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Religion In Australia: Statistics

Posted by on 13 October, 2010 in Church, Current Events, Gospel | 26 Comments

Here are some interesting religion statistics.  According to the ABS 2006 census (the most recent):

  1. About 13 million or 64% of Australians called themselves “Christian.”  However, only about 7.5% attend any church services weekly (NCLS Research 2004).
  2. The main denominations continue to decline slowly, while 19% of Australians claimed “no religion.”  Another two million did not state or adequately describe their religion.
  3. Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and other religions are still minorities but have also grown, due to increased immigration from the Asian region.

Thinking About The Data

Have another look at that pie chart.  If you are independent Baptist or even simply a conservative evangelical, you represent a splinter in that pie.  And beyond that “Christian” circle, there are another seven million people.  Let’s work more in evangelism and discipleship, and keep our secondary issues … secondary.

Since many Australians still claim a religious background, this means there are plenty of opportunities for evangelism in conversations.  Usually you can find some common ground (e.g. belief in God, life after death, moral laws) and progress toward the truths of the Gospel.

I also think Bible-believing churches should ponder more about how to welcome and challenge locals who claim to be Christian but are not regenerate.  I’ve often listened to people who were disillusioned by their church in their youth, and they never looked back.  While their experience may be a convenient excuse to live their own way, we can still surprise them with God’s love and our commitment to the Word.

One out of five Australians are saying they are not religious.  I wonder if our congregations are equipped to relate to the non-religious?  We should understand the Gospel in a way that speaks effectively to the atheist or agnostic mind.  Without casting pearls, we should be able to give a reasonable defence of the faith and be salt and light in the community.

There are many churches that are mono-cultural, i.e. Anglo or Chinese or Filipino.  Nothing wrong with that, but it might limit the church to be perceived only as an “Aussie” church or a “Chinese” church.  Perhaps such a church can get involved in an outreach to new immigrants and diversify.

Ben Kwok

About Ben Kwok

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Ben is part of a church plant team establishing the Rouse Hill Church. He holds a Master of Divinity degree. Ben and his wife Diahanna live in Sydney, Australia with their four young children.

Comments (26)

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  • avatar

    Jason Harris

    Wow. I’m surprised by the dominance of the Catholic/Anglican tradition. I wonder what percentage of those are active…

    Thanks for the data and the analysis.

  • avatar

    Steve

    Those numbers will change drastically in the next 20 years or so, as the older “religious” generation dies off and the younger “non-religious” one is counted.
    An Anglican friend was saying recently that he thinks that the Catholic and Anglican church will eventually cease to exist and most Christians will be in smaller independent churches or the larger Pentecostal ones. Time will tell.

    Some good thoughts on witnessing to people of different backgrounds, you are right, we need to be equipped to give the gospel to all, from atheists to Roman Catholics. The gospel is the same but the presentation and context may be different according to the background of the person.

  • avatar

    Ben Kwok

    that sounds rather dire, but at any rate we have work to do whether it’s in season or out of season. What a great opportunity we have!

  • avatar

    PJ

    Thanks for the article Ben – short, sharp and very much hitting the mark.

    Though it goes against my better nature to recommend something that comes out of the News Ltd stable, today’s piece by Greg Sheridan is very interesting and highly relevant to the issues you’ve raised. I’ll say no more – have a read:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/attack-on-christianity-will-undermine-society/story-e6frg6zo-1225938377118

  • avatar

    Ben Kwok

    Funny, I read that too — he does make good points. I don’t mind reading The Australian, I think it’s more balanced and interesting than SMH for example.

  • avatar

    Evangelism Australia

    Thanks for the statistics Ben, these (and the helpful pie-chart & graph) paint a stark reality of Australia’s need for prayer, revival and Biblical evangelism.

  • avatar

    Jeremy Crooks

    I like the comment about calling back those who have walked away from the church. Often they have sadly but inadvertently walked away from Christ, when they intended to only reject their denomination. We have a positive message to tell. People can follow Christ without needing to adopt a denominational label. I think Australians are eager to hear this message.

  • avatar

    Ben

    Not surprised really, as an atheist the only advice i’d give to the religious is ‘get used to it’. Its only gonna get worse for you guys and better for society.

  • avatar

    Jeremy Crooks

    @ Ben, how is atheism working out for you and society as a whole? (serious question)

  • avatar

    Chelsea

    As an Aussie atheist I can answer that.. We’re pretty happy… Put crime rates are no higher than the US, and our economys in pretty good shape… Society’s doing well

    • avatar

      Jeremy Crooks

      It is possible to live happy in chosen ignorance. The problem comes once the athiest dies.

