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THL 510 Issues in Ministry Project

Christianity and the Picton community: An exploration of societal attitudes to Christianity and the Church

Rev Alan Wood CSU Student No 11302380 Word Count: xxxx

Table of Contents
Introduction Where are we now? Status quo, current trends Whats happening elsewhere? The literature Methodology and Rationale, How can we study societal attitudes? The study (process) Outcomes Analysis and Conclusions Appendices Bibliography 3

Introduction For many years there has been an apparent decline in attendance at weekly Church services. This is a trend that is most evident in Western cultures across Europe, USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand. Certainly, the church in the West is in serious trouble and likely to run itself into the ground in the next generation if it doesnt do something radical (Riddell, Pierson & Kirkpatrick 2000, p. 132). Many studies have been conducted to discover the reasons for the decline and over the past three decades many Church leaders have attempted to reverse the decline through church growth and evangelism strategies.

Most of these strategies have been church-based and church-focussed, assuming that all that needs to be done is to somehow make church more appealing and people will be attracted to it. The underlying premise of even rally style

evangelism which calls for an individualistic profession of faith, is that converts will automatically align themselves with a church or denomination.

Growing secularism and dissatisfaction with traditional church structures appear to be amongst the major causes of decline in church attendance. As society has changed from conservative and traditional values and morals, so the Church is seen to be more and more irrelevant by successive generations. Even though there is now a growing desire to reconnect with spiritual things, it is unlikely that this spirituality is sought in the traditional church.

This study aims to ascertain the trends in church attendance locally and in other Western societies and discover what relationship exists between Christian belief and how that is expressed in church attendance. As there have been many studies done particularly over the past three decades, there is a large amount of information available documenting the decline.

To compare this information with local trends a survey was conducted in the town of Picton, N.S.W., Australia. The question behind this survey simply put is the same question that has been asked by Church leaders across the world, Why dont people come to Church? In assessing the answers given in the survey it is hoped that some insight might be gained to better understand those who do not attend Church and what might be done to connect with them. However, an open mind is needed because the assumption that people will come to us no longer holds and Church leaders are faced with the reality that we need a go to them attitude. Unapologetically, as a study motivated by evangelical Christian beliefs, it is anticipated that any points of connection discerned will be used to present the message of the Gospel of Christ in the most culturally appropriate way.

Where are we now? In 1987 St. Marks Anglican Church had an average weekly attendance of approximately 150 adults1. By 2001, with a population of approximately 40002, the percentage attending St. Marks had declined to 1.0% (40 adults). In the community the percentage of people claiming affiliation with the Anglican Church was 33.4%, down from 34.2% in the 1996 Census 3. That means

potentially 1336 adults and their families felt at least some nominal identification with the Anglican Church.

To better understand the local situation I have surveyed some of the literature that has been written over the past thirty five years or so, which tries to identify, explain, and analyse the trend of declining church attendance and membership in UK, USA and Australia. I have tried to discover if there are symptoms and principles that are commonly found and then through my research project I will discern if they are reflected in our own community.

Looking from the Inside Whats wrong with the Church? Many researchers and authors have approached the evident and historical problem of declining attendance and membership in the Western Church (Kitchens 2003, pp. 3, 4). This has been mostly from the Churchs point of view. They generally ask questions that can be reduced to, How can we get people to come to church?
1 2

From St Marks Church Service Register, 1984-2004 ABS Census 2001 figures supplied by Wollondilly Shire Councils Community Development Department 3 ABS Census 1996 figures supplied by Wollondilly Shire Council

Or What must we do to reach unbelievers? What they really ask is, What must we do to avoid the inevitable demise of the Church? However too late it may be, finally the Church is seeing things as they really are: the Church and the Christian faith seem to be dying in the West (Cowdell 2004, p. 40). There is here the assumption (probably accurate, and hopefully to be tested through my research) that there is something wrong with the Church that may have contributed to the decline in church membership. Apparently, no matter how much the Church tries to reverse it, there is an apparent downturn in attendance and membership. There was also the assumption historically that people in the community should be attracted to the church in some way, as they were in the past (Frost & Hirsch 2003, p. 19f). As the village church was the centre of the communitys spiritual and social life for centuries, not much had to be done to get members of the community into the church each Sunday. Now the centre has shifted leaving the church marginalised and struggling to stay viable. Leaders of the Church send up the collective plaintive cry, despite ten to twenty years of formal studywhy has so little progress been made? (Klaas 1996, p. 15). But as long ago as the 1960s there was growing dissatisfaction with the institution of the Church, and some attempts to address this is evidenced by such works as that of John J. Vincent (1976) who researched the Alternative Church 4. He writes of underground and neighbourhood churches (1976, p. 9) and a number of church experiments such as the Renewal movement and House churches as reactions to the failing mainstream churches by disaffected

