Mission 2020 updated
Synod has heard an update on the first year of Mission 2020, with mixed results but still featuring stories of success and people being changed by the gospel.
The presentation by the Bishop of the Georges River, the Rt Rev Peter Lin, on behalf of the Strategic Research Group, tracked performance against a number of metrics established by the previous Synod, using figures from churches gained from the 2016 National Church Life Survey. These metrics included desire to share the gospel and invite newcomers to church, prayerfulness and utilisation of gifts.
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Against most criteria, the overall numbers were largely static or featured slight decreases since 2011. Some of these decreases included reported time in prayer and Bible reading, inviting friends to church and retention of children of church members. There was an increase of 3 per cent in church membership by people from non-English speaking countries, plus an increase in reported use of gifts to a “great extent” within the church, (up to 25 per cent from 21 per cent).
“The 2016 figures are probably a better baseline to work from,” Bishop Lin said. “Having said that, we shouldn’t ignore these first few results as they give us a ‘taster’ for how we have started. The reality is, as you've seen, [is that] in most areas we have slight decreases. And that may indicate that the areas we decided to target were well chosen – either because we are weak in these areas or because they are important priorities.”
“In the end, it shouldn’t be the figures that drive us. In the end, it is the word of God that should inspire our action." - Bishop Peter Lin
The Mission 2020 presentation also included a pre-recorded video interview, introduced by the Rev Raj Gupta, of a new couple at Toongabbie and their story of being invited by friends and coming to faith. There was also an interview with the Rev Paul Webb, senior minister at Chester Hill, about mission activities the church has been working on to connect with people in the local area – including driving lessons for refugees and a Global Cafe community meal.
“We do need to be sober-minded, and we need to challenge ourselves. We would all like to see more people in our churches hearing the news of the gospel, and we need to consider how we can do that better.” Bishop Lin said.