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Pointers Vol.25-1 For Downloading

Why Young People are Leaving the Church

A large proportion of children who grow up attending a church in Australia, United Kingdom or the USA drop out of church attendance.
According to the 2009 International Social Survey Program, the drop-out rate in Australia was 72 per cent. In the United Kingdom, it was 57 per cent, and in the USA it was 47 per cent. Over the past four decades, the drop-out rate in the United Kingdom and Australia has not changed a great deal. Indeed, in Australia, there is some evidence of it decreasing. In the United States, it has been gradually climbing. A recent book has been prepared by the head of the Barna Group, David Kinnaman, exploring why young people are dropping out. The book is entitled You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving the Church … and Rethinking Faith.

Is there an Optimum Length of Ministry?

I was once talking with a colleague who mentioned that very often churches experience decline in attendance at worship services during the first few years of a new leader’s tenure, before recovering to experience growth, or declining even more. Our conversation moved on to cover possible solutions, or whether attendance fluctuation in congregational life was just an inevitable part of ministry. One wonders whether there is an optimum length of time Christian clergy should serve, and how the length of tenure affects growth or decline in church life. Does the newness and enthusiasm of a newly-appointed pastor assist in attracting people to church? Are attenders more comfortable with the long-term pastor, vicar or priest who knows everyone and maintains stability?

Coaching: An Essential Ingredient

Freedom of SpeechPerspectives on Unemployment

Australia has a large and diligent labour force, comprising more than half of the population. Full-time and part-time employment are the two major sources of income for Australians, and as the labour force changes over time, finding and sustaining constant employment is becoming more and more difficult. Not only does employment provide money for essential staples such as food, water, shelter and electricity, it also provides a sense of self-worth and identity for many. Long-term employment allows for the development of skills, the expansion of social networks and the growth of friendships. By contrast, those who are unemployed have little to no continuous income, have less social interaction and may experience a loss of self-esteem and self-worth. Though unemployment seems overwhelmingly negative, it can often be a matter of perspective.

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Introduction to ‘Research Methods for Ministry and Mission’ 2nd Edition (CD-Rom or USB)

You may recieve this set of materials on research methods on a CD-Rom or a USB-drive. It will run on any computer running a web browser.

Research Methods for Ministry and Mission has been produced by the Christian Research Association for people studying for ministry degrees at master or doctoral level and for those who wish to do some research of their own.

This material takes people through the process of research – from identifying the area, specifying the research questions, conducting the study and applying the research. It covers both qualitative and quantitative research and deals extensively with the issues of theology and research and applying research in church life.

It contains a wide range of materials to assist in research: including some databases from the National Church Life Survey and the Australian Community Survey, bibliographies, and even software for analysis.

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Pointers Index 2007 – 2014

index to all articles published in Pointers from 2007 to 2014 (Volumes 17 – 24).

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Pointers Vol.24-4 – For Downloading

Inside this issue:

Schools and Local Churches

Catholics have long seen their schools as playing a very important role in the development of faith among young people. In many Australian dioceses, most children are prepared for the various sacraments such as First Communion and Confirmation at school. The schools provide most of the education in faith. And the schools also engage young people in social justice activities, in spiritual retreats and in Masses, so that they learn about and are initiated into the practices of faith.
In recent decades, Protestants have also turned increasingly to schools to provide not only education in faith itself, but a Christian perspective on other areas of the curriculum. Again, through the schools, students are initiated into the practices of faith: prayer and study of the Bible and the practices of charity and social justice.

Christianity After Religion?
It has been suggested that some patterns of religious involvement in the USA are about 20 years behind those in Australia. The decline in church attendance which has affected mainstream churches in Australia over a period of 40 years is now having a significant impact on mainstream churches in the USA. Americans are now embracing the more individualised spirituality that is common in Australia and Europe, but with their own American twist. This is the story that American author, Diana Butler-Bass, tells in her book Christianity After Religion, and embraces as a new spiritual awakening.

