Listen: Ruth Powell in conversation with Stephen O’Doherty
What does it mean to be spiritual? Can you also be religious? Just how do Australians see themselves and their connection to faith, community and church? New research released at an important summit sheds light on those questions about our inner life. The summit also examined the reality of our world and how we would like it to be.
Connecting community and church
NCLS Research is a world leader in research focused on connecting churches and their communities. Decades of rigorous and thoughtful research has examined well being, spirituality and church health.
National Church Life Survey
The most well known five-yearly project is called the National Church Life Survey, which has had millions of participants. Cooperating denominations, including Catholics, Anglicans and Protestants, are a network for sharing practical resources to help churches and communities.
Director of NCLS Research, Dr Ruth Powell , is also a Research Fellow at the Public and Contextual Theology Research Centre, Charles Sturt University, and Honorary Fellow, Australian Catholic University.
How religious / spiritual are we
Dr Powell spoke recently on Open House about the results from the 2018 Australian Community Survey run by NCLS Research. This study reveals how religious and/or spiritual Australians are.
She talked about the profile of Australian religiousness and spirituality, as well as Australians’ openness to connecting with churches, based on latest results from the 2018 Australian Community Survey (ACS).
Key results from the 2018 ACS
- One in five Australians (20%) attend religious services at least monthly. These latest results confirm the decline in religious service attendance is slowing.
- Over a quarter of Australians (27%) report having a mystical or supernatural experience and three in ten pray or meditate at least once a week.
- Two thirds of Australians have no close friends who attend church regularly.
Strengthening the place of churches
“Churches are incredibly active in serving their communities. Understanding the latest trends in spiritual and religious practice, belief and experience of Australians, is essential for church and ministry leaders. The findings on connections with Christian churches, in particular, provide valuable insight and potential for churches to strengthen their place in the fabric of their local communities and in society as a whole.” says Dr Powell.
Attitudes to Christianity
At the Australian Community and Church Summit Ruth presented her research on Australians’ attitudes to Christianity and their views about the role that churches should have in contemporary society. These up-to-date findings provide important information for churches and their community engagement.
You can read and print the presentation slides, research reports and publications distributed to participants at the Community and Church Summit, sponsored by the Bible Society.
The 2018 Australian Community Survey by NCLS Research surveyed a representative sample of 1,200 Australians on their religiousness, spiritualness and connections with Christian churches
Mark McCrindle, Principal of McCrindle Research was another speaker at the summit. He shared some of the latest demographic insights and social trends transforming the Australian community landscape and outlined the implications of these trends for the church:
A dense, urban nation
Australia is growing, and densifying and the future of the Australian church is increasingly urban. Since the 2006 national Census, Australia’s population has grown by 5,000,000 people – that’s an increase of 25% in a little over a decade with more than half of Australia’s growth centred in Sydney and Melbourne.
The Australian community has never been more culturally diverse. More than one in four Australians were born overseas, compared to one in eight residents of the US and UK. More Australians were born in Asia than Europe and more than 1 in 3 Sydneysiders speaks a non-English language at home.
Peak generational change
Our churches and communities are reaching peak generational change. Generations Y and Z, born since 1980, comprise more than 40% of the population, 50% of the workforce and are entering the leadership ranks at a rapid pace.
“Only occasionally in history does massive technological disruption combine with rapid social change, huge generational transitions and ongoing demographic shifts. Australia is currently in the midst of one such transformation” said Mr McCrindle
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