Presentation on theme: "Www.churcharmy.org.uk/fxCresearch www.churchgrowthresearch.org.uk Faith in Research: From Evidence to Action Attenders Survey Strand 3b follow-up research."— Presentation transcript:
Faith in Research: From Evidence to Action Attenders Survey Strand 3b follow-up research on the church backgrounds of those attending fresh expressions of Church Work sponsored by Church Army & the Church Commissioners
Aims To track what kinds of transfer growth are occurring. To collect data to test the leaders’ estimates on the proportions of Christian, de-churched and the non-churched cited in the Strand 3b report. To collect data to test the leaders’ estimates on the proportions of Christian, de-churched and the non-churched in established churches as a comparison/control. Report on Strand 3b of the Church Growth Research Project October 2013 pp Rough proportions of three groups deemed to be present
Assumptions Prior meaningful contact with church is only one way of measuring a person’s journey of faith. Important to aim for as large a sample size as manageable. 6 representative dioceses from Strand 3b ¼ of all fresh expressions of Church included in Strand 3b Data collection method: Questionnaire Adults and children (5+) with an aim of 80% return rate ‘Attenders’ is best term over ‘members’ and ‘joiners’. Prior ‘meaningful contact’ means interaction with church as a worshipping community.
Partnering with a diocese We invite a diocese to partner with us for this research. Of the live fresh expressions of Church in the strand 3b report, the diocese determines a representative sample aiming for a variety of types and sizes. The diocese makes the initial approach to leaders. We make contact and update estimated proportions and average attendance. Two ways of collecting data are offered: leaders collect questionnaires or our team visit and collect questionnaires.
The initial three categories Christians – those who are existing church-going Christians. De-churched – those who have had some previous meaningful contact with a church community over a period in their lifetime but have since left. Non-churched – those who have had no meaningful contact with a church community during their lifetime. What about people who have grown up in a fresh expression of Church/inherited church? Do you categorise someone based on their recent history? What if a person’s recent story is different from their longer story? Do you categorise someone based on their childhood? What if a person’s early life is not representative of their longer story?
The emergence of six categories Christians – those who have been church-going Christians in all stages of their lives prior to attending the fresh expression of Church. Grown up in fxC – refers to a person who has been part of the fresh expression from early childhood (under 5). Simple de-churched – those who began being part of church either as an adult, teenager or a child, but left church for a period of more than two years before attending the fresh expression of Church. (This cycle might have happened more than once.) Complex de-churched – those who began being part of church either as an adult, teenager or a child, but left church for a period of more than two years before returning to church and have since joined the fresh expression of Church. (This cycle might have happened more than once.) Simple Non-churched – those who were not part of a church before attending the fresh expression of Church. Complex non-churched – those who were not part of a church before attending church prior to attending the fresh expression of Church (without a gap).
Motivational factors Only a modest attempt to track something very complex No attempt to track motivations for simple non-churched, simple de-churched or grown up in fxC Who considers themselves to be team? Who is blending (i.e. going to more than one church)? Who is now attending because of a house move? Who is now attending because they prefer this church to their last?
Your stories… When you were a child [0-10], were you part of a church community? When you were a teenager [11-17], were you part of a church community? When you were a young adult [18-25], were you part of a church community? If you currently attend a church, what made you choose that particular church? Do you belong to more than one church community?
Methodological strengths Continuing good relational links with dioceses Works relationally to conduct research in the most sensitive way possible for the fresh expression of Church The representative sample of fresh expressions of Church includes a variety of types and sizes of church identified in the Strand 3b report. We are aiming for a return rate of 80% This research collects data from children aged 5+ which is important when the Strand 3b report noted such a high proportion of under 16s. This research is repeatable and reproducible with other church communities both fresh and inherited.
Methodological weaknesses Potential for unwitting bias for diocese to deliberately select churches with more informed leaders or with a large proportion of de-churched or non-churched. In allowing the option for leaders to collect data for us, there is still the potential for the leader to influence findings. Potential for non-response bias - the more ‘churched’ a person is, the more at ease/interested they feel filling in a questionnaire. Making do with the erroneous assumption that current attenders are typical of the overall life of the fresh expression of Church. There is a significant danger that attenders completing questionnaires misunderstand questions and fill in incorrect information (esp. hard for children) A few attenders could not distinguish between the fresh expression and sending church (esp. when same venue).
Wider discussion questions Are the 6 categories more helpful than the 3 categories? Where there are examples of over-reporting non-churched attendance, what might be some of the reasons for this? What are we to make of the phenomenon of blending? Is it meaningful to talk of positive and negative transfer growth?