NCLS Research

A comparison of the vitality of new and old churches NCLS Occasional Paper 25

With new churches being established across the country each year, church planting appears to be alive and well in Australia. This paper uses 2011 and 2006 NCLS data to explore whether these newer churches or ‘church plants’ differ from older churches in terms of health and vitality. Churches in four age categories (0-5 years old, 6-10 years old, 11-20 years old, and over 20 years old) were compared across NCLS Research’s nine core qualities of church vitality, as well as in their newcomer levels. It was found that newer churches were significantly more innovative than older churches – churches founded in the last 10 years had more attenders who thought their church was always ready to try new things than churches 11-20 years old, who in turn had more attenders thinking this than churches over 20 years old. Newer churches also attracted more newcomers (people new to church life) than older churches – churches up to 10 years old had a higher proportion of newcomers than churches 11-20 years old, who in turn had more newcomers than churches over 20 years old. While it is clear that churches face different challenges depending on their stage of life, an important finding was that churches of all ages were able to foster growth in the faith of their attenders.


Author/s: Hancock, N., Pepper, M. & Powell, R.

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Hancock, N., Pepper, M. & Powell, R. (2014) A comparison of the vitality of new and old churches, Occasional Paper 25. Sydney: NCLS Research. © NCLS Research, 2014.

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