A spiritual health check for Australia

By March 25, 2015 Blog No Comments

I recently attended a lecture by Alan Hirsch where he was outlining the work that he is doing in the USA, helping Churches shift towards becoming missional movements.

As part of his presentation he outlined that in the USA they have what he terms the 60-40 Window. What he means by this is that within the American population, 60% have no interest in connecting with the current expression of Church that is represented by 95% of Christian Churches. Consequently, while Churches strive to reach out to the 40% who might be interested, 60% of the population has been abandoned. 

On this basis, Hirsch argues that the Church needs to be exploring new ways of unleashing the transformational power of the Gospel through as yet unimagined missional means. He proposes that the Church needs to work out what the core message is that they must be true to and then explore every avenue to make this message available to those who may never ‘darken the door’ of Church as it is currently known.

As I listened, I began to wonder what the situation looked like here in Australia, where culturally it feels that we have moved considerably further than the US from our Christian roots.

From the McCrindle Research group, I was able to uncover some of what the picture is here, at least as the numbers seem to tell it.

In Australia, 64% of the adult population claim to be Christian from national census reportings. However, of those people only 40% (26% of the population) claim to follow Christianity as a religion and not just Christianity in the form of loose spirituality. Further, only 9% of this group (around 2% of the population) attend a church service at least once a month.

Also of interest is that while 50% of the Australian population is aged between 15-39, that age group only makes up one quarter of the Church, with the average age of Church attendees being 53.

What does this appear to be saying? To me it says that 98% of the Australians have little connection with the way Church is currently being done, in terms of the Worship Services. It also says that, of those who do have a connection, three quarters of them aren’t turning up to what we’re currently offering on a Sunday.

However, what all these numbers don’t tell us, is how many people are actually being connected with the non-Worship Service activities that Communities of Faith are engaged in. Things like play-groups and community food banks, financial help services and relationship counseling services. The front line engagement points where the Gospel engages real issues in people’s lives. Points where people can access the Kingdom of God.

Despite this, it does seem to indicate that regardless of how people are being engaged, they are not transitioning into our current Worship gatherings as they encounter God’s grace. To me, this suggests that for the spiritual health of Australia, we need to consider what it means for us to draw people together as we open the (at best) 90-10 window to let the love of Christ in.