Trends in Protestant church vitality over twenty years (1991-2011)

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The National Church Life Survey (NCLS) is a five-yearly event encompassing hundreds of thousands of participants in thousands of local churches. Commencing in 1991, it has been repeated in 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2011 and gives us the opportunity to review broad trends in church life in more than twenty denominations over twenty years. 


The underlying purpose of each NCLS has been to assist churches, at local, regional and national levels, to reflect on their health and vitality and to build on their strengths, in order to more effectively participate in God’s mission. The aim of this paper is to highlight some of the key trends between 1991 and 2011 revealed by these national surveys. Part 2 outlines the changing context, while Part 3 profiles who goes to church. Part 4 reviews the health and vitality of Australian local churches over the past twenty years. Parts 3 and 4 are both limited to Anglican and Protestant churches because they have taken part in the NCLS across the whole twenty year period.

Authors: Ruth Powell


Powell, R. (2013). Trends in Protestant church vitality over twenty years (1991-2011), NCLS Research Occasional Paper 23. Adelaide: Mirrabooka Press