  • avatar

    Jack

    The universal problem is to help folks see that the Kingdom of God is not a “religion” at all. Most non believers or nominal believers always want argue religion statistics. That is not the core issue at all.

    Atheism is the absence of God as dark is the absence of light. It makes no sense for dark to try to explain away the energy of light. If dark wins the argument, which it cannot, what would be left?

    It is Satan himself who always diverts our conversations away from the core issue.

    The testimony of Atheism and all other “religions” will be irrelevant at the Great White Throne Judgement.

  • avatar

    evangelism

    I am surprised by the increasing number of teenagers who have no understanding of Christianity whatsoever. Large numbers of them have no idea what the message of Easter is about or any concept of the uniqueness of Jesus compared to other spiritual leaders in history. It is sad. But it is also very exciting to consider the privilege before us. Consider all the people that we can speak to out on the streets who have never heard the Gospel message. We don’t need to travel to the far regions of Africa or India to evangelise to unreached people groups. They are right here on the doorsteps of our Australian capital cities.

  • avatar

    jim Plumbe

    It is weird that there is a decline in christianity. I’m a christian and I believe that the end is near, that soon the world will be ruled by God/Jesus but not after great tribulation led by an anti-christ

  • avatar

    Anand Isaac

    I think the problem with the so-called Christian countries is they have not seen the negative aspects of a multi-cultural society. Being in India I know how people could be burnt alive in train in the name of religion. How Australian missionary Graham Staines and his beloved boys were burnt alive for bringing light to the tribals of Orissa and the subsequent message of Christian grace and forgiveness delivered by his wife Gladys Staines. However, it looks like it is countries like Australia that need missionaries and not India or China. Because soon you could lose your economic prosperity along with the Christian faith and missionaries in China will have to bring back the word of God to you!

    • avatar

      Jeremy Crooks

      Very astute observation Anand.

  • avatar

    Sharon

    Please pray for our family as we seek God’s wisdom and discernment as missionaries to Australia. Thanks.
    Peace and grace be yours in abundance!

  • avatar

    Jade

    I have noticed that many people who claim to be Christian have never read the Bible, have a limited understanding of the Christian faith and do not frequently attend Church. It bemuses me how these people can call themselves Christian.

  • avatar

    Tristan

    Well, I stumbled across this after seeking an answer to a query I have regarding these stats. I want to know what ‘inadequte’ means. I’d like to assume that agnostic is counted as athiest because most agnostics are (they just don’t know it and think agnosticism is a third option which it’s not, if you are agnostic you don’t believe in thism and are by resonable unfallable logic usually always an athiest!). As for work to do, we athiests are coming out stronger than ever and you’ve got an uphill battle to convince anything without using resonable arguments or evidence. Good luck with that but I mean no offense, just…you’d be struggling in this era of information availability. Also, we’re trying to convince your children that religion is a primitive concept beginning with the melting ice age glaciers all the way up at Gobekli Tepe (seemingly the first temple in the world).

  • avatar

    Tristan

    I should add that what seems most prevalent to me about the comments from the thiests in the crowd here is that you feel part of something. That’s very special good for you guys. Good for you!

  • avatar

    Tristan

    and if that seems patronising then consider the remarks of one Ben Kwok

    “whether it’s in season or out of season”

    as if not believing the bible is some kind of nieve fashion thing. get real, get athiest.

  • avatar

    Jason Harris

    Thanks for stopping by Tristan. I’m planning to address various aspects of Atheism in upcoming weeks/months. Perhaps you can stick around and let us try to convince you. =)

  • avatar

    Alexander Jordaan

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all the unchurched can get back to church – we would have three years of church growth and all our worship places would be to small. This is world wide. I’m was ordained pastor of a very large Pentacostal church in South Africa and I left ministry because I was forced to resign because I opened my church up for all races. It is now 8 years that I am struggling to get reinstated as a pastor, although I am ordained in the meantime with Christian Faith Ministries. I am a fulltime teacher since 2009 and for most of the eight years never again commited myself again to a church, to protect my family against abuse. I am now for 6 months part of a church, and the abuse is still going on, for the pastor feels threatened by another pastor as a church member. If it works in Australia, I would love to come come to Australia.

  • avatar

    sierpleister

    Great article! We are linking to this particularly great
    article on our website. Keep up the good writing.

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