Movin’ to the country

Life in country Australia is pretty peachy. It’s just a shame that we can’t seem to convince Sydneysiders of that fact…

This topic of conversation always gets me in trouble in Christian circles – so I apologise in advance for the offense I’m about to cause you city dwellers. I know some of you know people who are going to regional Australia. I know some of you are keen to go overseas. I know some of you have good reasons to stay in Sydney and feel “called” to do so – but if everybody is “called” to be in Sydney you’ve got to start questioning where the calling is coming from…

My friend Mike, a minister in a regional centre in Queensland, posted a fairly innocuous appeal to city ministers as his status yesterday. And he got in trouble.

I’m going to play the role of cavalry.

This is what he said: Mike wants to remind my friends that the mission field is bigger than Sydney!

He copped a bit of a comment flogging. He was accused of empire building. Which I thought was odd. Mike is from Sydney. His family live there. He’s traditional Sydney staying fodder. And he left. Much respect to him…

And this old chestnut came up:

Australia’s population is not evenly spread – almost 1 in 5 Aussies live here. It would make sense then that 1 in five workers is here also. (There may be more than that I’m not sure).

Newsflash – that means 4 in 5 people in Australia aren’t in Sydney. Sadly two out of four of Australia’s reformed evangelical training institutions are in Sydney. I would suggest that more than 1 in 5 reformed evangelical workers are in Sydney.

Someone somewhere should do some research – but anecdotally speaking – I’d say there are only a handful of graduates from either Moore College or SMBC in Queensland. I’d say the case is similar in other states.

Off the top of my head there are only about 15 graduates from these colleges operating in Queensland (but this is largely limited to Presbyterian circles). That’s a rough head count.

According to this site Sydney occupies about 2100 square kilometres. According to this site Australia is 7,686,850 square kilometres.

I know there’s this big “theological” push to do city based ministry – but really, our regional towns are the size of Biblical cities in some cases.

Can someone tell me how we’re meant to reach the other 4 in 5 people in that sort of space with the concentration of good ministry stuff we’ve got going on in Sydney?


Leah says:

I find it really bizarre that a guy who is encouraging *other* ministers to move into & work in regional areas could possibly be accused of empire building.

I think those evangelically-trained ministers also need to remember that ALL of Australia needs to be reached, yet not ALL ministers in Australia are competent or have good theology. So when it comes to those ministers who have been well trained with good theology, I'd suggest there are FAR more than 1 in 5 of those in the Sydney region. Go to somewhere like Darwin, where until 2 or 3 years ago, they didn't even have a Presbyterian church. (Not to say the other churches and ministers were bad, but I bet very few of them, if any, had been trained at somewhere like SMBC or Moore). And that's not even taking into consideration any other regional centres in the NT like Alice Springs or Katherine.

Jordie says:

I smell a Presidents of the United States reference. If you meant it, you're my new hero. If you didn't, it's an awesome coincidence. "Movin' to the country, gonna eat a lotta peaches."

Nathan says:

The chances of that reference being unintentional are about the same as the chances of Arnie not purposefully telling the Californian legislative assembly where to go…

queenstuss says:

This is something that bothers me a lot. About all things. Regional Australia is "not as important" as the cities.
But what has been bothering me in specific regard to your topic is that there are people living in smaller places. And a lot of those people aren't Christians, and if they are, they don't necessarily have great churches or great teaching. When I lived in Gympie – with a population of around 10000 I think, so not real small – I couldn't find a church that I was happy to be part of, and certainly nowhere that had great teaching. I swear the preachers at the church I ended up with didn't even use the Bible half the time. And that was in a town within cooee of Brisbane: two hours drive, not two days. The thing is that I was always encouraged to move somewhere that had a good church to belong to.
So I think that it's a little topsy turvy in more than just sending out ministry graduates. I think we should also be encouraging our teachers, doctors, nurses, accountants – whatever professions are in small towns – to think beyond 'big city, good teaching' and consider where can I go and best serve God. If someone had suggested that to me when I was graduating, I would have thought differently about what job I took.
It's late. Am I way off the mark? Or missing the point of what you've said?