Cultural education: Some of the differences between Australia and the rest of the world

How are Aussies different or the same as the rest of the world?

A great article repurposed from the Sydney Morning Herald & Financial Review

Author: Sarah Kimmorley

This more of an educational piece. There are items and language that may be a bit confronting for some readers, but it will help people to see the opportunities of doing ministry in Australia.

Australians have a unique set of business etiquette rules in comparison with other business cultures.

For example, we don’t mind the use of profanity in the office. We might be laid back, but being late is uncool. We prefer chit chat to start a business meeting and we socialise after work — a lot.

And while it may be second nature to partake in these rituals for those of us who are none the wiser, some of these conventions can be surprising to foreigners when they begin working in Australia.

"For a country with such a great climate and an outdoors lifestyle, it's a car culture," says one  managing director of ...
“For a country with such a great climate and an outdoors lifestyle, it’s a car culture,” says one managing director of the Australian arm of a global firm. Angela Wylie

Here’s what they said. (Some have asked to remain anonymous)

1. There’s a ‘dance’ before the deal

Originally from Estonia, and having worked in Finland before coming to Australia, what surprised me is how similar Australia is compared to the Nordics in terms of mentality: quality over quantity; education and wellbeing are the highest priorities; and work-life balance is sacred.

I like it. What continues to be apparent the more time I spend in Australia is the “dance”. It takes at least 15 minutes talking about sports or beer until someone finally says, “OK, so the deal we are here to talk about…”. That’s kind of fun actually. We don’t dance in the Nordics!

— Martin Talvari, cofounder of Myriad

Seven out of ten Australians think English is crucial to national identity
Seven out of ten Australians think English is crucial to national identity David Freund

2. There’s no beating around the bush

As a Brit, who has spent many years living in the US, workplaces to me were often places where people tried to avoid confrontation; skating around awkward conversations and hiding behind emails.

Then I came to Australia, and everyone was so direct. It was at first refreshing and absolutely terrifying in equal measure. Candid to the core, Australians get straight to the point and I love them for it.

— Kit Young, head of photography at Vinomofo

"The main difference I have noticed is that everyone will meet you for a coffee in Sydney and Melbourne even if they ...
“The main difference I have noticed is that everyone will meet you for a coffee in Sydney and Melbourne even if they have no intention of doing business with you,” says a British expat. Massonstock

3. For the Poms, it’s a warmer, home away from home. For the Yanks, it’s bizarre

It’s been nearly 20 years since I, a Pom, arrived in Australia from London (via two years in Hong Kong), to take over a the local office of New York-based ad agency.

The first thing I’d say is that the cultural differences were clearly less apparent to me than they were to my colleagues from the US head office.

Our American friends found concepts such as workplace profanity, four weeks’ annual leave, regular intra-office romantic liaisons and an open bar on Friday afternoons anathema to their own experiences.

To us Poms it felt like a, somewhat warmer, home away from home.

I still find the wearing of thongs (Aussie version, clearly) and the occasional bare feet a tad confronting, but I’m getting over it.

— Tim Parker, CEO of Gruden

4. Joking around is an important part of communication

The biggest surprise for me [after moving here from New York] was breaking down some of the barriers when it comes to language and colloquialisms. I’ll never forget my initial shock when I was invited to a summer beach party with work, and told in no uncertain terms that we all needed to bring our thongs.

Sometimes I’m still surprised that we can speak the same language, and yet I’ve had conversations that have gone on for a few minutes before we’ve actually been able to communicate anything.

Thankfully, Aussies have a great sense of humour and I’ve found they love it when you show that you’re a little bit human. So if you can laugh at your own mistakes and give as good as you get, you’ll be embraced into both professional and social life.

— Bane Hunter, executive director of GetSwift

5. There’s less hierarchy and less bureaucracy

I’ve worked in Asia and the Middle East before Australia and I found the biggest surprise to working here was how direct people are in business. People in business here are straight-talking. It’s refreshing because it means there’s a much faster working environment and people generally communicate in a way that gets their point across.

The same goes for securing a deal, it’s a straight-up-and-down process: lawyer, office, papers signed and you’re done. In Asia and other places I’ve worked, final deals are almost always made culturally. You have dinners, go to traditional events, meet the family, it’s like you’re getting married.

There’s also much less hierarchy in workplaces here, compared with Asia for example.

Aside from the unforeseen amount of coffee I’m drinking here at work, I find there’s surprisingly little bureaucracy and regulations when it comes to doing business in Australia. It’s pleasant to have overseeing structures in place that ensure processes run smoothly and support, instead of hinder, deal making.

— Nazar Musa, CEO of Medical Channel

6. Tall poppy syndrome is alive and well

The biggest surprise for me was to learn how to navigate the business community here and build relationships. In Silicon Valley, you are encouraged to be as visible as possible and to have a loud voice in your sector, especially as a woman where statistically we are not very good at self promotion.

Here, I found it was quite the opposite. I was met with the “tall poppy syndrome” and a much more conservative business environment that I wasn’t expecting. Over time, I learned how to subtly talk about my background and achievements but learnt that I needed to first add value and build a lot of trust along the way within my community. Each new relationship enabled me to have more visibility.

