The Journey team selects stories that got us talking this week.
Football and faith: definitely a keeper
Eternity News profiles the Coolum Crusaders, a Sunshine Coast based football club owned and operated by the Coolum Beach Baptist Church. Established in 2017 with four teams, the club now boasts 12 teams and 145 players and is getting local families interested in faith. Church pastor John Gallagher says, “We realised that in this day and age we can’t expect the community to come to us as a church. We’ve got to get out there in the community. I think Christ would want us to do that.
“At last count, we had about 14 [kids] from the soccer club who are coming along [to church]. We’ve also got three families who are connecting with us at church on a weekly basis now, which is really big … We’ve very excited about it. God is certainly working in it, and we’re making great connections.”
The Sunshine Coast Churches Soccer Association currently has 3700 players and 19 clubs but the Crusaders are the only club affiliated with a church and this faith connection is what makes them special: “We’re the only club with an ethos that’s not necessarily about making the best soccer players but making sure they’ve got great character, and about bringing families together as well,” says Gallagher.
Despite the fanfare Christians still heard in public square
The Canberra Times has an opinion piece by Australian National University Emeritus Professor of Political Science John Warhurst examining the state of Christian voices in Australian politics; despite some beliefs that Christians are marginalised voices in modern Australia, Warhurst argues they are still very much represented in the public square.
Acknowledging that “when Christianity is reported in the media it does seem to lack a figurehead to give the unity that brings greater political strength”, Warhurst still sees wide reporting in mainstream media of Christian matters including the recent coverage of Israel Folau’s saga with Rugby Australia and stories about the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) group.
The diversity of Christian voices covering the full political spectrum is both emblematic of the diversity of the Australian community and presents a confusing portrait of the faith for “those inside and outside the faith-based communities”, according to Warhurst.
Online pews and a Sunday morning snooze?
The Christian Post ponders whether watching church online is as good as attending a bricks and mortar building, a conundrum which was recently discussed on the American television talk show The Real. Recent data reported by The Christian Post shows a growth in engagement with online ministries with some “even choosing to fellowship exclusively on the internet”. But is a digital church going to give people the same sense of community and faith nurturing that you’d get from attending a weekly service in person?
“Church is not the building, it’s the people!” Adrienne Houghton-Bailon said on the show. “I feel like some of the most intimate moments that I’ve had with God have been alone in my house, in my alone, private prayer time. But I think, for me, I enjoy doing both. I love the idea of being in a congregation and worshipping with other people. I love that expression.”
Nothing crude about theory on American oil and faith
The Texas Standard profiles a new book which explores the links between the crude oil industry and Christianity, and how both were integral in building modern America. Anointed with Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America by Darren Dochuck sees the author examine migration patterns around oil discovery and those links with “wildcat Christianity”.
“Business and the church have always been closely linked,” says Dochuck. “It brings these two entities into even closer proximity with greater outcomes than in any other business sector within the American economy.”