The majority of Anglican and Protestant say new ways of doing church are needed to connect with the wider Australian community, the 2010 National Church Life Survey has found.
Australian church attenders also appear to have increasing openness to new possibilities, with more congregations in all denominations ready to try something different, according to NCLS Research.
In its June 2010 newsletter, it reports that more than seven out of ten (72 percent) attenders agreed or strongly agreed that "we need to develop new ways of doing church to reach non-church goers".
A targeted survey of Anglican and Protestant attenders within the 2006 National Church Life Survey found that half agreed or strongly agreed that their non-church going friends viewed the Church as irrelevant.
It also identified a degree of personal ambivalence: 37 percent agreed or strongly agreed with the statement "While I remain a committed person of faith, I feel disgruntled with the established Church". Most were neutral or unsure (49 percent), while only 15 percent disagreed.
There was widespread agreement that traditional established models of church life must change to better connect with the wider Australian community (66 percent strongly agreed or agree, only 11 percent disagreed).
The NCLS Research report shows that the majority of church attenders not only understand the need to innovate, but also claim to be motivated to support initiatives.
NCLS Research Director Dr Ruth Powell said, "Over the next few decades, many churches will face the loss of a sector of committed and loyal attenders who carry knowledge and experience. The implications are far-reaching and churches will need to prepare for a shift in constituency.
"While the Christian message remains unchanged, an openness to change and a spirit of innovation are part of what is needed to reverse these trends."
Church attenders increasingly open to new approaches (National Church Life Survey)
Next survey, 2011 National Church Life Survey
moyerphotos on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic