By: Clare Bruce
If you’ve been thinking of inviting a friend or family member to church, Easter could be the best time to do it, according to recent research.
Four in 10 Australians say they would go to an Easter service if invited by a close friend or family member. It’s one of the findings of the latest Australian Community Survey, conducted by NCLS Research in 2022, which compares the attitudes of church attenders and the wider community on a range of social and faith issues.
On top of those who would definitely accept an Easter invite, a further 2 in 10 of people surveyed said they weren’t sure, while only 3 in 10 said no. The final 10 percent said they simply have no close friends or family who attend church.
As for who will say ‘yes’, it’s women, people with a university degree, and people born in non-English speaking countries, who are most likely to accept an invitation. Age is no real barrier, with all age categories from young adults to the oldest Australians, having similar levels of interest.
While we may assume people understand the basics of what Easter is about, NCLS research director Dr Ruth Powell says many Australians are actually in the dark.
“Australians may not know as much about the Christian faith as you might expect,” she said.
In the 2022 survey, four in 10 Australians said they have limited or no familiarity with Christianity. The other 60 percent said they had either a familiarity or a strong understanding of most of Christianity’s teaching and values.
Some surprising results show up when it comes to views about Jesus. Around half of those surveyed believed Jesus was a real person who actually lived, but 20 percent said Jesus was a myth or fictional character, while a quarter said they didn’t know if Jesus was a real person or not.
“This lack of awareness about Jesus is perplexing given most historians hold Jesus to be a real figure who lived in first century Palestine,” said Dr Powell.
Dr Powell encouraged Christians to make the most of the opportunity of Easter, saying that relationships are essential for real engagement.
“People are more receptive to attending church at a significant time like Easter—so go ahead and invite them,” she said. “Our 2022 data shows Easter is an excellent time… to have respectful conversations about matters of faith.”
NCLS Research operates not only the Australian Community Survey, but also the largest and longest running survey of local churches in the world, known as the National Church Life Survey. It has tracked Australian church life and health for more than 30 years.
Article supplied with thanks to Christian Media & Arts Australia.
Feature image: Photo by Josh Eckstein on Unsplash