Executive Summary of the
Congregational Assessment Tool (CAT) Results
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church - Park City, Utah - February, 2022
First, we thank you for your participation in this exercise of discovery and learning. We had excellent participation (110) – representing 208% of our most recent average Sunday attendance; representing over 100% of our pre-COIVD average Sunday attendance. With this questionnaire instrument, the threshold for valid and reliable data is 33%. This response enables us to hear from a broad, representative sample of our congregation. In this assessment we also have some conversation partners. Our responses were compared to (benchmarked against) responses from several hundred congregations that have taken the CAT from across the country over the past 18-22 months. This gives us an actual apples-to-apples comparison and perspective on how we are doing as compared with other churches at this moment in history.
What did we learn?
Our strengths and challenges are revealed and explained through the Performance Dashboard and Performance Indices. You assessed our congregation in the following eight areas:
Our experiences and perceptions about Conflict Management and Governance were extraordinarily positive.
Conflict Management measures the degree to which members believe that conflict is appropriately managed and, where possible, resolved. A very small percentage (5%) of the congregation perceives a disturbing amount of conflict. The majority affirm our ability to resolve conflict through mutual effort and perceive a healthy tolerance for differing opinions and beliefs. Conflict is an aspect of every relationship including relationships within the church. The constructive use of conflict often leads to better decisions. The level of conflict in a congregation is a reliable predictor of whether a congregation exhibits vitality. Our scores indicate we deal with differences in ways that are healthy.
Governance measures the degree to which members believe that the decision-making and processes of the church are open to their concerns. Our scores indicate that the congregation positively perceives Vestry leadership. This perception allows us to use our leadership in ways that move the congregation strategically forward, creatively re-thinking how we engage the needs of members as well as the needs of those we are trying to reach in our community. This positive measure is very important during our transition time.
Hospitality, Music & Worship, and Morale were also measured in positive light.
Hospitality is a strong characteristic of ours. First and foremost we report that we are a welcoming community and enriched by those from many different walks of life. We feel our congregation has brought meaning to our lives; that a friendly atmosphere prevails and that we show genuine concern and care for one another in times of need; and we feel prepared to personally welcome guests into worship services. This is an essential attribute for a church that desires growth.
Worship/Music are a primary indicator of congregation vitality, and essential fro growth. While the majority of the congregation experiences our music as outstanding in quality and appropriate in style, the remainder of the worship experience received strong, but mixed reviews. These aspects include the presiding, preaching, pace of the liturgy, ease of participation and panache (aesthetics). These results offer us an opportunity to talk about our worship experiences and where we might focus energy to improve the experience. If we worship seems lackluster to us, then visitors and newcomers will also. Our worship experience is the top driver of our member satisfaction, meaning that it is an important aspect of our communal well-being requiring creative attention.
Morale (the persuasive force of engagement of members in the mission of the church) scores demonstrate that a majority of our members are “on the fence” or hold a “wait and see” attitude. In part, this can be attributed to our transition time (this is related to a characteristic of ours: a clergy-centric church. More on this later.) Our spiritual “work” and prayer as a congregation is to remember that we are, indeed, loved by God. That God has provided and will continue to provide the gifts that we need. We are, indeed, enough. What we have is enough to grow and become a vital church.
Three areas that will require further conversation are:
Readiness for Ministry (how we engage and support our members in the ministry of this congregation). We recognize that ministry to those in our congregation and to those in the world are very important to our identity as a community of faith. Our results demonstrate that members are on the fence, though leaning positive about all aspects of ministry: identifying their call to ministry; prepared to engage in active ministry; supported in their efforts and have opportunities to serve. We learned that readiness for ministry is a high driver of our member Satisfaction. Therefore, this is an area that will require important conversation and action.
Engagement in Education measures the degree to which our congregation understands that Christian formation is a life-long process that prepares us for ministry in the world. Creating more opportunities for Christian education and formation is our third highest priority. While we are motivated toward life-long learning, our scores indicate that we can improve the quality of our programming. During this transition time, investing in our faith formation is an important step forward.
Spiritual Vitality measures the degree to which members believe their faith is central to their lives. Our results reveal that we do recognize that we integrate our spirituality and our faith into the flow of our lives. Yet, by comparative with other congregations, our spiritual vitality is rather low. In part, this represents the nature of our spiritual lives as a theologically progressive congregation. Your faith is more readily expressed through our intellect rather than our emotional experiences. Yet, there is room for us to go deeper spiritually. Furthermore, our spiritual vitality is the only measure that correlates with our financial giving. There is an impact: the average percent of household income given to the church is below the national average for the Episcopal church. Our giving is 1.61% of household income. The national average in the Episcopal church is 2.5% Imagine if we were at the national average what that additional income could mean to our mission and ministry!
What else did we learn?
Our congregation’s culture:
We also learned about our congregation’s climate.
