FaithX and MapDash in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland
by Mary Sulerud
Ever since my first training in using MapDash, the words spoken by the Rev. Ken Howard, FaithX founder, have echoed in my head every time I opened up my laptop and connected it to a projector to introduce the program to another congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.
“Data is not destiny,” he said.
I always start with those words; then I quickly add something he also shared that day…
“It really helps to begin with dreams
that have some relationship with reality on the ground.”
I graduated from an Episcopal Seminary in the 1980’s, amid several successive ambitious national evangelism campaigns by the Episcopal Church. The prevailing truism of the time was: Attract young families with children and your congregation will be sustained and you will thrive in ministry. Our congregations learned that lesson all too well.
The trouble was that while that may have been true in another era, it was already losing ground in many places by the time I graduated in 1988. In effect, we were sending people out to find the membership equivalent of the Holy Grail. But we rarely asked congregational leaders to look at the reality of their own neighborhoods and to discern if the demographic reality of our neighborhoods was in any way related to the characteristics of the people who sat in the pews on Sunday.
What is changing in the congregations of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland is that they are employing MapDash to explore neighbors and neighborhoods. And while MapDash is an important and useful tool in a wide variety of settings, I am increasingly finding that it is most helpful to congregational leaders who are undertaking strategic planning in their congregations.[Read more…]