Congregational analysis

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Mexdeaf, Dec 17, 2009.

  1. Mexdeaf

    Mexdeaf
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    TomVols has been talking this up on the BV/T forum and I think it would be an interesting discussion for those of us who are not familiar with what it is.

    Tom, please do enlighten us- Thanks!
     
  2. TomVols

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    A congregational analysis is a study of a particular church in a particular setting. you study the sociological, economic, geographic, etc. textures of a particular church. You look at the history of a church, it's identity, core values, setting, etc. You utilize personal interviews as well as quantitative statistics (Racial/ethnic breakdown of a church, economic breakdown, education levels, etc.). You also do this for the community near the church via interviews, census data, and the like.

    A good work on the subject, and one of my seminary texts on the subject, can be found here: http://hirr.hartsem.edu/bookshelf/out_of_print_congstudhndbk.html

    There are practical uses. First, I did a study for a church in an upper middle class community. 2 out of 5 in the community had household incomes of six figures or more (good chunk was at least $250K yearly). Less than 1% were at the poverty level. 3 out of 4 owned their home, writing mortgage checks of four digits. 3 of 5 owned 3 or more vehicles. So a clothes closet, bus ministry, and food pantry wasn't going to work there. However, a significant number of moms were stay-at home moms. So parent day out programs might work. You get the idea.

    All of this is subservient to the Biblical teaching of what the church should do and be. The Bible doesn't prescribe exact bridges to build for evangelism, so it's helpful to see how one church can be ministered to as opposed to another. This church needed servant ministries of a different type than an inner city church near a housing project, for example.

    Some will take these and gear the church's whole ministry and message to what the community context is. I disagree with this. Our message is the same: the Gospel from the whole counsel of God. But we look for ways to build bridges with those who need Christ, and a congregational analysis can tell us a lot.

    I hope that gets us started.
     
  3. Mexdeaf

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    So how might I use this process as a pastor to a minority group in the community- say the deaf or hispanic community?
     
  4. exscentric

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    Any pastor worth his salt does a lot of this as a matter of course as he gets to know his church/community in his first months and acts appropriately.

    I do like the idea of doing it in the amount of detail described, it might be worth the time and effort for sure.

    The thought you give of doing this and setting up the church for the community is called by some Burger King church administration. "Have it your way." :thumbsup: I told one church I served if we did it that way there I would have to get robes and do mass on Sunday as the neighborhood was very high in Catholic folks that belonged at the big Cath church couple blocks away :tongue3:
     
  5. donnA

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    what can be wrong with finding out who lives in your area and creating ministries to reach them? Maybe we should do away with bus ministry, food pantries, etc. Then we don't have to waste our time ministering to anyone.
     
  6. windcatcher

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    I can see how this might be useful: It gives some indications regarding the strengths and the weakness, the needs and the abilities, even the direction of values, within a congregation.

    I believe the scriptures caution that they that compare themselves among themselves are not wise. In that context, such information should most probably include some analysis of the community at large and produce ministries of outreach which utilize the resources and exercise the faith and talents of those in the church. While this info may be helpful, it would have to be flexible in recognizing significant changes within the community and the church and adapting: Also, and most important, such information cannot bring about lasting spiritual reward... which is the goal, without the abiding presence and guidance of the holy spirit. This later is dependant on both immersion in the Word of God and constancy of prayer life.... depending on God and not natural logic.
     
    #6 windcatcher, Dec 18, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 18, 2009
  7. TomVols

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    I don't believe I said I advocated this. Some do. I do not. That being said, I believe there is Biblical precedent for doing what the church must be doing in a contextual way.

    Ministry is not a waste of time. It is if it's ineffective, and "spinning the wheels" and God doesn't deserve such.
    Windcatcher, can you explain? Not sure what you're saying here.
    Agreed. Remember, I'm saying we use these to determine the focus of what God calls us to be and do, not determine what God calls us to be and do. There is Scriptural mandate for what the church is to believe, be, and do. How they do it can take different forms. Plus, you have to know the church you have and the people you have to reach if you're ever going to minister to them or reach them, leading them to be what God's Word calls them to be.
     
