Recent Episcopal Pulse Microsurvey Tracks Observations of Congregational Vitality Assessment Data

By The Rev. Ken Howard

As many of our readers will recall, The TryTank Experimental Library partnered The FaithX Project to manage an experiment called the Episcopal Pulse. 

Launched in January, the Episcopal Pulse experiment is designed to test the value and efficacy of real-time micro-polling of a representative sample of Episcopalians in keeping a finger on the pulse of the Episcopal denomination. And we’ve been getting interesting results on a variety of questions.

One recent microsurvey (#10) included six questions that sought respondents opinions of their congregations on six indicators of congregational vitality:

  1. The congregation has a clear vision that its members understand.
  2. The congregation empowers its lay people.
  3. The congregation is fully inclusive of the community it serves.
  4. The congregation welcomes change.
  5. The congregation deals with differences in a healthy way.
  6. The congregation nurtures the faith of its members.

How did the respondents answer?

482 respondents answered the six questions.

Looking at the results in the above graph with the understanding that Agree and Strongly Agree are positive indicators of vitality and Neutral or below are negative indicators

Episcopal congregations’ most positive vitality indicators are: “Nurturing Faith” followed by “Empowering Laity”

Episcopal congregations’ most negative vitality indicators are: “Welcoming Change” followed by “Working Out Differences in a Healthy Way.”

What does it say about Episcopal Churches?

These answers suggest that Episcopal congregations are change-resistant and conflict-averse, but do a relatively good job of nurturing their congregant’s faith and empowering their lay people.

It also suggests that Episcopal congregations, despite the best of intentions, are not fully reflective of the diversity of the neighborhoods they serve, and a sizable minority of congregations still have a lot of trouble achieving a shared congregational vision and helping their people understand it.

While we have not yet conducted a broad-based analysis of CVA results, this micro poll seems to track well with the trends we are observing.

Some Questions for Reflection

  • Which of these results confirm your perceptions?
  • Which of these results surprise you?

If you are an Episcopalian and are interested in being one of our volunteer respondents, please apply here