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Aussies Provide a Possible Glimpse into Church Future

by Doug Pollock

This fall, I was invited to do a God Space tour to most of the major cities in New Zealand and Australia. While I was across the big pond, I was given some extensive research that documented the decline of Christianity in Australia over the past four decades. After reading it, I felt like I was given a glimpse of where American Christianity will soon be unless the present trends are somehow reversed. Here is a brief synopsis of the research I was given. As you read through it, I’d like you to ponder these questions: Do you believe the future of the American Church can be changed? Do you believe the future of your own church can be changed?

  • In 1966, 1 in 4 Aussies attended church. Today church attendance in Australia has actually dwindled to 1 in 7.
  • The average age of those attending church is 53. Less than half of all Aussies (45%) own a Bible.
  • The civil authorities perform over 70% of marriages in Australia.
  • Even though church attendance is in decline, 91% of Australians stated that the church is beneficial for the community, and over half (56%) stated it is beneficial to them as an individual.

These statistics seem to indicate that Australians see the value of churches in their community but have reservations about the relevance of the church to their own personal lives. The researchers concluded that Australians have not rejected the church but rather their perceptions of it.

As the Australian culture has become increasingly secularized, many churches in Australia are very small with very few young people in them. Christians are not having many spiritual conversations with those in the culture. Why? Because if the majority of Aussies see Christianity as irrelevant, what’s to talk about? The future of Christianity in Australia looks bleak. If I could sum up what I read and saw in one sentence, I’d say Christians in Australia have been marginalized. If you’d like to draw your own conclusions from the captivating research I was given, Click Here.


Australia is obviously a long plane ride away. So let’s turn our attention to what is happening here in America. When you consider the trends of the “Nones” and “Dones” and the declining church attendance here in the U.S., are we really that far behind the Aussies (See Church Refugees)? Do you believe we can we change our future by altering what we are doing here in the present? If so, what epiphany would need to occur in the American Church to bring this to pass? It’s been said that if we always do what we’ve always done, we will always be what we’ve always been. If this honest, straightforward, “get your head out of the sand” kind of talk leaves you feeling hopeless, remember, that large, significant impacts often come in tiny, humble packages.

If you are looking for hope and some practical, doable, authentic ways to share God’s never-changing story to an ever-changing audience in a relevant way, check out Doug’s book God Space and small group resource, Activating God Space .



2 thoughts on “Aussies Provide a Possible Glimpse into Church Future

  1. Robert Meeks

    What I see as far as a decline of attendance and decline in involvement in our churches especially young teens and college age is that they are tire of showcase cinemas.
    They want something they can rely on, something that encourages and leads them.
    There are some churches still growing strong. One in particular I have noticed is Community Family Church, Independence Kentucky with Pastor Tommy Bates. They have two services on Sunday morning 9AM & 11AM, and Sunday evenings at 6PM and all services are packed with all ages. They College age on Saturdays, they have a Spring Revival, Youth Revival, Children’s Revival, Women’s Revival, Men’s Revival , and their Fall Revival every year, packed out. Plus some other special services .
    I live in Georgia , but I watch every service streamed live and record them it’s like being there in person. Check them out.

  2. I have read Church Refugees and read all of your columns as I receive them, but there is one topic that never seems to be addressed which I think is relevant. I belong to and attend regularly (with some reluctance) a mainline denomination church (United Methodist). In the 15 years I have attended this particular church, we have had some very interesting Pastors pass through, many with opposing ideas. Some of us have stuck around and “outlived” them, others just packed their stuff and left. Me? I am hanging on by a thread. My conclusion from this is that the schools that are issuing MDiv or Ddiv or whatever are not in concert with the attending population. They appear to be still teaching irrelevant and old school methodology. Granted not all of those that have passed through are recent graduates, so this has been a problem for much longer than I have been around. The Non-Doms are kicking the Mainliners butts . .why? Because they are appealing to the majority of the population, preaching the gospel in a relevant way. I, personally, don’t want to leave my church for another one and if I was to leave, that would be it. I would become one of the Refugees. I don’t know if I am saying what I am thinking in an understandable way, but I hope the thought comes through. I agree with Doug and his conclusions, and I agree with Josh and his. I just don’t think we have pushed all the buttons yet. And, until we do, or we find the right combination, the church will continue to decline. Old folks like me are just about at the breaking point. Why? Good question .. you guys are on the right track but can we get it figured out before we all shut our doors?
    Thanks for what you do .. God Bless our churches!

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