Parishes around Australia are preparing to take part in the 2011 National Church Life Survey (NCLS) in November.
The NCLS, the largest survey of its type in the world, is a joint project of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Australian Catholic University, Anglicare (Diocese of Sydney) and the Uniting Church in NSW.
Conducted every five years across most of the major denominations in Australia, the survey results are an extremely useful tool that assists parish priests, pastoral council members and other leaders to understand their parishioners and strengthen the ministry and mission of the parish.
A representative sample of around 230 Australian parishes has already been selected to take part, but participation is open to all parishes.
The exercise, which involves all Mass attenders aged 15 and over being invited to complete a questionnaire at Mass, takes approximately 20 minutes. Questionnaires are available in several languages other than English, including Vietnamese and Italian.
Director of the ACBC’s Pastoral Research Office, Dr Bob Dixon, strongly recommends that the survey is given ample time during the Mass to allow people to consider it carefully.
“Appropriate times might be following a short homily, which might refer to the survey and encourage reflection on its themes”, he said.
Participation in the survey costs $200 plus one dollar for every Mass attender aged 15 years and over. Parishes should check with their diocesan NCLS coordinator, as some dioceses have offered to cover part or all of the cost of participation.
Several new optional surveys are available for the first time this year. Parishes can discover the views of the children (aged eight – 14 years) or the views of young people and adults connected to the parish through activities outside Mass attendance, such as youth groups or the parish school.
“I have had ample opportunity to see the work of the NCLS team at close hand over many years, and I know them to be world leaders in parish and congregational research.
“Building on over twenty years of experience, they combine sound survey methodology, brilliant technical skills, engaging design and an understanding of the mission of the churches to produce highly useful and informative print and online resources”, said Dr Dixon.
Parishes have until 15 September to register for the 2011 survey. Register at www.2011ncls.org.au