Finding a Way Forward - Dr Ruth Powell - Friday 22 Aug, Proclaim 2014


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Strategically rebuilding the Church of the Nativity involved studying, learning from and adopting successful practices in other Christian communities. Dr Ruth Powell will explore trends in evangelisation and what is working well in Christian communities across Australia. Participants are invited to take big picture ideas, learn from others and apply them in their own parishes.

Ruth Powell is Director of National Church Life Survey (NCLS) Research and an Associate Professor at the Australian Catholic University. She has been a part of the NCLS team since 1991. She has written about many aspects of Australian church life, including church health, denominational differences, and individual attitudes. Her PhD research focused on age differences among church attenders. Some of the publications she has co-authored include Winds of Change, Views from the Pews, Shaping a Future, Build My Church, Taking Stock, and Enriching Church Life.

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Finding a Way Forward - Dr Ruth Powell - Friday 22 Aug, Proclaim 2014

  1. 1. Trends in Evangelisation Finding a Way Forward © 2012 NCLS Research Dr Ruth Powell Director, NCLS Research Associate Professor, ACU Proclaim Conference 22nd August 2014 Powell, R. (2014). Trends in Evangelisation: Finding a Way Forward. NCLS Research Report. NCLS Research. Sydney.
  2. 2. National Church Life Surveys – Surveys of church attenders & leaders. Five waves: 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2011. E.g. Participants in the 2011 NCLS • 3000+ local churches • 260 000+ individuals • 23 denominations • 8 languages Primary Sponsors 23+ Participating Churches Anglican Apostolic Australian Christian Churches Baptist Brethren Catholic Christian Missionary Alliance C3 Churches COC Australia Congregational CRC Churches International Church of the Nazarene Churches of Christ Four Square Gospel Lutheran IPMF Presbyterian Christian Reformed Churches Salvation Army Seventh-day Adventist Uniting Church Vineyard Fellowship Worldwide Church of God and Independent congregations, House churches and other Christian communities National Church Life Surveys (NCLS) Largest database on church life in the world 2011 NCLS - Protestant: 2062 churches, Catholic: 254 parishes.
  3. 3. Figure: The religiosity of Australians: belonging, beliefs and behaviour There have been major changes in the broader context that impact on all churches. There has been a decline in the religiosity of Australians. Trend 1: Major changes in the broader context
  4. 4. Q. Which of the following best describes your readiness to talk to others about your faith? a. I do not have faith, so the question is not applicable b I do not like to talk about my faith; my life and actions are sufficient c I find it hard to talk about my faith in ordinary language d I mostly feel at ease talking about my faith and do so if it comes up e I feel at ease talking about my faith and look for opportunities to do so Readiness to share faith
  5. 5. Lack faith/NA, 1 Life and actions sufficient, 17 Hard to express in ordinary language, 15 At ease if occasion arises, 52 Look for opportunities, 15 Trend 2: An increase in readiness to share faith Most are at ease: One in seven (15%) of Catholic Mass attenders feel at ease talking about their faith and look for opportunities to do so. Source: 2011 NCLS Attender Survey - Catholic Attenders who are at ease and look for opportunities to share faith are: • highly involved in church life • experiencing personal growth in faith • helping people in practical ways
  6. 6. 1 17 15 52 15 1 8 21 52 18 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 Lack faith/NA Life and actions sufficient Hard to express in ordinary language At ease if occasion arises Look for opportunities % Protestant 2011 Catholic 2011 Catholic 2006 Catholic 2001 Which of the following best describes your readiness to talk to others about your faith? Readiness to share faith: comparisons Source: 2001, 2006, 2011 NCLS - Catholic Church and 2011 NCLS - Protestant Similar to Protestants: Similar proportions of Catholic (15%) & Protestant (18%) attenders look for opportunities. Changes in the past decade: There has been an increase in the proportion who look for opportunities and a decline in those who think that life and actions are sufficient.
  7. 7. Source: 2006 NCLS Operations Survey – 188 responses from Catholic sample parishes % Catholic 11 Anglican 13 Baptist 24 Churches of Christ 21 Lutheran 12 Pentecostal 28 Presbyterian 25 Salvation Army 15 Uniting 5 All Churches 17 Has this parish offered significant training for lay people in the following leadership or ministry roles in the past 2 years? (Mark ALL that apply) Outreach/ evangelisation role Some Protestant churches offer training. Readiness to share faith: provision of training
  8. 8. From an individual focus to a community focus “The parish is where the Church lives. Parishes are communities of faith, of action and of hope. They are where the gospel is proclaimed and celebrated, where believers are formed and sent to renew the earth. Parishes are the home of the Christian community; they are the heart of our Church.” - US National Conference of Catholic Bishops (Source: Rebuilt, preface) Evangelisation requires the involvement of the whole faith community. Christians understand themselves to be called into a relationship with God, with others in the church and with the wider community.
