This year, Revive is following a major undertaking of the Strategy and Mission Planning Commission for the Uniting Church in WA. This is the fifth article in the series.
Rev David Kriel, mission planner for the Uniting Church in WA presented to the Annual Meeting of the Presbytery and Synod on its first day of business. As has previously been reported in Revive, David has been conducting a serious review of the Presbytery in response to drastic changes in the church. He painted a picture of the world we live in today. We produce 140,000 cars per day and 3.3 million mobile phones. In this same world, 26,000 people die per day of hunger and 700 million people are without safe drinking water.
We are now living in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.
“We’re past the industrial age,” David said. “We will not see that again. We now face the digital age. We are called in this world to be God’s people.”
In our churches, we are facing a surging decline and need to act now.
“For us in the church, here in the 21st century, we have to make the most of every opportunity,” David said. “We have to stop wasting resources and time.”
As part of the process, David conducted 30 interviews with members of the church who are not connected at a Presbytery or Synod level. From these conversations, David learnt a lot about what is really going on for people at a grassroots level. He found that people feel like they can’t talk about God outside of worship; people feel unsure about how to talk about their faith; Bible study is boring; and there is no way to bring new worship into their churches. David found that young people feel like there is nothing exciting going on in the church for them; and older people have no one to take over their roles.
To this, David responded, “That’s because they’re tired of waiting.”
Of the respondents, “More than half said to me there will be no church,” David said.
“Churches are closing all the time. One each year now and it will catch-up with us. Our demographics, our age demographic – you know what I’m talking about, I don’t have to say it out loud. Exponential growth is catching up with us.”
David said that it is time to act now.
“We need to start to be honest with ourselves. Stop bluffing ourselves. What once was is no more,” he said. “We must find new ways to be church in this world.”
“I think it’s important that we realise that in this world of rapid change and uncertainty we need to focus on what we want to accomplish,” David said.
Keep an eye out for the next edition of Revive, where we will explore some ways the Uniting Church in WA can move forward as a church in this new world.