David Crain, BCA Interim National Director (March 2019 - August 2019)
A century ago when BCA was launched, the goal was to venture outback beyond the established towns, to people the churches seldom reached through our usual parish ministries. The not so tiny country towns generally had a set of three or four protestant churches all managing to support their (fairly low paid) minister. A typical BCA mission however would be based in a smaller town and reach out in all directions to other villages, properties and isolated homesteads.
This past century has meant big changes in the bush. The flight to the cities was serious after World War I, reversed in the depression, then resumed in earnest after World War II. Towns with several different denominational ministers in 1919 today are often down to one or two and their future looks as bleak as that of their last bank branch.
On the other hand three types of growth have come to the bush. Significant mining towns have mushroomed beside huge iron ore or coal deposits. Attractive coastal towns have doubled and doubled again with retirees and tourists. The big (usually inland) regional cities have boomed with new suburbs. Total rural and regional numbers keep growing but rural dioceses are battling. The need to maintain ministry in severely shrinking towns while at the same time trying to initiate congregations in new housing areas beside our cities, is often just too hard for our country dioceses. Enter BCA.
For fifty years we have enabled good ministry in big mining communities where rapid turnover of population guarantees the churches will never be self-supporting. More and more we support clusters of shrinking towns with leaders who also discover and train local leaders aiming at a group of competent leaders. We also send church planters into some new growth areas in the expectation of setting up a self-sustaining ministry in as short a time as is sensible.
Bush Church Aid’s modus operandi has changed dramatically – while the good news and our dependence on prayer are absolutely changeless.