Here are some interesting religion statistics. According to the ABS 2006 census (the most recent):
- About 13 million or 64% of Australians called themselves “Christian.” However, only about 7.5% attend any church services weekly (NCLS Research 2004).
- The main denominations continue to decline slowly, while 19% of Australians claimed “no religion.” Another two million did not state or adequately describe their religion.
- Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and other religions are still minorities but have also grown, due to increased immigration from the Asian region.
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Thinking About The Data
Have another look at that pie chart. If you are independent Baptist or even simply a conservative evangelical, you represent a splinter in that pie. And beyond that “Christian” circle, there are another seven million people. Let’s work more in evangelism and discipleship, and keep our secondary issues … secondary.
Since many Australians still claim a religious background, this means there are plenty of opportunities for evangelism in conversations. Usually you can find some common ground (e.g. belief in God, life after death, moral laws) and progress toward the truths of the Gospel.
I also think Bible-believing churches should ponder more about how to welcome and challenge locals who claim to be Christian but are not regenerate. I’ve often listened to people who were disillusioned by their church in their youth, and they never looked back. While their experience may be a convenient excuse to live their own way, we can still surprise them with God’s love and our commitment to the Word.
One out of five Australians are saying they are not religious. I wonder if our congregations are equipped to relate to the non-religious? We should understand the Gospel in a way that speaks effectively to the atheist or agnostic mind. Without casting pearls, we should be able to give a reasonable defence of the faith and be salt and light in the community.
There are many churches that are mono-cultural, i.e. Anglo or Chinese or Filipino. Nothing wrong with that, but it might limit the church to be perceived only as an “Aussie” church or a “Chinese” church. Perhaps such a church can get involved in an outreach to new immigrants and diversify.