Dr Ruth Powell is Director of NCLS Research, a research centre that focuses on church vitality and community spirituality and wellbeing. Ruth commenced working with NCLS Research in 1991 and became Director in 2007. She also holds a position as Associate Professor and Research Fellow, Public and Contextual Theology Research Centre, Charles Sturt University, as well as Honorary Professor at Alphacrucis College.
Ruth is a member of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion; Society for the Scientific Study of Religion; Religious Research Association; Australian Association of Mission Studies; and Australian Association for the Study of Religion.
Ruth will serve as Book Editor for Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion from 2022. She served as a member of Distinguished Book Awards Committee, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion in 2018 and was chair of the Distinguished Book Awards Committee in 2019. She is also chair of the 2021 Religious Research Association Awards Committee. Ruth also contributes to a range of committees such as the Alphacrucis College Research Committee and the Australian College of Theology Ethics Committee.
Major projects for NCLS Research include the five-yearly National Church Life Survey, which commenced in 1991 and forms the basis of one of the largest, most comprehensive databases on church life of its kind in the world. The 2016 NCLS included around a quarter of a million church attenders from 3000 local churches from around 20 denominations. The 2021 NCLS will be the seventh wave across thirty years.
Ruth’s role involves managing research projects on both church and community life, as well as developing resources for local churches, denominational leaders and other community agencies. Her own primary research interests lie in assisting churches to reflect on their interaction with the wider Australian community. As well as church health, and tracking changes in church life over time, she has studied age differences and cultural diversity in churches, effective leadership, religiosity and spirituality in the wider community.
As well as a range of academic articles, occasional papers and commissioned reports, Ruth has co-authored NCLS Research publications on church life such as Winds of Change, Shaping a Future, Taking Stock, Build My Church, Mission under the Microscope and Enriching Church Life. Her doctoral thesis focussed on age differences among church attenders.