ACU to support world’s largest survey of local church life: 2016 National Church Life Survey

Published: Wednesday 11th May 2016

Message from Associate Vice-Chancellor Professor Marea Nicholson: Once again ACU will play a vital role in the 2016 National Church Life Survey (2016 NCLS), the largest longitudinal survey of local church life in the world.  This 25 year old research project receives international recognition.

“The National Church Life Survey is the world’s best congregational study by a wide margin. Thanks to the team at NCLS Research, Australia wins the church research equivalent of the Ashes and Rugby World Cup year in and year out," said David Voas, Professor and Head of Department, University College London.

Partnering with more than 20 Christian denominations across Australia, it is expected that the 2016 NCLS will, once again, involve hundreds of thousands of church attenders and leaders. From the largest church in the nation, Hillsong, to the smallest remote church, surveys of adults and children will be made available in eight languages. Local churches are currently being encouraged to sign up (

Strong commendations have been received from Catholic and Anglican Archbishops and Bishops, as well as national and state leaders of Protestant denominations and movements across the country.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher said: “The National Church Life Survey continues to go from strength to strength. As Archbishop of Sydney and, previously, as Bishop of Parramatta, I have found that the NCLS project offers snapshots of individual parishes and data for the whole diocese, indeed the whole of Australia, that informs my understanding of church life and of the views and experiences of church-attending people.”

“This national venture, held every five years since 1991, alongside the national Census, is only possible through the collaboration of church leaders and partners, such as ACU.” said Associate Ruth Powell, Director of NCLS Research.

“Our affiliation with the Institute of Religion and Critical Inquiry provides a strong platform for building an internationally recognised research profile.  The wonderful support of ACU staff such as IT, HR, finance and campus operations make the logistics of this large scale exercise viable.”

The 2016 NCLS will produce a snapshot of the role of faith in the lives of individuals.  Nation-wide results will map church activities and appraise effective leadership practices, providing a national perspective of the presence and impact of local faith communities.

“We to hope continue to build a strong collaboration with ACU researchers across Faculties and Institutes to maximise the benefits from this venture” said Associate Professor Powell.

I commend Associate Professor Powell for her leadership of this important project and thank the Properties and Facilities team for their support with the logistics that has enabled this survey.