The Value of Sunday School
Dr Juhani Tuovinen (Tabor College, Adelaide) has put together a report on the value of Sunday School. The report is based on some items in the National Church Life Survey of 2001. While the data is now 14 years old, it does indicate some trends which are worthy of reflection.

The Gospel and the Cultures in Australian Cities

Tim Foster, vice-principal of Ridley College, has recently written a book, The Suburban Captivity of the Church: Contextualising the Gospel for Post-Christian Australia. It describes three different cultural contexts of city life in Australia, surban, urban and battler, and argues that the gospel needs to intersect with these sub-cultures in different ways. At the heart of the book is the assertion that the gospel narrative both ‘affirms and critiques culture, providing a new vision for life shaped by God’s new order’ (p.5).

Conversion Into and Out of Islam

There have been some high profile cases recently of converts to Islam in Australia and in other parts of the Western world who have become spokespeople for fanatical forms of Islam. Such cases give support for the idea that Islam is ‘conquering’ the Western world. But how common are such cases?

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Children and the Church

Children and the Church – Jesus brings the child to a place in the middle

Vivienne Mountain

ISBN: 978-1-875223-80-0

Dr Keith White, the co-founder and chair of the international Child Theology Movement says,
Child Theology is a lively movement that is developing, with a range of personal insights and much cultural variety. What Vivienne charts so delightfully is the story of her own awakening primarily in an Australasian context, richly informed by the experiences and reflections of children and adults from around the world.
This book will inspire those who work with children. It also offers insights and challenges for all people who are engaged in ministry. It asks what does it mean ‘to place the child in the middle’ for discipleship and for the church itself? Dr Alan Niven, vice-principal of Stirling Theological College, Melbourne, says ‘Competent research, measured theological reflection and insights from practice, combine to offer us a resource that will enable and empower.

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Re-imagining Church

Re-Imagining Curch:
Positive Ministry Responses to the Age of Experience


Many church leaders are confused. Patterns of ministry which worked so well in the past are no longer effective. Churches which grew rapidly have ceased to grow. The culture of the Western world has changed. At its heart is a change in the nature of authority: from tradition and reason to the authority of personal experience.
This book explores the changes in culture and church life. Rev Dr Philip Hughes, the senior research officer of the Christian Research Association outlines the problem the churches are facing. Rev Gary Bouma, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Monash University, and an Anglican Priest, charts the origins of the problem.
The large part of the book is the work of Rev Dr Gerald Rose, a senior minister in the Churches of Christ in Victoria, Australia. Through careful observation and detailed interviews of ministers, he describes a range of ministry responses to the changing culture. He explores, not one solution, but many: the ministry of intentional mission, of the charismatic movement, of ministry based in relationships, and of ministry rooted in classical spirituality.
This is a book which should be read by church leaders, ministers and pastors of all denominations. It provides great insight into the nature of contemporary culture and outlines positive pathways for ministry in the Western context.

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The Religion-and-Film Genre: A Select Bibliography

The Religion-and-Film Genre: A Select Bibliography

This is the second century of the age of Hollywood and the reign of moving image culture. Black-and-white photography started it. Film got it moving, talking and coloured. Television got it out of theatres and into your home, at first small and monochrome but now big and colourful. The Internet now brings it directly into your office and straight onto your PC, tablet or mobile phone. It entertains and educates us all. Indeed, the popular cinema (aka movies, films, flicks, the pictures) has become the lingua franca of the children-of-the-media during the 20th and 21st centuries, with no hint of its demise in sight. And yet, despite this social reality, mainstream religious education has been reluctant to seriously utilise movies in the classroom, home or pulpit beyond their visual aide or student pacifier roles. The following fifteen heuristic categories (with book, book chapter, and article break-downs per category) were created for your ease, enjoyment and edification.

