On Sunday we began a three-week mini-series on Local Mission at Prov. A bunch of us have been meeting across the year to pray and plan out a local mission strategy for our church. We’re really excited to share with you what we’ve come up with!

We began by thinking about Perth as a missionary context. On Sunday I mentioned four factors that should shape the way we approach our mission:

  1. A Secularising Australia

We live in a secularising context. The short story is: we used to be Christian, now we’re secular. That’s our context.

As you can see in these numbers, from 1971 to 2021 the number of Australians who identified as Christian has dropped from 86.2% in 1971 to 43.9% in 2021. That’s a huge drop! But notice where the movement has been. Very few have moved to another religion (the growth in other religions is almost all migration-related). Rather, an increasing number of our fellow Australians, who used to feel a need to say they were Christian now identify as having No Religion.

We have moved, in other words, from being a “Christian” nation to a “Secular” nation.

Secular doesn’t mean “no spiritual or religious beliefs”. Many people who say they have no religion pray, have spiritual experiences, believe in God, and even go to church! It’s complex!

2. An Alternative Gospel

Second, we are proclaiming the gospel not to a context that has no gospel but to a context that has an alternative gospel.

We don’t speak the gospel in to vacuum of unbelief, but into the context of a powerful alternative gospel—the gospel of “Expressive Individualism.”

As you can see in the picture above, in the 1910s if you wanted to persuade someone to join the military, you appealed to a sense of duty. “Fight for King and Country!” Stop thinking about yourself! Be part of something bigger. But fast-forward to today and how do you persuade someone to join the military? “Do what you love”. This is Expressive Individualism. There is a unique “me” and that me needs to be discovered and then expressed to the world.

3. A Bigger Knowledge Gap

This one’s kind of obvious, but it’s worth saying out loud: when it comes to the gospel, people are starting a long way back.

In 1959 Billy Graham came to Australia and set records across the nation for attendance, including the still undefeated record of the most people ever at the MCG. Not for a footy match, but for an evangelistic rally.

But you listen to Billy Graham’s sermons from that period, and the amount of background shared convictions he could call on was amazing. Almost all the mental furniture for faith was already in people’s heads. The concept of God; of judgment; of the person of Jesus. The need to live a moral life. I’m not saying it was easy, but Graham was able to come Australia where school and Sunday school and so on had put this furniture into people’s heads, and he could say: “Dude! You’ve got that in the wrong room! Move it around! Actually trust Jesus!” And away they went.

But in our day, people are starting a long way back. I think the average Australian in our mission field needs 12 months to get their heads around the gospel and to make a response. From initial connection, to meeting a Christian community, to hearing the gospel communicated—that’s a twelve month process in my humble opinion. Our strategy for local mission needs to reflect that.

4. A Striking Openness

The final and surprising truth about Perth as a mission field is that there is a surprising openness to hearing about Jesus. True story!

According to really robust research from NCLS. Of those 800,000, 400,000 of them. Half of them would come to church if a friend invited them.

Gen Z (those currently young adults) are actually more open and more interested in coming to church than my generation (Gen Xers). There’s real and growing interest! We should be excited!

Our Strategy

And so, over the next few weeks we want to share with you our Local Mission Strategy. It’s a strategy that involved connecting with our friends and neighbours, sharing community with them, communicating the gospel with them, and giving them opportunity to commit their lives to the Lord.

Our first step for connection is super simple, but profound. It’s the “242 Prayer Challenge”. Choose two people you know who don’t know Jesus and commit to praying for them for two minutes a day. That’s it! Simple, right? But profound. If we all were praying for two people, that’s 800 people who are being brought before God in prayer each day! Brilliant! And what a great thing for us to have our hearts beat with God’s heart in love for the lost!

Lots of love,

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