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August 01, 2006

Comments

Andrew

I am reminded of the statistic which showed that the exports of rum from the caribean increased when more baptist ministers in wales were ordained...

I can see why the correlations you mentioned might be important (and I wholeheartedly agree with the need to embrace change), however I am always reminded that you can do almost anyhing with statistcs!

I will keep an eye out for more information...

Monte

Actually there is a real correlation here. This is not a joke. I suspect that the missing piece is generational change. The reality underlying the indicators in the statistics is that the growing congregations are engaging new generations and younger adults bring with them an increased use of electric instrumentation and web sites.

Andrew

Sorry, the tone of my previous comment may have been a bit flippant. Yes I too see the correlation- I'm just repeating the line I've heard scores of times when I try to use statistics to show the need for change... At the same time, the necessity is to understand the inderlying change, rather than seeing a change of music or presentation style as the answer for church growth. If we fail to grasp the significance of that, then the small changes simply become window dressing and fail to answer a bigger problem

perpetualstudent

I've posted some additional comments on my blog, but I would be interested in seeing this data as it comes up. Keep us updated.

Ryan Bell

Monte, Hollywood must be the exception. I would argue that we have the best worship band in Adventist, bar none (battle of the bands, anyone?) and a really nice website with good interactivity. Still, that's not enough to grow the church, of course.

The work I'm doing with the congregation right now is looking at ourselvles, as a church, in four categories: Reactive - the world is changing, let's pull into ourselves and hide behind our tradition; Developmental - if we do the things we are already doing, but do them better, that will help us be what we're supposed to be (like contemporary worship and better bulletins and signs and brochures and websites, and architechture or even ministry programs); Transitional - no matter how well we do things, the attractional model is simply not going to work, we must listen to what is happening among our people and in the community and ask different questions about being the church.

I'm wondering (and you're the researcher here, so I'm genuinely asking, because I don't know) whether the questions that are often asked of churches are Reactive and Developmental question (to use our categories above). It seems to me that church growth research still assumes as it's basis a church that attracts people to itself due to it's programs, etc.

Monte

Ryan, much of church growth research does look only at internal behaviors. Very few studies look at the external context simply because it is so much more complicated. But, there is perhaps a more fundamental misunderstanding here. The fact that a couple of behaviors correlate to church growth in a survey do not mean that those items alone explain the growth. They are often embedded in a much larger cluster of behaviors that are the "real" set of causitive factors. I would argue that the work of the Holy Spirit is always in the cluster, although there is no way to measure that. And, all studies of this kind have significant percentages of exceptional cases. For example, in FACT 2000, contemporary music was correlated to growth, but NOT in Adventist churches. Cluster analysis is superior data to these single-factor correlations that are all we have at this stage of unpacking the data from the new study. And, it is possible that we will find nothing of great interest by the time we get done with the analysis. That is the risk of my sharing off the top, rough initial items being discussed by researchers. Once the dust settles, the story may have changed a lot. You model is a good one to help sort out the kind of situation that a congregation faces. Beyond church growth research itself, is the larger field of congregational studies that looks at many other dimensions. And a full diagnosis of the situation of a particular church really needs the wider range of congregational studies data as well as a comprehensive, in-depth assessment of the community context/metro context of the church.

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