Missional intelligence gathering

Churches have moved beyond a “bums on seats” approach to evaluating their effectiveness and, when it comes to planning for healthy and highly missional churches, Australians have a gift that the church worldwide is envious of.NCLS Research is a world leader in research focused on connecting churches with their communities. Its rigorous and thoughtful research is based on millions of participants – the biggest sample base of church information in the world – and its upcoming 2011 Church Life Survey has the most practical and grounded focus on community yet. Incorporating surveys for young people, local community contacts, church schools and church-based community welfare services, the 2011 Survey could provide the most comprehensive and enlightening picture of church life in Australia we have ever seen.

Brian Winslade says, “Participating in an NCLS survey is a bit like looking in the mirror. In the same way doctors rely on research drawn from medical statistics to formulate helpful diagnoses, so too gathered information from NCLS data helps us examine the health and effectiveness of our mission engagement.”

The 2011 NCLS Survey offers churches a more comprehensive range of surveys so that a wider range of church and community voices can be heard. These new surveys are optional for churches who take part in the standard Church Life Survey.

The Standard Church Life Survey
The standard Church Life Survey always has three components: the Attender Survey, the Leaders Survey and the Operations Survey.
The Attender Survey is designed to hear the views of those who attend spiritual nurture activities of the church, such as church worship services, small groups, etc. The Leaders Survey
is designed to hear from those who are involved in decision-making; clergy and lay, paid and volunteer, full-time and part-time. The Operations Survey is designed for one person to provide a description of the staffing, property, programs, activities, worship services and more.

Children’s Survey (for those under 15 yrs)
This new survey is for those aged under 15 years. This will be an optional extension of the adult Attender Survey for local churches that choose it. While individuals remain anonymous, the views of children will be provided back to their church in their Church Life Profile.

Online Community Contacts Survey (CCS)
This survey is for those who have a connection to the local church through either:
• Activities of the church, such as playgroups, special interest groups, and social justice or care programs initiatives.
• Relationships with church attenders(eg. work colleagues or non-attending family members)

The purpose of the Community Contacts Survey is to find out who goes to church-related activities and what their views are on faith, the local and wider church, and the activity they attend.
This general Community Contacts Survey will have specialised modules for particular groups. For example, the Youth Survey module invites young people who have a connection with the church to give their views on a range of social and cultural issues.

Crossover Support
Crossover sees this survey as a unique opportunity for Australian Baptist churches to benefit from specific feedback in their own congregation and from the wider cross section of Baptist churches. National Director of NCLS Research, Dr Ruth Powell, says, “The focus is much more than simply measuring attendance. The 2011 NCLS will build on the foundations of the past 20 years to map Australia’s changing church landscape, evaluate health and vitality and chart changes since the first survey in 1991. As previously, the 2011 Survey will help local churches identify and build on their strengths, resource denominational consultants and denominational leadership, inform the wider community and potentially correct myths.

Financial Help
If cost is an issue for your church, Crossover is prepared to provide financial support to any Baptist church that needs it. At our recent Task Force meeting we unanimously agreed that the survey provides a critical missional advantage and that we needed to encourage maximum participation.

So what? Taking the next step.
In conjunction with State Unions, Crossover is committed to helping churches understand and interpret their survey results. The last place the survey belongs is the filing cabinet. We are keen to help churches use the survey to inform their missional planning and strategising.

You will need to move quickly if you have not registered. Talk to your State Union and find out more at www.ncls.org.au, e-mail: [email protected], Phone 02 8267 4394, PO Box A2178 Sydney South NSW 1235.

“Missional intellingence gathering: The light on our church life.” by Stan Fetting, previously a Baptist Pastor for 15 years in both Darwin and Brisbane. He is married to Julie and is Crossover’s Communications Manager. prac10.