In 2014 Keith Suter completed and published his Doctoral thesis, offering 4 scenarios of the future of the Uniting Church in Australia. This has become the subject of some discussion within the Church and is of interest to Milpara, which vision for a future Church that is vibrant, relevant and integrated with Australian communities. Suter’s thesis is long, but well worth a read. You can access it here.
“Describe a good neighbour?” a trainer asked her students. The response came quickly: “One you don’t know is there!”
Australians no longer know their neighbours. The reality is that many don’t want to know those they share a fence, a wall or a street with. And so with a only a few exceptions, the days of borrowing half a cup of sugar from a friend next door are well and truly gone; and to be honest, I am to young to remember them, though my grandmother insists that such a time once existed. In their book “Why people don’t go to Church” Bellamy et al., confirm what many of us already experience, that people “find community in the workplace, through clubs and interest groups and through the ‘ready-made’ communities of festivals and other one-off events”. Further, their research has uncovered that “nearly half of all people under 40 have no close friends living in the local area”(Bellamy et al. 2002). It is without question then that, for many, the notion of a ‘neighbourhood community’ meaning anything more than the geographic co-location of dwellings does not fit with experience.
The concept of churches as centres that facilitate and promote the gathering of local believers is also, well, fading rapidly. Continue reading