Reflecting on the ABS data on religious affiliation.
Adapted from an article by Rev Sharon Hollis, President of the Uniting Church in Australia and posted here.
The 2021 Census figures released last week reflect a trend for people to be less interested in and committed to the Christian faith and organised Christian churches in particular.
For the first time, fewer than half the Australian population identified as Christian (43.9% down from 52% in 2016) and 38.9% said they had no religion (up from 22% in 2011).
While these figures point to decline, they are also an opportunity to reset, to re-examine our life as the Church and to discern the call of the Spirit in the transformation that is taking place.
There is an opportunity to reshape how we see ourselves in the public space. We are one voice among many in the public conversation. We need to develop a deeper theology of living our faith away from the centre of society.
There is an opportunity to listen to those who no longer identify with organised Christian churches. To wonder, with humility, why fewer people are interested in hearing from the church about the Gospel.
It demands a willingness to change those things in our life that hinder people from hearing the good news of love, justice and life that the story of Jesus proclaims.
Most of all, we should not lose heart. We need to be creative, courageous and hopeful about the good news of life in Jesus Christ. Let us seek fresh and new ways to share the story of Jesus, seeking to witness to God’s transforming love in all we do.