Rise and Fall of Religions

I've read two news articles today. One disheartening, and another encouraging.

First of all, an article on The Australians titled "'End is nigh' for the church" talked about the declining of Christian church attendance in Australia recently. It does not really have proof on the figures, nor does it have comparison on church attendances each year, but it's central message is clear - Christian churches in Australia are dying. The interviewee, Dr. D. Tracey, predicted that most main-stream churches will be "appropriately down on their knees, praying for their own survival" in 10-20 years. Moreover, he has associated the fundamentalists, in this case Christians, with terrorism. It is just sad to see an Associate Professor holding this kind of view. True. Christian churches are not doing too well, i.e. Christianity is still not the priority in the Australian society. However, looking at the evangelical scene in Sydney, Christianity is certainly flourishing. Churches are planted everywhere, and we are still on our goal to reach 10 percent in 2010. People today put a lot of emphasis on spirituality, but at the end it is just self-seeking. "I want to find my spirituality!" Unfortunately (or fortunately :) the gospel message is not about self-seeking, but how God found his lost sheeps and rescued them in the person Jesus. He has found me and rescued me, and there is no need for anything else...

On the other hand, Washington Post has an article about Evangelicals on the Rise in the Land of Mao. Protestants denominations are fastest growing religious group in China, and currently the Western researchers are estimating 50 million church goers in China, including those meet in the home church. And that's 2.5 times the population of Australia! Yet at the same time, they are still the minority comparing to 1+ billion population in the mainland China. The focus of the article is on Wenzhou, one of the most Christian-populated city in China because of earlier westerner settlement there. It reminds me my trip to Guangzhou in November, and visited their bi-lingual service over there. Even though the service is conducted in Mandarin and gets translated to English, there are 300-400 people in a tiny hall listening to the talks. 50 percent of them are young workers or university students, coming here in the hope to practise their English. However, at the same time we know that the gospel has reached them, as they are eagerly participating in the Bible study. That's truly encouraging...

As the supposed-to-be Christianised country, like Australia, trying to seek its own spirituality in religions like Buddhism, Christianity has taken off from unexpected places like China, which has been burdened by its long tradition. The rise and fall of religions.