A faith action audit
in a Devon Town
Kit Harbottle, Methodist Ecumenical officer for Pymouth and Exeter District, writes:
Tavistock Area Christians Together followed the example of larger towns in doing a faith action audit. A booklet summarising the results is being used to strengthen the already good relationship between local churches and public bodies.
Tavistock is a fairly prosperous market town of about 12,000 on the western edge of Dartmoor, 15 miles from Plymouth. TACT links 8 denominational and independent churches in the town, and, through the Deanery and Circuit, a number of Anglican and Methodist village churches.
The audit, run by a volunteer with relevant experience, collected information by an online survey filled in by a church leader or administrator. After some telephone chasing and coaching, the response rate was high, though some figures were admitted guestimates. A separate survey went to leaders of 7 joint projects (eg Street Pastors), asking about their volunteers, funding etc. These got more robust results as information was already being collected. The analysis was circulated to contributors and presented to church leaders, who then developed it for publication.
The questions were bespoke, inspired by city audits, but aiming to work for rural churches, and to reflect local public sector priorities. For example, the use of church buildings by outside groups was measured because they are key assets for village life. Tourism is important to the local economy so the heritage role of historic churches and the volunteer time to keep them open was covered. While the total input to work with children and young people proved impressive, churches also acted as a focus for bringing all ages together, eg through hosting arts events.
Link to Tavistock Area Christians Together website
Link to the faith audit PDF booklet