I'm a huge fan of NCLS Research, as I have been from the beginning. Most of these cartoons were first published in their magnificent, life-changing books. This extraordinary organisation pioneered social research focussing on church attenders and leaders. In a revolutionary move, they decided to actually ask people what they thought about church, faith, life etc.
Starting with a huge cross section of the Protestant and Anglican churches in Australia, the work was so successful it now includes Roman Catholic churches and has spawned similar projects in New Zealand, the UK and the US. It has also incorporated community surveys conducted in partnership with Edith Cowan University which provide a comparison with attitudes and behaviours of people outside the church.
NCLSR is now a world authority on church attender attitudes and behaviours. Their work is highly respected in academic and social research circles and has won the trust and respect of an enormous cross-section of church groups (to my mind; a miracle). NCLSR has achieved many extraordinary things and there is more to come.
In an effort to make the research available and relevant to non-statisticians (most of us), NCLSR published a series of books that discussed the results and the implications of the research. I was involved in many aspects of creating the books, but the most relevant is that I provided the cartoons.
"Everyone reads the cartoons first". It always seemed unfair that, after all the work that would go in to preparing the material for the books, it was the cartoonist who got the first mention (unfair... but nice). It was always a delight creating cartoons for NCLSR. The subject matter ranged across the full spectrum of church experience and the staff were always thoughtful, supportive and appreciative.
Then of course, there were the book launches. I would sit and watch as everyone leafed through the new publication; looking for the cartoons and giggling as they showed the person next to them.
equipping the church
The books were just one way of equipping the church. NCLSR is constantly looking for ways to help the church create wise strategies for growth, in every aspect of church life. This applies from local churches, with their individual survey results, through to denominational groups, and from church leadership to other interest groups. The tools are evolving as technology develops, and as specific needs are identified. NCLSR have always been a pioneering organisation, with breathtaking vision, creativity and capability. I thank God for NCLSR.
The work of NCLSR continues, you can visit them at: www.ncls.org.au