  9. 9. Nine Core Qualities of Church Life Internal Core Qualities The inner life of the community of faith Inspirational Core Qualities Relate to leadership and direction Outward Core Qualities How churches focus beyond themselves Churches that are effective in evangelisation have built up a range of Core Qualities that contribute to overall vitality.
  10. 10. Trend 3. Effective churches are reorienting themselves to ‘newcomers’
  11. 11. Newcomers: Attenders who were not attending any church five years ago. Includes first-timers and returnees. Defining the ‘newcomer’
  12. 12. Nerida is 46 years old, married, employed and has a university degree. Her mother was a significant influence on her faith, but she hasn’t been attending church in recent years. Nerida has been feeling there was something missing and also wanted her children to learn about God. She didn’t shop around, but went to her local parish, after a friend invited her. She is not sure what she believes, but goes to Mass to worship God, share in the Eucharist, pray and reflect. She has been growing in her faith this year and puts this down to the life and witness of everyone at her parish. A profile of Nerida, the Catholic newcomer What would your parish look like if it was focused on Nerida? Each week Nerida’s chair came that little bit closer…
  13. 13. Newcomers and Denominational Differences Source: 2011 National Church Life Survey Newcomers are found in congregations of all sizes and across all denominations. 11.0% 8.1% 7.6% 7.5% 5.9% 3.7% 3.4% 5.8% 0.0% 2.0% 4.0% 6.0% 8.0% 10.0% 12.0% Pentecostal Anglican Other Protestant Baptist/ Churches of Christ Uniting Lutheran Catholic TOTAL
  14. 14. Half of all Catholic newcomers are in their 30s and 40s. Average age The average age of a Catholic newcomer is 46 years old. Comparisons: Baptist - 40 years Pentecostal – 35 years Source: 2011 NCLS Attender Survey - Catholic newcomer 5 10 25 24 15 12 7 2 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 15-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69 70-79 80+ Age of Catholic newcomers: 2011 Age group Catholic newcomers: age profile
  15. 15. 39% 33% 30% 32% 34% 36% 38% 40% Newcomer Overall Degree Newcomers are most commonly…: The most common characteristics of Catholic newcomers are that they are female (56%), married (68%), university educated (36%) and Australian-born (68%). Compared to all Mass attenders, newcomers are closer to the ‘average Australian’. They are more likely to be: • male • separated or divorced • university educated 44% 39% 34% 36% 38% 40% 42% 44% 46% Newcomer Overall Male 10% 6% 0% 5% 10% 15% Newcomer Overall Separated/divorced Catholic newcomers: demographic profile Source: 2011 NCLS Attender Survey - Catholic newcomer
  16. 16. Education & friends • Religious ed. teacher/chaplain (16%) • School teacher (13%) • Peers/friends (10%) Church contacts • Minister/priest of a local church (7%) • Sunday school teachers (7%) ‘The most significant people to show me what faith was about’: Catholic newcomers: significant people for faith The role of parents and family is critical for all 2011 NCLS Catholic new arrivals = Newcomers not previously in a parish/ switchers from another denomination/visitors who do not attend elsewhere Parents • Mother (77%) • Father (48%) Other family • Spouse (16%) • Grandparents (16%) • Other family (16%)
  17. 17. Catholic newcomers: Why you came to this church In the 12 months before starting at their current parish, 34% didn’t visit or attend any other church and 34% visited one other church. Do Catholic newcomers shop around? Not really. What triggers the first church attendance? One in five say ‘Something missing’… When you began attending a local church again, what situation or event was most important in your decision to attend?: Top 5 reasons for newcomers (out of ten options): 1. Thought something was missing in my life (19%) 2. Moved to a new area (17%) 3. Wanted my children to have a religious upbringing (14%) 4. Spouse invited me to attend/accompanied spouse (11%) 5. Felt guilty about not attending (8%). 2011 NCLS Catholic new arrivals = Newcomers not previously in a parish/ switchers from another denomination/visitors who do not attend elsewhere
  18. 18. Top 5 reasons that Catholic new arrivals give for attending: 1. To worship/experience God (58%), 2. To share in the Eucharist (35%) 3. I need a time of prayer or reflection (30%) 4. To make sure my children are exposed to the faith (15%). 5. To learn more about the faith (10%) People could choose two options from a list of 12. What are the main reasons you attend church services? To experience God Catholic newcomers are growing in faith mainly due to church worship services Newcomers were most likely to say the church was the source of their growth in faith in the previous year (34% vs 19% overall). Catholic newcomers: Views about worship services 2011 NCLS Catholic new arrivals = Newcomers not previously in a parish/ switchers from another denomination/visitors who do not attend elsewhere
  19. 19. Source: 2006 NCLS - Catholic Church Parishes with plans to help integration Once a person has joined your parish, are there any planned procedures designed to ensure that he or she becomes integrated into the life of the parish? Catholic 2001 Catholic 2006 Catholic 2011 Protestant 2006 Follow-up visits by clergy or others from parish 46 39 34 70 Invitation to join a social, faith discussion or other group 31 41 35 59 People extend hospitality and invite them for meals 14 11 16 55 Invitation to take up a task within the life and ministry of the church 46 55 52 42 A group or course for new Christians / orientation programs for new members 4 3 5 22 Other (please specify) 11 5 5 3 At least one of the above 72 75 74 88 Protestants use a range of ways to intentionally help integration. Here are some ideas: Source: 2001, 2006 & 2011 NCLS Operations Survey
  20. 20. Trend 4: There has been an increase in acts of service
  21. 21. Trend 4: An increase in acts of service Figure: Involved in church‐based community service, justice or welfare activities 46 48 52 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 2001 2006 2011 % Catholic attenders Figure: Attenders who informally helped others in three or more ways In both Protestant and Catholic parishes more attenders are … • serving others informally • involved in local church-based activities related to community service, justice of welfare. Informal = lent money, cared for sick, helped in personal crisis, visited person in hospital, gave away possessions, donated money, contacted MP 24 20 25 29 31 13 15 15 18 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 1991 1996 2001 2006 2011 Church‐based - Protestant Church‐based - Catholic Source: 1991 NCLS, 1996 NCLS/CCLS, 2001 NCLS, 2006 NCLS and 2011 NCLS - Attender Survey
  22. 22. The way forward is the integration of both word and deed.
