Congregational Survey Results 2016

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1 Congregational Survey Results

2 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Making Steady Progress Toward Our Mission Over the past four years, UUCA has undergone a significant period of transition with three different Senior Ministers leading the church. In August 2012, Reverend Michael McGee retired. Reverend David Keyes served as Interim Minister from August 2012 through June In June 2014, Reverend Aaron McEmrys was unanimously elected as Senior Minister. The Spring 2016 Survey, initiated by the Strategic Planning Committee, is an attempt to capture a snapshot in time of the state of our congregation. Beyond traditional outcome measures such as financials or church attendance, a survey is an excellent way to measure the health of the church. A survey of congregants, when done properly, can measure the soul of the church how satisfied we are with the various aspects of the church, our levels of engagement [see Appendix for definition] in achieving our mission, what values we hold dear, and the levels of engagement of different groups in the church. Perhaps the most valuable asset a survey can provide, however, is the ability to track changes in opinions and attitudes over time. Fortunately, in 2013, the Ministerial Search Committee established a baseline of questions that make comparisons possible year to year. This provides a new level of insight into where we ve been and a peek into where we might be going. For all these reasons, the Spring 2016 survey can serve as an indispensible tool for reflecting on our progress during these transition years, as well as assisting in our strategic planning implementation moving forward. A host of insights emerged from the survey, with three main themes rising to the top. The first, and perhaps the most important, is that we are making steady progress toward achieving church s mission: Connect, grow, and serve. Significantly higher percentages of respondents are agreeing that they feel welcomed, are challenged to be their best self, and can turn to someone if they need help as examples. In fact, nine out of the ten questions relating to respondents levels of engagement moved in a positive direction from Not only were they positive, but some indicators increased dramatically, in the double-digit range. The second theme is that different age groups experience varying levels of engagement in the church. Generally, younger people are more engaged than older people in the church. Although all age groups improved in most engagement measures, younger age groups engagement increased more. For example, the percent of 19 to 59-year-olds who strongly agree with the statement, The church has changed my life in some way doubled from 12% in 2013 to 24% in 2016, while the increase for 60+ increased from 19% to 24%. We should celebrate the increased engagement with the younger age groups, as the long-term future of the church depends on it. According to the 2010 Faith 2

3 Communities Today (FACTS) study, churches with a higher percentage of members under 50-years old are more likely to grow in the long run compared to churches with higher percentage over 50-years old. That said, it is still important to assure older members engagement keeps pace with younger members. Right now, members of the 60+ age bracket make up 45% of the congregation, commit larger pledge amounts, and bring a rich sense of history and tradition to our church. The third major theme in the survey was that non-whites responded positively to more engagement items, particularly those related to intercultural competencies. UUCA seeks to be an inclusive community for all ages, genders, sexual orientations, races, ethnicities, income groups, and religious beliefs. Despite our deeply held belief in embracing diversity, the church remains overwhelmingly white. According to the survey, 92% of respondents categorize themselves as white. This survey is our first look into opinions and attitudes of whites and non-whites. If we strive to become a congregation that is welcoming to all, then we must have a way to measure if we are, in fact, welcoming. As indicated in table #2 on page 9, a higher percentage of non-whites than whites were more likely to agree with the statements in the survey that related to inter-cultural competencies. With the statement, I feel welcomed, encouraged, and able to be part of the church community 84% of non-whites agreed, compared to 76% of whites. Non-whites did not score higher on all items, however. For example, for the statement, I have developed close relationships with others at church, 67% of whites agreed compared to 52% of non-whites, a 15% difference. For Through church, I am serving the larger community 55% of whites agreed and 36% of non-whites, a significant 19% difference. Other findings suggest that our spiritual beliefs are quite diverse, but the one we identify with most clearly is Panentheist we are part of the sacred whole. The divine interpenetrates every part of the universe, including us. This belief is followed by Humanist/Atheist, Eastern Contemplative, Abrahamic, and finally, Earth-Centered. Several questions were asked about church leadership and overall, responses were very positive. As indicated in table 7 on page 14, more than three-quarters of respondents feel the church plays an important role in the community, has good leadership, and is well run. Finally, there were negative trends relating to religious education participation. For example, RE is a reason for remaining a member or friend dropped from 39% in 2013 to 27% in While this trend is disheartening, it is important to note that respondents perception of RE at a point in time reflects programmatic changes that may have occurred one or two years earlier. For example, if a family has a negative impression at the beginning of the school year in September, it may drop out and not revisit RE for another one or two years. We are likely to see the effects of changes implemented in the RE program in 2016 by 2017 or

