What is your church really thinking? (Case study)

One church shares how the NCLS directly influences their action, perspective and direction

Anita Chan is a Pastoral Assistant at Chinese Christian Church Milsons Point in Sydney, NSW. Her church holds weekly services in person and online in English, Mandarin and Cantonese, and seeks to be a caring community where people can grow in Christ, serve in love and reach the world with the gospel.

We recently asked Anita why she thought participating in the 2021 National Church Life Survey (2021 NCLS) was beneficial for her church.


Can you give some examples of how having the NCLS survey information has directly influenced your thinking, action, perspective, or direction?

Anita: It is easy when you are a part of the leadership to say you have a “feel” about something, or you “know” your congregation. But how true are your feelings or your own understanding?

The NCLS information is the actual response from the congregation: how they truly feel about the leadership, their church, and growth in their faith. Together this data paints a much truer picture of what the reality is, rather than how you think the congregation might be feeling.

This reality is shown in a concrete, measurable way by the people themselves. If, for instance, people are saying that over the next 12 months the church’s priority should be about the sense of belonging, then we need to listen to and respond to this.

Priority is the key. We can be doing many important things in church, but we can’t do all the valuable things at once. If we have the people backing the leadership and seeing the importance of a certain goal, we can then easily mobilise our people in the same direction because it’s what they desire.

To me, the survey information provides feedback and direction about the things that must be improved in the future.


What are you hoping to use the NCLS survey information for?

Anita: I'm hoping to learn more about the effects of COVID on our congregation, and to be better able to retain the next generation.


How did you find participating in this latest survey, given the COVID restrictions, and any other challenges?

Anita: The online survey saves time, but has a much lower participation rate. My fear is whether we had enough participation from the older generation. You really don’t want to miss out on a certain demographic.


What’s been the biggest change you’ve seen in society and the church in your years of leadership? How has NCLS information helped you navigate that?

Anita: The biggest change has been in the impact of digital information and communication technologies. This has been with us for more than a decade, but COVID has taken it to the next level.

The phenomenon of online church communities, created due to the lockdowns in the past two years, has been a huge change. Whether this will be temporary or here to stay is a big question.

Working from home is a real change for many businesses. Whether or not this will significantly impact the traditional physical gathering as a community is yet to be seen.

I think this could be a new research area for NCLS, post-pandemic. If research data could provide us a glimpse of changes that are already happening in a post-pandemic world that would be greatly appreciated.

Will the next generation have a preference for an online faith community over a physical one? I think NCLS can help us find this out. 

In a similar way will there be a need to actually develop an online faith community for the less mobile due to age or illness?



Listen to your local church at any time

Did you know that you don't need to wait 5 years for the next National Church Life Survey to listen to your church attenders? You can now run a Church Life Survey anytime.

The Church Life Survey is a tool that lets you check in regularly with your congregation, and receive updated feedback and insights into  church health and vitality. This includes church attenders’ of church life, discernments for the future and willingness to be involved in church activities. 

Given the rapid changes in our world post-COVID, this is an opportunity to see what your church attenders are really thinking—now.

Follow this link to to find out more about the Church Life Survey.

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