About the author


Jane Gibb

Jane and her husband Steve ministered at Trinity Baptist Church in Cairns, Australia for fourteen years before moving to serve as missionaries in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Jane has a bachelor of education. Jane is active in ministry in Vanuatu as well as being a busy mother of six.


  1. avatar

    Jeremy Crooks

    Great Article Jane.

    You have correctly identified that many dying churches confuse fundamental doctrines and nostalgic practice.

    In terms of a fostering a teachable spirit, I believe we must break the ‘one-man show’ culture in Independent churches. A plurality of elders and plurality of preachers can bring a healthy diversity that fosters learning and growth.

  2. avatar


    Some good points Jane. I think the real difficulty is working out what is ‘cultural’ and therefore open to change and what is ‘Biblical’ and therefore changeless. Individual churches will come to their own conclusions about these matters and they will probably have quite legitimate reasons for the stands they take. I agree that there needs to be dialogue between the leadership and the congregation about these issues.

    I personally prefer “the archaic suffixes we add to our verbs, slow hymns and seventeeth century English,” but I realise that this is a ‘preference’ that others may not share and that’s fine.

    @Jeremy – spot on about a plurality of elders and preachers.

  3. avatar

    Jason Harris

    Perhaps an additional point is to devote ourselves to the study of theology itself. It is pratically impossible to study systematic theology without exposing ourselves to centuries of differences among believers. Also, as our focus on theology (theoretical and practical) intensifies, our estimation of the importance of other things tends to diminish.

  4. avatar


    I agree–plurality of elders can go a long way towards flexibility at the leadership level. Having both younger and older involved in leadership also contributes to that sense of openness. The more seasoned can offer experience; the younger leaders can connect the older with mindsets and needs on the cutting edge of developing culture.

    @ Jason-Studying theology is helpful indeed, but we also need to be where the people are–the people outside our church, that is. The point of change is to relate theological truth with real life.

  5. avatar

    Jason Harris

    True Jane. I was angling my comment toward your #3 and PJ’s response to it (which I think is probably the way many would approach it). My point is that a clear understanding of theology allows us to have clarity on what we must and must not be flexible with. This would, I suppose, be foundational for each of your five points.

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