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Churches sign up for research to strengthen leadership and innovation

DENOMINATIONS FROM every State and Territory in Australia have signed up for the 2011 National Church Life Survey (NCLS).

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 months.

Around 400,000 attenders in 7,000 churches in 22 Christian denominations took part in previous NCLS 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.

A Survey for churches, by churches about churches.

Professor Tom Frame, noted historian, author and social commentator, describes NCLS as “a gift from God, as it has had a positive impact on the spiritual lives of individuals and the wellbeing of the Church”.

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 cooperation of churches for the sake of their mission,” she said.

“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.

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 and so on.

In addition, by extending into church schools and church-based community welfare services, these findings could present a more comprehensive and enlightening picture of church life in Australia than ever before.

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