Life to the full

Based on Jesus’ words in John 10:10, “I have come that you might have life in all its fullness”, NCLS Research aims to use credible research to identify signs of hope and to nurture life in churches, by helping churches to evaluate their health and equipping them to build vitality into the future. The Enliven Churches Project continues along this same theme, to seek how churches have enlivened their ministry, to appreciate how they have sought to embody ‘life to the full’ in their particular congregation or parish, context and faith tradition.

How do Australian churches grow their vitality and health?

Qualitative research to capture the “how”

Through the Enliven Churches project, a selection of churches will be identified that seem to be flourishing and healthy, according to their results in the 2016 National Church Life Survey. Interviews and discussion groups will be conducted with leaders from these churches, to identify how they enlivened their ministry, their church and/or community. Stories of fostering vitality will also be sought from other vital churches by means of an online survey.  

By digging deeper into the actions and processes of these churches, the project aims to outline common and unique methods in fostering vitality. It will enable other churches to use these flourishing churches as models to learn from.


On the whole, the Christian Church in Australia is said to be in decline. Yet a good number of local churches defy that trend and are growing in numbers, spiritual health and vitality. Previous research has focused primarily on conceptualising and evaluating church vitality and describing vital churches. More work needs to be done, however, to move beyond the question of ‘what is a vitality church’ to how churches invest in and strengthen their vitality. This project seeks to address how churches become and remain vital and to provide ideas, inspiration and guidance to churches as to how they might improve their vitality. 


This project aimed to identify a diversity of churches who have high levels of vitality, according to NCLS vitality measures, and dug deeper into the journey and actions these churches took, to highlight their process of nurturing their vitality and health.

The project addressed the following questions:

  1. How have local churches, who have been identified as healthy, invested in their health and vitality?
  2. Are there particular practices that are perceived to be effective by the local leadership in strengthening church vitality?
  3. What commonalities and differences are there between churches across different contexts and faith traditions?


A range of outputs share the findings of this research, including a  research report and  church-friendly resources:

  • Church stories
  • Case studies
  • Photo gallery
  • Workbook processes, and a
  • Webinar workshop.