Surveying the Church’s future by Jane Andrews
You may not know this about me; however, in my final year of high school, I was selected to be a part of an ongoing government survey about education in Australia. Every year, the government sends me a link to answer questions about my life, and in exchange I receive a $20.00 eBay gift card and the feeling that the responses I have reported may shape our country. And every year, I get stuck on the same question: On a scale from one to ten, how do you feel about the future?
I have always been waiting for the next big thing. I measure my time by how long it is until the next event, the next goal I want to achieve, or the next time I will see my friends. I struggle with staying present in my own life. I have filled the pages of adult colouring-in books, listened to podcasts, and sat in nature. None of it has worked – I just end up worrying about the future and all the time I have wasted sitting under a tree trying to think of nothing. I worry that if I am not immediately doing something or learning something or helping someone with something, I am doing something wrong. I must not be living up to my full potential. In that frame of mind, the world can seem quite bleak.
My surveys have taught me a bit more than how to stretch $20.00 to buy multiple cheap sets of earrings on eBay. Answering questions about my life, and reflecting on the answers I gave last year, help me to put my life into perspective and quantifiably measure myself. I find that the data is a time capsule of who I was at that time, rather than who I would like to be.
This parish council meeting, we discussed data about our church and wider community. I found it particularly helpful to consider not only how many people defined themselves as Anglicans, but how our church has impacted the wider community.
Earlier this week, as I was waiting for my prescription at the chemist, I ran into a young man who had volunteered at the Kids Op Shop last year. As we spoke, it dawned on me that without our church, I would not have met some amazing people. The women I work with at the Kids Op Shop on a Saturday are an important part of my life. The children I teach Sunday school to tell me jokes that make my parents laugh when I get home. The young people on a Monday night have such incredible insights into their faith that I find myself still considering their perspectives on the drive home.
Soon, our church will have the opportunity to complete an optional survey into church life. I would encourage all our parishioners to consider their answers carefully. How does this church impact your life? What does the future of this church look like? From my perspective, only once we have considered this, can we begin to work on the next big thing.
Jane Andrews (Parish Councillor and Synod Representative)