Vincents usage of Alternative Church connotes separate gatherings outside the mainstream church, while Roberts (1999) usage of Alternative Worship describes the new liturgies that have been used experimentally in the Church of England

Christians. By the late 1970s Vincent reports that many of these experiments have met their demise and what remains is a kind of fellowship in sufferings (1976, p. 11) amongst the denominations. Vincents observation was that the groups outside the mainstream church that survived should be called para church or alternative church (1976, p. 13) as they exist alongside the institutional churches. They may even affirm and support the institutional churches (Vincent 1976, p. 107).

Looking from the Outside Whats changed in society? There has been some research about societal changes and attitudes towards the church and John J. Kitchens (2003, p. 5) looked at this initially from the sociological and psychological viewpoint. He suggests that there are three clues to the feeling of discomfort among church leaders as they watch their congregations decline. These phenomena are described by the adjectives

Postmodern, Post-Christian and Postdenominational. Certainly this is the obverse of a two-sided coin that has on one side the changing society in which the Church tries to minister; and the apparent decreasing ability of the Church to be relevant and appropriate on the other. Kitchens take on these phenomena is not necessarily negative, but rather the failing of the church to either address or capitalise on them. While society has changed much the Church has generally failed to keep up with the changes. We have allowed our culture and the Church to drift apart, without our noticing (Public Affairs Council 2005, pp. 13, 90).

Churched Society - Christendom Traditionally there has been what Klaas (1996, p. 2) described as the change from a churched to an unchurched society. This is a very helpful view of the community, not to departmentalise and alienate, but to understand the essential differences between those with some experience of church and those who have absolutely none. While it is a chronological construct, conceptually I believe both sub-cultures now exist side by side in our community. Essentially thirty or more years ago in Western nations most people in the community attended church regularly and would have identified themselves with a particular denomination. The first situation I would depict (Diagram 1) as a Community (a circle) with the Church (cross) at its heart:

Diagram 1: Churched Society5

The Church in this paradigm represents all the congregations of Christian denominations. Klaas (1996, p. 2ff) calls this Churched Society. Frost and Hirsch (2003, p. 8) refer to it as Christendom (and would add another Post- word to describe our present state, Postchristendom). Gibbs and Coffey (2001,

Diagrams 1, 2, & 3 source: Developed from a concept discussed at College Residential, February 2005

p. 9), in describing the many transitions that have taken place in the West suggest society was permeated by culture Christianity. The Church was the traditional centre of most things that happened in the spiritual and social life of the community. Most members of the community had at least a rudimentary

knowledge of Christian basics and Christmas and Easter were still religious festivals (Kitchens 2003, p. 59). This has been the traditional norm for centuries and is typified by firstly, the village, and then the urban churches of rural UK and USA, and, by inheritance, Australia and NZ as well. Typically faith and

spirituality were equated to attendance and the assumption was that a person believed in God because they attended divine service. Not participating in a congregation was a sign of not having faith (Klaas 1996, p. 4). An assumption of the past was that the Churches were the repository of moral value, chief agents of social cohesion, the focus of nurture and compassion (Cowdell 2004, p. 41). In his Christendom Paradigm Mead (1991, p. 20f) describes the kind of community that has at its centre a cultural religion that is adhered to by most members of the community. Many leaders, both lay and clergy, of denominational churches still see themselves like this today. They have speculated why members of the community are increasingly staying away from church, assuming that their church is still the centre of the community and there is something wrong with those that dont attend. They have the attitude that people will be drawn to the church by its attraction (Frost & Hirsch 2003, p. 18). Sadly, the fable of Rip Van Winkle who apparently slept for twenty years could illustrate how change has gradually come about, but many are oblivious to it or are in denial. The reality is there can be no

denying now that things arent like they used to be (Klaas 1996, p. 1; Larson & Osborne 1970, p. 104; Kitchens 2003, p. 27ff).

