By The Numbers: but are we growing?
it’s Friday! Time to snack on data. I’ve been deluged with the question — But are we growing?!
Now, dear ones, you know that there are many indicators to growth. Impact is really the growth I’m most interested in. We’re working at fine tuning some data collection at the UUA to better measure impact. Until then, we classically measure by membership.
Most other traditions count Average Sunday Attendance, but for us that’s still soft data. Why? Because we’re still getting the hang of it. About ten years ago Religious Education Enrollment was also soft. Today, it’s much more reliable. In a couple years I think the majority of our congregations will be sending a solid count of everyone in the building on Sunday (or your other main day of all-gathered worship–whatever worship means to your community.)
So, are we growing?
Don’t get distracted with the squiggly line – On a larger scale it looks like a flat line growing by 1% over 15 years.
Interesting fact — Currently we have 1043 active congregations world-wide. 2% of our member congregation and 2% of our adult membership are abroad.
This represents active congregations for the year indicated belonging to US regions and CLF.
Religious Education is dropping significantly. And this is a ministry we are known to do well. Your Congregational Life staff and the Liberal Religious Educators Association are alarmed, too and trying to figure out what this means for us. When I was with my research counterparts in August we were all wringing our hands about the decline in children and youth. It’s everywhere.
The yearbook with the above data only comes out every-so-often. This is the most current data we have available.
I see opportunity. Many folks are leaving main-line Protestant traditions because of their behind-the-times stance on gay marriage and other liberal issues. We’ve got that. In spades. My question is how welcoming will we be to folks coming from other religions who don’t want to leave all their religious language and practices at the door? Will we make room? Will we be open to be transformed ourselves by expanded community and increased diversity in beliefs? May we make it so!
Rev. Tandi Rogers spends about an eighth of her job researching and analyzing data on behalf of the UUA Board, Leadership Council, and Congregational Life staff. She also serves on the Faith Communities Today interfaith consortium of religious data geeks.