by Sandy Mitchell
It was with a little reluctance that I agreed to represent the Mission and Evangelism Ministry Unit at the NCLS conference earlier in the year. In the past, I had on several occasions completed the survey in a somewhat perfunctory manner without any real appreciation of the purpose and benefits of such a survey. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised and encouraged by what I learned at the conference which was led by the Director of NCLS, Dr. Ruth Powell.
The guiding vision of the NCLS is Jesus’ declaration “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Wonderful words of hope, but we are living in a post-Christian age and the church can no longer assume that a rapidly changing, secular society will accept the credibility of the Christian faith and the church’s voice on matters of faith and ethics. A key question confronting the Christian church is how to speak about and live the fullness of life which Jesus came to bring. The NCLS offers three reasons why Christian denominations would benefit from taking part in the survey and thus become more effective as communities of faith and as a prophetic voice in a secular society:
- To shape the future of their local church.
- To help denominations better understand the gifts and challenges of local churches.
- To be part of the national snapshot of the whole Australian Church.
The survey, tailored to each specific denomination, will be of great benefit to every local church if they prepare well. The promotional material is excellent and will inform and encourage participants (including a special survey for children and youth) to recognize that their voice counts. Individuals’ gifts and potential can be identified and positive stories of local churches will be shared. Problems and possible resolutions will be identified and practical recommendations for growth will be made. If resources are lacking to redress problems immediately, and to take all of the steps necessary to move forward, then achievable goals can be set and strategies put in place to attain these goals. As one local church observed, “The mission of the church is too important to leave to hunches and guesses about effectiveness.”
All churches that participate in the 2016 survey will receive their own unique results in a Church Life Pack:
- A unique Church Life Profile showing survey results with a clear evaluation of your church’s vitality. Online access to the Profile is included.
- Enriching Church Life Book and other publications explaining the core qualities of church life and sharing of national research findings.
- Practical planning resources with step by step processes to help you get the most out of your results in your mission planning, with workshop outlines and multimedia resources online. Denominations also receive overview reports, equipping them for strategic and pastoral leadership of their churches.
It is not too late to order surveys online