Are we ‘˜on our knees’?
This week some newpapers carried the grossly exaggerated headline 'Anglicans warned church is on its knees.'
It was a headline developed from the report at this week's Sydney Synod that the Diocese finances will require further cutbacks and restructuring in the years ahead. In part, this has been because of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.
The newspaper headline may have succeeded in its aim to sell newspapers, but what it says is not true. The point and context of the reports at synod was to raise the need to restructure particular areas in order to prevent future problems.
However, the problem with the headline is that it fails to understand the nature of church. It assumes that denominational infrastructure equals church. But the real work is at the local church level.
A local church does not receive funds from 'head office' (the denomination). Almost all local church funding is provided by those who attend. In 2009, this totalled an astonishing $78m.
But even then to focus on money fails to understand that church is about people's lives being changed by Jesus. Almost every church has much to thank God for.
Here is the real work of God. When you aggregate this across the network of Anglican Churches across greater Sydney, the signs are that things are going very well.
Overall, we have grown by over 5 percent in 2009. This represents hundreds of new people in a relationship with God through Jesus. Our synod has had time only for some glimpses of moving stories that have illustrated the impact of people telling others about Jesus. I wish everyone could have heard them.
In other meetings I have had the privilege of being part of, I am realising more and more that so many people are pen to hearing about Jesus. Indeed, 16% of Australians indicated they would come to church if invited by a friend, with a further 32 percent indicating they would consider it (1998 Australian Community Survey). I find this an astonishing statistic.
Far from being 'on our knees', God is doing a remarkable work among us. And the future is looking very bright.