The 2021 National Church Life Survey (NCLS) has been released. The impact of the pandemic over the past 30 months has seen a strong desire among churchgoers for congregations (across all denominations) to focus on the building of community (36%), of growing spiritually (34%) and developing worship services that are nurturing (28%). This has been an increase over the previous survey (2016) and most likely reflects the perceived loss of community and connection due to various lock-down periods over the past 30 months. It is interesting to note that the only decrease in priority during this five-year period was a desire to grow into a larger church (Source: www.ncls.org.au).
All this suggests that people are wanting to find ways of growing and developing spiritually meaningful relationships, and worship together in meaningful ways. This can help build personal and community resilience for the future.
The results among Lutheran Church of Australia, Queensland District (LCAQD) congregations are similar. Findings from 86 congregations and nearly 2000 respondents, suggest that most LCAQD church-goers value sharing in Holy Communion (71%) and Sermons, Preaching and Bible-Teaching (31%). But of particular importance is that in the coming 12 months, among LCAQD church goers and attenders, people want attention to be given to worship services that are nurturing (40%), the building of a sense of community (31%), ministry to children and youth (29%), and spiritual growth 28%).
This suggests that church goers and attenders among LCAQD congregations are wanting to find ways of growing and developing spiritually meaningful intergenerational relationships, and worship together in meaningful ways. This can help build personal and community resilience for the future.
- How might you define a worship service that is nurturing? And how might other people in your community?
- What might a strong sense of community look like for you?
- What would most help you to grow spiritually?
- And how might you measure all of the above?
During August, every Lutheran congregation in Queensland who participated in the 2021 survey received a link to their summary results. These results include (among other things) information about …
- local congregation demographics and age profile (for example, of LCAQD-wide participants aged over 15 years, only 19% of participants are employed full-time while 54% are retired),
- church background (20% of attenders are new arrivals to their local congregation over the past 5 years, with only 4% being new to the church during that period)
- and openness to change (76% agreed that they would support the development of new initiatives in the ministry and mission of their local church)
As the LCAQD Mission and Ministry Department, we encourage every congregation who participated in the NCLS to reflect on their localized results, and to identify one or two key areas to focus on localized mission and ministry in the coming years. The NCLS has provided some workshopping options, and as the Department for Mission and Ministry, both Kathy Matuschka and myself are available to assist congregations workshop future mission and ministry plans.
Rev. David Schmidt
Director, LCAQD Mission and Ministry