Claire Dalpra - Church Growth Research Programme

Report
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
www.churcharmy.org.uk/fxCresearch
www.churchgrowthresearch.org.uk
Aims
•
Rough proportions of three groups deemed to be present
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.
25%
40%
Non-Churched
De-Churched
Christian
•
•
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.
35%
Report on Strand 3b of the Church Growth Research Project October 2013 pp.22-26
To track what kinds of transfer growth are occurring.
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
Do you categorise someone based on their
childhood? What if a person’s early life is not
representative of their longer story?
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.
Do you categorise someone based on their
recent history? What if a person’s recent
story is different from their longer story?
What about people who have grown up in
a fresh expression of Church/inherited
church?
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?
Contact
[email protected]
[email protected]

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