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.
Almost half of attenders say they help non-churchgoers to explore faith