HOW HAS THE CHURCH CHANGED OVER TIME FOR YOU?
WHAT CHANGES WOULD YOU LIKE OR FEAR THE MOST?
Changing Ethnic structure of Religion in New Zealand – More diverse backgrounds bring different religions, and on-English Christian Communities.
Christianity in NZ used to have 5 basic denominations, since then there has been massive growth in Evangelical churches which are small – they have no national structure, only one minister and one building. (i.e. Presbyterians vs Calvary Chapel)
We live in the new Enlightenment Age: the information age. Reason and rationalism are the essential tools of living, which are in antithesis to faith – the acceptance of the Mystery of God. Everything is questioned, everything needs proof, everything is doubted and everything is deconstructed and examined. Without faith, it leads to some pretty cynical conclusions about the church: why would Jesus let himself die like a criminal on the cross? Why would people die for a man they’d never met? These actions are not reasonable, they are actions of faith, of people who have felt the presence of God.
Growth of mistrust in Churches:
- Institutional Churches which are closely aligned with the government
- Loud aggressiveness of the stereotypical Bible Belt Churches
- Churches being exposed as financially corrupt
Theological squabbling over issues like Gay Marriage, abortion, interaction with other denominations or even female priests which leads to exclusion rather than inclusion.
Church Congregations are growing older and smaller in spite of many efforts. There is a generational gap. Where are your children? Why are they not here? What’s stopping you from asking them?
Reduction of free time over the past few decades. Work commitments have eroded family life. People have less time.
Why has the Church lasted so long? I think there’s two big factors to this. I believe it’s because it’s adapted to its context. The Christianity that was brought to different parts of the world developed different religious beliefs and stories. From our last Youth Service, you may remember Peter’s Dream. When it was clear to Peter that requiring gentile converts to follow the hundreds of Old Testament rules was not central to the Way of Christ, they made a decision to change. Today, we are still expected to follow the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, because these are part of the core of Jesus’s teachings.
Today, a lot of people describe themselves as spiritual but not religious. They’re likely to explore the different Eastern Schools of Thought without identifying as a member of Buddhism, for example.