment, then all you need to say is "Pass", and the leader knows not to ask you on that question.