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Our mission crisis

by on June 21, 2012

I met a pastor recently from a part of Sydney I thought of as fairly similar to Canterbury, in its ethnic diversity. Actually I thought his area would have a lot more muslim people than here. We were talking about the challenge of mission in our suburbs, it’s an area where most of our churches are in decline. He was telling me how hard it was to connect with locals there.

I said, ‘I guess you’ve got a complex ethnic mix there, that must add to the challenge.’

He replied, ‘No actually it’s quite an Anglo area, you’d be surprised.’

I was surprised. So surprised that I checked out the Census stats for his suburb.

Ethnic ancestry for his suburb compared to the Australian average:

suburb     %                 AUSTRALIA    %

Australian 2,153 15.6 7,098,486 25.4
Lebanese 1,893 13.7 203,139 0.7
English 1,742 12.6 7,238,533 25.9
Chinese 1,292 9.4 866,208 3.1
Vietnamese 1,255 9.1 221,114 0.8

Check that out: the number of Lebanese people there is 13% compared to less than 1% nationwide. Vietnamese 9% compared to less than 1% nationally. Etc. In fact Islam is 10% there. That’s big.

The number of people in his suburb whose parents were both born OS, is staggering:

       suburb       %            AUSTRALIA     %

Both parents born overseas    7,273 65.7 6,876,586     34.3

65% are first or second gen migrants compared to 34% national average.

This is a massively multi-ethnic, immigrant suburb!

Yet the pastor described it as ‘largely Anglo’.

Now I’ve got no particular track record to boast of in cross cultural mission. I’m not in a position to give criticise other people’s efforts.

But if the guys leading local mission don’t even know who the people are that they’re sposed to be reaching, how is that going to work? If we leaders still think we’re reaching the 1950s population, most of whom are DEAD, how are we going to stop the cascade of churches that are dead.

We really want to reach Sydney for the gospel. But are we seeing what’s there, or do we see only what we want to see?

Alright, I’ve got that off my chest now. Back to work.


From → General

  1. Anne-Claire permalink

    Funny thing is that I didn’t know what an “anglo” was until I met you guys!!!

    • You can be an honorary one, Anne-Claire: you’re pretty white!


  2. Melinda permalink

    Maybe only the Aussies & Poms come to his church!

    • I’m sure you’re right.
      And maybe he never steps out his front door…


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