Why are Australian Churches Losing their Religious?

Published August 20, 2009 by Michael C Leeson

Bishop blames ‘weak’ churches for losing their religious – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

The article reports on the views of Professor Tom Frame, concerning why he sees ‘The Church’ failing Christianity in Australia. Professor Frame is the Director of St Mark’s National Theological Centre and head of the School of Theology at Charles Sturt University. He identifies three rather clear reasons for a ‘weak’ church losing their followers.

  • “To some degree some churches are caught in a time warp, they’ve got the social and cultural forms of the 1950s and 1960s and have been unable to embrace the 1990s and the new millennium, so they do seem to be locked in time and their message with it,” he told ABC Online.
  • “Many of the churches are totally overcome by internal bickering about minor points of doctrine about which the world could not care less, because they don’t bear upon everyday life.
  • ” the churches themselves have conducted some of the internal debates in public and given the impression that not even the churches are sure about what they believe.

Professor Frame reflects on the

  • Significant changes in religious observation during the last 100 years.
  • Consequences for social welfare services
  • moral and ethical void

He makes one key observation

“And if they can’t articulate a clear message then why should anyone bother listening?”

What can be made of these reflections?

Strangely, I believe the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth are even more relevant today than ever in history. Much has changed over the last 100 years in that change it seems the Church has lost sight of Christ’s simple message of unconditional love, respect and acceptance.

However, those who identify themselves as his representative are as barren and corrupt as the priests in the temple that Christ himself condemned. The Church overwhelmed by the bigotry and ignorance of hate, preaches a doctrine irrelevant to the masses that seeks to hold on to the last vestiges of heteronormative privilege. Christ walked the people of the margin, He did not walk with Kings dressed in the silk robes and gold ornaments of social respectability. In one example He stood before the crowd ready to stone a woman accused of adultery and challenged the man without sin to cast the first stone.

What is the message of the Christian church today, how consistent is it with the teachings of Christ?

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