Overview of surveys

An overview of the types of surveys available

NCLS 180

The 2021 National Church Life Survey is held at local churches, with adults, youth, children, leaders and local community residents invited to complete survey forms.

The Attender Survey is available for churchgoers aged 15 years and over, in 9 languages. Optional surveys include the Child Survey for 8-14 year old churchgoers, as well as the Local Community Survey for local residents who have a connection with a church.

COVID-19: Innovations for the 2021 NCLS include online options for the surveys, as well as questions addressing the impact of COVID-19 on churches and churchgoers. Online surveys provide flexibility for churches to complete the surveys together or individually, as restrictions fluctuate.

The 2021 NCLS is a series of interlinked surveys 

Participation in the 2021 NCLS is voluntary and options include:

1. Church Census: To map activities, resources and people in local churches

2. Leader Survey: For leaders to reflect on leadership development and personal wellbeing

3. Church Life Survey: For all church attenders to reflect on their experience of local church vitality (adult attender and child surveys are available)

4. Local Community Survey: NEW in 2021. To learn about views and practices of people in the community (beyond regular attenders).


Overview of survey options


The Church Census Form is an audit of church activities and programs, to be completed by a church administrator or senior leader.

Goal: It is designed to capture an overview of church ministries and activities around Australia. It aims to investigate different contexts and characteristics of churches, against vitality measures and growth patterns.


The Leader Survey is for completion by church leaders: ordained, lay, paid and volunteer, e.g. minister, pastor, priest, ministry team leader, elder or pastoral associate.

It is for anyone involved in significant leadership within a church/parish including:

• the most senior leader (at minimum),

• leaders who contribute significant time to leadership (e.g. 1 day a week),

• leaders who contribute significantly to setting directions.

Goal: The goal of the Leader Survey is to support the development of effective and sustainable leadership in churches.

Confidentiality: The Leader Survey is a confidential survey. No individual leader’s results are identified.


Church Life Surveys listen to churchgoers, in order to help a church to better understand the experiences, hopes, strengths and faith practices of their attenders. It helps a church to review their health and plan for the future.


The Attender Survey is designed to be completed by all church attenders aged 15 years and over. Parents can decline their 15 year old child's participation.

It is available online or via a paper survey form.

Churches normally conduct the Attender Survey during a worship service, mass or activity of spiritual nurture.

20 minutes: It should take attenders about 20 minutes to complete.

Languages: Attender Surveys are available in English, Arabic, Burmese (Chin and Karen), Chinese, Korean, Sudanese (Dinka), Tongan and Vietnamese.


The Child Survey is an optional survey, for regular church attenders aged 8-14.

Goal: The survey is designed to ask children about their experience of the church and their involvement in it.

The Child Survey is an optional survey to be completed by child attenders aged 8 to 14 at any activity at church. Parents can decline their child's participation.

It is available as a paper survey or online.

Optional order: Child surveys are optional to order. If your church ordered Child Surveys they will be included in your Survey Kit.


The Local Community Survey is an optional survey, for people connected with a church, but not regularly attending, for example community dinners, playgroup attendees, youth group parents.

Goal: It is designed to learn about the views and practices of people in the community (beyond regular attenders) and help a church to strengthen their connections with the wider community. 

It is available as an online survey.

Optional order: Local Community Surveys are optional to order. If your church ordered Community Surveys they will be included in your Survey Kit.

View FAQs About the Local Community Survey