  23. 23. Trend 5: A decline in inviting people to church
  24. 24. Inviting others to church Q. Would you be prepared to invite to a church service here any of your friends and relatives who do not currently attend a church? a. Yes, and I have done so in the past 12 months b. Yes, but I have not done so in the past 12 months d. No, probably not e. No definitely not c. Don’t know Source: 2011 NCLS - Catholic Attender Survey
  25. 25. 20 2 18 34 27 11 1 7 40 41 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 Don’t know Definitely wouldn’t invite Probably wouldn’t invite Willing, but didn’t invite Invited in last 12 months Protestant 2011 Catholic 2011 Catholic 2006 Catholic 2001 Inviting others to church: comparisons Inviting has declined: In the past decade there has been a decline in the level of inviting and an increase in ‘don’t know’. Levels have also declined for Protestants (43% in 2006 to 41% in 2011). Source: 2001 NCLS, 2006 NCLS and 2011 NCLS - Attender Survey
  26. 26. Some clues from churches 1. Discover a sense of vision and direction 2. Promote a strong sense of belonging among attenders 3. Focus on people beyond church life 4. Encourage attenders to invite others to church 5. Be an empowering leader 6. Nurture growth in faith and movement towards commitment 7. Aim for joyful, inspiring services 8. Introduce contemporary worship 9. Encourage informal acts of helping 10. Look after the young 11. Be willing to try new things The research finds no ‘magic bullet’ to attract newcomers. What Attracts Newcomers? Faith-sharing matters for overall parish vitality. It is strongly associated with other qualities. Source: Powell et al, 2012, Enriching Church Life
  27. 27. Summary Trend Implications 1. There have been major changes in overall context that affect all churches Everyone is learning what authentic and effective evangelisation looks like in this time and in their place. Churches need to reflect and experiment. 2. There has been an increase in readiness to share faith * Family members are significant for sharing faith: how are you supporting and equipping them? * There are evangelists in your parishes: Identify and them, support them, celebrate with them, learn from them. 3. Effective churches are reorienting themselves to the newcomer In many parishes this will be a major shift in culture and will not happen quickly. 4. There has been an increase in acts of service Building bridges that are authentic points of connection are important. However, we need to guard against being busy servicing consumers. 5. There has been a decline in inviting others to church This is of concern. What is currently stopping your people from inviting? What needs to change?
  28. 28. Dr Ruth Powell Director, NCLS Research Australian Catholic University @NCLSResearch NCLS Research Powell, R. (2014). Trends in Evangelisation: Finding a Way Forward. NCLS Research Report. NCLS Research: Sydney.
  29. 29. Rev Ed Vaughan: Edward Vaughan grew up in a Catholic home in Sydney. His faith journey led him to the Anglican church, were he is now a minister. Ed is currently the Senior Minister of St John's Anglican Church in Darlinghurst. Previously he worked as the minister of a Church of Ireland (Anglican) church in Dublin for six years. He is passionate, although somewhat troubled, by the issue of how church and society relates in contemporary Australia. Greta Wells: Greta EC Wells is an Associate Lecturer in Pastoral Studies at Alphacrucis College, Sydney - it is here she teaches 'Communicating the Faith', a subject that aims to reshape Pentecostal engagement with the evangelistic task. Her personal research interests also include ministry within the postmodern context and Pentecostal responses to mental illness. Greta is married to Mark and they attend a charismatic Vineyard church. Rev Pete Davies: Pete has been the Associate Director of Church Development for the NSW & ACT Baptist movement since 2005. He has 15 years in pastoral experience (Hornsby and Hawkesbury Valley) and was the church planter who commenced the church at Hawkesbury Valley. Pete spent 3 years with Ambassadors for Christ before coming into his current role. Our Panel