The other thing that continues to surprise me is that despite the conservative business environment, Australians are, in fact, early adopters. There are some cultural challenges that we face around being collaborative versus competitive, getting over our fear of failing and our ability to think big. I am really hopeful, however, that we can resolve some of these challenges and increase our ability to innovate and claim our spot in the global landscape. Australia’s time is now.

— Elisa-Marie Dumas, head of partner development and corporate innovation at Investible

7. Everyone drives to work and the cost of living is enormous

For a country with such a great climate and an outdoors lifestyle, it’s a car culture. With the exception of Melbourne or Canberra, Australians like to drive even when there is a public transport alternative – and cities are designed to suit cars, not bikes, particularly Sydney.

Australia is shockingly expensive. You won’t be living by the beach because you won’t be able to afford it. I’ve known lots of expats who’ve transferred with their company and realised they totally underestimated the cost of living, especially if they planned to stay long term and buy a home.

— A managing director of the Australian arm of a global firm

8. The hours are longer but more flexible

The first thing I noticed when I got my contract was the 8.30am start time. Having been in media sales for seven years in London where it’s only ever 9 or 9.30am to 5.30pm, it was quite a stinger! I had to call my sister (in recruitment in Sydney) to confirm! And then there is no “set lunch break”. In the UK we had a blanket, industry-wide lunch break of 1-2pm. Not having to justify early/ late lunches is very pleasant!

That goes hand in hand with how laid back it is! You’re much more likely to text your boss when you’re 10 minutes late from lunch elsewhere in the world than you would in good old ‘Straya! Here it’s a given that a) you work hard so a few minutes here and there don’t matter and b) you’re an adult!

I also feel like people socialise less after work here than in London. People have their own lives in both places, but more rubbish transport here limits their ability to “hang back” like you can in London where tubes and buses come every two minutes and take you everywhere. Whereas here it’s a lot of “if I don’t go now, my next ferry is an hour”. In some ways it puts you off, as it’s just hassle.

And talking about commuting, it is pretty different here. Very polite! I have never before seen people form an orderly queue for a bus. In London it’s a free-for-all – and loads of buses are so busy they don’t even stop.

— Anne Marie Skinner, commercial strategy manager at Allure Media

9. Employees are a little too comfortable

It’s a little awkward, but over the years I’ve had many conversations with fellow expats about how Australians are prone to laziness, at least compared with other countries like Britain, Ireland, and the US.

I think it’s a combination of more than two decades of steady job creation and an industrial relations environment that makes it extremely difficult to sack people. When jobs are as secure as they are in Australia, there is less of an incentive to be a star performer, to come in every day and smash it out of the park. People in countries where there have been downturns or where there is strong competition for every job will often work every day as if their life depends on it – because it does.

Australians do great work, but it often feels like they do “just enough”, rather than volunteering for challenging projects, starting early and finishing late, and consistently going the extra mile. It’s not that it’s terrible for business, but you sometimes wonder if Australians truly realise how ferociously competitive it really is in the wider world.

— An experienced manager in the media industry

10. On Friday, we drink!

I’m Malaysian and used to work in Malaysia.

I would say the key difference is that drinks on Friday or in the office is common in Australia, but in Malaysia you would need to do it outside work out of respect.

Work-life balance here is better obviously, and it is normal to pull longer hours in Malaysia. Also, other than workload, most Malaysians that I know choose to leave work later to avoid traffic and congestions with the public transport.

— Rena Phuah, Advertising product specialist at Allure Media

11. Australians ‘get s— done’

I was born in New Zealand, grew up across South-east Asia, went to university in Boston and then worked in NYC and London before Sydney.

I have to say work is as equally social here as in London and NYC, but there’s much more of a “work culture” in Australia. For example, post-work drinks, team outings, lunch BBQs etc — which is a mega plus! I’d also have to say that although the work ethic is equal, there’s a much more relaxed and friendly vibe here in Australia. A client meeting may be over lunchtime drinks versus sitting in a board room.

I have to say overall there’s much more of a “get shit done in work hours” type attitude here than elsewhere. Most people here work more effectively in the day to ensure they can leave on time. I’d say Australia as a whole has a better work-life balance.

— Jessica Arrowsmith, beauty editor of Popsugar Australia

12. There’s a lot of slang

The country is so big that it covers five distinct time zones, so if you want to run a national business you need to cover a huge range of business hours that would be the equivalent of supporting a customer base in Western Europe or North America but with a much smaller population and potential market.

You need to get use to the Aussie office slang. On Day 1, I personally encountered the following interesting twists on both the English language and indeed the normal office lexicon .. Doco -> Document, Preso -> PowerPoint presentation and the classic … Spready –> Excel Spreadsheet!

— A C-level executive at a national IT services firm

13. Short-term thinking is a problem

Without getting on a political soapbox I continue to be surprised at the short-termism of the Australian outlook. We’ve fallen in to the trap of focusing on the 24-hour news cycle and the monthly results instead of having a long-term plan that involves real investment in our population and our capabilities. We should be competing on the global stage on a much more regular basis. We’re lucky enough to have a culture that encourages early adoption, so why don’t we see more risk being taken?

