The Future of the Church, Not-for-profits and Charities in Australia
(by Mark McCrindle, mccrindle.com.au)
Australia has a rich history of faith and spirituality. Although the history of the Christian church in Australia began in 1788 with the arrival of the first fleet, God was already present in Australia as the creator and sustainer of the universe. Since early European settlement and through every season of Australia’s history as a nation, the Church has been present. From establishing schools to founding charities, in providing welfare to servicemen and women at war, the Christian church has served the people of Australia.
Now, the social landscape of Australia continues to change, driven by demographic forces like increasing cultural diversity, a growing and ageing population, increasing urbanisation, and declining religious affiliation.
It is important for the Christian churches, not-for-profits, and charities of today to explore and understand these changes in order to reach, serve and support Australians now and into the future.
Changing spiritual landscape of Australia
The context in which Christians and the Christian church finds itself today looks vastly different to that of previous generations. The Census data reflects these changes showing that while Christianity is still the dominant religion in Australia, in recent years affiliation with the religion has declined. In 2006 almost two thirds of Australians (64%) identified with Christianity. A decade later that proportion decreased to 52% (2016) and while the results of the 2021 Census won’t be released until 2022, it is likely that the total Christianity figure will have dropped below 50%. However, over the same period of time, the National Church Life Survey data shows that the proportion of Australians attending church regularly has not at all declined, remaining at 15%.
An increasing spiritual search amidst COVID
While Australians are not known for being self-reflective, our research shows that the current context is creating a more contemplative mood. Almost one in two Aussies (47%) have thought about their mortality more (much/somewhat/slightly), with a similar proportion (47%) thinking about the meaning of life more and three in ten (33%) have thought about God more during the experience of COVID-19.
COVID-19 is increasing faith activities in Australia with one in four Aussie’s engaging in more (much/somewhat/slightly) spiritual conversations (26%) and praying more (28%).
Changing charity and not-for-profit landscape of Australia
The last 18 months have seen unprecedented change across societies, nations, and the globe. It has been a time of increased volatility and disruption yet, despite these challenging circumstances, the rate of giving among Australians has remained steady. In the last 12 months three in four Australians (74%) have given financially to charities/not-for-profits.
While it could be expected that charitable giving would decline in times of hardship, recent giving has largely stayed the same (49%) or even increased (21%). Three in ten Australian givers (30%) have, however, decreased their giving over the past few months.
While many people choose to support not-for-profits through financial means, many also give of their time through volunteering. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2020, a quarter (25%) of Australians volunteered through an organisation, which contributed 489.5 million hours to the community! Sport and physical recreation topped the types of organisations people volunteered for (31% of volunteers) followed by religious groups (23%) and education and training (19%).
Australians proud of how charities responded in 2020
One positive that has emerged in a challenging time for the charity/not-for-profit community, is the strengthened public perception of charities and not-for-profits among Australian givers. The spirit of mateship is strong with nine in ten givers (90%) proud of how Australian charities/not-for-profits have rallied to help those in need in Australia during 2020.
Australian givers are not just proud of Australian charities/not-for-profits but appreciate them more too. More than four in five givers (85%) believe the events of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic have made them appreciate the role charities/not-for-profits play in society more.
The Christian foundation to the charities sector
Our research shows that Australians are well aware, and grateful for the Christian heritage of the not-for-profit sector. From the non-government education sector, to healthcare, aged care, community care and international aid, Christian-based organisations still comprise a significant, if not majority share of these sectors.
Most Australians reflect positively on the impact of Christians across multiple spheres. Seven in ten Australians (71%) believe that Christians have had a positive impact on the charity sector while more than one in two believe Christians have had a positive impact on the local community (63%) and the education sector (58%).
For more information and resources for the Church please visit: https://cityinfield.com/
For more information and research about the not-for-profit sector please visit: https://australiancommunities.com.au/
Prayers for the Sphere of Charity and Not for Profit Welfare
(prepared by Lilian Schmid)
We give thanks to our Almighty Father, for all people involved in NGOs, Charity organisations, Welfare groups and many more.
God, as the source of all life and all goodness, deserves our love, and that love is not something that we can confine to attending Mass or Services on Sundays. We exercise the theological virtue of charity whenever we express our love for God, but that expression does not have to take the form of a verbal declaration of love.
