Are Australians Resistant or Receptive to the Gospel?

David Garrison has alerted the world to the amazing phenomenon of Church multiplication movements.  I get excited when I hear about Churches multiplying themselves through a society via the rapid spread of the Gospel through relational webs. Most of the success is due to Church people (not pastors) taking the initiative to share the “Good News” with friends and family.  According to Garrison, most of this growth is occurring in Latin America, Africa and Asia. There is no evidence to date of this phenomenon occurring in the West.

As an Australian I am envious. Why can’t this happen in my land? Garrison and Ed Stetzer write that two significant barriers are our requirement to have professional pastors and expensive plant for every Church.  I admit that these two factors can be significant obstacles to Church planting but I suspect that we should look at a deeper level into our own cultural environment.

Why? In the story Jesus told about the Sower the two common denominators were the seed and the Sower himself. The aspect that most impacted on the result of the sowing of each seed was the condition of the soil!

So why is the Australian “soil” not conducive to the rapid acceptance and spread of the Gospel of Jesus?

Of course, my question contains at least two assumptions that I am testing.  The first assumption is that there is such a thing as one Australian cultural identity to which all Aussies adhere. The second is that Australians in general are more resistant to the Gospel than people in non-Western countries where thousands are coming to Christ regularly.

In regard to the first assumption, I want to briefly say that whilst there may be a broad cultural Aussie umbrella under which we all generally fit, we are better described as a multi-ethnic people. Think about how many teams Aussies cheer for in the World cup!

In regard to the second assumption, I thank God that in my ministry (over 40 years) I have had the great privilege of leading people to Christ from many different Aussie cultural backgrounds – farmers, uni students, business people, nuclear physicists; boat people from Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia; Latin Americans, Chinese,  Egyptians and Lebanese.  So I know that there are people in each of these Aussie ethnic groups who have been receptive to the Gospel.  But the reality is that many are not interested! Some of my evangelist friends now spend much time preaching overseas with great benefit. But they have few opportunities here. Is this an indicator of resistance or irrelevance?  My son and his wife lead a Church plant team.  They are winning some people from the community  through the slow process of building life long relationships with neighbours and friends who do not know the Gospel. Another young guy who is a Pines graduate leads teams of young people to do what we used to call “street fishing” every Friday night. They ask permission to share the Good news with people on the streets in a few minutes.  There is no relationship, but they are successfully winning young people to Christ and discipling them.  These are two different forms of evangelism but they are both working.  Do they indicate receptiveness?

The bigger question is, are there discrete groups of Aussies who are coming to Christ in significant numbers?  Ten years ago, the most rapidly growing Australian Churches were those planted among the Chinese people.  Is this still true? If so, what can the rest of us learn from this experience?

I think we should be seriously researching the Australian “soil” and methods of “harvesting and sowing” that are proving to be effective.  I would like to hear from you about effective evangelism and people that you have found to be open to the Gospel. Let’s learn from each other.  Can you help me?

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