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Talks from CRA Book Launch posted online

Earlier this year, the CRA held a book launch at Tabor College for our latest project, “Life, Ethics and Faith in Australian Society: Facts and Figures” by Philip Hughes and Lachlan Fraser. Labor Leader in the Victorian Legislative Council John Lenders, was invited to speak at the launch, discussing his experiences with faith in relation to politics and its influence on how decisions are made. Philip Hughes also provided a response, focusing more on how faith shapes Australian society as a whole and the statistics that reflect this.

Both talks were filmed and have now been posted online. Please enjoy.

John Lenders – The Influence of Faith on Decision Making in Politics PART 1

John Lenders – The Influence of Faith on Decision Making in Politics PART 2

Philip Hughes – The Impact of Faith in Australian Society

Pointers June 2014

Pointers Vol24, No.2

Inside this Issue:

Church and Sport: Churches Connecting with Local Communities through Sport – Several decades ago, sport and the church existed side-by-side within many local communities. In fact, in many places, local churches took an active role in developing sporting activities or collaborating with local sporting clubs. Many churches entered sporting clubs in local cricket or netball competitions. In some instances a league or an association was formed to cater for church clubs which had numerous young people ready and willing to participate. For example, a junior football league was formed more than 50 years ago in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne to allow children from local Catholic primary schools the opportunity to compete against each other on a Saturday morning, leaving Sundays free for church and family commitments. In many places, tennis courts were constructed on the same property when a new church was built, then subsequently a tennis club formed.

Trust and Faith – One of the most important components of social life is trust. Trust is the basis of human relationships. It is the expectation that people will do what they say they will do, the belief that people are basically honest. Trust is the expectation that people will take into account your interests as they make their decisions, that they are not self-centred.

Examination of Growth in the Church of England in Britain – The Church of England recently commissioned a major research program looking at church growth in its churches throughout Britain. The research asked where the church is growing, and why some churches grow while others decline. A series of reports was released and are available on the Internet at http://www.churchgrowthresearch.org.uk. This article is based on the summary report and the page numbers refer to pages in that report.

Ordained Local Ministry – Many Australian churches are led by people who have been given a special ordination to serve a particular local church. Most of these people have part-time appointments or are people who have retired from full-time employment but who have taken on the responsibility of leadership in a local church. Most of these people do not have the full training that is required of full-time clergy. A number of Anglican dioceses in Australia, for example, have ordained local ministers (see discussion in Hughes and Kunciunas 2009). In Uniting Churches, there is a similar appointment of people called ‘community ministers’ (who are not ‘ministers of the Word’). In Lutheran Churches, there are ‘PWATs’ (pastors with alternative training). There has been little research on these alternative forms of ordination and ministry. However, a book entitled Ordained Local Ministry in the Church of England (Bowden et al., 2011) begins to fill this gap in relation to the Church of England.

ARPA and Christian Press in Australia – In 1974, a Christian communication network was established in Australia: The Australian Religious Press Association. A New Zealand Chapter was formed in 1990 and ARPA became the Australasian Religious Press Association.

inside

Youth Ministry

A recent book from the USA, Almost Christian: What the Faith of our Teenagers is Telling the American Church, is built on the observation most American young people who are engaged in religion are ‘luke-warm’ about it. They see God as wanting people to be good, nice and fair to each other, but God is not involved in their lives, except to help them serve problems. The author, Kenda Dean, argues that young people are reflecting the attitudes in their families and in their churches. She suggests that young people are not articulate and passionate about the Christian faith because they have not heard a high level of articulation or experienced a high level of passion in their homes or in their churches.

However, Dean does not take into account the research which indicates that young people do not simply copy what they hear and see. They develop it in their own way, to meet their needs and to fit into the picture they have of what life is all about – a picture which is described in the ‘midi-narrative’ of young people. Dean’s suggestions for youth ministry should be taken seriously. Certainly, the faith of parents and church can have a significant impact. It is important to ask if young people have opportunities to express faith, not just verbally but through engagement in projects and mission? Are there opportunities for learning and deepening their sense of what the Christian life is about? Are they engaged to contemplate the deep questions of life? One of the key questions for youth ministry is the extent to which we help young people to find answers … and the extent we focus on those processes which encourage the asking of questions.

For a full review of Kenda Dean’s book, Almost Christian, see: https://www.cra.org.au/products-page/pointers/pointers-vol-23-1-for-downloading/

Church Attendance Among Australian Teenagers

Getting accurate information about the church attendance patterns of Australian teenagers is very difficult. We do know that, if both parents attend church, 52 per cent of their teenage children attended. If just the mother attends, 20 per cent of the teenage children attended, and 6 per cent attend if just the father attends. However, about 22 per cent of young people who go to church schools attend even though neither parent attends.

National surveys indicate that about 15 per cent of all parents attend a church monthly or more often. Our estimation that around 10 per cent of all Australian young people in secondary school attend. However, better information is needed to confirm this figure.

For a discussion of the problems in getting accurate information, see Pointers Vol.23, no.1. To purchase the downloadable edition, go to: https://www.cra.org.au/products-page/pointers/pointers-vol-23-1-for-downloading/

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