Local church leaders were asked to think about the most important ways for local churches to contribute to reconciliation efforts with Aboriginal people.
They were asked to mark up to two options. Responses reveal that the focus of church leaders is mainly upon the building of relationships, with 70% choosing this option. Prayer was the next highest option to further reconciliation, being affirmed by 39% of leaders.
A large drop in interest is seen to the next most likely responses to the task of engaging in reconciliation, those being advocacy (18%), the sharing of information (16%) and the direct delivery of services (15%). Donations (11%) attracted less support (figure below).
Leaders held similar views to attenders about whether or not churches should more actively promote reconciliation (59% of leaders agreed versus 62% of attenders, 28% of leaders versus 30% of attenders neutral or unsure).
Leaders were more likely than attenders to agree that their local church should do more to build relationships with Aboriginal people (56% versus 48%) and less likely to be unsure (33% versus 43%).
It is interesting to note, however, that when asked how often they would touch on the topic of justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their preaching over the course of a year, a majority of church leaders reported that they rarely or never did so (37% rarely, 25% never). Some 21% preached occasionally and 17% did so sometimes or often (figure below).
While preaching is only one avenue for the tasks of teaching, education and discipleship formation, the survey results suggest that this area awaits development in Australian church life. A gender gap is distinguishable with female leaders more likely to often or sometimes preach on this subject than male leaders, and Catholic and Mainstream Protestant leaders were also more likely to do so than their counterparts from other denominations.
Powell, R., Pepper, M., Hancock, N. and Sterland, S. (2017) 2016 NCLS Leader Survey 1 [Data file]. Sydney: NCLS Research.
Aspirations for churches to do more about indigenous justice and reconciliation