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Pointers Vol.24-3 For Downloading

Does Faith Give you Better Health?
A recent book by Rodney Stark, a renowned sociologist of
religion in the United States of America, America’s Blessings,
argued that church attenders, on average, have an expectation
of 7.6 years of life longer when they are 20 years of age than
do non-church attenders (Stark 2012, loc. 1554). He argues that
part of it is due to the ‘clean living’ of religious people. However,
over and above that, he maintains religion contributes to lower
blood pressure. In addition, he quotes another large study which
found that church attenders were less likely than non-churchattenders
to have strokes. The major reasons, the book suggests,
for these positive relationships are the fact that religion allays
anxiety and tensions, loneliness and depression, and that it
provides social support (Stark 2012, loc 1575). The data from
a survey of public health which is part of the International
Social Survey Program allows us to make some examination
of the relationship between religious faith and health among


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Pointers Vol.24-2 For Downloading

Church and Sport: Churches Connecting with Local Communities through Sport – Several decades ago, sport and the church existed side-by-side within many local communities. In fact, in many places, local churches took an active role in developing sporting activities or collaborating with local sporting clubs. Many churches entered sporting clubs in local cricket or netball competitions. In some instances a league or an association was formed to cater for church clubs which had numerous young people ready and willing to participate. For example, a junior football league was formed more than 50 years ago in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne to allow children from local Catholic primary schools the opportunity to compete against each other on a Saturday morning, leaving Sundays free for church and family commitments. In many places, tennis courts were constructed on the same property when a new church was built, then subsequently a tennis club formed.

Trust and Faith – One of the most important components of social life is trust. Trust is the basis of human relationships. It is the expectation that people will do what they say they will do, the belief that people are basically honest. Trust is the expectation that people will take into account your interests as they make their decisions, that they are not self-centred.

Examination of Growth in the Church of England in Britain – The Church of England recently commissioned a major research program looking at church growth in its churches throughout Britain. The research asked where the church is growing, and why some churches grow while others decline. A series of reports was released and are available on the Internet at This article is based on the summary report and the page numbers refer to pages in that report.

Ordained Local Ministry – Many Australian churches are led by people who have been given a special ordination to serve a particular local church. Most of these people have part-time appointments or are people who have retired from full-time employment but who have taken on the responsibility of leadership in a local church. Most of these people do not have the full training that is required of full-time clergy. A number of Anglican dioceses in Australia, for example, have ordained local ministers (see discussion in Hughes and Kunciunas 2009). In Uniting Churches, there is a similar appointment of people called ‘community ministers’ (who are not ‘ministers of the Word’). In Lutheran Churches, there are ‘PWATs’ (pastors with alternative training). There has been little research on these alternative forms of ordination and ministry. However, a book entitled Ordained Local Ministry in the Church of England (Bowden et al., 2011) begins to fill this gap in relation to the Church of England.

ARPA and Christian Press in Australia – In 1974, a Christian communication network was established in Australia: The Australian Religious Press Association. A New Zealand Chapter was formed in 1990 and ARPA became the Australasian Religious Press Association.

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Life, Ethics And Faith In Australian Society: Facts And Figures – PDF

Life, Ethics And Faith In Australian Society: Facts And Figures by Philip Hughes and Lachlan Fraser

A reference book from the Christian Research Association.

Religion interacts with almost every aspect of life. Australian religious communities have grown through immigration, but have declined through cultural changes. These communities continue to educate almost 40 per cent of Australian students and provide many of Australia’s welfare services and international aid.

In turn, religious faith has an impact on the age at which young people get married, family size, the occupations their members go into, as well as how they spend their time and money, and their involvement in voluntary activities.

Religious faith also has an impact on people’s values: their attitudes to work and leisure, their sense of meaning in life, and their attitudes to the sacredness of human life and to expressions of sexuality.

Drawing on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and several other major social surveys, this book explores not only the general impact of religion, but how that impact varies according to the extent of people’s involvement in religion and the particular religious group in which people are involved. To understand Australian culture and society, one needs to understand the impact of the multiplicity of faiths that shape the lives of Australians.

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