Ethnic diversity and congregational vitality in Australia

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Australia is one of the most multicultural countries in the world, with more than a quarter of the population born overseas. In recent years there have been debates around the best approach to ethnic composition of churches in a context of migration and multiculturalism. Using data from 1,344 churches who participated in the 2016 National Church Life Survey, this paper explores the relationships between ethnic diversity (operationalised as diversity in the countries of birth of attenders) and congregational health and vitality, in terms of religiousness of the congregation, positive evaluation of worship services, bonding within the congregation, visionary leadership and innovativeness, the proportion of the congregation who are youth and young adults, the proportion who are newcomers to church, and growth in the size of the church. Ethnic diversity contributed positively to religiousness, the presence of young people and positive worship evaluation, and negatively to bonding. Analyses were also conducted separately for Anglican, Catholic, Uniting, Baptist and Lutheran churches, indicating that ethnic diversity is particularly important for understanding vitality in Catholic parishes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch in the social scientific study of religion
Editors Ralph W. Hood, Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor
Place of PublicationLeiden, The Netherlands
Number of pages35
ISBN (Electronic)9789004443969
ISBN (Print)9789004443488
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Ethnic diversity and congregational vitality in Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this