Jonathan Leijen, on behalf of the board of Camp Gidawarra (the annual Christian gathering that draws from churches throughout NE Australia), invited me to be the resource speaker for the 2010 gathering (Jan 3-8). This is my third time to be with the brothers and sisters at Camp Gidawarra and I’m very excited about this trip.

From the beginning, Australia has been a very secular culture. Shaped in significant ways by the Judeo-Christian veneer that is characteristic of much of the British Empire, Australians (like Americans) nonetheless tend to think and act in secular, pragmatic, and materialistic ways.

While a majority of Australians identify themselves as “Christian” (63%), the percentage of people so identifying themselves has been dropping steadily for the past 100 years. Catholics and Anglicans comprise the largest denominational affiliation in Australia. Pentecostals are the fastest growing religious group in the country.

A declining Christian majority, declining denominational numbers, and declining church attendance indicate a significant challenge for the Australian church in general. Churches of Christ face an even steeper climb, with weak numbers, few congregations, and a need to define themselves theologically.

There is a “Church of Christ” denomination in Australia (unaffiliated with the American Restoration Movement) that traces its roots back to Britain—confusing for readers of this blog, no doubt, and even more confusing for the Australians. Churches of Christ with ties to the American Restoration Movement were established in Australia in the post WWII missionary boom, a time that saw Americans traveling the world, preaching the gospel, and layering their understanding of that gospel with healthy doses of American culture and perspective. The churches of Christ in Australia continue to labor over issues that were imported from the States, but have little relevance to the core gospel.

Here are a few more links if you have interest in reading more:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_Australia

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/october/44.34.html

http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=13462