Church climate is measured by two questions: One is member Satisfaction (sense of well-being, peace, lack of discord); and the other is Energy (force of engagement in mission). We learned that compared to other congregations like ourselves, Satisfaction and Energy are Average (or typical of most congregations across the U.S.). In both cases, a large percentage of our members were “on the fence” about Satisfaction and Energy. We are satisfied by some things and dissatisfied by others; we are energized by some things and not by others. Some of this is related to being a church in a clergy transition. It will be important to discuss these matters as a congregation so that we can learn ways to improve both measures over time. These scores indicate that we are a “transitional” church. This means that we have a number of strengths as indicated above in the explanation of our Performance Indices, yet have strategic work to do. Transition churches are those where a combination of factors has led to an erosion of morale where we can get stuck in unfruitful patterns. Our work is to communally clarify our mission/purpose, engage in spiritual formation, the equipping of leaders for the 21st century church, and to engage in some short-term experimentation to gain fuller flexibility in the ways that we operate as a church. Our goal: lean into our strengths to build for the future. A Transition church requires particular skills and characteristics in their next Rector. Generally, a Rector who has the gifts and skills to motivate and form leaders; someone with “triage” leadership qualities – able to make difficult decisions about the focus of the congregation, helping members know what to let go of or what aspects of church life to help live and die. This kind of leadership requires skills of the entrepreneur and of the chaplain.
In addition, we learned those aspects of our communal life that “drive” our Satisfaction. We learned that we are most satisfied when:
Worship services are exceptional in quality and spiritual content.
Our church does a good job of supporting persons in ministry by reminding them that they are making a difference.
Our drivers of energy: We are most engaged in the life of the church when:
The nature of our drivers reveals another interesting characteristic about our congregation. We are highly focused on our Rector. How we evaluate the work of the Rector is the lens through which we view the entire church. In a clergy-centric church, the Rector must be a person who is comfortable on center stage, is committed to spending his/her reputational capital to develop and support other ministries, and has an ego that is appropriately bounded. Clearly this pattern affects strategy, personal fit, and leadership tasks, all major items on the discernment checklist. In a clergy-centric church where members feel positive about the Rector, almost anything will work, from the standpoint of members feeling positive and energized. In a clergy-centric church where members are less than positive about the Rector, almost nothing will work. Churches become clergy-centric through the historical exercise of leadership of their clergy. Once a church understands this characteristic, they are not necessarily bound by it, but must intentionally discuss the why and how of change. This is an important characteristic to discuss with Rector candidates.
We also learned of our overall congregation’s top priorities.
Of particular interest is the comparative view of top priorities between congregational age groups. Four of the six top priorities are shared across the congregation. This is important. We have distinct unanimity around a particular vision for the future. It is also important to note that our experience of these long months of COVID (as with most congregations across the country) has impacted our “relational fabric.” Our fifth highest priority is to create more opportunities to form meaningful relationships. This tells us that as we are able to gather together again in-person that we will find ways to strengthen the bonds of our relationships. This is important to a Magi church such as ours.
In summary we have learned that we are a congregation with considerable gifts and assets such as hospitality, governance, conflict management. We have a desire to grow/change. And yet, we have some work to do: engagement in learning/formation regarding the characteristics and skills needed in a 21st century church – adaptive leadership and flexibility.
Finally, we are invited to discern what is needed to create stronger communal connection and force of engagement in our mission. In undertaking this important work together, we will do what is necessary to become a healthier and more vibrant congregation for the future. This data clearly helps us identify the characteristics and skills needed in our next Rector. In order to attain our vision for the future (our listed priorities) we must align them with a clergy leader who has a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit, coupled with chaplain skills that will help ease us into news ways of doing things as we grieve the loss of some things that have been familiar/comfortable; a visionary and strategic thinker; and someone who is grounded and will ground us in a deep spiritual life.
Thank you for your participation in this important exercise of self-study and planning for our future. We do look forward to the on-going conversations and work that the CAT results are calling us to.
As you know, we have asked Holy Cow Consulting to help us with a survey to plan for our St Luke’s future. This tool will give us a comprehensive summary of the church and its needs, focusing on a new rector who would best be able to lead us. In order for this survey to be effective, we need everyone in each household, including all family members over the age of 13, to take this assessment for our church community. This survey can be taken online, using the link below. A paper copy of the tool will be available in the office upon request. All surveys are strictly anonymous. Also, an email will come to all members with an email registered at St. Luke’s with the same link that is at the bottom of this letter. Please contact Beckie at the church office if your email has recently changed.
The survey will be available for three weeks, beginning on January 20th and ending on February 11. It will take approximately 30-40 minutes to complete and will need to be performed all at one time. (unless using a paper copy) It is mostly multiple choice with some open-ended questions, specific to our parish. All 86 multiple choice questions need to be answered. There is a “Don’t Know” option with most questions. The last 6 questions are only answered by one person in the household and pertain to household data. This is explained in the survey instructions.
In addition to the 86 questions, there are four open-ended questions, written by the Search Committee. There are also three categories of questions that pertain to critical ability, worship experience, and strategic planning which specifically address our most recent listening group concerns. These questions are very valuable and will guide us in selecting our new rector.
Sound daunting?! Not if you understand how important and useful this information will be in discovering who we are as a church body. This is your chance to share your wisdom and opinions! Remember the Search Committee is always available to answer any questions you might have.
A summary of the survey will be provided to us by Holy Cow Consulting and be available to all members. The data will guide the Search Committee in writing a profile of our Church to be used as a recruitment and marketing tool for the future.
We are grateful to our hardworking, dedicated Search committee and to Peter Munson for his gentle guidance during this process. Thank you ahead of time for your participation in this survey. This is a very important time in our Church, as we find our next leader.