Results from the 2018 Australian Community Survey reveal that one in five Australians attended a Christmas service in the past 12 months. This compares to a third of Australians who have been at a church event in the same period. Some 16% of Australians say they attend church frequently.
This research confirms that Christmas and Easter remain an important point of contact between churches and their surrounding communities.
In the 2018 ACS, a panel of Australians were asked about the contact they had had with church activities in the preceding 12 months (see figure below).
Results show that a third (32%) of Australians had attended one or more of these church activities. Attendance at regular church services was most common, with one in five respondents (19%) having gone in the previous 12 months.
Also, around 19% of Australians had attended a Christmas service, with Christmas Eve being a little more common than Christmas Day. Some 16% of Australians had attended an Easter service, while attendance at Easter Sunday and Good Friday services were equally common.
The most common points of church contact for 'non-practising religious/spiritual' Australians are Christmas and Easter (25% and 19% respectively), followed by a regular church service (15%).
Attendance at any of the listed events and activities was almost non-existent among people who describe themselves as 'spiritual but not religious' or 'neither spiritual nor religious'.
The most common connections for Australians who identify as Christian, but do not frequently attend church were Christmas (17%), a regular church service (12%) and Easter (11%). Small numbers of people from religions other than Christianity had attended an Easter service (10%) or a Christmas service (9%).
Christmas and Easter are therefore important points of connections for people who infrequently go to church. Also, the result for attendance at a regular church service for non-attending Christians and 'non-practising religious/spiritual' people confirms other related findings about the importance of the regular worship services both as a point of contact for non-attenders (Bellamy, Black, Castle, Hughes and Kaldor, 2002) and as an entry point for newcomers without a church background (Powell, 2015).
Pepper, M. & 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.