MISSION AND ATTENDANCE
That this General Synod:
1 Expresses its appreciation to Mr Wayne Brighton, Mr Keith Castle and Dr John Bellamy for their comprehensive report Church Attendance and Mission 1991-2001 and helpful concluding discussion questions, which was both confronted and positively challenged the Anglican Church of Australia with the raw statistical realities of our declining attendance and relevance in Australian society.
2 Acknowledges that the Anglican Church of Australia is called to be an active participant in God’s mission to our nation whereby its people might be saved through hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ as declared in Holy Scripture in the power of the Holy Spirit.
3 Responds to our declining attendance not with despair or discouragement, but with renewed trust in our sovereign God, confident in the words of Christ that he will build his church and that the gates of hell shall not overcome it; and therefore resists any temptation from within or without our church to adapt the unchanging gospel in an effort to make it more palatable to un unbelieving generation, since the gospel is the power of God for salvation to all who believe.
4 Recognises that the Anglican Church in Australia has undergone substantial numerical decline as shown in the Church Attendance and Mission 1991-2001 report (General Synod 2004 Book 3a, Standing Committee Report, pp102-131), resulting in significant demographic challenges to the sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
5 Acknowledges that without immediate and wide-spread action, the alarming rate of decline (~20%, General Synod 2004 Book 3a, Standing Committee Report, p109) in the under 50 age group is a cause for grave concern for the future of the Anglican Church in Australia. This must be our highest priority.
6 Affirms that an important strategy for future mission in Australia will be the development of a ‘mixed economy’ Church consisting of existing and fresh expressions working together in partnership. As the development of this model will require considerable cooperation and collegiality it asks that:
(a) the Standing Committee of General Synod:
(i) make evangelistic mission a priority strategic issue for the next triennium;
(ii) examine local and overseas initiatives at starting new communities of faith and fresh expressions of church to ensure that the Church nationally is better informed about developments and potential areas of interest;
(iii) pay particular attention to the recommendations of the Children’s and Young People’s Taskforce (as previously approved by this General Synod) in their deliberations concerning the development of new communities of faith;
(iv) determine what training and development might be necessary to foster leadership and ministry skills required in these areas; and
(v) release resources, both human and financial, to further work in this key area as appropriate.
(b) the Bishops’ Conference to:
(i) consider the consider the place and potential contribution of new communities of faith and fresh expressions of church to the long-term life of Australian Anglicanism;
(ii) discuss how permeable our parish and diocesan boundaries might need to be in view of the fact that our society lives increasingly in networks than neighbourhoods;
(iii) determine what appropriate processes and procedures might be required to facilitate ministry across these geographical boundaries; and
(iv) how they might play an active brokering role in their apostolic duties as leaders of mission.
7 Urges dioceses to more clearly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ by:
(a) `appraising the health of existing ministries and parishes;
(b) reviewing diocesan ordinances so as to better facilitate mission initiatives;
(c) considering the contribution of new communities of faith to this goal;
(d) developing medium to long-term strategic plans for the grown of the church through evangelism;
(e) developing diocesan processes, procedures and partnerships for