Sacrifice for the love of God; the curbing of our passions in order to draw closer to Him; the practice of the spiritual works of mercy in order to bring other souls to God, and the corporal works of mercy to show the proper love and respect for God’s creatures – these, along with prayer and worship, fulfil our duty to “love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind” (Matthew 22:37).
Charity fulfils this duty, but also transforms it; through this virtue, we desire to love God not simply because we must but because we recognise that He is all good, and He deserves all our love. The exercise of the virtue of charity increases that desire within our souls, drawing us further into the inner life of God, which is characterised by participating and fellowshipping in love of the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Thus, St. Paul rightly refers to charity as “the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:14), because the more perfect our charity, the closer our souls are to the inner life of God.
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
(1 John 4:9-12)
Choose a charity/not-for-profit welfare organisation that God has put in your heart to pray for.
There is a list of organisations at charitynavigator.org – you can use this site to look for organisations by Keywords / Charity Name, Location and many other criteria using the Advanced Search:
Have a search through and please continue to pray for them.
Repentance on Behalf of Charity/Not for Profit Welfare
We repent on behalf of people who:
- Use or allow enticements to draw the management away from the original God-given vision and foundation of charitable organisations to introduce worldly and idolatrous motivations and practices.
- Are in influential positions in charity organisations and willingly trade the good legacy they inherited in order to become more successful and gain power.
- Initiate or perform illegal and un-Godly activities, blocking God’s blessings, and opening the door for the enemy of God to come into organisations and oppress the staff.
- Alter the identify and branding of organisations to make them more ‘universal’, and obscure or hide the fact that they are Christian and represent Christ’s charitable work through His people in the world.
- Abuse organisational funds, information, technology, resources, and provisions that God has provided, in an effort to win friends or influential people, without regard for the damage that is caused.
- Misrepresent the Lord God and Jesus but using His names to attract people’s attention and money.
- Lure donors and staff into un-Godly alignment through deception or ‘shape shifting’ for personal gain and/or inappropriate use of donations.
- Do false or misleading marketing to increase donations by taking advantage of people’s integrity and kindness, e.g. exaggerating or misrepresenting a situation or crisis, or using only pictures of destitute or starving adults and/or children, to artificially increase sympathy in potential donors.
- Use uncharitable coercion on donors to make them feel guilty to donate more, e.g. abuse of the true phrases ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’, ‘God loves a cheerful giver’, and so on.
- Plan and promote the theft of family inheritances and birth rights through aggressive fundraising campaigns and methodologies.
- Encourage special treatment for individuals and organisations who are ‘big donors’, e.g. setting up tiered reward systems.
- Prefer to consult with men rather than with God, making organisation decisions or setting directions out of fear or panic rather than fighting battles from the position of rest in Christ; giving their burdens to Him to deal with and seeking His wise counsel.
- Worshiping money and/or using organisation funds to sow seeds not from God and finance entities and projects that do not glorify God or spread the gospel of Christ.
- Set up false pillars of lust, deception, enticement, and religion; establishing un-Godly offices and positions of power, worshiping un-Godly thrones, and seeking after positions in un-Godly places rather than the positions of authority God has for us.
- Work in this sphere but do not use wisdom from God and the spiritual gifts He has given them to demonstrate God’s perfect love and bring many into His kingdom.
Forgive us Father God for our negligence.
Lord, please help us to guard our hearts, both coming and going;
help us to not act out of desperation;
not to align with any un-Godly network because of lust, deception, enticement, or religion.
“But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
(by Bjorn Schmid)
Heavenly Father, Almighty God,
Lord of Heaven and Earth,
Without You we are dust and are nothing.
From dust and nothing You made us,
And You breathed life into us.
We live because you breathed into us,
But we forgot in our lust for knowledge,
That You know what is best for us,
And the time that is best for us to know all things.
So now we live in guilt and fear,
Proud of our foolishness to cover our shame,
Living broken lives away from You,
Suffering all kinds of hardships and pain.
But You love us and you came to us,
Helpless as we are helpless,
Yet overpowering in God’s grace and wisdom,
You gave all You had for us.
You came and made the way,
For us to come back to You,
And You showed us how to love each other.
So because You loved us without limit,
Help us to love all others without limit;
Serving each other with all we have,
All that You give us to give,
In Your name and not ours.
We look forward to be in Heaven with You,
And we pray for all the people we know
To be there with You too,
In fellowship together,
For ever and ever,