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What Do Non-Christian Aussies Really Think About Christianity?

What do non-Christian Aussies think about Christianity?

What attracts them to Christianity? And what repels them?

The answers to these questions are contained in the latest ‘Faith and Belief in Australia ’ study, recently released by McCrindle Research.

There’s a lot of interesting material in the report – and it’s well worth a read – but in the post, I’ll focus on non-Christian attitudes toward Christians and Christianity. 


1) The majority of non-Christian Australians have warm or neutral attitudes toward Christianity.

Whilst many vocal voices within media (both social and mainstream) are quite cool -  if not at times hostile - toward Christianity, the majority of Aussies are still warm towards Christianity: 

Attitudes Toward Christianity

Hostility toward Christianity is still a minority position in Australian society (even if it's a 'majority position' on shows like 'QandA'). 


2) How many non-Christians are open to changing their views on religion? Quite a few.

After asking non-Christians, ‘Given the right circumstances and evidence, how open would you be to changing your current religious views?’, around 1 in 4 non-Christians said they’re open to change

Openness To Religion

If you do the math, that’s 15% of the total Australian population - or 1 in 7 Australians. In other words, 3.6 million people

That’s 3.6 million non-Christians, who would not only happily discuss Christianity, but are already open to becoming Christian (the Spirit of God notwithstanding).

We should let that number sink in, as we labour to reach our communities with the gospel.  


3) What attracts Australians to religion? First prize: a genuine faith.

Aussies are attracted to religious people who live out ‘a genuine faith’

Attractions And Repellants Of Christianity

This fits nicely with Biblical admonitions to live lives that are attractive to non-Christians (e.g. 1 Peter 2:12, Matt 5:16).

In addition, more than half of the non-Christians who are open to change consider ‘discussion and debate of ideas’ attractive, motivating them to investigate further (p26 of the report).  


4) What are the top repellents to religion? First prize: Celebrities.

The number one repellent is ‘hearing from public figures and celebrities who are examples of that faith’. That should make us think twice before getting that celebrity to give their testimony at an evangelistic event!

Attractions And Repellants Of Christianity 3

Whilst the above number is for Aussies across the board (both Christian and non-Christian), this also goes for non-Christians who are open to change:

The take-home message is simple but profound: the genuine faith of your ‘ordinary’ Christian life makes the gospel more attractive, than getting some hotshot celebrity to talk at your church.


5) What are the biggest ‘Belief Blockers’ for non-Christians who are open to change?

What beliefs turn off open non-Christians from Christianity? 

There are no surprises here. 

The Bible’s teaching on homosexuality is the biggest belief blocker for non-Christians who are open to change.

Belief Blockers 2

The big temptation for Christians is to ‘water down’ what the Bible says on these issues. This temptation pushed many churches at the start of the 20th century in a liberal direction - not that it helped, mind you: such churches are now dying off. 

 

6) What are the biggest ‘Behaviour Blockers’ for non-Christians who are open to change?

What behaviours turn off open Non-Christians from Christianity? Again, there are no surprises. 

Church abuse tops the list. 

Behaviour Blockers

It’s a sobering picture. Our behaviour – and the church’s behaviour as a whole – can (humanly speaking) prevent people from even exploring Christianity. 


So what does it all mean?

The harvest is more ripe than we imagine. Not only are most Aussies warm toward Christianity, over 1 in 7 (non-Christian) Australians are open to changing their religious views. The harvest is plentiful – so let's pray for more workers, and get out there ourselves.  

Our behaviour has a massive impact on how people perceive Christianity – for good, or for ill. We don’t need celebrities or miracles to attract people to Jesus. All we need is a life well lived


(All images courtesy McCrindle Research). 

Akos Balogh is a follower of Christ, husband to Sarah, and father to three children. He is an elder at Southern Cross Presbyterian Church, Lismore, and blogs weekly at akosbalogh.com. You can reach him on twitter via @akosbaloghcom. 

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