Research on community attitudes has revealed some encouraging statistics on people’s willingness to attend church during Holy week.
The statistics come from the National Church Life Survey’s Australian Community Survey, taken at the end of 2022.
Asked if they would go to church this Easter if a close friend or family member invited them, 42 per cent of Australians said yes. A further 19 per cent of those surveyed said they were unsure. Three in ten (29 per cent Australians said they would not go to an Easter service if invited, while 10 per cent said they have no close friends or family who attend church.
People from all age groups were equally likely to say ‘yes’ to an invitation
“People are more receptive to attending church at a significant time like Easter, so go ahead and invite them," says NCLS’s research director, Dr Ruth Powell.
The survey found that women, people with a university degree and people born in non-English speaking countries were more likely to accept an invitation to an Easter service, but it was not age-restricted.
“Interestingly, people from all age groups were equally likely to say ‘Yes’ to an invitation,” Dr Powell said. “There were no statistically significant differences between the openness of young adults, those in their middle years and the oldest Australians.”
Despite the number willing to be invited, the actual proportion of Aussies attending Easter services over the past three years was just 17 per cent.
Caution on Christian knowledge
Dr Powell also drew on NCLS research to warn that “when having conversations about Easter, churchgoers should be aware that Australians may not know as much about the Christian faith as you might expect”.
In the latest survey, 41 per cent of Australians said they had limited or no familiarity with Christianity, while 59 per cent of respondents believed they had a strong understanding of Christianity’s teaching and values, or were familiar with most of them.
Around half (53 per cent) of those surveyed said Jesus was a real person. A quarter (26 per cent) said they did not know and one in five (21 per cent) said they believed Jesus was a myth or fictional character.
In his forthcoming Easter message for the media, Archbishop Kanishka Raffel is expected to stress the physical reality of Jesus’ resurrection.
In a message to churches in the lead-up to Easter, Archbishop Raffel said, “I know you’ll be praying for Easter services, praying for family and friends that they might come along to a service with you, inviting the community to join you in church. Good on you! I’ll be praying for you and your ministers as you celebrate the amazing love of God in sending his son to die for our sakes, and raising him Lord of life and Lord of all.”