One Episcopal Parish’s Vision and Values Survey

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The executive summary is here and the full report (103 pages) is there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Data* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry

Posted May 29, 2007 at 2:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Karen B. wrote:

Oh, what fun for a data geek!! wink
But seriously, kudos to this parish for taking on such a challenge.  A TON of work involved here, and it looks like a well-done and useful survey and report from the little I’ve skimmed.

I was fascinated by the question on five basic theological beliefs:

These were: a) Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; b) God is all-powerful and all-knowing; c) Salvation is a gift from God
and cannot be earned; d) Satan is a real being; and e) Christians are responsible for sharing their faith with others.

Boy, wouldn’t you love to have data on those questions for every parish, and for ECUSA as a whole?!  (Hey, we could even do a mini-survey as the Titusonenine blog community!)

Anyway, it’s nice to see evidence of a growing parish, and one where folks are seeking to learn what’s attracting folks to the parish and what their concerns are.  WELL DONE!

May 29, 3:20 pm | [comment link]
2. Timothy Fountain wrote:

God bless and protect this fruitful ministry.  How wonderful to see the abundant faith among the new members!

May 29, 3:51 pm | [comment link]
3. Phil wrote:

When I lived in Arizona, I’m sorry to say I passed CCA up (literally: it was closer on the same road) to go to a more unfortunate parish a bit farther down the road.  Eventually, the usual ECUSA rot slowly but very surely setting in at my parish, I realized CCA was solid in the Faith, but returned to my East Coast roots very shortly thereafter.

I know Fr. Semon comments here occasionally, and I’d just like to say, “Keep it up and Godspeed!”

May 29, 3:56 pm | [comment link]
4. Nikolaus wrote:

I know Fr. Semon from his time in another parish.  I echo what Timothy wrote and wish we had him back here!  Godspeed to him!

May 29, 5:52 pm | [comment link]
5. drjoan wrote:

But Jesus was more than one who “lived a sinless life.”  I wonder what the response would be to “is the divine son of God.”

May 29, 5:53 pm | [comment link]
6. Chip Johnson, cj wrote:

Oh, Karen, you are spot on.  This summary report is a statistician’s delight.  For me the most telling side-bar was the one that cited 4/5ths attended bi-weekly, and 76% were pledgers (which in this context, I would almost bet meant true tithers, 10%, not the 3% tithers that TEC asks for!)

May 29, 5:56 pm | [comment link]
7. Nikolaus wrote:

CCA also produced an orthodox educational curriculum post GC03, I believe to be used in adult ed.

May 29, 6:22 pm | [comment link]
8. Brian from T19 wrote:

In contrast, areas deemed in need of attention are: finance, stewardship,

I have a budget-trimming idea: Don’t produce 8,000 page reports;-)

May 29, 7:09 pm | [comment link]
9. Brian from T19 wrote:

But seriously…

Karen B,

I think you might get a “false positive” on the results.  As a dyed-in-the-wool revisionist, here are my answers:

a) Jesus Christ lived a sinless life Yes
a) (1) [drjoan] “is the divine son of God.” Yes

b) God is all-powerful and all-knowing Yes

c) Salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned while I wouldn’t use the term ‘salvation,’ God does give us the gift of eternal life

d) Satan is a real being Yes

e) Christians are responsible for sharing their faith with others Yes

May 29, 7:15 pm | [comment link]
10. Karen B. wrote:

Glad to see your answers Brian.  I agree these are not some kind of perfect theological questions to distinguish reasserters / reappraisers or orthodox / revisionist. 

I think the ones that may actually be tough for many in ECUSA are 4 & 5.  I’ve heard several Episcopal clergy I know pooh pooh the idea of Satan as a personal being (as opposed to some kind of impersonal force.) 

I also have heard and read way too much downplaying of evangelism in ECUSA both in words and deed.  But the trick in the question above is the breadth of the word “others.”  Other Christians, sure.  Others who are like me.  Sure.  Jews?  Muslims? Buddhists? Ouch.  No, maybe not.  They have their own faith.  We shouldn’t proselytize, etc., etc.  So, these questions perhaps do at least get folks thinking even if they don’t give as precise a view of theological worldview as I might like.

For me, the tough one is #3 about Salvation.  Easy to say yes to with my lips.  Of course that’s what I believe.  My problem is that all too often I live and act as if I can somehow add to what Christ has done, if I must or can somehow earn or merit my salvation.  Blech.  That distance from head to heart can be a really really long one.

May 29, 8:57 pm | [comment link]
11. Kathleen wrote:

Hello, from the survey’s author and admitted geek: Karen and Brian, you’re right.  The questions weren’t perfect predictors, but they were remarkably strong predictors.  Among those who strongly agreed with all or almost all of the faith statements, the approval rating for the national Church was only 8%, compared to 36% for those who had major areas of disagreement (Table 13 in the report).  But you’re right that generally it doesn’t make sense to use someone’s opinions about these issues to make assessments of his/her individual faith.  For example, of those disapproving of the national Church, 84% strongly agreed that Jesus led a sinless life.  Of those approving of the national Church, that percentage was 63%—much lower, but still a majority.  This dialogue reminds me of a quotation about statistics that made me laugh today.  It said something like this: Imagine yourself with one foot in an oven and the other in a freezer.  According to the law of averages, you’re completely comfortable. 

Karen, you might want to check out Table 4 on page 36, as it gives the percentage breakdowns for the items you are asking about.  Your predictions are spot on.

May 29, 9:20 pm | [comment link]
12. Lori wrote:

Kathleen (it sounds so formal calling you that) and your survey ROCK!  Thank you for all your hard work for our parish!

May 30, 1:09 am | [comment link]
13. NancyNH wrote:

How refreshing! I just did a “find word” search for the word “inclusive” and didn’t find it anywhere. Yet I’ll bet this church includes all who seek Christ.

May 30, 10:09 am | [comment link]
14. Ken Semon wrote:

Thank you for the kind and encouraging words on this subject.  Indeed, NancyNH, we do include all who seek Christ.  Each week I try to say something to that end.  Jesus invites us as we are, but the invitation is not to stay as we are, but rather to follow him on a journey to holiness. We have a “diverse” congregation, contrary to what others in this diocese say about us.

May 30, 1:15 pm | [comment link]
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