This National Church Life Survey may be the most important ever run
This National Church Life Survey may be the most important ever run!
Surely it couldn’t be done.
How do you run a national survey across thousands of local churches in cities and towns across the nation in the middle of a pandemic?
Our NCLS Research team have been running the National Church Life Survey every five years at the same time as the National Census, but this time has been the hardest challenge yet.
How can a survey be used to hear the experiences of churchgoers, and local church leaders in the midst of such disruption? Some states were in lockdown and many churches weren’t even meeting together. Survey projects in other countries were put on hold.
Yet, we have done it - together! Over 126,000 people in more than 2100 local churches in 20 plus denominations and movements took part. Surveys in nine languages, customised for different groups, were offered in both paper and online formats.
People gave their insights about on faith and church life gathered together and on their own, in churches, in parks, and in homes. (By the way, more people completed paper surveys than online).
Why did we persist? Church leaders told us they felt blinded, and that this could be the most important National Church Life Survey ever run to understand what was happening in local churches. The news from survey results may be tough, but as leaders said to us. “Now is not the time to bury our head in the sand. We need to know what has changed so we can respond in informed and helpful ways.”
So, THANK YOU to all those who put the hard work into making it happen. Your persistence and patience have been incredible. You have been part of the largest, longest running survey project of local church life in the world. As a research team, we are humbled and grateful.
Dr Ruth Powell,
Director for the NCLS Research team
Did you see our 2021 NCLS Feature in Eternity magazine, November 2022?
Thank you to all participating churches across the country that make such national insights possible.
The feedback from their churchgoers, on the question of ‘spiritual gifts’ over two National Church Life Surveys in 2016 and 2021, has inspired one church to act.