Bishop Richard Condie to Tasmanian Anglicans: We need to change!

Posted on June 6, 2017 
Filed under Australian dioceses

“We have to face up to the reality of our church. The glory days are well behind us. We know we are faced with declining attendance in many places. We recognise that the old ways of doing things just won’t cut it any more. In many churches I visit there is at least one, if not two, generations of people missing – our kids and their kids. We have failed to make disciples, and we are often more committed to keeping things the same, than we are finding new ways of being God’s people on mission.

In many places we have developed a ‘folk religion’ which, while serving us and our needs, has lost its missional focus. In the recent National Church Life Survey people in our pews told us the things they most value. The top three were: ‘sharing holy communion’; ‘sermons’; and ‘traditional worship’. These are all essentially inward looking. While they are not bad in themselves, sadly at the bottom of the list of things we value were: ‘openness to cultural diversity’; ‘meeting new people’; and ‘reaching those who don’t attend church’; the items with an outward looking focus. We need to be equally passionate about both.

We need to change! If we continue as we are, we will become marginal at best. We will see more church closures, and more decline, until there will be very little left. I don’t think for one moment that the Church will cease to be. God is too committed to it for that. But if we are going to be obedient stewards of God’s gift to us, and to love His church, even half as much as he does, then we need to feel the weight of these issues, and do something about it.

We need to be more Christian and more Anglican. That is, we need to shed the cloak of our ‘folk religion’ that serves our needs, and re-engage with the Lord our God, and His Son the Jesus Christ, and be so transformed spiritually by Him that we can’t hold the message back. We need to be more Anglican, by which I mean, committed to mission in the world, the mission of proclaiming the gospel in the language and culture of the people. After all, the birth of the Church of England in the 16th Century was a radical engagement with presenting the gospel in a language and style that people could understand.

My job as your Bishop is to lead you. I promised at my ordination (among other things) to ‘lead those in [my] care to obey our Saviour’s command to make disciples of all nations’, and I intend to do this. I intend to do this, through casting a Vision today to set the agenda for the next five years of the Diocese of Tasmania. Before I do, I want to tell you how we got here. …”

– In his 2017 Synod Presidential Address, Bishop of Tasmania, Richard Condie, shares a vision for the churches of Tasmania. Read it all in this PDF file from the Diocese of Tasmania.