NCLS Research

Denominations sign up to take part

  • Nineteen denominations across Australia so far affirm their intention to participate in the 5th National Church Life Survey in 2011
  • Thousands of churches to be involved and hundreds of thousands of church attenders to be surveyed
  • Church Leaders speak of the value they place on the National Church Life Survey
  • A Survey for churches, by churches, about churches

Churches sign up for research to strengthen leadership and innovation

Denominations from every State and Territory in Australia and representing most Australian church attenders have signed up for the 2011 National Church Life Survey. They will be provided with individualised feedback from the Survey that continues to be a rich resource for church leaders to use for the benefit of their people and for planning, outreach and advocacy.

From September to November 2011 each participating church will be given a “Survey Month” to complete the survey, and they will receive their individual feedback and analysis within a few short months.

Denominations that have already indicated their intent to take part in the 2011 NCLS include the Anglican Church, Australian Christian Churches (AOG), Baptist Churches, Catholic Church, Christian Missionary Alliance, C3 Churches (CCC), CRC Churches Intl, Christian Outreach Centres, Church of the Nazarene, Churches of Christ, Congregational Churches, Lutheran Church, Presbyterian Church, Christian Reformed Churches, Salvation Army, Seventh-day Adventist, Uniting Church, Vineyard Fellowship, and the Worldwide Church of God.

Around 400,000 attenders in 7,000 churches in 22 Christian denominations took part in previous National Church Life Surveys in 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2006. Results have provided accurate and insightful understandings about trends in Australian church life, factors apparent in healthy churches, resources for enriching local church ministry and detailed findings on effective and sustainable leadership.

Church leaders speak about the National Church Life Survey

  • Professor Tom Frame, noted historian, author and social commentator, describes NCLS as “a gift from God” such has been its positive impact on the spiritual lives of individuals and the wellbeing of the Church.
  • Rev Dr Brian Winslade, National Director of the Baptist Union of Australia also describes NCLS as “one of God’s great gifts to us”. He plans to encourage Baptist churches to take part. “Participating in an NCLS survey is a bit like looking in the mirror. In the same way doctors rely on research drawn from medical statistics to formulate helpful diagnoses, so too gathered information from NCLS data helps us examine the health and effectiveness of our mission engagement”.
  • Dr Glenn Davies, Anglican Bishop of North Sydney, states that NCLS, by providing longitudinal studies of trends and movements, beliefs and behaviour of ordinary churchgoers, “is the envy of other national church bodies with its innovative and statistically sound methodology for capturing the strengths and weaknesses of the Australian church.”
  • Professor David Voas from the University of Manchester in the UK agrees. “Churches in Australia are immensely fortunate to be served by the National Church Life Survey. The information it produces is invaluable, not just to leaders of denominations but to individual congregations. It's turned Australia into a model that churches around the world are turning to for inspiration. The people at NCLS are practical visionaries. Your mission is their mission.”
  • Professor Antonius Liedhegener of the University of Lucerne in Switzerland says “From a European point of view, more church leaders, congregations, and parishes should seriously consider joining this inspiring and fruitful endeavour which brings research to the faithful and facts about modern Christian faith to the social scientists”.

A Survey for churches, by churches about churches:

National Director of NCLS Research, Dr Ruth Powell, said the positive response across the nation was very encouraging. “The secret to the success of the NCLS is in the extraordinary co-operation of churches for the sake of their mission.”

“The focus is much more than simply measuring attendance,” said Dr Powell. The 2011 NCLS will build on the foundations of the past 20 years to map Australia’s changing church landscape, evaluate health and vitality and chart changes since the first survey in 1991. As previously, the 2011 survey will help local churches identify and build on their strengths, resource denominational consultants and denominational leadership, inform the wider community and potentially correct myths.

Each local church that takes part receives a personalised Church Life Profile, with resources that identify their strengths and trends over time, along with ways to develop practical plans for the future.

“Denominational leadership needs to know what is happening for both pastoral and strategic reasons,” said Dr Powell. “We also hope to meet the needs of many parts of the church, including schools and agencies by gathering information that is helpful for their mission objectives.”

The 2011 survey has the most practical and grounded focus on community yet, with online surveys for young people and local community contacts such as people at playgroups, soup kitchens etc. In addition, by extending into church schools and church based community welfare services, these findings could bring the most comprehensive and enlightening picture of church life in Australia than ever before.

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