In March 2016, the National Church Leif Survey (NCLS) was conducted in thousands of congregations across our nation.  Newlife participated for the first time in ten years.  Over recent months we have been receiving the results of our survey. For a few weeks now we’ve been able to access our comprehensive report.  It makes for fascinating reading and analysis, and provides a wonderful wealth of information as we plan, pray and dream God’s future for us.

833 Newlife adults filled out the survey form.  With around 2000 adults calling Newlife their church home, that’s a very good sample size. This means the survey results offer a very accurate picture of who we are, albeit at a point in time.  Where the survey results become even more interesting is when the 2016 results are compared with 2006, and with the wider Uniting Church in Queensland (UCAQLD). These comparisons give us a picture of how our church has changed over the last decade, and where we sit in our denominational family.

In a series of blog posts over the next few weeks I am going to share a summary and some brief personal observations arising from the (almost overwhelming) data.  In this post I will look at the NCLS category, ‘The People of this Church.’

Age Profile

46% of our adult population is under the age of 50.  In 2006 this figure was 32%.  We have become decidedly younger.  For the UCAQLD, 25% of adults are under the age of 50.

Gender

42% of Newlife adults are men. In 2006 this figure was 38%.  For the UCAQLD, the figure is 37%.

Education

48% of Newlife adults have a bachelor level or postgraduate degree qualification. In 2006 this figure was 33%.  For the UCAQLD, the figure is 35%.  Over the past 10 years we have tended to attract and keep University educated adults.

Retirement

25% of Newlife adults are retired. In 2006 this figure was 38%.  For the UCAQLD, the figure is 51%. This reflects our increasingly younger age demographic.

Country of Birth

57% of Newlife adults were born in Australia. In 2006 this figure was 66%.  For the UCAQLD, the figure is 76%. We are an increasingly multicultural church.

Of those born overseas, here are the percentages – with the 2006 figure in brackets:

South Africa/Zimbabwe:14% (9%), Asia 9% (3%), NZ 8% (7%), UK 6% (8%), Europe 4% (3%)

Americas 2% (2%).

Our biggest increases are from South Africa and Asia.

Not one of the 833 survey respondents identified as Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islander.

Church Background

On the survey Sunday in March 2016, respondents self-identified as follows, with 2006 figures in brackets:

Visitors from other churches 4% (2%), Newcomers 14% (13%), Switchers from other churches 36% (19%), Transfers from other UCA congregations 6% (14%), Long term attendees 39% (51%).

The majority of our growth over recent years has been switchers from non UCA congregations.  The percentage of newcomers (new to church entirely, or returning after a long time) is static, and on par with the average of all congregations.

Frequency of Attendance

63% of Newlife adults say they attend every week. In 2006 this figure was 68%.  For the UCAQLD, the figure is 74%.

Length of Time Attending

34% of Newlife adults have been attending for less than 2 years. In 2006 this figure was 24%.  For the UCAQLD, the figure is 17%. It is worth noting that our attendance increase over the 2 year period referred to was around 18%

There are a lot of (relatively) new people attending each week. Our front door is wide open.  Our back door needs some work.

Author Stu Cameron

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