What do Australians think of Church, Jesus and Christians? The National Church Life Survey’s Annual Community Survey (ACS) has surprising answers —
1. The overall message is that while the media narrative is overly negative about Church, the reality is more varied. There are still great opportunities to connect with non-Christians in our communities.
2. There has been growth in church attendance since 2016. While the recent Australian census has confirmed the long-term trend of those who identify as Christian, the ACS research has found that 1 in 5 Australians attends churches at least monthly (and increasing).
3. Around 1 in 3 young adults report attending a church service at least monthly. Their church attendance is higher than every other demographic (including baby boomers). In this sense, they’re more religious than their grandparents.
4. Around 44% of Australians believe Christianity is good for society. There is still widespread goodwill across society.
5. The least Christian age group (50-64-year-olds) is also the group with the most influence across society. Thus, it’s not surprising that the public narrative seems so negative. But it’s not necessarily representative of the majority of Australians.
6. Most people who knew real Christians saw them in very positive ways. When asked to describe their Christian friend or family member from among 20 different characteristics – 10 of which were positive, and 10 of which were negative – the top 5 responses were as follows: Caring (51%); Kind (50%); Honest (45%); Loving (42%); Generous (39%). They might not think you’re horrible!
7. Relationships matter: 3 in 10 Australians would attend Church if invited by a friend or family member. A relational invite is the most significant reason given by non-Christians about why they would go along to Church.
8. Around 1 in 5 Australians tried to get involved in Church but then decided against it. That’s a significant number of Aussies, and it shows that our welcoming and integrating of newcomers is so important.
9. Many Aussies are confused or unsure about Christianity and the Church. So, you have an opportunity to humbly yet clearly tell people about real Christianity.