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Young not happy with church life

Most Australian church-goers feel a strong sense of belonging to their congregation but many young people are still dissatisfied with what their church offers, a survey shows.

The conclusions are among the findings of the National Church Life Survey 2001, described by organisers as the biggest investigation of church vitality in Australia.

The survey found that 82% of church-goers felt a close bond with their congregational community and 74% experienced a sense of God's presence at church. But the future of the church apparently relies on greater engagement with young people and only 23% of those aged 15 to 18 were very satisfied with what was offered to them at church. That figure fell to 18% among those aged 19 to 25.

Although more than 60% of church-goers felt their congregation or parish was ready to experiment, the survey team said more new possibilities needed to be explored if the church wanted to relate more to the general community.

Last May, about 435,000 church-goers from more than 7000 congregations and parishes in Australia were surveyed. The 19 denominations involved represent more than 80% of regular church-goers.

Bob Dixon, from the Catholic Pastoral Projects Office in Melbourne, said the survey was a "massive event" that also had an international component, with similar research in America, England and New Zealand taking the number of respondents to about 700,000.

National Church Life Survey
Connections for Life

The Age

30 Apr 2002