Despite the “give it a go” image, I’m always surprised that we tend to reward safe-playing mediocrity when we should be hugely more optimistic and competitive as a nation. That change requires action, it takes a risk-aptitude and a willingness to fail, something that we have to encourage and foster.

— Grant Thomson, managing director of Versent

14. Australians value family time

I moved to Australia from the US in 2012. As an expat, I see that the culture here is for Australians to work very hard and take their jobs and careers very seriously. The biggest and most pleasant surprise is that Australians are equally serious about making sure there is a balance between work and other areas of their life like family and health. This balance seems to be intrinsically societal; that Australia has decided to place significant importance on being outside and spending time with family, as much so as working incredibly hard. I think this is epitomised by so many companies closing for a week or more over the holidays to ensure their staff has down time to spend with family and enjoy the summer. What a great way to approach work and life!

— Matthew Kates, country manager for Australia and New Zealand at Zerto

15. It might be a ‘work hard, play hard’ culture but people really do work hard

I grew up in the UK and started working as a management consultant in Sydney 12 years ago. When I first started working in Australia I was immediately struck by the “work hard, play hard” culture that was often talked about. My observation back then was in Australia, when compared with the UK and US, this was more skewed towards play rather than work as Australia’s working days were typically shorter and holiday entitlements longer. Not necessarily a bad thing, just visibly different.

Fast forward 12 years and there is a noticeable difference in actual and expected working hours in our country. This is not necessarily desirable in the sense of work-life balance, but I would say the biggest change for me is in terms of productivity during working hours. I certainly see a significant difference in how “hard” people are willing to work to achieve productivity gains. This is coming partly from working smarter, but also from taking more time than 12 years ago out of family and social time. It is an area that we need to watch as burn-out and work fatigue will become real concerns for companies and employees.

— Graham Jackson, CEO of Fluent Retail

16. There’s not a specific pub that everyone goes to after work

I’m from the UK and worked in London for eight years before moving to Sydney.

I think one of the biggest differences is the out of work culture between London and Sydney. In London there is the pub culture and all the media companies (and lots of my friends from other industries too) have their preferred “local” where half the company congregate on a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night. You could pretty much turn up on your own to your local knowing that there would be a ton of people you knew there. Even in the winter all these pubs are full of people out on the pavement having after-work drinks.

Over here I don’t think that it’s less social, but I think people are more health conscious , make more plans in the evening and also have a higher proportion of people who drive to work, hence the reluctance to go for spontaneous drinks after work.

— Gemma Labadini, business development director at Allure Media

17. Employees speak their minds in front of their superiors

[Originally from Israel and] having worked in London and Hong Kong, what surprised me most about the Australian working culture is that its people are very genuine and straightforward. There is very little consideration for hierarchy or seniority within the social structure.

People are often encouraged to speak their minds in front of their superiors. It’s refreshing to see that everyone’s voice is heard and there are very few social formalities within the Australian working culture.

— Yanir Yakutiel, CEO and founder of Sail Funding

18. Australians would rather solve problems themselves than ask for help

Coming from working in both London and Kuala Lumpur I’ve found Australia much more forward-thinking, with a work hard, play hard culture. Other things I noticed are: There aren’t as many big corporates, so lots of other business people I meet are in small businesses or start-ups.

In general, people tend to try to solve a problem themselves before asking. This contrasts with South-east Asia, where a lot of people do very specific jobs to the bare minimum and don’t aspire to progress much further in their careers.

In Asia it is the done thing to hang out with colleagues at the weekend, but here people seem to have many different friendship groups outside of work – which is refreshing.

— Xander Addington, research & insights analyst at Allure Media

19. The time zone isn’t an issue

One of the reasons I wanted to move here [from the UK] was the embrace the work-life balance culture… The other thing is the time zone. Sure, working across a global business can have its challenges for leadership meetings – but on the whole I’ve worked for US California-based companies for a while and it works well for me. I get up early and it’s just late morning for them, so I take calls during my commute. By my afternoon they’ve all gone home and we can get our Monday started whilst America is still enjoying their weekend. Wouldn’t change that for the world.

— Charlie Wood, managing director for ANZ, Dropbox

20. There’s a ‘limitless capacity for innovation’

I arrived here as an expat 20 years ago — originally on a working visa with Ernst & Young. What surprised me initially was that Australia’s reputation for hitting the beach, beer and barbecue with the thinnest excuse proved to be true.

However, I also noticed that it didn’t come at the cost of hours put in at work. That was one of the great myths put to rest — I had never worked harder or longer hours in my life.

What I am no longer surprised by, but constantly reminded of, is the limitless capacity for innovation. I think it’s based on our collective capacity for improvisation — a story that stretches back more than 40,000 years. It’s part of Australia’s DNA and I see it reflected in our own business – agile, diverse, innovative with speed to market as a key point of difference here and internationally.

