In December 2022, we asked Australians whether they would go to church at Easter, if invited by a close friend or family member. Results show that four in 10 would go to church at Easter if invited. We also asked about their general understandings of about Christianity and found that around six in 10 Australians are familiar with Christianity to some extent.
Through the 2022 Australian Community Survey (2022 ACS), NCLS Research discovered that four in 10 (42%) Australians would go to an Easter service if invited. A further 19% of those surveyed say they were unsure.
Three in 10 (29%) Australians say they would not go to an Easter service if invited, and 10% say they have no close friends or family who attend church.
Australians' openness to attend church at Easter if invited by close friends or family
While up to 42% of Australians say they might go to church at Easter if invited, just 17% of Australians attend Easter services each year. That’s a big difference in number, and a clear opportunity for church attenders to embrace.
“People are more receptive to attending church at a significant time like Easter—so go ahead and invite them," says NCLS Research Director, Dr Ruth Powell.
Women, people with a university degree and people born in non-English speaking countries are more likely to accept an invitation to an Easter service.
“Interestingly, people from all age groups were equally likely to say ‘yes’ to an invitation,” added Dr Powell. There were no statistically significant differences between the openness of young adults, those in their middle years and the oldest Australians to attend an Easter service when invited.
The survey also explored how well Australians understood the Christian message. Results from the 2022 ACS show a majority of Australians are familiar with Christian teachings and values to some extent.
Around six in 10 Australians say they are familiar with Christianity to some extent. Some two in 10 (21%) report a strong understanding of Christian teaching and values, while nearly four in 10 (38%) say they are mostly familiar.
Around two in 10 (23%) have limited familiarity with Christianity and another two in 10 report having little to no knowledge.
Australians' familiarity with Christianity
When it comes to views about Jesus, around half (53%) of those surveyed said Jesus was a real person who actually lived. A quarter (26%) said they did not know and two in 10 (21%) said they believed Jesus was a myth or fictional character.
Australians' views about who Jesus is
“This lack of awareness about Jesus is perplexing given most historians hold Jesus to be a real figure who lived in first century Palestine,” noted Dr Powell.
Sometimes churchgoers can hold back on inviting their friends and family to church because of fear of rejection or not wanting to offend the other person. Our research indicates relationships are essential for authentic engagement on matters of faith—and patience may be needed to explain the tenets of Christian belief to people outside of the church.
As the 2022 ACS data shows Easter is an excellent time for churchgoers to invite family and friends to join Christian celebrations, it may also be an opportune time for respectful conversations about matters of faith.
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.