As the game show host of the Family Feud would say, “SURVEY SAYS?!”
This last week the General Convention Office released the information of the 2009 Parochial Reports for each diocese. Here are the numbers for the Episcopal Church in Minnesota:
Our membership for 2009 was reported at 24,049, which was an increase of 243 from our 2008 membership of 23,806. The other measurement number the Church likes to use is Average Sunday Attendance (ASA). Our ASA for 2009 was reported at 7,782, which was a decrease from 2008 of 153 from 7,935.
To begin by stating the obvious, we are growing and yet fewer are attending church as regularly. It may be of interest that this is consistent with recent information from another national survey that reports that, particularly for the younger generation, attending 2+ times a month for them is considered regular attendance.
I have the distinct blessing of being in a different church every Sunday. Sometimes, particularly in our churches in rural areas, there are around a dozen folks in the pews. Other times there are hundreds. Yet numbers aside and with all candor, I have yet to go to a congregation that did not have some level of vibrancy to it. I would also tell you that almost every church, regardless of size, has shared with me their desire to grow.
For me this is key. We are blessed to have incredible faith communities of all sizes. Each has its own strength: faith formation or outreach or great liturgy. The challenge is letting others know of the best unintentionally kept secret in their town or neighborhood – The Episcopal Church!
In the days ahead we will be exploring a variety of avenues in which we can work together on effective ways to intentionally invite and welcome others to the treasure we have in the Episcopal Church in Minnesota!