Many Australians would attend church this Easter – if invited.
A new survey reveals that four out of 10 people would go to an Easter service if invited by a friend or a loved one.
The Australian Community Survey (ACS) asked people if they would go to church this Easter if a close friend or family member invited them.
The results, compiled by the National Church Life Survey (NCLS), showed that 42 per cent of Australians would attend such a service.
“The results from the ACS support the idea of using Easter as a time to connect friends and family with your own faith journey,” NCLS research director Dr Ruth Powell told Hope 103.2.
“Our research found that those who are open to an invitation will come because they value their relationship with you. They will do it for you – regardless of their own perspective on faith.”
“Our research found that those who are open to an invitation will come because they value their relationship with you,” – NCLS research director Dr Ruth Powell
The survey, which was conducted in December last year, “compares the attitudes of church attenders and the wider community on a range of social issues, tracks spirituality and religiousness, and evaluates how the Australian community views churches in society,” according to an NCLS statement.
Among the 42 per cent who would accept an invitation to Easter mass were women, university graduates, and people born in non-English speaking countries.
Dr Powell said that “all age groups” were equally likely to accept an invitation.
“A higher proportion of people who identified as Christian were open to an invitation, which is not surprising,” Dr Powell said.
“However, it was interesting to note that 18 per cent of people who identified as atheist also said, ‘Yes, I would accept an invitation from close friends or family’.”
Meanwhile, 19 per cent of those surveyed said they were unsure if they would go to church if invited.
And nearly 30 per cent were resolute that they would not attend church.
According to the NCLS, relationships of those attending church are “essential for authentic engagement”.
The NCLS said that the survey data reveals that Easter-time provides a perfect opportunity for faithful churchgoers to take that step and invite loved ones and friends to join Christian celebrations.
“When having conversations about Easter, churchgoers should be aware that Australians may not know as much about the Christian faith as you might expect,” Dr Powell said.
In fact, in the survey, 41 per cent of Australians said they have limited or no familiarity with Christianity.
Despite the overwhelming number of people saying they would attend church, the actual amount of Australians going to Easter services in 2022 was relatively low at just 17 per cent.
“Perhaps COVID was still a factor for some,” Dr Powell told Hope 103.2. “In general, attendance is higher at Easter time.”
“Lack of awareness”
The survey also revealed that while most Australians believed they have a strong understanding of Christianity, around 20 per cent of people thought Jesus was a mythical or fictional character.
“This lack of awareness about Jesus is perplexing given most historians hold Jesus to be a real figure who lived in first century Palestine,” noted Dr Powell.
“This lack of awareness about Jesus is perplexing given most historians hold Jesus to be a real figure who lived in first century Palestine,” – Dr Ruth Powell