During our recent Flourishing Congregations Institute National Gathering, I gave 8 preliminary Fast Facts about the survey data from the nearly 2,000 respondents received so far. This is what I shared:
47% of congregants Agree or Strongly Agree that their church/parish has an explicit discipleship process for people who wish to grow in their faith.
80% of respondents Agree or Strongly Agree that Masses/worship services challenge them to take action in their life (e.g. profession, family, spare time).
64% of respondents Agree or Strongly Agreed that leaders appear to handle conflict well.
Top 5 settings where congregants learn core congregational values and religious values: 1) Weekly sermon/homily; 2) Mass/worship service; 3) One-on-one conversations; 4) Membership/Confirmation classes; and 5) Small groups.
53% of senior congregational leaders say their church/parish receives revenue by renting their facilities.
Top 3 areas where innovation is happening in the church/parish: 1) Music (40%); 2) Programs (e.g. kids, youth, seniors - 37.6%); and 3) Preaching/Teaching/Homily (30.5%).
37% of those who earn less than $50,000 a year give 10% or more of their household income to their local church, versus 27% among those who earn $100,000 or more.
30% of senior congregational leaders say their church/parish has established or planted other congregations.
Although these 8 Fast Facts are preliminary in nature, what might be interesting to explore further from Fast Fact 1 is the nature of the relationship between an explicit discipleship process and the perceived spiritual growth of congregants. Also, Fast Fact 3 indicates that 64% of leaders handle conflict well. What might be intriguing to investigate a bit more is what the other 36% of congregants think of how their leaders resolve conflict. Much more could be said of the other Fast Facts, but one of the goals at the Flourishing Congregations Institute is to provide helpful empirical data and research to help congregations/parishes from all ecclesial families to flourish in Canada.
What is a Flourishing Congregation? Leader Perceptions, Definitions, and Experiences
Joel Thiessen, Arch Wong, Bill McAlpine, and Keith Walker
How do Canadian congregational and denominational leaders in Catholic, mainline, and conservative Protestant settings perceive and define what constitutes a flourishing congregation? Drawing on our phase one interviews and focus groups with leaders across Canada, our team highlight three central findings: (a) there is a divide between those who believe that flourishing entails numeric growth and those who do not; (b) depending on the Christian tradition in question, there are several partially overlapping and conflicting pictures of what constitutes a flourishing congregation; and (c) supernatural discourse figures into how leaders discuss flourishing congregations over and against secular or human-controlled narratives.