The other thing that does continue to surprise me is that despite a reputation for “calling it as you see it”, some Australians can be remarkably shy about saying what they think. You have to keep testing your assumptions and observations with your stakeholders — internally and externally — to check that you understand their priorities, the opportunities and the problems we are trying to solve together.

— Stuart Allinson, managing director of BidEnergy

21. The individual holds more responsibility and therefore can have greater impact

The Australian Tourism PR campaign works wonders on us Brits… we see sun, beaches and a vibrant city. The reality is that if you come from working across markets such as Europe or the US, the size of organisations and industry is much smaller here. A sales division in the UK would have 2000 people — here, maybe 10 per cent of that number.

That means the specialist resources you used to have to get things done fall away. The reality is that Australians work really hard so more of the heavy lifting is done by the individual. There is not the profit margin or volume to hire or bring in more resources.

Conversely, this presents an incredible professional opportunity when you move to Australia. Your role, previously more defined or sectorised, is much broader here. Consequently, you get to learn more across a wider portfolio, either horizontally or vertically.

There are generally less layers to the executive team, so you can get greater exposure earlier on to more senior personnel and can have a greater impact more quickly. Industry networks are smaller and so you can get to build stronger, deeper relationships more quickly. If you are good, you will shine, if you are not… well find another country, you’ll be found out quickly here!

— Karen Lawson, CEO of Slingshot

22. Everyone is keen for a coffee

I’m originally British and lived and worked in London for 12 years. The main difference I have noticed is that everyone will meet you for a coffee in Sydney and Melbourne even if they have no intention of doing business with you. Maybe it’s because everyone in Sydney loves coffee so much, but I have managed to get in front of some really senior people just for a coffee. And then… nothing!

— Liz Ferguson, managing director of Kin Community

23. Australians place value on their personal wellness in the workplace

I moved from the UK to Australia eight years ago. Australians seem to appreciate that they spend more time with their colleagues than anyone else. Coffee breaks, after-work drinks and catching up with the people you work with is essential to an Aussie’s working day.

I’ve found that it’s like this across all industries here. In the UK, the working culture is more about getting the work done, heading home and living separate lives to your colleagues. I think this comes down to Australians’ desire for balance in their life. They place value on their personal wellness in the workplace – including the relationships they have with the people around them.

— Bradley Delamare, CEO of Tank Stream Labs

24. Australians are prepared to go the extra mile

“No worries” actually means just that. Don’t worry, the job will get done. I have seen this in my own workforce and tradesmen working at home. I always get a sense of calm when I hear it spoken as I know I can rely on the individual to do what he or she has promised.

Cultural diversity takes on a new meaning when you work in Australia. Everyone is accepted and as long as you’re willing to work you will be accepted and welcomed no matter where you come from. Everyone is given a fair go. I have read of racism, but I have never witnessed it, even in what might be considered a “redneck” place.

The proximity to Asia and the fact we are in the same time zone means there are enormous opportunities across the continent for Aussies. I was very impressed with the way Australian businesses work with and for Asian companies. I have visited some remote Chinese cities only to find an Australian advising a business in a particular sector, with no Mandarin, but still readily accepted, contributing and having fun with the workforce. You’ll find Aussies all over the world doing the same thing.

The one thing that stands out for me is, more than I have seen in other parts of the world including the US, Australians are prepared to go the extra mile.

Read more: http://www.afr.com/leadership/company-culture/24-things-expats-find-surprising-about-australian-working-culture-20170129-gu13b0#ixzz4ZTpalumx
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Prayer points for the next few months: Australia Day is the ‘re-set’ button

The new year brings new possibilities and exciting opportunities for ministry in Australia.

City Bible Forum, Reel Dialogue, Rouse Hill Bible Church, Scripture classes and Bible Study Fellowship have moved into ministry mode and we could use your prayers.

Just a friendly reminder that Australia is at the end of summer and this is when all things begin afresh. After Australia Day on 26 January, the country comes back into the reality of work, school and ministry work. Not that these things stopped during the summer, but Australia Day is like the ‘re-set’ button. People get back to life and we hope to be in the thick of it all.

Here are the prayer points for the first few months of the year:

The Conversation: Change your mind, change the world

Venue: Dendy Opera Quays

Cost: $25 per attendee

Frequency:  Once a month, One hour (During school term) Mar, May, June, Aug, Sept, Oct, & Nov

Preferred times and nights: Straight afterwork; 6-7:30pm;  Thursday 

Format: TEDtalk style with Q&A

  • Multiple speakers on the same topic. 
    • Two speakers on the same topic with an interactive Q&A at the end
    • Both speakers having 15 minutes to communicate their position 

The topic that is up for consideration is The Imposter Syndrome. 

Reel Dialogue – Silence national pre-screening + Take 2

Reel Dialogue has been an exciting new initiative at City Bible Forum. Thank you to all who have been supporting us throughout the years.

We have had an unprecedented number of events in the last few years and we are looking forward to more in 2017.

Silence is the next Reel Dialogue screening. (It is at capacity) We have screenings in Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

Due to the length of the film, we are not able to have a panel discussion after the film, but that does not mean we cannot discuss the themes of the film.

