I refreshed myself with a re-read of the 2016 National Church Life Survey this morning. A few not-so-surprising yet interesting points to consider.

60% of Aussies ‘assertively’ declare they have a faith of some kind. That’s good – hearts are open to spiritual things.

Church attendance across the board is in decline – compounding the issue the NCLS also note that the numbers have been over-stated. People assertively declaring “no religion” is on the rapid increase.

The most unreached people-group in Australia is strangely White Anglo Males, educated, living in a de-facto relationship or divorced aged between 30 and 50 years of age. Think the local sports club.

However, possibly the saddest outcome was that the evangelist/outreach worker accounts for 1% of all staff in Evangelical churches in Australia.

Fundamentally, if we were a business (which we are not but can relate to the common fundamentals such as purpose, activity and mission), and 1% of our company staff were devoted to sales would we take a second guess why we are in decline? Almost bankrupt?

Interestingly, at a recent church leader’s masterclass Rev. Melinda Dwight CEO of Alpha, said “You can tell how important evangelism is by simply asking the question, Pastor how much have you allocated towards evangelism in your church budget this year as an overall percentage?” A challenging thought.

We may just be holding our head above the water ever so slightly because we’re doing a good job of selling our message to our “staff” – but have we lost our way with our true collective purpose? In Luke 10, Jesus got (another) 72 together only to send them out. He mobilised people to share the message of the Kingdom.

This begs a question in my mind. Have we lost the art of living the Kingdom? A recent presentation by Joseph Mattera brings an interesting reflection on this question. View here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzweNLVSe88.

“Your Kingdom come…” what does that actually mean? Like, really mean? Let’s describe it.

If we can’t, how do we know if we are being effective in seeing “Kingdom come…”?

How does a FOJ seek first the Kingdom and his righteousness…? How do they practically do this day to day?

Pastor, It’s incumbent on you to lead this conversation. As Paul Cameron the CEO of the Churches of Christ for Victoria Tasmania said, “…the ‘church’ conversation has become the main game; and mission is lost in questions of ‘church’ maintenance, sustainability and survival as numbers diminish, the average age of a congregation increases, energy and morale fall and neighbourhood awareness and engagement are wistfully held memories. When this happens the resources God has given the movement to be true to the call he has placed on us in that location can be lost, eroded or used to prop up history, rather than meet emerging local mission opportunities. Changing the conversation to mission can mean letting go of long held practices and local traditions and “the way we do ‘church’ around here”… [Let’s become] a Renewal Movement”.

Let’s never stop asking and acting on the question, “What does it mean to see God’s kingdom come to our world?”

Published by Cameron Butler

Former Sports Chaplain for Melbourne Football Club in the AFL and former CEO of Sports Chaplaincy Australia.

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