In the October Parish Notes, we started to share the results of the Ends (Goals) Survey you completed in March. The analysis each month is based on the survey discussions we have at our church board meetings. The graphs and the summary statistics were generated by board member Suzanne Rude. This was a very substantial effort. Thank you, Suzanne!
This month we look at the results for our second end, which states: “Congregants give and receive care and support in times of joy, sorrow, and transition.” One of the ways to understand how well we are doing with this end, was to ask: “Over the past year, how frequently have you received care and support from the congregation?” About 1/3 of you responded “Sometimes” or “Often.” (Often – 8%, Sometimes – 24%, Rarely – 29%, Never – 40%).
When the question was turned around to ask “Over the last year, how frequently have YOU offered care and support to another congregant?” about 60% of you indicated that you had offered care at least sometimes (Very Often/Often – 13%, 45% – Sometimes, Rarely – 24%, Never – 18%).
The results indicate that, on average, for every congregant who receives care and support there are two congregants who offer that support. This is in line with our expectation that a person in need will benefit from a network of people helping out. But what about the quality of the support that was offered? To approximate an answer, the survey asked: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how well did the care and support meet your expectations?” The graph below shows the results.
The average response was 7.0 while half of you rated your experience as 8 or above and a quarter at 9 or above. As expected, members averaged higher (7.5) than friends (6.3) and visitors/other (5.3). A flag came up when the data were analyzed by age. Those 45 years or younger averaged only 5.6, compared with 7.1 for those older than 65, and 7.7 for those between 45 and 64. Only 11 percent of survey participants identified as 45 years or younger, but the board agrees that we need to pay attention to our younger adults.
The survey also asked: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how easy is it to ask for care and support from the congregation?” The average was 6.2, with half of you responding with a 7 or above and a quarter with an 8 or above. The spread of responses are shown in our second chart:
The biggest flag was raised when the data were analyzed by years of church affiliation. Those of you with 11-25 year of church affiliation felt it was noticeably easier to ask for care and support (7.4) than those of you with more than 25 years of church affiliation (5.4). Congregants with 0-10 years averaged 6.3.
What makes it hard to ask for help, especially for those of you with the longest years of church involvement? Do others make it hard? Does our culture make it difficult to ask for help? What can we all do to make it easier to invite help when care and support could be useful?
Throughout October, our Sunday services highlighted the various ways we can be there for each other. Our newly printed church directory includes three pages on “Who Do I Contact For…?” Under the “Healing and Helping” header, you can find out about who to reach out to for meals, transportation, special projects, or pastoral care. You can see what support groups we are offering or how to get involved in a covenant group.
If there are specific obstacles or challenges that you have experienced asking for help or offering help, please let me know. My hope is that we will do better next year though the board concurs that we are doing okay in this area of our shared ministry. Thank you to all who have stepped up to be a part of our network of care and support. And thank you to those who have been willing to risk asking for help. I know that can be hard to do, especially when you are already feeling vulnerable.
With love and affection,