The Episcopal News Service published an article recently on which churches are growing and why. The article said in part,
A plan to recruit and incorporate newcomers, clarity of mission and ministry, contemporary worship, involvement of children in worship, geographic location, a website and the absence of conflict are key factors in why some congregations in America are growing, according to the latest national survey of U.S. faith communities.Though he probably doesn't remember it, I've eaten a couple of meals with Kirk at the Presiding Bishop's Conference on Church Planting at which I was a presenter. He's a sharp guy and really has a handle on statistics about The Episcopal Church in a helpful way. Despite that King of Peace is not following his advice.
The survey, sponsored by the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership (CCSP), found that wanting to grow is not enough. Congregations that grow must plan for growth.
"Congregations that developed a plan to recruit members in the last year were much more likely to grow than congregations that had not," according to a report on the survey written by C. Kirk Hadaway, Director of Research at the Episcopal Church Center in New York.
The Mission Council (our church board) has talked about this more than once and we are clear that we don't want to do anything for the specific purpose of growing the church. We do want to be intentional about trying to be the Body of Christ in Camden County to the best of our ability.
Over time our imperfect attempts to be the Body of Christ has caused growth both numerically and spiritually within our congregation as it has for other churches in the community who are doing the same. But we do not attempt to be faithful so that we will grow. We attempt to be faithful in being the church God is calling us to be because that is what we are supposed to do.
The growth is grace. It's like grits on the breakfast plate at a good southern restaurant. It comes unordered, but if your Mama raised you right, your glad your getting grits. ;-)
So we'll take the recent study as descriptive of us, but not prescriptive for what we should now do. Instead, we continue to call on parishioners to dream as God dreams and show us new ministries for which we have the gifts that should come to be a part of our ministry of reaching out to our community in love.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
PS: for the curious, the Episcopal stuff from that ecumenical survey is online here: Findings from 2005 Survey and the full text of the ENS article is online here: Ecumenical Study Shows Why Congregations Grow.