Here is your opportunity…

We are going to introduce a new initiative - Take 2

What to expect:

  • Table discussion on film, faith and the bigger questions of life
  • Experts in the field discussing themes
  • Explore the Biblical applications to the themes
  • Coffee and drinks
Rouse Hill Bible Church – We welcome Nathan and Kristin Muse from the US to be part of the church.
Scripture in the public schools - As the school year begins, Cathy will begin teaching in the coming weeks. Pray for the class she will have and the children’s receptiveness to the Bible. (remember, we have a year round school schedule that begins in January)
Personal notes
  1. Caroline begins High School – We do not have middle school, which means our year 7 student begins her venture into high school
  2. Joshua internship at Saylorville Church – Josh is spending his gap year in the US. He will serve alongside the sound and technology team at Saylorville.
  3. Hope and Matt celebrated their first anniversary
  4. Hope and Becca began the new year of teaching

Thank you for your support and prayers!
Tha Matthews

 

Merry Christmas from the Matthews family

Our family wants to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Thank you for your support and prayers. We pray the Lord will bless you all this season and that you have every opportunity to celebrate our Saviour’s birth.

The Matthews

New address and new opportunities

Planning for 2017 and a new house

It is hard to imagine that we are planning for 2017, but we are wrapping things up for the year in the city and at church. This puts us in planning mode for all things in 2017.

Please be in prayer about some key things happening in 2017:

  • The Forum is winding down and we are in full on fund raising mode and planning for 2017. Pleas pray for some of our plans for the public talks, groups within organisations and individuals that are close to coming to Christ this year.
  • Reel Dialogue has taken off this year. We have had numerous evangelistic events and the opportunities will continue into 2017. Please pray for wisdom with this ministry and that God will be glorified with it all.
  • ABWE Australia will be going through a change with our team leadership. Please pray for our team and the wisdom on what to do with the responsibilities he has overseen.
  • Rouse Hill Bible Church is flourishing and growing. Please pray for us as we look to bring on a youth director and have to adjust to some building issues in the coming months.
  • Family - One biggest changes is our address: 32 Oleander Crescent, Riverstone NSW 2765 Australia.
  • We have been given a wonderful new home, but it will take some time to transition into the new digs.
  • Josh finished his final exams and will graduate in December. (That is the normal graduation time in Australia) Pray for him as he will be doing an internship at Saylorville Church in 2017 with their sound and audio team.
  • Pray that Australia would get some rain, we are looking at an exceptionally dangerous fire season in the coming months

Thank you for your prayers and support,

Russ & Cathy Matthews

 

Just the other day… Who said that evangelism isn’t interesting?

Every week, we get unique opportunities to share the Gospel with people of all ages. Through the work in evangelistic Bible studies, one to one studies and scripture classes.
Lana – In our weekly Bible Study at Westpac Bank, Lana comes every week. She has recently immigrated from China and had never read the Bible before.
We were discussing the subject of the truth of he Bible. Lana seemed confused and asked about telling the truth about someone’s clothing. ‘Should I always tell the truth about what someone is wearing?’
This little clarification lead to a fantastic discussion within the group about the differentiation between absolute truth and telling a lie.
Gaetana – A woman in our community that we have the opportunity to engage with was asking about my work. We went on to have an hour long discussion about religion, the Gospel and her views of the world. I asked if she thought that my stance on ‘only one way to God’ sounded arrogant? She stated ‘No, because you are merely saying what you believe. Arrogance is more in the tone that you deliver the message. You do not convey arrogance at all.’
Towards the end of the conversation she said, ‘This was a great discussion about religion. I think talking about religion is like farting.’ This caught my attention… I asked with a grin… ‘How is talking about religion like farting?’
She said, ‘Well, everyone believes in something and everyone farts. But, we are afraid to talk about either subject. Why? Since everyone does both, why not talk about it? Especially after we do it, we feel better.’
Wow! That is some incredible insight on the world. Now, how do I get that into a sermon analogy?
Evie - The public school where Cathy teaches Scripture classes started Ethics classes. A new government initiative. Unfortunately, she lost some of her students to this new initiative. She was exceptionally disappointed at first, especially since one of the little girls, Evie. She was so inquisitive and seemed so engaged with the Bible. All Cathy could do was pray for her and be thankful for all of students who had remained in the class.
The following week, Evie comes walking into the room and sits down in Cathy’s class. With enthusiasm and a smile, Cathy asked what she was doing back.
Evie said, ‘That ethics class was boring and I really like being in this class.’ Also, Cathy was able to give Evie her first Bible that week.
The Lord answers prayer in his timing!
Please keep praying for opportunities like this and for people to continue to search for answers from the Bible in Australia

What do the numbers say?

It is hard to imagine, but our family is getting close to our 11th year of life in Australia. We continue to be amazed at this opportunity. Even as the seasons of life change with children getting older and ministries maturing, we continue to thank the Lord for the gift of serving in our adopted home. 

