Pointers March 2020

Inside this issue:

Australia’s Changing Religious and Social Profile

Results from the 2018 Survey of Australian Social Attitudes have just been released by the Australian Social Data Archives giving us the latest comprehensive picture of religion and spirituality in Australia. The survey was conducted by the Australian National University.

Journal of Contemporary Ministry

As part of its role in conducting and distributing research into church life and ministry, the Christian Research Association is taking ownership of The Journal of Contemporary Ministry.

A Study of Family Violence Safety Notices and Intervention Orders

Four years ago, the Royal Commission into Family Violence handed down its final report after 13 months of proceedings. Since that time, shocking stories of family violence continue to proliferate in the media. While many denominational and church organisations are at the fore-front of tackling what many have described as an ‘epidemic’ in Australian society, there are also many individuals who play a significant role in addressing family violence at a personal level.

The Christian Research Association Human Research Ethics Committee

All research in Australia which involves contact with people or with people’s data (such as their health records) requires approval from a properly constituted ethics committee.

Professor David Martin

In 1992, David Martin spent some time in Australia as the St Paul’s College Visiting Scholar (Hughes 1992). During that time, he and his wife, Berenice, stayed in our home. I remember David being a quiet person and a very competent and cautious scholar.


We welcome Pastor Scott Pilgrim to the Board of The Christian Research Association.

To purchase this issue, click here.

The Axial Age And Religion In Australia Today

In my book, Charting the Trends in Australian
Religion: 30 Years in the Christian Research
Association (Hughes, 2016), I suggested that
we may be moving into a second axial age.
In an interview following the release of the
book, I was asked what I meant by that. I
had in mind the huge change in the nature
of faith in Australia that has occurred since
the 1960s: from something that is dominated
by religious institutions to a much more
personal spirituality, owned and developed by
individuals. However, the question motivated
me to look more closely at the development
and nature of the Axial Age and what might be
corresponding changes today. One of the books
that proved very helpful in those reflections was
the collection of essays edited by Robert Bellah
and Hans Joas (2012), The Axial Age and Its
Consequences. I have referred to many of the
essays in this monograph.

Philip Hughes 2019

To purchase this paper, click here.

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.

To Purchase : click here

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.

To Purchase – click here