4 Overall, the survey demonstrates that, although we have gone through a challenging transition in the past four years, the work that Reverend Aaron McEmrys began two years ago appears to be taking root and bringing us closer to accomplishing our mission to connect, grow, and serve. 4

5 SURVEY RESULTS OVERVIEW The Strategic Planning Committee conducted a congregational survey from May 3 through June 6, Out of approximately 1,400 congregants in the UUCA church community, 645 congregants responded to the survey. The purpose of the survey was to provide statistically significant, scientifically rigorous data pertaining to key elements the church board has determined to be important in achieving our mission to connect, grow, and serve. We have structured this report into six segments that reflect the construction of the survey. 1. Demographic Profile 2. Participation in Church Activities 3. Level of Engagement The Link to Outcomes & Ends 4. Faith Profile 5. Satisfaction with Worship Service 6. Views on Church Leadership DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE The demographic profile of UUCA is, in many ways, typical of many UU churches. 1 45% of us are over 60 years old and 55% are under 60. The largest age group is 60-69, with 20% of congregants falling into this group. Age of Congregants 45% 55% under 59 years old over 60 years old We are 67% female and 33% male. 62% of us are married and 92% are white. An 1 Because of the large number of respondents to the survey and alignment of quota distribution to reported church census data, there is a high confidence level that survey results are appropriately reflective of our church. 5

6 overwhelming 71% of us have master s degrees or higher, while 95% have at least a bachelor s degree. 65% have household incomes of $100,000 or more. 20% have household incomes of $200,000 or more. Gender 67% 33% Male Female Income 20% 45% 35% Under $100k $100-$200k Over $200k Some interesting demographic differences emerge among age groups, which tend to track with national trends. For example, while 95% of people over 50 indicate their ethnicity as white, only 83% of people under 50 years old indicate the same, and this number drops to 72% for people under 30. 6

7 When compared with national, regional, and local demographics, UUCA congregants are, like many UU congregations, more white, more educated, and have higher incomes. While income and education tend to more closely reflect the local community, ethnicity is less representative, as the percentage of white congregants is much higher for UUCA compared to the local community. 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0% UUCAVA Arlington, VA Demographics DC Metro Area National Average 2010 U.S. Census Data White (not Hispanic or Latino) Bachelor's degree or higher Income over $100K PARTICIPATION IN CHURCH ACTIVITIES All youth and adults associated with UUCA were encouraged to take the survey, regardless of their official status with the congregation. 67% of survey respondents were Members, 18% Friends, and the remaining 14% fall into the category of Inquiring Friends, Newcomers, and Youth (14-17 years of age). 46% of respondents come to Sunday worship service 3 or 4 times per month. 29% of respondents participate in religious education, an 8% decrease from the 2013 survey where 37% did. The percentage of people who participate in church activities outside of Sunday worship service stayed about the same compared to %. If you are older and white, you are more likely to participate in activities outside of Sunday worship service. 52% of respondents have been associated with the congregation for less than 10 years (a drop from 56% in 2013) and 36% for less than 5 years (compared to 39% in 2013). The largest drop was 3 to 5 years, which went from 16% to 13%. The largest increase was for those who have been going years, which increased from 7% to 11%. It is difficult to say whether these changes in tenure are good news or bad news. New 7

8 people are coming in all the time and people are moving from one category to another. After a few years of surveys, we re more likely to see meaningful trends. One of the more surprising findings in the survey was the level of participation in livestreaming and recorded viewing of Sunday worship. It turns out that 58% of respondents viewed a Sunday worship service sermon either live-streamed or recorded. Another surprise is that the percentage of those over age 60 who have viewed an electronic version of Sunday services is slightly higher than the average 60%. ENGAGEMENT THE LINK TO KEY OUTCOMES Engagement is a quantitative construct that defines how we are doing in terms of accomplishing our mission. A detailed explanation of engagement is located in the Appendix. The bottom line is good news. The survey shows an overwhelming improvement in congregational engagement in the past two years. Nine out of ten items increased, and three items increased by double digits. I have developed close relationships with others at church increased 18%. The church challenges me to be my best self increased 13%. At church, I am serving other people in the congregation increased 11%. Table 1: Change in Engagement Levels since 2013 Mission Statement item % Agree 2013 % Agree 2016 % Increase/ Decrease CONNECT I am likely to recommend UUCA to someone I know who is not a member 79% 82% +4% I have developed close relationships with others at church 57% 67% +18% I feel welcomed, encouraged, and able to be part of the church community 76% 79% +4% I look forward to going to church most Sundays 70% 68% -3% 8