As the years progress, Australia continues to become part of our DNA. We have a ever-present love for our American heritage, but we feel our love of Australia grow. It is not easy sharing the Gospel in this melting pot culture, but with the various ministries and people we work alongside the opportunities continue to present themselves every day. We enjoy sharing this experience with visiting friends, family ranch mission teams, but we have to remember that most of our visitors have a very limited view of our sunburned homeland. 

One thing that is very different to America is that in Australia it is compulsory to vote and to fill out our census form. Due to this requirement, our national statistics are exceptionally accurate. Based on our last census report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and further research from McCrindle Research, here are a few statistics that might help people to see that Australia is a very different place than they thought. 

1. If Australia were a city, at 23.5 million it would still only be the world’s seventh largest (after Tokyo, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Jakarta, Seoul and Delhi).

2. The average street of 100 households has 10 babies (aged under 3), 27 cats and 45 dogs.

3. The average Australian stays with their employer just 3 years and 4 months – only a third of the way towards long service leave. If this plays out in the lifetime of a school leaver today it means they will have 17 separate employers in their lifetime. 

4. In Australia there are almost 100,000 more women than men, with six out of our eight states and territories experiencing a man drought.

5. Three decades ago the median age of an Australian was 30.5, today it is 37.3 and in 2044 it is projected to be 40.

6. The average Australian spends 10 hours and 19 minutes each day on screen time – and due to ‘multi-screening’ this is achieved in just under eight hours of linear time.

7. By the time generation Z (five-19-year-olds) begin to retire (beginning in 2063) the average median capital city house price will exceed $2 million and the average retiree will need $600,000 more than today for a comfortable retirement.

8. If you lived on an average sized street in Australia comprised of 100 households, on that street there would be a marriage every 9 months, a death every 7 months and a birth every 14 weeks.

9. Currently there are almost 105 baby boys born for every 100 baby girls born in Australia

10. The most widely said Australianisms are “no worries” (74 per cent of Australians have used this phrase), “arvo” (73 per cent), and “G’day” (71 per cent).

11. Swimsuits in Queensland are known as togs, in NSW cossies, but in Victoria, bathers. And while Victorians use the word cantaloupe, in the rest of the country the fruit is known as rockmelon.

12. Australia is currently growing by 1 million every 2 years – that’s an additional city of Adelaide every 2.5 years.

13. Three decades ago almost two in three Australians were married while today less than half are, and the “never married” proportion of Australians has increased from a quarter to a third.

14. There are more people in Sydney today than lived in all of Australia a century ago.

15. A quarter of Australians (27 per cent) were born overseas and almost half of Australian households (46 per cent) had at least one parent born overseas.

16. The average age of a first marriage is 29.8-years-old for men and 28.1 for women.

17. The median age at which men first become a dad is 33, and women have their first child at 30.7 years.

18. Australia is growing faster (1.8 per cent a year) than any other country in the OECD. 

19. Australia’s death rate is at an all time low. And Sydney is the state capital with the lowest probability of death (5.3 deaths per 1,000) while Darwin and Hobart have the highest capital city death rates (6.6).

For people who love to analyse numbers, these are fascinating numbers and help us to see where we need to be reaching people and figure out unique methods of reaching Australians. Also, that Australia is not the same as the US and we need to adjust our strategies for reaching people for Christ. 

The one statistic that grew the most over since the last census is the number of people who said they were ‘non-religious.’ Going to church is not a regular thing for our nation. Sunday is considered Sport Day. It is a time for football, cricket or netball. 

To merely start a church is not going to reach the people of Australia. We have to have active evangelistic endeavours to reach people. We do this through workplace evangelism and unique events in cinemas. We are seeing fruit through these ministries at City Bible Forum (citybibleforum.org) and Reel Dialogue (reeldialogue.com). 

Not to be discouraged, through these evangelistic efforts we are seeing church growth throughout our nation. With partnerships with Geneva Push (genevapush.com) and local pastors we have seen a steady rate of churches starting and growing throughout Sydney. Alongside Pastor Ben Kwok and with the Rouse Hill Bible Church family we have been serving for the past three years. (rousehillchurch.com) We are seeing regular growth and exciting stories of people coming in contact with Christ for the first time in their lives. 

We want to thank you for your regular support, prayers and teams. It is a world away, but it means so much to us and helps us to continue the work of the Gospel in the land of Oz. 
The adventure continues..
The Matthews family

Thank you to the First Family Church team for an action packed adventure

Our family would like to thank the team from First Family Church for their willingness to come and serve alongside our family in Sydney.

It may not be known until eternity what sort of impact your service will have, but we are thankful now.
One thing can be said about this team is that they took full advantage of every opportunity to share the love of Jesus.

All played a specific role and willingly jumped in to assist with anything that needed done.

