Australia

Australian population growing at double the world average

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Australia's population is growing at double the world average.

Underpinned by an economy that weathered the global financial crisis, Australia grew by 451,900 people in the year to last September, taking it beyond the 22 million mark, Australian Bureau of Statistics figures reveal.

That is an increase of 451,900 people during the year, keeping the growth rate high at 2.1 per cent — almost twice the world average of 1.1 per cent, and higher than China, the US, Canada, Indonesia and most other nations.

The majority of the growth, 66 per cent, was due to overseas migration, with the remainder, 34 per cent, due to there being more births than deaths.

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Just to keep up with this population growth Australia needs 451 churches (of any shape and size) every year. One church for every one thousand new Australians.

Instead we're closing churches at an alarming rate.

To turn our decline around, we need 10,000 new churches today to lift the current ratio of one church to 2,000 people, to one church to 1,000 people.

If we keep doing what we have been doing, will we catch up?

Why wouldn't you want to migrate to Australia?

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Migration numbers for Australia are at a record high.

The number of permanent and long-term migrants arriving in Australia has soared to more than 500,000 a year.

Record numbers of migrants, temporary workers and overseas students are piling into the lucky country.

There's plenty of anecdotal evidence that migrants from all over the world are responding to the gospel and forming churches. Newly arrived migrants are especially responsive to the gospel, and they are young.

Jesus number one in Oz

New research reveals that a majority of Australians (54%) rank Jesus as the number one most influential person in history. Albert Einstein came in at second place (16%).

83% responded that Jesus was a real figure from history. Of these believers 43% believed Jesus had miraculous powers and he was the Son of God.

2 in 5 Australians stated they actually practice a religion and only 27% do not believe in a God or universal power of any sort.

When times get tough, Aussies pray. 57% of Australians pray at various times during their lives and 29% pray daily.

The most common situations for prayer being when people are faced with challenging times (36%) or when a loved one has fallen ill (34%). However over 1 in 3 Australians also feel moved to pray when they are thankful for something good that has happened (34%)

When tough times come or bad things happen: · 28% of Australians turn to God in their time of need, while 15% turn to Jesus. · Only 6% of Australians turn to online friends and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

It's reassuring to know that Jesus is outpolling Facebook and Twitter. Although I think he's probably trailing Google as the preferred source of truth and wisdom.

The state of church planting in Australia

iStock_000005960119XSmall.jpg Last week in Sydney I was asked for my impressions of the state of church planting in Australia.

Here are a few thoughts on how the various overlapping groups are doing.

Liberal It was all over at least a generation ago. Attendances have halved in that time. The average age is over sixty. Churches are being closed down, not planted.

In the pursuit of "relevance" they have abandoned the truth of the gospel.

The clergy and the theological colleges have led the charge into oblivion. Every time a church folds they win the lottery through the sale of assets. This sorry tale could go on for a very long time.

Pentecostal The most prolific church planting movement of the last century. An amazing achievement of faith and dedication. The momentum will continue for decades. If history repeats itself (Quakers, Methodists, Baptists) there will be a Pentecostal Prime Minister within a generation or two.

Contemporary Pentecostalism is shifting to the cultural mainstream. Its greatest challenge is now its own success. Typically at this stage of development a movement becomes more conservative, its leaders more "professional" and less interested in the risky business of church planting.

Evangelical Evangelicals are holding their own numerically but falling behind in reaching a growing population. Without leadership, evangelical denominations find it difficult to turn good intentions into action. Lacking a strong centre, they tend to fall prey to other agendas.

Emerging The Emerging church has done everyone a favour in shaking our paradigms of church and ministry. Unfortunately the use of the term "missional" seems to be inversely related to new disciples being made. I've been saying it for three years now: I'm just not hearing any accounts of people coming to faith in Christ, new disciples made and churches multiplied out of the "Emerging church." Please prove me wrong.

Reformed Here's a trend I didn't predict. An assortment of Calvinists are abuzz with church planting. It's a national and international trend—at least in the West.

Why? They have made an innovative return to tradition. They have refused to adapt the gospel, but they have adapted their methods.

Still a long way to go before they become a multiplying global missionary movement.

Mega Multi-site is the preferred method of expansion of the megachurch—one church in many locations. In the best examples, new congregations quickly grow to maturity and become reproducing hubs. In the worst examples they become dependent and infertile offspring.

"Parachurch" Still leading the way in doing evangelism and making disciples. Rightfully wary of becoming a church. Wrongfully wary of planting churches.

Fringe A handful of innovative pioneers are applying the lessons of church planting movements in the developing world. It's early days, but they're sharing the gospel and making disciples with a view to forming churches in the world of the new believers.

They have a strong evangelical faith, a openness to the work of the Holy Spirit and a flexibility in methods. The goal is not a certain size of church but discipleship that results in multiplication. Keep watching this space.

NonEuropean Christianity is most vibrant outside the Western world. In the West the church may be in decline, but the good news is your children and grandchildren will be reached by Chinese, Indian, Brazilian, Korean and Nigerian missionaries.

Australian Christian Churches: Growing and Slowing

BrianHouston retiring Pres ACC

Since 1977 under the leadership of Andrew Evans, and for the last twelve years Brian Houston, the Australian Christian Churches have been one of the fastest growing movements in the land.

The ACC has released its 2009 report. A few observations. . .

Since 1997 there has been an 85% growth in the number of constituents, from 115,912 to 216,203. In the same period the number of churches has grown from 826 to 1108 , a 23% increase. Figures most other denominations can only dream about.

The ACC is growing, but the growth in constituents is considerably greater than the growth in numbers of churches. Therefore ACC churches are on average getting larger.

In the last two years, the growth in the number of constituents has slowed but is still a respectable 10.6%, from 195,488 to 216,203. A net increase of 20,715 people. For the same period there has been a net increase of 31 churches. These figures are interesting as they show that the ACC has grown by a ratio of 710 new people for every one new church.

The trend is clearly towards larger existing churches and a decline in the rate of at which the ACC starts new churches. That trend, if it's not addressed, will lead to a plateau.

In summary:

1. The ACC continues to grow at a healthy rate, but that rate is slowing.

2. The number of constituents is rising at a faster rate than the number of churches.

3. Average church size is increasing.

If these trends continue the ACC is headed for a plateau. Alternatively the ACC could make an innovative return to tradition. . .