Re-Building Confidence as a Prelude to Ministry


  • Philip Hughes


In order for the churches to exercise ministry in Australia, there must be confidence in them. While confidence in a range of systems and organisations has been falling over recent decades, in 2018 just 11 per cent of the adult population indicated a great deal or complete confidence in the churches and religious organisations, having fallen from 22 per cent in 2009.

Analysis of data from the Australian Survey of Social Attitudes (2018) identified some factors which contributed to this low level of confidence, including the following:

  • Most Australians feel that religious organisations are too powerful.

  • They also feel that religious organisations have contributed more to violence than to peace.

  • Many are concerned that religious organisations are a barrier to gender equity and that religious people are too intolerant.

  • Many reject the “knowledge” on which the churches are based, including the idea of God.

Building public confidence will need to address these issues of the perception of power, building the perceptions that the churches are contributing to peace, that they treat women and men equally, and that they are tolerant. It also means addressing its “knowledge base”, helping people to understand the meaningfulness of the concept of God.

Author Biography

Philip Hughes

Professor Philip Hughes was senior research officer with the Christian Research Association (CRA) from its foundation in 1985 until 2016. More recently, he has worked at Harvest Bible College, assisting with the development of the Doctorate of Ministry degree program, and then at Alphacrucis University College where he taught research methods and supervised doctoral candidates. For many years he was a research fellow at the Centre for Social Justice Research, Edith Cowan University. He is also an honorary research fellow with the University of Divinity and with the National Centre for Pastoral Research. With postgraduate degrees in philosophy, theology and education, he is particularly interested in the relationship between Christianity and culture, and has written many books on religious faith in Australia, on ministry and on religious education.






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