Christian Research Association
The Christian Research Association (CRA) was founded in 1985 to study the Christian faith in Australia. Its work consists of major research projects which have focussed on overviews of research on spirituality and religion in relation to Australian culture, and contract research for Christian organisations, including local reports based on Australian Census data.
Origin and supporters
- The Anglican Diocese of Brisbane
- The Anglican Diocese of Melbourne
- ACCESS Ministries
- Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference
- Baptist Union of Victoria
- Converge International
- Lutheran Church of Australia
- Prahran Mission
- Salvation Army (Southern Territory)
- Seventh-day Adventist Church
- Uniting Church, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania
- (The CRA's) task is to provide up-to-date and reliable information about religious faith and church life in Australia.
The Christian Research Association has several aspects to its work:
- Major research projects, for example, on the spirituality of young people, rural church life, and the multiplicity of faith communities in Australia.
- Overview of research on religion and church-life in Australia, primarily through Pointers, a quarterly bulletin of reports of research.
- Contract research for individual churches, denominational bodies, and other church-related organisations.
- Reports for local areas using the latest Census data plus data from other sources.
- Surveys in schools of values, spirituality and religious faith.
Some of the early work of the Christian Research Association focussed on understanding the different patterns of faith in Australian Churches. It moved on a study of the attitudes of Australians who did not attend church. In seeking to understand the changes in attitudes to the Christian faith and the churches, it has focussed on the cultural changes which occurred in Australia in the 1960s and 1970s.
In 1995, the Christian Research Association began working with the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs and a range of academics to produce a series of books on the various religious communities in Australia. Twelve books were produced covering the Anglican, Baptist, Buddhist, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Hindu and Sikh, Jewish, Lutheran, Muslim, Pentecostal, Presbyterian and Uniting Church communities. In 2000, this set of materials was expanded to include book length materials on another 15 religious communities and brief articles covering approximately 140 other religious groups present in Australia, and published on CD-Rom. A third edition of this 'encyclopedia' of religion in Australia was published in 2010.
Other work has centred on Australian values and the place that spirituality has in relation to other values. The Christian Research Association has argued that there are four major orientations in values on which Australians vary: the relative importance of order, of self-enhancement, of social enhancement, and spirituality.
Since 2002, the Christian Research Association has been involved in studies of the religious faith and spirituality of young people. It was a partner, with Monash University and the Australian Catholic University, in a major study, 'The Spirit of Generation Y'. This study involved a national telephone survey of 1200 young people as well as in-depth face-to-face interviews. It was supplemented by the Schools Project Study which involved interviews with 240 students and surveys of more than 5000 students. A new round of surveys of students in schools was commenced in 2011.
Another major project has been an examination of rural churches in Australia. Studies have been conducted of Uniting Churches, Anglican Churches and Catholic Churches. The Christian Research Association has published a small summary book of their findings
The Christian Research Association has been involved in international networks of researchers, including the Lausanne Researchers International Network. The Christian Research Association was responsible for organizing an international conference of mission and church-related researchers in Australia in 2008.
In April 2010, the Christian Research Association produced the report Bible Engagement Among Australian Young People, which was commissioned by the Bible Society of South Australia. The report states: "Conservatively interpreted, the surveys show that around 4 per cent of young people read the Bible daily, another 6 per cent read it weekly, and 15 to 20 per cent read it very occasionally."
In September 2010, the Christian Research Association invited the leaders of all Christian denominations to gather for a consideration of the overview of the role of church and faith in the Australian context. The conference, entitled 'Shaping Australia's Spirituality', noted how many aspects of church practice are expanding, such as many fields of chaplaincy, the provision of schools and the welfare agencies of the churches. Other areas of church life are in decline, including involvement in many local churches and the role that the churches play in public life. The conference noted the role that the Christian faith continues to play in the formation of personal values among Australians, but that the churches were not highly engaged in the national and global issues of climate and economic change and sustainability. As the understanding of the world and the forms of community and culture change, the conference examined how the Christian faith needs to be re-expressed and new forms of Christian community need to be developed, in order to relate to the contemporary Australian context.
- About the CRA, retrieved 2010-06-19
- Philip Hughes and 'Tricia Blombery (1990) Patterns of Faith in Australian Churches: Report from the Combined Churches Survey for Faith and Mission, Christian Research Association, Melbourne
- Peter Bentley, 'Tricia Blombery and Philip Hughes (1992) Faith without the Church? Nominalism in Australian Christianity, Christian Research Association, Melbourne
- Philip Hughes (1994) A Maze or a System? Changes in the Worldview of Australian People, Christian Research Association, Melbourne
- Peter Bentley and Philip Hughes (2005) A Brief Review of Church-Related Research in Australia, Christian Research Association, Melbourne
- Philip Hughes (editor) (2000), Australia's Religious Communities: A Multimedia Exploration, Christian Research Association, Melbourne
- Philip Hughes and Sharon Bond (2003) Exploring What Australians Values, Christian Research Association, Melbourne and NCLS Research, Sydney
- Philip Hughes (2007) Putting Life Together: Findings from Australian Youth Spirituality Research, Christian Research Association, Melbourne.
- Philip Hughes and Stephen Reid (2012) Taking Holistic Education Seriously, Research Paper no.11, Christian Research Association, Melbourne
- Philip Hughes and Audra Kunciunas (2008) Rural Churches in the Uniting Church in South Australia: Models for Ministry, Research Paper No. 7, Christian Research Association, Melbourne
- Philip Hughes and Audra Kunciunas (2009) Models of Leadership and Organisation in Anglican Churches in Rural Australia, Occasional Paper No.9, Christian Research Association, Melbourne
- Philip Hughes (2011) 'Possibilities of Leadership in Rural Catholic Parishes' in Pointers, Vol.21, no.1, March 2011
- Philip Hughes and Audra Kunciunas (2009) Sowing and Nurturing: Challenges and Possibilities for Rural Churches, Christian Research Association, Melbourne
- Philip Hughes and Audra Kunciunas (2008) '5th Lausanne Researchers' Conference, Geelong, 8–12 April 2008' Pointers, Vol. 18, no. 2, June 2008
- Philip Hughes (2010) Shaping Australia's Spirituality: A Review of Christian Ministry in the Australian Context, Christian Research Association, Melbourne