Three in ten Australians are likely to accept an invitation to church
A visit to church at Christmas might be a natural thing to do for some, but for many Australians, even if they are believers, interrupting their holiday celebrations to attend a religious Christmas service may simply be too much to ask.
While Christians might want to share this precious time with their loved ones, some may feel unsure about how an invitation to church would be received by their family or friends.
So, how many Australians, if asked, would attend a church service at Christmas time?
The answer according to our research is 3 in 10.
So what encourages someone to come along and be part of the celebration at a Christmas service? From the 2021 Australian Community Survey (ACS) we know that relationships are hugely important when it comes to successfully inviting people to church.
The most common factor that would encourage people to accept an invitation to church is if they feel it is important to the friend or relative (34%). The next most common factors are how welcoming (16%) and caring (13%) the church is.
Interestingly, beyond ‘big ticket’ Christian events, the ACS shows Australians are just as open to a general invitation to church, as to something special like a Christmas service.
Respondents were asked, “Apart from special occasions such as weddings and funerals, would you go to a Christian church service if invited by close friends or family?” Around 3 in 10 Australians indicate they would be likely to accept such an invitation with 16% saying they are certain and 14% saying they are likely to accept. Another 15% are unsure.
This suggests that there is a relatively steady level of interest in attending church services across the year, not just special Christian events like Christmas.
However, a finding from the recent National Church Life Survey sees a substantial drop in the proportion of church attenders who have invited someone to church, down from 41% in 2016 to 33% in 2021.
What’s more, it seems many won’t be in a position to be invited at all, with around a quarter of Australians (26%) noting that they don’t have any close friends or family who attend church. Because of the importance of relationships, the difficulty in inviting those with no connection to church is clear. The evidence suggests that churchgoers inviting their friends and family to church is the most effective way to draw in and welcome new church attenders.
Christmas is a great reason to invite them to attend and to come and see who the celebration is really all about.
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.