I've just been reading the latest on the NZ Census and what it tells about religion/spirituality in our society. You can read it HERE. It's obvious that Christianity is on the decline in New Zealand. So what are we doing about it?
At our NZ Baptist National Gathering this past November we released our budget for 2014. It showed that we are spending three times as much on foreign missions than we are on our outreach in New Zealand. I find that extraordinary seeing as Christianity is growing at a rapid clip in those countries, while we're on a downward spiral.
I don't have an issue with overseas missions, but here's what I have a problem with:
The old "white" western church attitude that we need to go out and share the gospel with the thrid world! As though, without us, Christianity won't grow! All the while our own house is burning down.
The mentality is a little like this: Spend more of your money on feeding the kids in your neighbourhood than your own kids, even though your own kids are woefully under-fed!
I remember Steve Maina, CEO of NZCMS, preaching in our church a couple of years back. He made an incredible comment that I think passed over the heads of most people. He said that when he was young it was the Kiwi missionaries who came to share the gospel in Kenya. Today it is the Kenyan missionaries (like himself) coming to New Zealand to share the gospel! The shift has been happening but we still act like it's the 1950s.
We need to be investing in the place that God has called us to, New Zealand. This is the one responsibility we have, and from where I am standing, it's pretty clear we've been neglecting it in a big way!
We still need to focus on overseas missions, but maybe it's time we got a bit smarter and made sure our own house is looked after with just as much, if not more, effort as we have with overseas missions. At the rate we are going, there won't be many Christians left in NZ to support overseas missions anyway!