Unchurched Society Post Christendom However, at the turn of the 21 st Century the apparent trend has changed ever so gradually, but so drastically that now the opposite of Christendom is found most people in society do not attend church at all. This despite the large

proportion of the population who call themselves Christian (approximately 78% in Picton, 68% in Sydney6). Even those that do attend church services regularly feel only minimal denominational affiliation. Scott Cowdell describes it: Despite changes in liturgical resources, and in many places the gender of ministers; despite slickly packaged resources for educating, transforming and managing the parish; and despite the efforts of outstandingly gifted theologians to connect faith with modernity and post-modernity nevertheless the traditional Churches are emptying, their congregations are greying, the eyes of their fewer and fewer young people are glazing over, and turning elsewhere (Cowdell 2004, p.40) This second scenario which is most typical of Western post-modern societies Klaas labels Unchurched Society. Slowly society has arrived here through many transitions (Klaas 1996, p. 2ff). Many members of the community have been enticed away from the Church by various diversions including work, family and social life. Some have been driven away by strife and squabbling. Even token church attendance at Christmas and Easter is rare and these seasons are now merely holidays and no longer holy days.

Now most members of the

ABS Census 2001 figures supplied by Wollondilly Shire Council


community have had no Christian formation and are totally oblivious to the Biblical narratives (Kitchens 2003, p. 59f). These members of the community would regard the Church as completely irrelevant, as well as outside of and excluded from what would be called mainstream society. The assumption about spirituality is that faith can and does exist even without attendance at divine service (Klaas 1996, p. 4). There is a search for spirituality but it is generally not through conventional religion (Tomlinson 1995, pp. 757 & 78). This scenario could be illustrated:

Diagram 2: Unchurched Society

In this case the Church is apart from the rest of society and generally regarded by members of the community as irrelevant, old-fashioned and out-moded. The community is predominantly unchurched. Unchurched people do not feel compelled to experience the worship life of a congregation when that experience does not communicate meaningfully with them. They do not feel compelled to participate in congregations simply out of a sense of responsibility. (Klaas 1996, p. 51)

Quoting from Bishop Graham Crays unpublished paper From Here to Where The Culture of the Nineties p.5


Klaas (1996, p. 50f) identifies four types of unchurched people. The first are those for whom church has in the past been a bad experience (p.52). Through hurt, abuse, hypocrisy or squabbles they have been caused to actually leave and would likely never return. This group could even be hostile towards the church and attempts to reach them frustratingly unsuccessful. The second group are those who have drifted away. They have either lost focus, been distracted by other pursuits, or discouraged by the indifference of the congregational leaders and members (Klaas 1996, p. 54). Eventually these people became unchurched by habit. The third group are similar through habit, but these are typically Christians who have moved house and because of the pressures of setting up in a new location have failed to reconnect with a local congregation (Klaas 1996, p. 53). Something as mundane as landscaping the new suburban castle has taken precedence over attending church. They have just gotten out of the habit of going to church. Possibly the largest and growing group (Klaas 1996, p. 55) is the fourth, which consists of mainly Generation Xers and those that follow. Mostly they had no experience of church due to their parents increasing disaffection. I would label this group as profoundly unchurched. They are indifferent towards the church largely due to their inability to form an opinion through lack of exposure to the church. This group would form the most fertile of soils in which to plant seeds of the gospel, but it must be a good experience for them as these are the members of the Now Generation and Me Generation. Members of this generation have adopted the if it feels good, do it attitude of their parents, rejecting most of the rest of their values.


Another view of Churched vs. Unchurched society is represented by the report of the Church of Englands Public Affairs Council (Public Affairs Council 2005, p. 36f). It cites the work of Richter and Francis in Gone but not Forgotten where English society is identified with five categories. These are: Regular attenders (~10%) who attend church 5-8 times in a two month period; Fringe attenders (~10%) who attend church 1-3 times in two months; Open de-churched (20%) who have left the church and may be open to return; Closed de-churched (20%) have attended church but through some hurt or conflict would never return; and Non-churched (40%) who have never been to church except for the occasional wedding or funeral. I will attempt to compare these categories in my research of Picton.

