The Resilient Church: affiliation, attendance and size in Australia

Religious affiliation, estimates of church attendance and size.

Church vitality can be assessed in may ways. Counting numbers of people and churches have their place as one type of metric of church health. These estimates of church growth and decline sit alongside measures of qualities of healthy church life including things like spiritual growth, belonging, inclusion, reaching out in word and deed, in addition to having a vision, an innovative and empowering leadership culture.

This paper draws on national Australian data sources from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and NCLS Research to provide evidence about trends in religious affiliation, church attendance, number, locality and size of local churches. I shows that while the church as a whole, has declined in size, there are signs of resilience and even some growth.


Ruth Powell, Sam Sterland and Miriam Pepper.

Data Sources

2016 National Church Life Survey


Powell, R. Sterland, S. and Pepper, M. (2020). The Resilient Church: affiliation, attendance in Australia. Occasional Paper 43. Sydney: NCLS Research.