We will add a pictorial depiction of their journey below

Here is a short list of their activities:

  • Set up and serve at the Tracy Trinita evangelistic event in Canberra
  • Work as the photography team at the Canberra event
  • Attended a ‘real football game’ – Australian Rule Football – GWS Giants v West Coast Eagles
  • Set up and participate in three Forum events in Sydney
  • Serve, set up and Keith Fortenberry preached two weeks  at Rouse Hill Bible Church
  • Provided Bibles to the students at a public primary school scripture class with Cathy Matthews
  • Through the support of the church and Vacation Bible School delivered Bibles for the use in other scripture classes in our community
  • Set up and and participated in the Lord of the Lens evangelistic event at Emmanuel Baptist Church (Attended by 70 men)
  • Help with set up and participation in the City Bible Forum national initiative – Reel Dialogue Ben Hur screenings – An evangelistic event with over 800 in attendance nationwide and over 200 in Sydney
  • Roy Meador lead Bible study at the City Bible Forum team meeting
  • Many on the team went out and did ‘walk-up’ evangelism in the streets of the Sydney Central Business District

This is just a few things that the team was able to experience. We cannot list all of the personal relationships that they were able to make in the short trip.

Thank you to Jay McFarling and your leadership on the team. Also, thank you to the First Family Church and the team for your support, sacrifice and impact that you had on our family, ministry team and church. You will be remembered fondly for years to come.

For all of our supporters, please pray for the work that these ‘journeymen and journeywomen’ had on the ministry field of Australia.

The adventure continues…

The Matthews

 

Here comes the First Family Church team… A trip that is bigger than Ben- Hur

 

Visting team from First Family Church

We are excited to have a visiting team from one of supporting churches in August. Please be praying for the team that will be joining us for our City Bible Forum national mission, Reel Dialogue event, city ministries, scripture classes and church events. We are thrilled to have the team along to serve in this exciting mission field.

Pray for their planning, their health, adapting to the Australian culture and for many opportunities for the team to engage with people with the Gospel.

The First Family Vacation Bible School helped to raise money for their journey and specifically to purchase Bibles for our scripture classes. We are so grateful for their sacrifice to come and serve.

Please be praying for Jay McFarling and the whole team.

What does that have to do with Ben Hur?

City Bible Forum and the Reel Dialogue team have been presented with the opportunity for pre-screening events that will centre on the Paramount release of Ben Hur in five cities in Australia.

The First Family team will be assisting with the evangelistic event in Sydney.

Partnering with Heritage Films and Paramount Pictures, Reel Dialogue is proud to offer a special pre-screening event of Ben- Hur.

The Reel Dialogue team would like to invite you to a night a cinema and discussion. We will screen the new adaptation of Ben-Hur and then enjoy a Reel Dialogue panel discussion with The Big Picture’s Mark Hadley and Ben McEachen who will be joined up front by City Bible Forum’s Sam Chan.

Synopsis of the film: BEN-HUR is the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), an officer in the Roman army. Stripped of his title, separated from his family and the woman he loves (Nazanin Boniadi), Judah is forced into slavery. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption.

Based on Lew Wallace’s timeless novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.

The panel will discuss the themes of the film and allow you to ask questions about the film.

Panel: 

Mark Hadley has been writing professionally for more than 20 years. He has been a journalist for most of that time, employed by a range of prominent radio, television and web publications including the ABC. In addition, Mark has been reviewing films, television programs and children’s books for the past ten years for Australian papers and magazines, nationally syndicated radio programs and internationally read web sites.

Ben McEachen is a professional film reviewer. Seriously. That’s a real, paying job. And he’s even been at it for more than a decade.  He has been editor at Empire magazine, film editor at The Advertiser, lead critic for several News Ltd Sunday papers and a regular fixture on 2GB, ABC and Showtime. Ben also contributes Christian-flavoured film reviews to Eternity newspaper, Hope 103.2 FM, War Cry and Insights magazines.

Sam Chan is a regular speaker at City Bible Forum. He is also a conference speaker, ethicist, ex-rugby player (Sydney Uni 5ths!), retired marathon runner and now a student of Krav Maga (his mid-life crisis activity). His PhD in theology examined the application of speech act theory to the theology of preaching. 

Tracy Trinita event

Another event that the First Family Church team will be assisting with during the the evangelistic events with Tracy Trinita.

As Indonesia’s first supermodel Tracy went on to model clothes for top designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Paul Gautier, Kenzo, and Benetton on the catwalks of New York, Milan and Paris. In Indonesia, Tracy also starred in movies and TV dramas.

You might imagine this was everything she’d hoped for in life. But surrounded by fame and glamour, she felt terribly empty. Real happiness eluded Tracy until she realised that people with faith were happier. But which faith? Her family had Muslims, Hindus, Christians, which faith should she consider? So Tracy cried out to God – “Please reveal yourself to me!”

You’re invited to hear Tracy tell how she finally met the designer she’s been modelling for since birth. Please pray for these events to be used for God’s glory.

What else will the team be doing?

They will hit the ground running and not stop for the ten days that they are in Sydney.

Please pray for the team and for their experiences in Sydney.

Thank your your support and prayers. Please be praying for these events and more opportunities in the future.

The adventure continues… The Matthews

 

That crazy personal issue, The Forum, Sydney Prayer Breakfast and a visiting team

Thanks for your patience over the last few months. It has been an exceptionally busy month with personal events and ministry.

