2019 was a good year for FaithX. It had its ups and downs – a rollercoaster ride, for sure, at times – but all-in-all, both despite and because of it all, we came through 2019 much stronger, with a clearer vision of who we are and where we are going, and with many successes to energize us.
We’ve come a long way since we launched in December of 2016. Back then it was just me as FaithX’s executive director/principal (and only) consultant, a 4-person volunteer board of directors, and one client, the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and its two newest congregations.
Over the next two years, we would establish our affiliation with Datastory, collaborate with them to prototype, develop, beta test, and launch the next-generation demographic analysis and missional planning platform, which would become known as MapDash for Faith Communities, added about a dozen clients, two associate consultants, a blog coordinator, a volunteer research director, and publish a ground-breaking research paper entitled “The Religion Singularity.”
In 2019 we broadened our reach even further. We expanded our work not only into more Episcopal dioceses, congregations, and organizations, but more importantly, branching out into more than five additional “denominations” (i.e., including the non-denominational movement), and have begun discussions with interfaith and non-Christian faith traditions. We launched a new peer-reviewed journal about religion and ministry. We worked with Datastory to develop and launch the new Neighborhood Missional Intelligence Report, and we designed the consultative Neighborhood Missional Assessment program to help congregations identify emerging missional opportunities and challenges in the neighborhoods they serve.
And so I’d like to offer my appreciation to all of those who have joined FaithX on our experimental missional journey through the end of religion as we know it into the future of faith in whatever form God is calling it into being…
To the FaithX Team
- Mary Frances and Steve Matthews, our Senior Associate Consultants, who continue diligently working to bring us into relationship with new congregations, judicatories, organizations, denominations, and faith traditions.
- David Maglott, Darren Slade, and Jonathan Howard, our Board of Directors, whose support, guidance, and wisdom keep us moving forward. David serves a treasurer and finance director, Jonathan as growth director, and Darren as board secretary, director of research, part-time administrator, and general editor of our journal, Socio-Historical Exploration of Religion and Ministry (shermjournal.org) — congrats on publishing our first two issues, and on earning your PhD in theology.
- Mary Beth Howard, who serves as editor of our FaithXperimental Blog (proofreader extraordinaire) and our bookkeeper.
To Our Collaborators
- Datastory and its president, Matt Felton, collaborator, colleague, and friend, without whom MapDash for Faith Communities would not exist, nor would FaithX have such a great technical partner in our work, and his excellent team: Ben Fierman, vice president, Bridget Cusick, business coordinator, Chris Susio, GIS production manager, Josh Runaldue and Leif Johnson, GIS specialists, Andy Furtado, client engagement, and others.
- Episcopal Church Foundation, now partnering with FaithX to bring our Congregational Vitality Assessment diagnostic inventory to a wider audience in digital form (early 2020), and especially Melissa Rau, senior program director of leadership, and Donald Romanik, president.
To Our Clients
- The Episcopal Church, which supported the research and development which led to the creation of several new missional analytic tools: the Congregational Vitality Index, the Congregational Sustainability Index, the Missional Opportunity Index, and more. Especially Tom Brackett, who saw the value of our work and helped us to accelerate its development.
- The Episcopal Dioceses of Central Gulf Coast, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Oklahoma, who allowed us to beta test MapDash with their judicatory and congregational leaders, and the more than 16 Episcopal dioceses and more than three dozen Episcopal congregations who have joined us since. Special thanks to the Diocese of Maryland, with whose diocesan and congregational leaders, especially Scott Slater, we worked to prototype and alpha test MapDash.
- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and others, whose judicatories and congregations have begun to open their doors to us, and with whose continued input and feedback we continue to work with Datastory to refine and expand the capability of MapDash for Faith Communities (click here for a regularly updated client list).
To Our Followers and Supporters
- The nearly 10,000 people who follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and our own FaithXperimental blog.
- The many generous people that have supported FaithX programs with their donations.
Of course, this is only a partial list of the people and organizations to whom we owe a share of gratitude for joining us on our missional journey. So many stories of missional transformation to tell. So many experiments that we and others have tried and learned from — some from what worked, some from what didn’t, but all of which were fertile ground for the future of faith.
And so we say, “Watch this space!”