Proposed Church Census
A steering group of denominational Statistics and Research, Communication and other officers has been meeting since Autumn 2015. Invited and facillitated by the Church of England's Head of Research and Statistics, Dr Bev Botting, the group has putting together a proposal for a national church census in 2016.
The work progressed to a draft dedicated website, a logo, and a registration process for the national networks of churches. The aim of the proposed census was summarised as 'Information. Celebration. Action'.
The plan was to gather information in October when some denominations collect statistics anyway, and to supplement that with additional questions about working together, social engagement, volunteer hours etc. The hope was to collate information from across the churches, celebrate what the churches are doing, and facilitate further action together.
The information was to be gathered electronically or on paper, in the form of a congregational questionnaire and collected individual personal profiles using an App. The tools were to be tested with a number of pilot churches prepared to report on how the questionnaires and technology worked in practice. The pilot churches were from different denominations, north and south, urban and rural.
However, shortly before the pilot churches could test the system, some major denominations did not sign up to the census. The reasons were various, but as David Cornick reported to CTE member churches, 'too much remained to be done in too short a time’. Without the participation of those major denominations (including the Church of England itself) the data produced would not have been useful enough to justify the exercise. However, a great deal of good work has been done and some excellent tools created. The steering group will be meeting again to consider how best to proceed, and how that work can be creatively deployed to help churches gather data to inform and guide their mission strategies.
NOTE: A Church Times article about the cancellation of the proposed census refers to the 'CTE steering group'. This is not accurate as the steering group is hosted by the Church of England. For clarification, CTE has had a member of staff on the steering group and web hosted the registration process of denominations to assist the process. The initiative for the census came from the Church of England.
Link to the article in the Church Times