The Solution a network of congregations? The solution to declining church attendance, according to Klaas, is not as apparent as the problem as we now perceive it. The picture of what has happened is both clear and cloudy. We can clearly see that demographic, psychological, sociological, and other factors have dramatically affected denominations. But what churches can do about these issues is cloudy. (Klaas 1996, p. 15) The solution could be viewed also from both the internal and external perspectives. Internally, the Church could revive and renew itself in such a way that members of contemporary society would be attracted to worship services and want to become members of the church (Roberts 1999, p. 5ff). Alternative Worship was the attempt by the Church of England to experiment with liturgical forms that would reflect the changes in culture. It was designed to reverse the 13

decline in the Churchs ability to attract young adults and hold on to those who grew up through its youth work (Roberts 1999, p. 3). It involved more than the use of contemporary music, drama and discussion in the framework of existing liturgy and was a creative event arising from a community of Christians (Roberts 1999, p. 14, italics mine). This still presumes that attraction of the unchurched can work. Incredibly, 35 years ago Bruce Larson and Ralph Osborne (Larson & Osborne 1970) had some very clear insights about the church of the future. Their analysis though was that renewal is not what is needed. Instead the Church should be looking for Gods new thing of Isaiah 43:19. [The Church] must find its own authentic form, life-style, and purpose, whether in a small group meeting in a home, a remote rural church, a beleaguered inner-city congregation, or a great cathedral parish. Wherever there are a few individuals willing and ready to be Christs people in their own situation and place, there the emerging church is coming into its own. Do you not perceive it? (Larson & Osborne 1970, p. 11). Returning to the fundamentals they suggest the gathering of Gods people (Church) experiences and senses the presence of God and everybody participates in some way (p. 54). Of course this was always how Church was meant to be since the disciples gathered around Jesus and later the Holy Spirit was given to the Church at Pentecost (Acts 2). The early church was indeed characterised by lay management, identifying and exercising spiritual gifts, and meeting regularly in small groups (Larson & Osborne 1970, p. 56ff). The questions I would ask are, Is this too much to expect of the postmodern church? Isnt this pie in the sky? Certainly many of these characteristics have 14

been occasionally evident in the growing churches of the past 35 years and even Larson and Osborne cite a few examples before that. The challenge then is, can the postmodern church return to the principles and practices of the first century? Can the church now break free from being bound to its buildings (Larson & Osborne 1970, p. 82)? The early church was essentially and precisely ekklesia, the gathering of (Gods) people (Public Affairs Council 2005, p. 33). In the gospels it was a hillside or the shore of Galilee or later, a hall in Ephesus or the catacombs of Rome. There was no theology of architecture (Larson & Osborne 1970, p. 83). The context of worship was not a building but a community. The building was inconsequential, the community was essential (p. 84). Larson and Osborne (1970, pp. 84, 85) also target the use of language and music in worship services. In both cases the church has been counter-cultural and not at all like the early church. The first church used the language of the day, koine Greek. Jesus himself used the vernacular, Aramaic, instead of the academic Hebrew to communicate to the common people. While some revision has been done in Australia since the 1970s with most liturgical style churches producing modern prayer books, this process must continue as the language is always changing. In the times of Charles and John Wesley there was great opposition to Charles hymns simply because they were new (Larson & Osborne 1970, p. 85)! Much has changed with church music since the 1970s firstly with Scripture in Song choruses and then the legacy of new hymns/choruses from the charismatic movement. However, there is still a quality about church music today that seems


to categorise it in a genre all of its own. It is not contemporary in the same way as Wesley was able to achieve. One exception in Australia may be Hillsong Church which has led the way in a new generation of upbeat contemporary hymns. Sadly though, what may have been gained in contemporaneity may have been lost with the insipid egocentric theology of some of the songs. Many other churches, particularly pentecostal, charismatic and other praise-worship style churches in the evangelical denominations (Redman 2002, p. 22ff) have also made some good attempts at contemporary songs. Traditionally the Church has seen itself as One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic (Public Affairs Council 2005, pp. 96-98) and affirms this in its creeds. However, Snyder and Runyon (2002, pp. 22, 23) suggest that these are the marks of an organised institution. When the church is a dynamic movement it tends to be Diverse and varied, Charismatic, Local and Contextual, and Prophetic. This suggests an organism rather than an organisation. Externally, the Church needs to respond to the changes in our culture (Public Affairs Council 2005, p. 1) and set up fresh expressions of church (pp. 43-82), subversively outside the church but inside the community itself. This is the incarnational principle which the Church of England sees as its particular mandate in the parish church, but admits its failure (Public Affairs Council 2005, p. xi). These networks should be seen as a supplementary strategy that enhances the essential thrust of the parish principle ( Breaking New Ground, Church House Publishing, 1994, cited in Public Affairs Council 2005, p. xi).


