The Christian Research Association has released some of its preliminary findings about shifts in religion in Australia from its analysis of the 2006 Australian Census data. You can read the Sydney Morning Herald article here, but some of the important findings to take note of are:
- The number of Australians identifying themselves as Christian will
plummet over the next 20 years as an aging generation of dedicated
churchgoers dies out. Rates of Christian identification are likely to fall to less than 60 per cent by 2025 and bottom out at 50 per cent within 30 to 40 years, depending on immigration patterns.
- The research also questioned one of the few success stories of
Christianity, the Pentecostal churches, challenging assertions that
they are hotbeds of Christian recruitment. The bulk of growth in Pentecostal churches came from the natural growth
of families as churchgoers married and raised their children in the
faith. The number of converts was being offset by those who drifted out
of the church.
- Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam boasted the fastest growth.
This will hardly surprise those with who have been critically analyzing the Australian scene but holds some uncomfortable truths for pastors who like to talk up the success of the Pentecostal revival in Australia. If they only have ears to hear.
Christianity is failing in its mission in Australia, without exception.
I think we safely say is that Pentecostal communities have been successful in attracting and retaining young breeders who are already Christian, but not so much young breeders who are not yet Christian. This can hardly be classified as genuinely missional growth. On the whole I find average Australians are rather wary of Pentecostal culture, finding it foreign, and in some cases, overly commercial. Suits some, and that’s fine, but that is hardly the makings of a broad based revival of Christianity in Australia. Overall I think it justifies the need for apostolic leaders to continue to innovate and explore new ways of engaging people.