Our research results show that a third of Australians have close friends or family members who attend church.
People could identify their friend or family member who attended church and they were most commonly described as: closest friend (11%), spouse/partner (11%), mother (11%), children (9%) and father (6%).
It has been well established that relationships have a vital role in determining whether a person will attend church. We live within communities of family and friends who provide a reference point and influence our own beliefs, attitudes, and life choices. Having a religious world view, along with associated beliefs and practices, is sustained and reinforced in community.
In the 2018 ACS, we asked a panel of Australians which of their various close friends and relatives currently attended a Christian church regularly (see figure below).
Connections by spirituality cluster: Among those who were 'practising religious', the most commonly reported relationship was their spouse or partner (31%). Some 40% of 'non-practising religious' people had at least one of the people listed regularly attending church (most commonly their mother, at 14%). It was uncommon for people who described themselves as 'spiritual but not religious' or 'neither religious nor spiritual' to have close family and friends who attended church.
Connections by religious affiliation: Close relationships with other church attenders are common among church-attending Christians (87% with one or more family members or close friends regularly attending), but not typical among non-attending Christians (29%) or people from other religions (33%).
Pepper, M and Powell, R, (2018). Religion, spirituality and connections with churches: results from the 2018 Australian Community Survey. NCLS Occasional Paper 36. Sydney: NCLS Research.
The breadth, depth and type of engagement local churches have with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures.
While levels of confidence in the institutional church are low, personal attitudes towards individual Christians are more positive.
Almost half of attenders say they help non-churchgoers to explore faith