9 GROW At church, there is someone I can turn to if I need help The church has changed my life in some way The church challenges me to be my best self 55% 60% +9% 69% 74% +7% 64% 72% +13% I have found ways to grow spiritually and personally at church 64% 66% +3% SERVE Through church, I am serving the larger community 54% 53% -2% At church, I am serving other people in the congregation 46% 51% +11% INTER- CULTURAL COMPETENCY I can bring my full self to church NA 66% NA People at church are curious about who I am and what I can bring to the community NA 44% NA The church helps me be more aware and selfreflective about my belief system and cultural lens NA 78% NA Note that we are measuring the percentage increase or decrease between 2013 and 2016, instead of the percentage point change. For example, going from 57% to 67% is a 10-percentage point change, but an 18% increase. UUCA seeks to be an inclusive community for all ages, genders, sexual orientations, races, income groups and religious beliefs. This next chart compares engagement levels of whites and non-whites. In eight out of the thirteen items, non-whites score higher than whites. It is particularly interesting that for the three inter-cultural competency items, non-whites scored higher in each one. 9

10 Table 2: Engagement Levels of White and Non-white Mission Statement Item % Agree Non- White (n=50) % Agree White (n=569) CONNECT GROW SERVE INTER- CULTURAL COMPETENCY I am likely to recommend UUCA to someone I know who is not a member I have developed close relationships with others at church I feel welcomed, encouraged, and able to be part of the church community I look forward to going to church most Sundays At church, there is someone I can turn to if I need help The church has changed my life in some way The church challenges me to be my best self I have found ways to grow spiritually and personally at church Through church, I am serving the larger community At church, I am serving other people in the congregation I feel I can bring my full self to church 90% 82% 52% 67% 84% 78% 72% 68% 70% 60% 70% 75% 76% 72% 64% 68% 36% 55% 48% 51% 74% 67% People at church are curious about who I am and what I can bring to the community 54% 43% 10

11 The church helps me be more aware and self-reflective about my belief system and cultural lens 80% 79% When comparing three different age groups, it appears that the age cohort, although a very small sample (n=17) is by far the most engaged, followed by the (n=332) age cohort. Those over 60 years old (n=284) are the least engaged. From this snapshot in time, it is not clear whether people simply become less engaged over time as a natural progression, or that these results are independent of aging. We can tell by looking at the 2013 results that generally, younger people have become more engaged in the church over the last two years at a higher level than older people. Nine out of the ten engagement items increase for year olds from 2013 to 2016, while for 60+, three went up, four stayed the same, Table 3: Engagement Levels by Age Mission Statement item % Agree % Agree % Agree 60+ CONNECT GROW I am likely to recommend UUCA to someone I know who is not a member I have developed close relationships with others at church I feel welcomed, encouraged, and able to be part of the church community I look forward to going to church most Sundays At church, there is someone I can turn to if I need help The church has changed my life in some way 88% 86% 77% 77% 54% 70% 88% 78% 77% 68% 71% 63% 88% 60% 59% 88% 76% 71% 11

12 SERVE The church challenges me to be my best self I have found ways to grow spiritually and personally at church Through church, I am serving the larger community At church, I am serving other people in the congregation 77% 77% 66% 88% 65% 67% 77% 49% 58% 53% 49% 53% INTER- CULTURAL COMPETENCY I feel I can bring my full self to church 82% 72% 58% People at church are curious about who I am and what I can bring to the community The church helps me be more aware and self-reflective about my belief system and cultural lens 77% 47% 37% 82% 82% 74% We want people to feel good about the church, and we want to know the reasons people remain with UUCA. To understand why, we included the question, What are your most important reasons for remaining a member/friend of the UUCA church? The following are the top three reasons: Table 4: Reasons for Remaining with Church Most important reasons for remaining a friend/member of the UUCA church Desire to be with people in a community who shares my values 76% 79% Desire for a religious/spiritual community 72% 72% Quality of worship services 58% 59% The most dramatic drop in reasons for remaining a friend/member is Religious Education program for my children which dropped from 39% to 27%. 12