The crazy, personal event

We are grateful for all of your support and prayers. Russ had a bit of a health scare at the end of April and ended up in the hospital for a bit. Due to some irregularities in his heart rate and an abnormal ECG (EKG in the US) the doctors had to find out what was causing some of these health issues. After a few stressful weeks of tests, monitors and a shaved chest (Ouch! One of the most painful parts of the experience), the diagnosis was he has an athlete’s heart (slightly thickened walls of the heart, due to regular exercise) which threw the ECG out of whack and stressful lifestyle. So, some healthy evaluation of lifestyle issues is in order, but all things are back to some level of order. We will keep you posted.

We have tried to keep this as a private and personal matter, but thought it would be worth asking for prayer. Thank you for all who have been involved in the process.

In amongst all of this and other personal challenges, we had a multitude of ministry situations come up. We are praising the Lord for these great opportunities to share the Gospel in some unique areas.

Rouse Hill Bible Church

It has been an exciting time at RHBC. We have been having multiple guests every week at the church as we are working through the Gospel of John.

Not only are we seeing new families and individuals, but they are staying to make this church their church home. In this we are seeing growth in all of our home Bible studies which means the leadership team is having to consider some of the upcoming challenges of church growth.

Please pray for Pastor Ben Kwok and the leadership team as we plan for 2017.

The Forum

We had a great series in June called 4 difficult questions /4 confronting answers. We saw many people engaging with the Gospel of Luke and new people coming along each week.

Also, the Bible studies in John at Westpac Bank continue to see many enquirers (Those who do not know Jesus, yet) coming along to learn more from the Gospel of John.

Please pray for the upcoming Forum series: Four Hard Truths That Will Set You Free

We live in a world that tells us:  you can do anything, be anything, believe in yourself, and all your dreams will come true.

To be blunt this is nonsense and makes for a world of disappointment and frustration. Jesus tells us some hard truths about life, and reality and yet ironically, embracing these truths will give us freedom and joy.

Sydney Prayer Breakfast

The Sydney Prayer Breakfast is an annual event for Christians to pray for the city of Sydney. Every year we have seen growth in this fantastic and encouraging event. We had close to 930 people come to the full room at The Westin.

The Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Glenn Stevens, gave a great talk full of wisdom and insights into our world.

Please pray as we prepare for next year as we hope to get closer to 2000 attendees.

Visting tea from First Family Church

Please be praying for the team that will be joining us in August for the our national mission, city ministries, scripture classes and church events. We are thrilled to have the team along to serve in this exciting mission field.

Pray for their planning, their health, adapting to the Australian culture and for many opportunities for the team to engage with people with the Gospel.

We are so grateful for their sacrifice to come and serve. Please be praying for Jay McFarling and the whole team.

Thank your your support and prayers. Please be praying for these events and more opportunities in the future.

The adventure continues… The Matthews

 

We are gearing up for an exciting May – We need your prayers

We are gearing up for a busy month of ministry in May – Could we ask for your prayers?

As school starts for the autumn term in May (Remember, we experience opposite seasons to the Northern Hemisphere), the various ministries we are involved with in Sydney are ramping up. Please be praying for these various events:

EXTRA ordinary

City Bible Forum in May

Do you remember what it was like to have the wonder of a child? Everything seemed new and magical.

But as adults we often lose this sense of awe. In a world that over-promises and under-delivers, can we still find something extraordinary?

Earlier in the year, Sam Chan asked audiences in the city to consider the question of Meaning as he looked at the Bible book of Ecclesiastes.

In May we will return to look at what this book says about the extraordinary. Pray for many people to come along for this fantastic evangelistic series.

Flourishing in a hostile city

City Bible Forum Workplace conference – 6 & 7 May

To flourish is to grow vigorously, to thrive, to prosper. Is this possible for Christian workers when the world around them is driven by egos and commercial outcomes?

Most certainly yes! Pray that workers come to this leaders’ conference and that they will be inspired to serve God at work.

Who is this conference for? We are encouraging Christian workers from Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney to attend. People who see the workplace as strategic opportunity for Christian ministry and outreach. We hope they will be equipped and encouraged by the presentations and the fellowship of like-minded believers.

City Bible Forum’s 25 year anniversary dinner

19 May

Celebrate with us and pray for the night as we celebrate 25 years of the City Bible Forum (formerly Ecom) ministry.

  • We will relive the journey from home office ministry to large national team.
  • Supporters will gather to say thank you to God for 1,000s of city workers who have heard the message of Jesus.
  • Supporters will catch up with people and relive memories.
  • Our team will be able to share some of our hopes for the future.

Celebrate with us and celebrate all the Lord is doing with our team.

Scripture classes and Bible Study Fellowship

Cathy will continue the ministry of teaching scripture in the public schools and being a children’s leader with Bible Study Fellowship.

Rouse Hill Bible Church

In May, we will be travelling through John 13 & 14 as a church. Pastor Ben Kwok and Russ Matthews will Jesus’ responses to key topics in people’s lives: Service, betrayal, searching for truth and knowing the way to God.

10 years

Our family is thankful to celebrate 10 years of service in Sydney. Thank you for all that you have done to support our work and we look forward to what the Lord has in store for us in the future.

Thank you for your prayers,

The Matthews family