National Church Life Survey

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Australian National Church Life Surveys (NCLS) have been performed every 5 years from 1991 to 2001, to study Church Life in Australia. The NCLS Research partnership administers these surveys. NCLS Research has also conducted surveys on community values, well-being, and security.


Key supporters of the National Church Life Survey are: [1]

  • Uniting Church NSW Board of Mission
  • ANGLICARE Diocese of Sydney
  • the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

Participating Denominations also support the NCLS, some by providing a regional survey coordinator.[1][2]

Other Research & Mission Organisations also partner with the NCLS:[1]

  • Openbook
  • Christian Blind Mission International (CBMI)

The 2001 NCLS was conducted in international partnership with organisations from the following countries:[1]

  • Australia
  • England
  • New Zealand
  • USA


According to the National Church Life Survey's website: [1]

NCLS Research represents an immense cooperative research venture designed to resource congregations for mission. Involving millions of participants over a number of years in different countries, surveys have explored aspects of both church and community life.

The purpose of the National Church Life Survey project is to:[3]

  • Analyse trends into church life comparing with previous surveys
  • Carry out more detailed analysis of the relationships between factors that are apparent in healthy churches
  • Provide resources to Churches to assist ministry relevance
  • Carry out more detailed analysis on effective and sustainable leadership

Recent activities[edit]

In January 2008, the Sydney Morning Herald reported research by the Christian Research Association and the National Church Life Survey into religious affiliation in rural areas.[4] The article states that

(w)heat and sheep farming areas tend to have higher levels of Christian identification than mining boom towns.

The Wellbeing and Security Survey 2003 was conducted in co-operation with Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia and ANGLICARE (Sydney). [5]

The National Church Life Survey 2001 was conducted in May 2001. The survey was completed by 435,000 church attenders from 7000+ Australian churches, across 19 denominations, representing 80%+ of Australian regular church attenders. NCLS Research claims that NCLS 2001 is one of the largest surveys of its kind in the world. [3]

The NCLS First Look Report 2001 states: [6]

Most attenders are at ease with sharing their faith or even look for opportunities to do so (66%). Some 37% have invited someone to church in the past year, even though many churches don’t seem to have a culture of inviting people to church. It is encouraging that 6% of attenders are newcomers who have joined church in the last five years without a previous church background.

In contrast, the AD2000 Journal article National Church Life Survey: church-going declines further summarises the research as follows: [7]

Statistics from the latest National Church Life Survey (NCLS) indicate that attendances at church services in the large Christian denominations, including the Catholic Church, are continuing to decline.

Figures from the 2001 survey showed that Catholic mass attendance declined by an estimated 13% and overall weekly church attendance in Australia declined by 7%[8]

Initial results from the 2011 survey show that six out of 10 adult church members are female. Four out of 10 are younger than 50 years of age. They are well-educated – a third have university degrees compared to just under a quarter of all working-age Australians. The average age is 55 years, pointing to a long-term ageing trend. Individually, church members are much more likely to be volunteers in their communities than the average Australian. The survey found that Christians go to churches for community, with 75per cent report a strong sense of belonging to their local church.[9]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Sponsors and Partners, retrieved 2010-06-19 
  2. ^ Regional Contacts, retrieved 2010-06-19 
  3. ^ a b National Church Life Survey 2001, 2001, retrieved 2010-06-19 
  4. ^ Morris, Linda (2008-01-21), "Spirit strongest in wheat and sheep country", The Sydney Morning Herald, retrieved 2010-06-19 
  5. ^ Wellbeing and Security 2003, 2003, retrieved 2010-06-19 
  6. ^ NCLS First Look Report 2001, 2001, retrieved 2010-06-19 
  7. ^ Gilchrist, Michael (April 2004), National Church Life Survey: church-going declines further, retrieved 2010-06-19 
  8. ^ NCLS releases latest estimates of church attendance, National Church Life Survey, Media release, 28 February 2004
  9. ^ Ruth Powell (Nov 20, 2012). "OPINION: Churches’ future depends on their followers". Newcastle Herald. Retrieved 7 December 2012.