Pointers September 2019

Inside this issue:

Contemporary Political Challenges for Religion in Australia
As religion first emerged in human society, it was usually indistinguishable from politics. Tribal leaders declared themselves as having spiritual powers… The religious sources of traditions and ethical principles are being judged in the light of contemporary ethics based on reason and experience, and religions are having to defend themselves. That is now happening in Australia.

Funding the honorary chaplain: Exploring the possibilities of public funding for sports chaplaincy in Australia
It has been argued that Australians regard sport as sacred to their way of life, offering an alternative ‘religion’ which provides identity, meaning and belonging. Some Christian churches have recognised this importance and have shaped their ministries accordingly (Reid, 2014). One such ministry linking the church with sport is that of sports chaplaincy.

Report on the 35th Conference of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion
The ISSR Conference, usually hosted in European countries, is one of two truly international conferences dedicated to the sociology of religion… According to organisers, the 2019 ISSR Conference hosted 500 delegates over the course of four days… The theme of the conference was ‘The Politics of Religion and Spirituality’.

The Indian Diaspora: Hindus and Sikhs in Australia Second Edition
On 25th July 2019, the second edition of The Indian Diaspora: Hindus and Sikhs in Australia was launched by Prof. Bhajan Grewal and Prof. Marika Vicziany at the Australia India Institute, Melbourne University.

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Spiritual But Not Religious – Excerpt

The two biggest changes in the religious profile of Australia over the past fifty years are firstly the movement of people into the ‘no religion’ category. The second movement has been the growth of people who describe themselves as  ‘spiritual but not religious’.

– Philip Hughes, ‘Spiritual but not Religious’, Pointers, June 2019

Children’s Prayer – A Multi-faith Perspective

This book provides strong arguments for giving prayer a central place in the education and nurture of children. It is based on research in Australian Catholic, parent-controlled Christian, Independent, Jewish, Muslim and government schools. The author demonstrates focused attention and care in the data collection from the words of children and their drawings of people praying. She takes us through her thorough processes of analysis and synthesis.

The research shows that prayer is valued by all children, whether they come from a religious background or not. For some children it is a way of associating with their communities and traditions of faith. For others, prayer is practised in an individualistic manner.

Prayer is a way to perceive and respond to the experiences of life. It can help in dealing with the challenging emotional states of anxiety, loneliness, fear, anger and guilt. It can give hope for the future. It provides a way of seeking help for others, as well as expressing praise and thanksgiving.

Vivienne Mountain has a background in teaching and in clinical counselling. She lectures in Spirituality and Ministry with Children at Stirling Theological College, University of Divinity, Australia. She has published three books as well as contributing chapters to a number of others and articles for national and international journals.

Vivienne Mountain PhD, MA (Theology), MA (Creative arts therapy), MA ( Philosophy and religion), B Ed, B Th.

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A Vision for effective Youth Ministry

Many young Australians are struggling with issues of mental health, anxiety about the future, and addictions to drugs. Behind these struggles are often questions of what life is all about. Youth ministry is more important today than at any time in recent history. Yet, many churches are finding it difficult to connect with youth beyond those whose families are involved in the church.

This book has arisen out of Australian research into youth ministry, from visiting youth groups and talking with youth leaders and the youth themselves. It offers a vision for the development of youth ministry, recognising the diversity of youth and the backgrounds from which they come.

It explores how to build a youth ministry team and the qualities needed in the team. It discusses issues of training, payment, and support for youth leaders and building bridges with parents, church and school.

What are the factors which will really make a difference in developing youth ministry? Based on research, our conclusions are:

  • The vision for developing the spirit of young people

  • The commitment of the whole church to youth ministry

  • The youth ministry team with strong relationships with God, each other, the youth, parents, the church and the wider society;

  • A diversity of activities: both age-specific and intergenerational for fun, friends, inquiry and developing the spirit.

The Authors:

Rev Dr Philip Hughes has had pastoral experience in inner city, suburban and rural churches, and has been the senior research officer of the Christian Research Association since 1985. He has two adult children and one grandchild.

Stephen Reid has worked for the Christian Research Association since 2007 and has one teenage child and two younger children.

Margaret Fraser has worked for the Christian Research Association since 2011. She has two children who are completing university and two who are teenagers.

All three authors were involved in interviews with youth, youth leaders, clergy and parents for this study.

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