  8. preachinjesus

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    stupid computer! huge reply just erased! ARGH!

    Well what I was saying was that we use these kinds of survey tools regularly. They are essential parts of our staff planning and strategy execution. When we first got our executive staff together for our church we used two or three major demographic and marketting survey tools to understand our community. Our congregational and former leadership had a lot of beliefs and presuppositions about the community in which our church existed. We challenged all those beliefs and found out that most of them were wrong. It absolutely impacted our strategy as a staff and focus as a church.

    For instance (I had listed about four of these I'll list two now) we discovered there was an exploding hispanic population within our immediate zip code that we knew was not being tapped into. Our congregation was not reflecting that demographic shift and we need to reach these people. So we checked the results of our survey and analysis tools and prayed over our plan. We felt led to start a hispanic work out of our church and then went and hired a guy straight out of seminary, let him start working in the community, and they have services in our worship center on Sunday afternoons. We are so excited within the next year we will be moving them off our campus and letting them become an autonomous church.

    Another significant population growth was single parent families. We knew most of these were women who were both underserved and over worked. We have begun an intentional ministry model to connect with them through various childcare times, small groups gatherings, events, and ways to connect. Also on Sundays we have now begun offering a valet service for registered single moms (it got abused if we didn't register them) that allows them to pull up, take their kids inside for check-in, and not worry about their vehicle. Its an amazing ministry. (Some of our attendants will even wash their cars some Sundays.) These are just two ministries that we have begun since we started using the analysis tools available. It has impacted our church greatly.

    Another way these analysis tools help is they refine our focus. We speak to priority needs of our primary constituent groups through targetted series and teaching times. By understanding our major congregational make up we can also strategically focus our series to speak to major areas of these individuals' lives.

    These tools also offer a way to check our strategy during our yearly strategic review audit. We look at our mile markers and results and adjust, change, or reinforce certain areas of our strategy. It is an important way to make sure we are making an impact and are growing God's Kingdom in our midst.

    Finally, we have recently used the Willow Creek Reveal spiritual life survey to analyze our congregational spiritual level. We don't use much Willow stuff because it doesn't work for us. But this survey was outstanding for better getting a handle on where our people are in their relationship with God. We now are implementing, in 2010 and 2011, a 2 year spiritual growth strategy for the different levels of spiritual maturity in our congregation. Without this kind of a tool we would just be doing business as usual and that would stink.

    We are obligated to find the best resources and metrics to evaluate ourselves (staff) and congregation and community so we can help them grow closer to God and grow close to each other. These analysis tools are essential to us.

    I can't imagine a pastor or leadership team not using these if they want to have a dynamic, gospel centered church. Honestly I can't. Too often we are surrounded with people who look like us, talk like us, walk like us, and are us and forget that the Gospel isn't just for us. We need to apply it to all people and find ways to help grow them in Jesus.

    These tools are vital for our strategy. :)
     
  9. preachinjesus

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    I hope you didn't mean this the way it came across.

    At this point I am absolutely convinced that some around this board are just ne'erdowells who don't get it.
     
  10. TomVols

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    Amen!

    However, this is not usually the case. The overwhelming majority of churches are going to be homogeneous in one or more ways. That's just the way it is. I've met a lot of men who believe they're going to plant a church that has blacks, whites, poor, rich, educated, those who can't read...just a melting pot. Never happens. Never. Birds of a feather do flock together, and that's the flock we end up shepherding. I've had the blessing of a multi-racial church. We had one minority family :)

    Now, I think some church plants go to the extreme. Focusing on people in the 50-75k household income group exclusively. Focusing on 20somethings exclusively. That kind of thing. But I'm convinced churches are going to be homogeneous. This flies in the face of my longings, especially as a young minister some two decades ago. It doesn't have to be a negative.

    And now I've unearthed a whole other can of worms :)
     
  11. Jim1999

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    In one of my early colleges, a professor once told me: "Jim, whatever you are or become in your ministry, be available." I never forgot that and it was a key to my ministry. If one is available, he will serve all in a community, and where their particlar need happens to be.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     

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