As you may know, FaithX is running a first-of-its kind experiment on using regular micro-surveys to keep a finger on the pulse of the Episcopal Church. We now have results back from two of those surveys that are very interesting.
- With which areas of congregational life are you struggling?
- With which areas of congregational life are you finding success?
The results of this survey show that a significant majority of the congregations are struggling the most in the areas of evangelism and discipleship and are finding the most success in the area of worship.
I have to admit that when I first saw the results of this micro-survey, a song came to mind almost immediately: “Dance Band on the Titanic” by Harry Chapin. “We’ve hit the iceberg, but our music is great!”
The fact that we most struggle with both parts of Jesus’ Great Commission is concerning but not a great surprise. After all, “Evangelism” feels like the “E-word” to most Episcopalians.
Yes, but: perhaps it’s not yet time to pack up our tents and go home. There may be hope in the finding that our congregations do a pretty decent job of outreach to the neighborhoods they serve.
What if we could think of evangelism not as pressuring someone to convert, but simply as living our relationship with Jesus out loud among our neighbors. If we did we might get a little more traction in the Evangelism department. After all, neither Jesus (nor the Apostle Paul) ever uttered the literal word “Convert.”
Micro-survey #3 (2a & 2b):
- What percentage of your pre-pandemic attendance do you expect to return post-pandemic?
- What percentage of your current online attendance do you expect to return post-pandemic?
In Person Attendance
- 42% of respondents expect 75-100% of their pre-pandemic in-person attendance to return.
- 8% of respondents expect their pre-pandemic in-person attendance to grow.
- 51% of respondents expect post-pandemic online attendance to drop below 26% of current attendance.
- 77% of respondents expect post-pandemic online attendance to drop below 51% of current attendance.
Could it be that most clergy and lay people think of online worship as something to be endured during the pandemic and don’t view online worship as something worthy of continuing? And how does this square with the research that those churches leaning into creative things like online worship are growing, while the ones who are shrinking are those who are just waiting for things to go “back to normal”?