Fredric M Roberts
Why, then, did we eventually put so much effort into our survey? And how useful will the survey results be to you? The need for this kind of survey emerged from our experiences in the initial months of our study. The people whom we got to know best, the most active participants in the congregations, repeatedly asked themselves and us: Why is it always the same group of people who do most of the work in a church? How can the other church members be transformed into active participants in congregational life? Obviously, collecting data on the lived religion of the worshipping community (all who attended Sunday services at least twice a month) would be of enormous interest to the leadership of these churches.
And the survey did, in fact, demonstrate that the commonly quoted figure – ’20 percent of the people in the church do 80 percent of the work’ – can be seriously misleading. It is also too crude a way to think constructively and creatively about the leadership and volunteer dynamics in your church.
Another major reason we conducted a comprehensive survey of the worshipping communities was to examine how the religious beliefs, values and attitudes of the most influential and active members of the congregations related to those of less engaged church members, whom we had far less opportunity to observe. In comparing ‘core’ with ‘non-core’ church members, we found very similar relationships in all our quite varied churches. This suggest that these relationships are relatively stable and the information we gathered can provide insights about key dynamics between core and non-core members in your own church.
From chapter 2 of Be Not Afraid! – building your church on faith and knowledge, published by Alban Institute 2005