Missional churches have come to mean those congregations who have an ecclesiology that is no longer church-focussed but mission-focussed. Not in the traditional sense of the meaning of sending to foreign missions, but now the church sees itself as being sent to the community around it (Guder 1998, p. 11). While outward-looking these churches must be incarnational (Frost & Hirsch 2003, p. 35f; Public Affairs Council 2005, p. 81; Snyder & Runyon 2002, pp. 49ff; Gibbs & Coffey 2001, pp. 55, 56). As God in Christ came to us in human form, so the missional church needs to be in the community in the same way. Not compromising the call to repentance and personal accountability for sin, but being as Christ to the unchurched of the community (Public Affairs Council 2005, p. 14). Others have described the emerging church in different ways. The emerging church (Kitchens 2003, p. 36ff) is already happening and Kitchens suggests that we need the discernment to see whats happening on the edge of our peripheral vision. Vincent (1976, p. 13ff) describes the para church in similar terms as the Public Affairs Councils report above. They exist and minister alongside of, but in a complimentary relationship to the mainstream denominational churches. The House church movement (Vincent 1976, p. 77ff) has been growing stronger over the past two decades and hopefully will eventually see itself in that same relationship of complimentarity. There is no place for an either/or attitude between the established church and the emerging networks, whatever form they take. As the parochial church still has a vital role (Public Affairs Council 2005, p. xi) the attitude must be and/also. Many fresh expressions of church have emerged, some very innovative like Holy Joes, the pub church (Tomlinson 1995, p. 12). Tomlinson admits that his 17

venture was not meant to replace the mainstream (evangelical) church, but was intended to cater to the many disaffected Christians who had strayed away from the churches. They were much more at home in a pub atmosphere with its relaxed ambience, and proclaiming the Gospel, worship and fellowship were not compromised. I would depict this in Diagram 3 below. Note the crosses are inside the circle, representing the position of the denominational church (big cross) and networks of incarnational groups (the small crosses - fresh expressions of church, the emerging church, the alternative church etc.) planted in the community. They also exist alongside of each other (para church).

Diagram 3: Fresh Expressions of Church

C. Peter Wagner (1998, cited in Gibbs & Coffey 2001, pp. 76, 77) refers to these networks as the new apostolic networks. They are not necessarily post-

denominational as some of these emerging groups are found within the denominations. Whatever theology is implied by the term apostolic, and some may have difficulty with this term, Wagner suggests a change from traditional bureaucratic authority to a more personal style. There have been some abuses of this style of leadership and in its best form, found in the New Testament, cannot 18

be replicated today. However, an apostolic style of leadership of networks seems to be very possible (Gibbs & Coffey 2001, p. 79). This appears to differ from the apostolic nature of the episcopacy as the networks can consist of congregations across the denominations. The core meaning of apostolic describes the people of God who have been called by and sent by Him to take His mission to the world (Hunter 1996, p. 28). The shape of the church of the future is not yet clear. Mead suggests we are at the cusp of the emerging church and have returned to one of the features of the Apostolic Age. We now assume that the front door of the church is a door into mission territory (1991, p. 25). One thing is clear, and this hasnt changed since the early church, the desperate need of every member of the Picton community for salvation through Christ, yet most are oblivious to this need. What then are they aware of? Can we, the Church, meet them where they are at and lead them to the point of accepting their need of salvation and that this salvation includes repentance and accepting forgiveness through Christ and then some form of participation in Gods worshipping community? Its not going to happen through our sitting in our pews and waiting for people to Come and join us (even if we dont sing that song any more). The church is called to be the apostle to the world, bearing a distinctively Christian culture and worldview into an alien landscape. And the church is to cultivate communities of the Holy Spirit8 whose members bear the particular marks of a Christian vocabulary, Christian values, and commitment to the reign of God. Each of these aspects of the churchs missional vocation presumes an unmistakable difference between the church in North America [and Australia] and its surrounding culture. (Kitchens 2003, p. 75)

