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How Often Do Kiwis Go To Church?

How Often Do Kiwis Go To Church?

A new nation-wide Church Census is taking place March through April, 2013. It is expected to reveal, among other things, how often New Zealanders go to church. Past surveys suggest that one Kiwi in five attends a place of Christian worship at least once a month.

The church in New Zealand has changed dramatically since the last census was taken in 1926, and this project will provide a unique snapshot of it. Using the slogan “Take-the-Pulse,” the New Zealand Church Census, organized by MissionKoru, will be conducted by a nationwide team of about 150 volunteers, each of whom will locate and then contact every church in their district. Church leaders may expect to be contacted in March or April.

New Zealand has 70 basic “districts” -- geopolitical units used by the government for census purposes. By using the same districts for the Church Census, organisers of the latter will be able to compare the demographics of the churchgoing population with that of the wider community.

The main purpose of the new census is to provide new information to church leaders to help them plan at local, regional and national levels.

The national church leaders’ group, which includes the heads of every denomination, has been kept informed as the Church Census has been developing over the last twelve months.

Beyond the more visible denominational churches, MissionKoru expects to find many new independent churches of varying ethnicities. These meet in modern church buildings, homes, commercial premises, school buildings, garages, community centres, shop fronts and cafes. Many church buildings now house more than one congregation. The same trend has been reported recently in England where it has been discovered that since 1980 between 5,000 and 7,000 new churches have started.

Sample surveys done in recent years by Massey University and by the Bible Society of New Zealand showed an unexpectedly high level of church attendance. Both found that about 20 percent of New Zealand’s total population attend a church at least monthly. The new census may provide further evidence of this.

MissionKoru is a national organization led by Bruce Patrick who helped to found the inter-church movement Vision New Zealand in the early 1990s. VNZ has morphed into the New Zealand Christian Network, or NZCN, a national networking agency working across all denominations and churches. MissionKoru associate Karen Taylor has developed documentation which volunteers are using for data collection in March and April.


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