Transforming Melbourne
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Melbourne

Melb 2

Here are a few statistics from our beautiful city of Melbourne given at the recent Transforming Melbourne research launch:

  • Melbourne is growing by 44,000 people per year. It will become Australia's largest city in the next 20 years.
  • Although church attendance is not keeping up with population growth, there are still more people attending church than the AFL (Australian Football League)! Over 1.2 million people attend church during a year (excluding another 1.3 million who attend events such as funerals and weddings) while about 1 million people attend AFL games. About 520,000 people attend church monthly while 360,000 attend the AFL frequently. Over 300,000 people attend church weekly.
  • There are 1700 churches in Melbourne made up of 100s of ethnic churches, 22 large regional churches (of over 500 people), and 100s of emerging and house churches.
  • The fastest growing municipalities in Melbourne are Casey, Whittlesea, Hume, Melton, and Wyndham. These have the fewest number of churches per population.
  • Let's keep praying for our city and the many churches already it in. It takes all different sorts of churches to reach the many different types of people. We need all existing churches to reach out more and we also need many more churches to be planted.

  • P.S. There is currently 1 church for every 2070 people in wider Melbourne. However, in the faster growing regions mentioned above, the ratio is much wider. For instance, in the City of Whittlesea, there is only 1 church for every 3757 people, in Wyndham - 1 for every 3722, in Melton - 1 for every 3010, in Hume - 1 for every 2654, and in Casey - 1 for every 2338 people. Let's keep looking outside and remember that there are far more people not in church than those who are.

    Comments

    Hi Mark!

    Thanks for sharing the stats.

    Just wondering where the 1700 churches in Melbourne are mostly concentrated and why the fastest growing municipalities have fewer churches? I'm glad though CityLife is represented in Casey.

    When I see church plants in areas where there are already thriving churches, sometimes I wonder whether it's a case of convenience?

    I too share Lil's concerns over planting churches. Sometimes I wonder whether it's a bit of empire building going on, when a church planter would be better off helping an existing church expand or evangelize, rather than start a new effort with its own overhead and administrative burden. The thought of planting a new church which undermines existing churches by drawing people away from them bothers me. I hope no-one starts out with that goal, but it can happen.

    At the same time, I realize that new churches may bring something that just isn't available in a region, that the variety of types of Christian expression together is not a bad thing, and that there is merit in limiting the size of a local church to that where everyone knows each other.

    I guess, as with anything where there are pros and cons, if God says do it, do it!

    It's important to think strategically about the communities we're called to be salt and light to, and to see which areas are the darkest and blandest - and be salt and light there. Where there is a need, contribute - whether that means planting a new church, or working in conjuction with another church, or getting alongside that community from your existing church.

    It's Jesus' bride, and God's building his church - he has some ideas on the subject. He's the source of wisdom, and this information is very useful to those who are seeking his plans for ministering to his Melbourne.

    Yes indeed! "It's Jesus' bride, and God's building his church." as Tristan commented
    Let us bear in mind that we are the Church of Jesus Christ. It is our duty as Christians to witness to non-believers that salvation comes only from Our Beloved Lord and Saviour Jesus and no one else.
    There are so many Melburnians out there who do not know Jesus. It is so tragic to see Satan grab them while we have all the resources at our disposal to witness to them and pray them into God's Kingdom.

    Let us not waste this golden opportunity. We were not saved to enjoy TV and watch sports and let others go to eternal damnation.
    Remember, "He who wins souls is wise." Proverbs 11:30
    "The harvest is truly plentiful but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." Matthew 9:37-38.
    Amen and Amen!!!

    I find it really interesting to see the stats ie. only one Church per 2000 to 3000 people ... I would have thought that it was higher, as there are Churches everywhere!

    I guess that this is what Jesus meant when he said the harvest was ready - but the workers were few.

    One empire building, that does seem to be apparent - particularly in 'cafe zones' with middle class demographics. In one area in Perth, have a Hillsong Warehouse Chucrh sitting right accross the road from a CCC Warehouse Church!

    On the oppositte end of the spectrum, The West Australian Newspaper ran a story where there are unpaid anglican priests ministering in regional communities - dealing with grief counselling, marriages, baptisms, services etc. (Interesting thought: does relying on faith and obedience rather that money mean that this is a healthy or an unhealthy Church?)

    I would love to see some wealthy city Churhes plough money into these types of ministries rather than real estate and state of the art auditoriums.

    On another matter, I have been very encouraged by the things City Life are are doing. I am really starting to (re)believe that there can be and is 'lighthouse' Churches that have the Gospel at heart. Mark, I will be intouch via the 'offline' world soon.

    I do not have access to details of the recent research and so do not know what is being researched and studied. Thus I could be making some assumptions in my following comments that may not be valid.

    I think the research/study will be more meaningful if it also studied the impact of the CHURCH on some social indicators. For example, there are now more people attending church annually than attending AFL games. Or perhaps the number of churches per 10000 people has increased. What do all these indicators mean other than plain statistics that may either make us feel sad or glad that HIS church is either stagnating/retreating or advancing? It will be myopic of the research’s efforts if its objective is only to measure and baseline church growth and other “churchy” indicators.

    Would it be more meaningful when we stack it for e.g. against some social ills indicators like crime rate, divorce rate, suicide rate, juvenile delinquency, binge drinking, etc. Understandably, it is not easy to relate or correlate church growth/statistics directly with declining crime rate, divorce rate, etc. However, at some point in the future when the CHURCH continues to grow in Melb, there has to be a positive impact on society. I recalled (although not too well) watching a documentary on ABC some time back that some of the social ills indicators declined (or improved depending on which way you looked at it) as a result of Billy Graham’s crusades in Melb and Sydney.

    Christians are both light & salt. If the CHURCH grows and the social ills indicator do not decline, then perhaps we only show much of our light but our salt somehow has lost its flavor & effectiveness.

    Hopefully “Transforming Melb” focuses not just on “churchy” statistics but also on how effective is the Church in transforming our city and society.

    My guesses... The fast-growing areas having the lower ratio of churches is a product of (a) church planting taking a while to catch up with newly developed areas, (b) these are the newer areas where, because nearly every has cars, there are a smaller number of larger churches.

    The Church is apparently strong in Casey, but maybe not so much in the other four. The Church in much of the inner suburbs appears weaker as well, although there may be a larger number of (mostly small) churches, planted in the days when less people had cars.

    It's a similar story in Adelaide, with 1 ch per 2000 ppl, but 1 ch per 3000 ppl in the northern suburbs (my rough estimates).

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