Anyone who lives in Pitcairn should have received a community survey from me last August. The purpose of the survey was to ask the community at large their impressions of our congregation. I would like to let you know what those surveys revealed.
Our mailing list has 975 addresses. My contacts in marketing say that a return of 1.7% is a good return, which would have been 17 returned surveys. We had a whopping 50 surveys returned, which I am told is more than a minor miracle! In my experience, surveys often bring out the folks who have an axe to grind. It is far more likely the survey will appeal to those who have something negative to say. However, that was not what the results of this survey showed me.
Of respondents, 12 were active in a church more than once per week, 12 were active once per week, 6 were present a couples of times per month, 13 were seldom active, and 6 were not at all active. Yet, 29 of them felt that religion was extremely important to them, 17 said somewhat important, one said not important, and only 2 said they could do without religion altogether. Several people said they were not active at all, but religion was extremely important to them which is very interesting.
Eight of 50 respondents (16%) said they thought the church was closed prior to receiving the survey in the mail. Only five people (10%) said they did not want to participate in ANY church. In response to what criteria a church should include, the top two answers were “Helps people who need help,” (76%) and “Is active in the community,” (68%). Also high on the list was “Members who care about you” (62%), “Has children’s and youth activities” (64%). The community is fairly evenly split on whether they are aware of any of the activities or ministries of the church, with 48% aware and 52% unaware. Of respondents, 52% have attended worship or an event at the church and 48% have not.
I shared in worship this morning (Nov. 20) that some of the narrative responses were sad to read, as in “I attended there and have since left and attend community and no one has called or questioned where I have been.” Some were inaccurate, such as “They have turned away scouting troops from using their building.” Some responses were really not germane to what the church is about, like “attractive building and landscaping,” “the pastor seems pleasant,” and “the church has a really nice garden.”
Some better responses was, “members are kind people and good neighbors.” Beginning to resemble what the church represents was, “willing to open its doors to the community.” Best of all, somebody saw something in us that resembled Christ, saying, “the most important thing is, they care about others.”
These surveys were very interesting to read; sometimes a bit sobering; and sometimes providing a little chuckle. One thing is clear but not surprising, we still have work to do! God is not ready for us to just sit back and die. God is calling us to move forward with boldness and purpose as we continue our efforts to turn this congregation around again. Please know, that does not mean the congregation will look the same as it did in the 1950s. Things will continue to change as we try to reach out and make new disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!