cf. Guder 1998, pp. 142ff



Methodology In order to ascertain community attitudes it was decided to formulate a survey that could be presented to individuals for their feedback (See Appendices 1 and 2). The method used was a questionnaire that was mailed to each household in the Picton village and three outlying areas that are also considered to be part of the town. The rationale for using this kind of survey was its potential to maintain the anonymity of respondents while enabling a degree of candour not necessarily found in personal interviews or focus groups. It also ensured a larger sample of responses, though it could be said the level of response may be biased towards people who were sympathetic9. Each household received two copies of the questionnaire and if extra copies were required households were encouraged to either photocopy or telephone the principle researcher and ask for more10. The total number of questionnaires delivered was approximately 2700 and 180 (6.9%) were returned over a period of six weeks. As respondents were required to be at least 18 years of age, this represents % of the population of that age in Picton. Of all the questionnaires delivered only one envelope was returned Return to Sender unopened, and while respondents were given the option of using a Reply Paid envelope, five respondents paid for the return postage. One respondent also wrote a separate one-page letter seeking further dialogue. Concurrent with the mail survey, statistics were gathered from churches from the area covering Camden to Bargo, and Wilton to The Oaks, about 40 kilometres north to south and 30 kilometres east to west, with Picton roughly in the centre. Each church was asked to provide statistics of adult church attendance by postcode so it was possible to ascertain the number of people from Picton who


The number of hostile responses was significant and belies that possibility During the period of the survey there were no photocopies received nor requests for extra copies


attend churches both in Picton and elsewhere. This would also help to validate the response in the mail survey about church attendance. As questionnaires were received by return mail details of responses were entered in a database and those respondents who provided their names and addresses were provided with summary details of the survey. Some who raised questions that anticipated a reply from the Principle Researcher were also answered.


The Survey The first two questions were about age and gender. The largest group of respondents were between the ages of 30 and 44 years (numbering 64 respondents or 35.6%) followed by the group aged between 45 and 59 years (54 respondents, 30%). This compares with the total population of Wollondilly Shire of xxx% and xxx% respectively. 5 respondents did not answer one or both of these questions.

Age groups by gender

70 No. of respondents 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 18-29 30-44 45-59 60+ Age in years Male Female Total

Table 1: Comparison of age and gender of respondents

AGE 18-29 30-44 45-59 60+ Not stated Total

Number 22 64 54 39 1 180

Percentage 12.2 35.6 30.0 21.7 0.5 100%

Table 2: Question 1 What is your age in years?



Percentage 23

Male Female Not stated Total

69 107 4 180

38.4 59.4 2.2 100%

Table 3: Question 2 Are you Male or Female?

The third question asked the marital status of each recipient. The largest group (115 respondents, 63.9%) indicated they were married. The next largest group consisting of 10.6% were Divorced/Separated.

MARITAL STATUS Single/never married Married De facto relationship Divorced/Separated Widowed Not stated Total

Number 16 115 16 19 14 0 180

Percentage 8.9 63.9 8.9 10.6 7.7 0 100%

Table 4: Question 3 What is your present marital status?

The fourth question attempted to discern the level of spirituality of each respondent. The largest number of responses was Christian (101 respondents, 56.1%) followed by Spiritually aware (58 and 32.2% resp.). When compared to the next two questions about church attendance and how respondents expressed their faith, a further attempt was made to discern how Christian respondents were. This assumes that those who responded that they were Spiritually aware or Christian and followed this with such expressions of faith as Attend a Christian church, Personal prayer, Reading the Bible as well as frequent


church attendance between 1 and 8 times in the past two months would be considered to be genuinely Christian.

SPIRITUALITY Spiritually aware Religious Christian Not interested Total

Number 58 6 101 15 180

Percentage 32.2 3.3 56.1 8.3 100%

Table 5: Question 4 Would you consider yourself to be a person who is: spiritually aware, religious, a Christian or not interested in spiritual things?

EXPRESSION OF FAITH Reading the Bible Reading devotional books Attending a Christian Church Personal prayer Other and/or extra comments Not stated Total (multiple responses possible)

Number 46 36 71 108 37 18 316

Percentage 14.6 11.4 22.5 34.1 11.7 5.7 100

Table 6: Question 5 How would you express your faith? (Tick all that apply) Although a high percentage of respondents (88.3%) said they were either Spiritually aware or Christian only a small percentage of respondents expressed their spirituality by church attendance (22.5%) or personal prayer (34.1%). A further 14.6% read the Bible as an expression of their faith. The number of respondents who said they engaged in personal prayer was quite high (108 or 34.1%) but not surprising when so many claim to be Christian. However, the number who attend church as well, and only occasionally (less than once in 2 months), is only 24 respondents. The actual number of respondents


who met all the criteria above (Christian +frequent church attendance + personal prayer) was 9 or 0.5% of all respondents. This confirms that church attendance is not generally seen by respondents to be an expression of spirituality. Many of the anecdotal comments were quite negative about the institution of the church. 1 1,2 1,2,3 1,2,3,4 1,2,4 1,3 1,3,4 1,4 2 2,3 2,3,4 2,4 3 3,4 4 1 1 0 25 3 1 11 4 2 0 1 4 12 21 39

Question 6: In the past, how often would you have attended a Christian Church? 5 8 times in the past two months, 1 4 times, only occasionally for a wedding or funeral, not since some years ago, or, never.




