NCLS Research

NCLS provides invaluable information from Census for local churches

Media Release - 18th September 2003

"Being informed about our local community has been crucial for our ministry", said Rev Alan Robinson from the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Our sport and recreation ministry developed when we discovered the need for facilities for the teenage population on the peninsula. Our new Respite Daycare Centre is a direct response to the identified needs of many older people and their carers in our area."

The national Census is invaluable for churches seeking to make effective connections with their local communities. Since 1986, NCLS Research has tried to make it as easy as possible for churches to access the enormous wealth of information. With the release of the 2001 national Census, nearly 6000 congregations are being offered a unique profile of their local community in the latest Community Social Profile Kit.  

The Community Social Profile Kit will enable churches to better understand some of the characteristics of their local community and how it is changing.  Where possible, they will see similarities and differences with the make up of the local church. As well as the local profiles of both church and community, a guidebook, Looking at Our Community, is available to help churches make the most of the information.

NCLS spokesperson, Dr Ruth Powell, commented, "We are particularly excited about the addition in the Kit of the new booklet, Profiling Australians, which not only describes the lifestyle patterns of certain population groupings, such young adults and people on low incomes, but also their religious beliefs and view of church. We hope that this provides helpful clues for effective ministry".

There are many creative ways that the Community Social Profile Kit may be used by churches:
Leadership Selection: Some churches may give their Community Social Profile to a person considering ministry in a place so they can pray and test their sense of call to that community.

Identify Missing Groups: Others will value looking at how representative the church community is of the local community, providing fuel for questions such as, 'who are the marginalised groups in our community?'

Perception Check: Community Social Profiles are useful to check if people's perceptions of their community are up to date. "They were quite shocked to find out that part of their region has changed character so dramatically while the rest has remained stable" noted Glen, a church consultant working with a number of churches in a region.

Support Funding Requests: Community Social Profile information can be used for proposals for special funding to target a specific ministry need. "We found out that the largest population group in the new housing estate in Shellharbour City are 25 to 40 year olds and their children. Our funding application for a family worker was based on this information", said Steve from Lakeview, Shellharbour.  

Church Plant: A custom Community Social Profile can be useful for assessing the potential locations for a church plant.  "We could see that the population in one area has grown by 28% in the past five years and become much more multicultural whereas right next door it had only changed by 1%", commented Graham, a member of a task group exploring options for a regional ministry.

The NCLS Community Social Profile Kit provides clear information and processes to use in a range of creative ways. Whether the ministry approach is general or specialist, NCLS aims to serve churches in mission.

NCLS Research is a joint project of the Uniting Church NSW Board of Mission, ANGLICARE (Diocese of Sydney) and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

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