From Vision Network NZ
"Dr Peter Lineham, Associate Professor of History and Head of the School of Social and Cultural Studies at Massey University, spoke at a recent Auckland Church Leaders meeting on "Stock-taking: Where the Church is at in 2010 in Auckland." He said not all new Christians are evangelical or Pentecostal, but this grouping is now a significant one in the wider Church.
Some of the important points made from his, and others', research included:
The constant rise of unbelief by Aucklanders in the past 40+ years is shown in a number of surveys. Asian and Pacific Island immigrants have swelled the numbers in many churches, especially the historic churches like Catholic, Presbyterian and Methodist, and this has further served to mask the true level of unbelief by so many Pakeha.
The Catholic Church has coped reasonably well, whereas others, such as the Anglican Church, have markedly declined. Catholics have significantly benefited by their school system and huge immigrant support.
Evangelical/Pentecostal churches have increased across Auckland. Not all new Christians are evangelical or Pentecostal but this grouping is now a significant one in the wider Church.
Many churches are aging, e.g., mean ages and the proportion who are female in Anglican Churches is 61.4 years (67.8% female), Baptist 49.5 years (56.7% female), Catholic 54 years (58.7% female), Presbyterian 62.7 years (64.1% female) and Union/Co-operating parishes 63.7 years (66% female). (The average adult age in New Zealand is about 46 years.)
About 50 per cent of the youth of Auckland are Pacific Island or Asian. This has huge evangelism implications.
Immigrants appear to be more open to the Gospel of Jesus Christ than long-term New Zealanders.
It seems clear that the increase in ‘no religion' in the censuses have come mostly from the periphery of the churches, and committed core people still have a clear sense of denominational identity. This is leading to a renewed theological awareness in many churches."
Peter Lineham is an Anglican member of the Auckland Diocesan Synod, among several roles within the NZ Christian community.
What can we learn from this analysis?
So when I had a great time in worship last evening, with a superb band powering up the singing of God's praises, I was in good Kiwi company in the wider scheme of things! It was an Anglican church, by the way. And my presence upwardly distorted the average age of the congregation.
PS For a lively, younger church event in the Western world, truck over to Bishop Alan Wilson's and Bishop Nick Baines' blogs on Kirchentag, and the presence of Moltmann and Kung there!