UK 2005


p.11 5-8 times in the past 2 mths 1-4 times in the past 2 mths Occasionally, Weddings, funerals Not since some years ago Never Not stated Total 41 32 72 19 3 10 177 23.2 18.1 40.7 10.7 1.7 5.6 100% 10 10 40 20 20

2 stated every day, 1 used to be regular Question 7: If you attended church 1 8 times in the past 2 months (a. and b. above), what single thing about church do you consider important/helpful?

Question 8: The postcode of the town where you mostly attend church?

POSTCODE OF CHURCH 2560 2565 2567 2569 2570 2571 2573 Other Not stated Total

Number Percentage 6 1 2 2 16 42 17 11 83 180 3.3 0.6 1.1 1.1 8.9 23.3* 9.4 6.1 46.1 100%


Question 9: If you attended church less frequently in the past 2 months (c., d. and e. above), what issues prevented you from attending more regularly?

Question 10: What kinds of activities/programmes do you believe the church should offer, given your specific family circumstances/needs? (Tick all that apply) DESIRED ACTIVITIES/PROGRAMMES Help with parenting skills Marriage support Childrens activities Talks on current issues My voice to be heard Approachable leadership Opportunity to be involved Meals Teaching about the Bible Baptism & Holy Communion Absence of traditional church structures/rituals Other Not stated Total (multiple responses possible) Number 70 82 94 84 30 86 66 32 84 86 32 42 20 808 Percentage 8.7 10.1 11.6 10.4 3.7 10.6 8.2 4.0 10.4 10.6 4.0 5.2 2.5 100%

Question 11: Do you think the Church should have a valid place in the community to help shape spiritual and moral values?

CHURCH IN COMMUNITY Yes No Not stated Total

Number 166 6 8 180

Percentage 92.2 3.3 4.5 100%


Question 12: Are there any social or community NEEDS that you think the Church could address?

At the end of the Questionnaire, respondents were given the opportunity to give their personal details so that they could be given a summary of the results. 44 (24.4%) gave their details. Of this group 11 (6.1% of all respondents, 25% of those volunteering their details) wrote extra comments on the back page of the questionnaire. One respondent from this group also wrote a full-page personal letter apart from the questionnaire response. From the remainder that maintained their anonymity, 16 (8.9% of all respondents, 11.8% of this group) wrote extra comments. One respondent did not give personal details in the questionnaire but chose to pay the return postage and showed a return address on the back of the envelope. This person has been a member of St Marks Picton for over 60 years.


Bibliography 1. Board of Mission, Church of England 1994, Breaking New Ground: church planting in the Church of England, Church House Publishing 2. Cowdell, S 2004, Gods Next Big Thing, John Garrat Publishing, Mulgrave. 3. Frost, M & Hirsch, A 2003, The Shaping of Things to Come, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody. 4. Gibbs, E & Coffey, I 2001, Church Next: Quantum Changes in Christian Ministry, IVP, Leicester. 5. Guder, DL ed., 1998, Missional Church, Eerdmans Grand Rapids. 6. Hunter, GG 1996, Church for the Unchurched, Abingdon, Nashville 7. Kaldor, P 1987, Who Goes Where? Who Doesnt Care? Lancer Books, Homebush West. 8. Kitchens, J 2003, The Postmodern Parish, Alban Institute. 9. Klaas, AC 1996, In Search of the Unchurched: Why People Dont Join Your Congregation, Once and Future Church Series, Alban Institute. 10. Larson, B & Osborne, R 1970, The Emerging Church, Word Books, Waco. 11. Mead, L 1991, The Once and Future Church, Alban Institute 12. Redman, R 2002, The Great Worship Awakening, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco. 13. Roberts, P 1999, Alternative Worship in the Church of England, Grove Worship Series No. 155, Grove Books, Cambridge UK. 14. Riddell, M, Pierson, M & Kirkpatrick, C 2000, The Prodigal Project, SPCK, London 15. Snyder, HA & Runyon, DV 2002, Decoding the Church: Mapping the DNA of Christs Body, Baker Books, Grand Rapids. 16. Tomlinson, D 1995, The Post Evangelical, Triangle SPCK, London. 17. Vincent, J J 1976, Alternative Church, Christian Journals Limited, Belfast. 18. Wagner, CP ed., 1998, The New Apostolic Churches, Regal, Ventura


19. Working Group of the Public Affairs Council, Church of England 2005, Missionshaped Church, Willow Publishing Brookvale.


