The challenge we face
Despite the efforts of competent, well resourced clergy, who’ve increased in number by 25% over the last 10 years, we Sydney Anglicans failed to achieve real congregational growth. No stone was left unturned to connect and engage with our wider community and grow the church. So this is a remarkable and troubling shortfall compared with our mission. We can learn much from this.
At the same time, our secular culture has taken a decidedly negative stance toward the Bible’s view of marriage, not only in its importance to children, but also of its fundamental nature as a union between a man and a woman. Christians are increasingly being cast as intolerant bigots for our biblical understanding about the role of women, and for not embracing same sex marriage. These views challenge the authority of God’s word, yet a large part of the Anglican communion outside Sydney has already bowed to the pressure of secular culture rather than submit to the Word of God. It’s no different in other denominations. Our children and our children’s children will grow up in a world where they are likely to suffer persecution if they take a stand. Many will not.
Cultural norms set high expectations for standards of living that require men and women to undertake extended education, delay marriage, have few children, and leave babies in care to return to work. There’s very little time and energy left to devote to Christian ministry, so most of us have been happy to see the growth and professionalisation of the clergy remove the burden from us. In fact, my informal survey leads me to the view than less than 10% of all laity have any significant part to play in the ministries of the Church. This suggests that more than 70,000 Sydney Anglicans are investing very minimal effort to grow the body of Christ, and this reflects in declining levels of theological maturity of our laity, and the rate of giving through the plate. The laity are losing interest. This is dispiriting for our clergy, who have made significant investment to prepare themselves for a ministry that the Church is now having difficulty in paying for. There is no evidence that they have a solution.
Our best efforts have been unfruitful, attitudes toward us are becoming increasingly intolerant, and we’re spending less effort on Christian ministry.
This is not a problem we can leave to our Archbishop to solve!
Click here to register for our newsletter Friends of IU2U.
Return (to thinking it through)