If you’re interested in understanding religion in Australia, I highly recommend you read Tall Skinny Kiwi’s latest post, So what do Aussies REALLY think of the church?

It draws attention to a recent survey from Olive Tree Media into Australians views on Christ, Christianity and ir/religion in general. If you want you can also view or download the full Olive Tree Media infographic.

Challenges the survey highlighted:

  • Most see Jesus as historical, but few see him as living or transcendent
  • The ‘spiritual but not religious’ now outnumber Protestants
  • Parents and family are clearly the most formative influence on dis/belief
  • 51% of Aussies are “not open at all” to changing worldview
  • Non believers are not necessarily ignorant of belief
  • Religious conversations are not routine but not taboo
  • The most “massively negative” barriers to Christianity include: church abuse, religious war, hypocrisy and judging others.

I find the religious war issue particularly interesting since this is the one I’ve found Christians are most resistant to owning up to or repenting of. But when I look at all these barriers holistically I get the impression that the root cause is grace which is preached but not practiced. The way forward then would appear to be obvious: we need to focus on discipleship.

Issues that are less important than we might think from listening to leading pundits:

  • Science and evolution as barriers to faith
  • Islam as a threat to the Australian religious mix
  • Homosexuals and women in ministry
  • Outdated music

Next to concerns about pedophiles and predators in ministry (aka church abuse), these issues are distinctly secondary in the mind of average Australians. Which raises an issue related to discipleship: discipline. How do we handle conflict, disagreement, lack of integrity and moral lapses within and beyond the church in ways that are more Christlike?

Here are some teachings that come to mind for me:

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (1 Corinthians 13:6)

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. (Ephesians 4:15)

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. (1 Peter 1:22)

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18)

God never intended for truth and love to be separated, nor doctrine and lifestyle. Let us not be whitewashed tombs, with beautiful music covering ugly hearts. Let us seek to live lives disciplined by the way, the truth and the life.

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