Easter: when churches and communities connect

Some 16% of Australians attend an Easter service during Holy Week.

Our research shows that 16% of Australians attend an Easter service during Holy Week.

In the 2018 Australian Community Survey we asked Australians whether they attend events run by churches, such as Easter church services. Results confirm that Easter services remain an important point of contact between churches and people who do not regularly attend church.

Good Friday and Easter Sunday services give churches an opportunity to welcome visitors from their local area, as they join religious observances and celebrations.

Australians' attendance at church services and events in Holy Week

In the 2018 ACS, a panel of Australians were asked about the contact they had had with various church activities in the preceding 12 months. 

Results show that 16% of Australians had attended an Easter service in 2018.

Attendance at Easter Sunday and Good Friday services were equally common, at 11% and 10% respectively (see figure below).

Religious Australians more likely to visit church at Easter

Around two-thirds of Australians who identify as Christian and attend church services at least monthly, had attended an Easter service in 2018 (69%). Some 11% of Australians who identify as Christian and attend church less than monthly, attended an Easter service.

A tenth of people who affiliated with religions other than Christianity went to an Easter service. Of those who did not identify with a religion, 3% reported visiting a church for an Easter service.

Using a cluster analysis we split Australians into four groups, according to how religious and how spiritual they said they were. Two groups considered themselves to be both religious and spiritual, but they differed in degree and in whether or not they formally practise their religion – we called them “practising religious and spiritual” and “non-practising religious and spiritual”. The other two groups were “spiritual but not religious” and “neither religious nor spiritual”. Some 19% of “non-practising religious/spiritual” Australians attended an Easter service in 2018. Attendance was almost non-existent among people who did not consider themselves to be religious (i.e. the “spiritual but not religious” and “neither religious nor spiritual” groups).

(More information on 4 clusters of Australians)

Easter remains an important time for churches to connect with Australians

Easter church services therefore, as well as Christmas, are 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).

Read the Report

Miriam Pepper, Ruth Powell, Kathy Jacka
Data Sources:

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.

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