Appendix 1

Please complete the survey and return to Rev Alan Wood in the Reply Paid envelope before 14 October 2005 If there is insufficient space for written answers please write on the back page. Tick the box where required. 1. What is your age in years? 18-29 2. Are you Male? 30-44 45-59 60+ or Female?

3. What is your present marital status? Single/never married Married De facto relationship Divorced/separated Widowed 4. Would you consider yourself to be a person who is: spiritually aware? religious? a Christian? not interested in spiritual things? [please go to question 9]

5. How would you express your faith? (Tick all that apply) Reading the Bible Attending a Christian church Other (briefly describe) Reading devotional literature Personal prayer

6. In the past, how often would you have attended a Christian Church? a. b. c. d. e. 5 8 times in the past two months 1 4 times in the past two months Only occasionally for a wedding or funeral [please go to question 9] Not since some years ago Never [please go to question 9] [please go to question 9]

7. If you attended church 1 8 times in the past 2 months (a. and b. above), what single thing about church do you consider important/helpful?


8. The postcode of the town where you mostly attend church? _________

Also continuing from questions number 4 & 6:

9. If you attended church less frequently in the past 2 months (c., d. and e. above), what issues prevented you from attending more regularly?

10. What kinds of activities/programmes do you believe the church should offer, given your specific family circumstances/needs? (Tick all that apply) help with parenting skills childrens activities my voice to be heard opportunity to be involved teaching about the Bible marriage support talks on current issues approachable leadership meals Baptism & Holy Communion

absence of traditional church structures/rituals other 11. Do you think the Church should have a valid place in the community to help shape spiritual and moral values? Yes. Why? No. Why not? 12. Are there any social or community NEEDS that you think the Church could address?

Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey.

To be completed only if you require summary information about the results of the Research Project
Name __________________________________________________________ Signature ________________________________________________________ Postal Address ____________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ NSW



Appendix 2 Text of Questionnaire Cover Letter (on CSU letterhead as required)

Dear Householder, My name is Alan Wood and I am the minister at the Picton Anglican Church. I would like to invite you to participate in some research with me. Currently I am working on a research project as part of a Masters Degree and I am interested to hear community opinions regarding spirituality and attitudes towards the Church. My supervisor for this project is Dr Kevin Hole who can be contacted by mail to the Reply Paid address on the enclosed envelope. The title of the project is: Christianity and the Picton community: An exploration of societal attitudes to Christianity and the Church. The aim of the research is to ascertain some of the social/spiritual/emotional/physical attitudes and concerns amongst the residents of Picton and how together as a community we can address them. Enclosed are two copies of a voluntary survey which should only take 10 20 minutes to complete. Should you need more copies feel free to photocopy or phone me on 4681 9873 and ask for more. If you and other adult members of your household are willing to be involved then your understanding and consent to the following will be assumed when you return the completed surveys in the Reply Paid envelope provided. If you are also interested in the possible results of this research, complete your name and address on the survey, otherwise please leave that section blank. Participants must be 18 years of age or older. Participation is voluntary and all answers to the survey questions should only be answered according to the participants comfort. Participants personal details such as name and address are not required unless participants require summary feedback of the results of the survey Anonymity and privacy are guaranteed as all surveys will be only be sighted by the Principal Investigator, Alan Wood, and will be securely locked in storage and shredded five years after completion of the project (as required by CSU).

Thank you for reading this letter and if you decide not to be involved please take no offence that this letter has been sent to you. Yours sincerely Alan Wood
NOTE: Charles Sturt Universitys Ethics in Human Research Committee has approved this project. If you have any complaints or reservations about the ethical conduct of this project, you may contact the Committee through the Executive Officer: The Executive Officer Ethics in Human Research Committee Academic Secretariat Charles Sturt University Private Mail Bag 29 Bathurst NSW 2795


Tel: (02) 6338 4628 Fax: (02) 6338 4194 Any issues you raise will be treated in confidence and investigated fully and you will be informed of the outcome