A number of 2019 reports have illustrated that Christianity in New Zealand is in decline, as revealed way back in 2015 NZ Herald detailing a decline to under 50% of the population by 2050 - which follows the pattern in - Australia, Austria, Benin, Bosnia-Herzegovina, France, the Netherlands, the Republic of Macedonia and the United Kingdom.
Figures from the Pew Research Centre are no surprise to some in New Zealand. The article cites Mark Honeychurch, president of the Humanist Society of New Zealand, said the Pew projection was "not overly surprising. The only thing I was surprised at was that it would be up until 2050."
Also cited is Dr Nick Thompson, lecturer in theology at the University of Auckland, likewise believed this was a conservative estimate. In the last two censuses, he noted, there had been a more than 10 per cent jump in the number of people who identified as non-religious from 2006 to 2013.
According to the stats, religious affiliation is either in decline or slowing down among the Pakeha, Maori and even to an extent Pacific Island communities, which in effect further weigh these overall figures.
Nick Thompson hits hard as he points directly to real New Zealand society changes where he says: "When you think of Christmas, for example, it's a really, really popular festival, even though it would be hard to claim that the majority of people observing it were particularly religious.”
There you have it. There is this dichotomy in New Zealand society where on the one hand recent surveys as I have previously noted in this column has New Zealand young women as the most promiscuous in comparable western nations and yet one of the most religious (Christian) in attending cultural Christian services and beliefs – take that for Christmas, Easter and death rites.
New Zealand Young writers
None of this will be a surprise for those who have read the New Zealand young writers in the Press Service International program with Christian Today since 2012.
In these past nine years there have been and those currently writing their monthly article, a total of some 33 New Zealand young people who have been expressing their Generation Y ideas, opinions and views in 'Comment' articles.
Their readership has been phenomenal and as Christian Today is an international publication out of London, with regional outlets such as Australia, these New Zealand young writers opinions and views have been well read.
These are some examples of some of the early New Zealand young writers have aired their concerns over Christian decline and tackling their real life issues as young Christians:
Sam the first Kiwi young writer 2012-2015
Sam was a youth minister in a very large Baptist congregation in Auckland who studied the New Zealand culture focusing on why so many who grew up in the church scene moved away – he looked at the church's approach to youth from the inside. Sam won the PSI 2013 Theological Prize.
Casey commenced Jan 2013
Casey from Auckland was a breath of fresh air, speaking on her own doubts and questioning the very core of how Christianity functions in the lives of every day life for her generation. Casey was equal 2nd in 2013 and first place in 2014 with the Basil Sellers NZ Award by an independent group of international Panellists and in 2015 awarded an ARPA Gold.
A very early writer engaged in his Honours
Dale from Christchurch who specialised in ancient history with a classical education and now engaged in an Honours degree brought a completely different perspective to young people searching out the Christian life, regularly citing the philosophers of the ancient world.
Jeremy spoke at the 2015 conference in Sydney
Jeremy from Cambridge (Hamilton) with an Hon. degree under his belt helped by a well deserved scholarship reflects on the Christian life for Generation Y by creatively re-telling stories from history and news casts. Jeremy won the PSI 2014 Theological Award.
Sophia was the young writer’s editor 2015-17
Sophia from Christchurch was a media scholarship winner and a journalist with the NZ national broadcaster, then as editor of NZ CMS publications before relocating to Sydney where her husband Andrew has initiated a theological degree and returned to NZ at the end of 2017 as an Associate Minister. They have two small boys. Sophia not only challenges the church from the inside, but also tackles social issues. Sophia was equal 2nd in the PSI 2013 Awards and the NZ Consistency 2014 Award and in 2015 NZ Basil Sellers Award. Sophia was elected the ARPA President in 2019.
These are just a snippet at how this generation's young people view Christianity and if they have anything to say about it, want a rich and vibrant New Zealand Christian church community.
To view all the New Zealand young writers
Current: scroll down for each name and portfolio
Previous: scroll down to NZ – then slide across for names
Press Service International does not refer to previous young writers as an archive as already a number have returned to the program, hence the use of the term 'Previous'.
The new PSI CV site - www.press-service.international lists the current Kiwi young writers.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award, The Gutenberg. In September 2020 Summer Moore presented her commission portrait of Dr Mark Tronson holding the Gutenberg plaque. The above photo is the upper part from this portrait.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at: http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html