Interview

On A Mission

Ben Higgins, Youth Director at Alpha. tells Dave that young Australians are explore Faith including the Young Australian of the Year, Izzy Marshall who has backed the campaign to encourage more Christians to invite friends and family to explore faith through Alpha

Australians are most likely to go to friends and family (52%) or online (48%) to find answers to the questions they have about faith, beliefs and spirituality a new study has found. The poll, conducted by McCrindle Research on behalf of Alpha Australia also found that 1 in 9 Australians have wanted a conversation about Christianity in the past year, but have not been engaged.

The study, which surveyed 1,000 Australian adults, found that as well as approaching family and friends for answers, online communities (18%) and online content such as videos, talks and sermons (30%) were a key source of insight in their spiritual journey.

Melinda Dwight, National Director of Alpha Australia says, “We have known for many years the important role close relationships, such as friends and family have played in spiritual formation. But to see more than half of Australians would reach out to those close to them, is a significant reminder. In these past 12 months when connection has often moved online, as our lives have been disrupted, we have seen that the exploration of faith has continued through online connection.”

The survey also found that almost half of Australians (45%) had had a conversation about faith and beliefs with a Christian in the past 12 months. 1 in 9 Australians said they had wanted to have a conversation about Christianity but had not engaged with someone (11%).

Izzy Marshall, this year won the 2021 Young Australian of the Year – receiving her award recently from Prime Minister, Scott Morrision. Marshall is an advocate for Alpha and has seen how it’s led to honest discussions about her faith and faith in general in today’s society, she says, “You just need to host an Alpha and start a conversation. You don’t need an outcome, it just sparks an intellectual conversation, in a non-judgemental space. When I have hosted Alpha sessions with my friends, I have always been surprised at just how open they have been to hear and discuss issues of faith. It has never been about converting them, it was more about sharing why Christianity and faith is so important to me and the difference it has made in my life.”

A recent study found that 4 in 10 Australians were either extremely (20%) or very (18%) open to exploring different faiths and spiritual views and that younger Australians were more likely to be extremely or very open to these conversations (50% Gen Z, 44% Gen Y cf. 39% Gen X, 25% Baby Boomers; 31% Builders). Millions of people around the world have attended Alpha and despite recent reports of Christianity in decline in Australia in recent decades, Alpha Australia has seen over 500,000 attending since it launched.

Dwight concludes, “The results of the survey show that while we have often felt isolated and disconnected, many have continued to share their faith. The fact that 1 in 10 Australians didn’t have the conversation but were keen to do so, shows there remains a great opportunity, particularly in the online space, for churches and for Christians across the country to talk to those in their families, neighbourhoods and workplaces about Jesus and what the good news means for them.”

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