13 There also appears to be significant differences on views to this question based on racial identity. Specifically, while 44% of whites chose affiliation with one or more groups in the church, only 29% of non-whites chose that. Another difference was Desire for transformational engagement and inspiration, which was 45% for nonwhites and 34% for whites. There were very big differences by age for the question affiliation with one or more groups in the church where 58% of 60+ said yes and only 31% of said yes. The reason for remaining with the church that demonstrated the largest increase was, affiliation with one or more groups within the church, which is now at 42% (compared to 32% in 2013). This may be due to the popularity of Reverend Aaron s initiative to focus on covenant groups, which have received a dramatic rise in attendance from under 100 participants in 2013 to more than 300 in OUR FAITH PROFILE Unitarian Universalism is characterized by diverse spiritual beliefs that span a broad range of faith traditions and identities. For the 2016 survey, after careful consideration, we revised our faith profile categories to five broad groupings. This number is down from an unwieldy 18 groups in the 2013 survey. While we lose the ability to compare to our 2013 survey, going forward we will have more meaningful results for comparison purposes. For the survey, people were allowed to choose more than one group and for this reason the results add up to more than 100%. At 34%, the belief we identify with the most is Panentheist - we are part of the sacred whole. The divine interpenetrates every part of the universe, including us. This was closely followed by Humanist/Atheist at 31%, and Eastern Contemplative at 27%. There were slight differences by age with these categories, notably, younger people (19-59) were more likely to identify with Eastern Contemplative 31%, compared to older people (60+)-- 22%. Also, people in their 30 s were least likely to identify with Abrahamic. 13

14 Table 5: UUCA s Faith Profile Faith Profile This describes my faith (% of agree and strongly agree responses combined) Panentheist We are part of the sacred whole. The divine interpenetrates every part of the universe, including us 34% Humanist/Atheist Concepts of divinity do not resonate 31% Eastern Contemplative Fulfillment lies in waking up, seeing clearly, and letting go. (Buddhist, Hindu, Taoism) 27% Abrahamic Traditions of Judaism, teachings of Islam, ministry of Jesus 22% Earth-Centered The natural world is sage, mother, healer, and creator 17% SATISFACTION WITH WORSHIP SERVICE Sunday worship service is an important cornerstone of the church experience. This year, we added some questions regarding how people feel about the overall worship experience. The questions were derived from Faith Communities Today (FACTS) survey. The question we used was, To what extent do you agree that you experienced the following during worship service? The table below shows the percent that strongly agree or disagree with this statement. 14

15 Table 6: Experience with Worship Service Experience % Agree Learning 79% Inspiration 76% Sense of Belonging 70% Joy 65% Sense of Wonder/awe 41% Boredom 18% VIEWS ON CHURCH LEADERSHIP Survey participants were asked six general questions about church leadership. Ministerial leadership and lay leadership were not separated for two reasons. First, a vast majority of congregants cannot distinguish or are not concerned about the difference, or may not actually know about the difference. Second, and more importantly, in the new policy governance framework, the results of good leadership, or ends, are derived from a give-and-take between the lay leadership (the board) and the Senior Minister (the executive). Ideally, we want to create an environment of cooperation and avoid individual congregants pointing fingers at specific people in leadership. Generally, the results of these questions on perceptions of leadership are very positive. Table 7: Views of Leadership Statement % Agree The church plays an important role in the 83% community The church has good leadership 75% The church is well run 71% The church has a clear vision, goals, and 64% direction I have a strong sense of excitement about the 51% church s future The church is financially secure 43% There are different viewpoints on church leadership depending on age. Generally, people under 60 tend to be more positive about leadership compared to people over

16 Table 8: Views of Leadership by Age Statement % Agree % Agree 60+ The church plays an important role in 85% 83% the community The church has good leadership 82% 68% The church is well run 78% 64% The church has a clear vision, goals, 69% 58% and direction I have a strong sense of excitement 56% 43% about the church s future The church is financially secure 48% 36% 16

17 APPENDIX What is Engagement and How is It Measured? In the mid-90s, survey researchers at Gallup performed a meta-analysis on thousands of questions asked to millions of employees to determine which questions most strongly correlated to company outcomes like productivity, customer satisfaction, safety, and profitability. After analyzing the outcome data and question response data, they identified 12 questions that explained 85% of the outcome data. Answers to these questions were actually predictive to outcomes. The questions were considered very soft, like someone cares about me as a person yet strongly predictive toward positive hard outcomes. These questions, or items were broadly referred to as engagement or employee engagement. Others went on to define employee engagement as the emotional commitment an employee has to the organization s goals, or discretionary effort. Later, Gallup and others developed customer engagement items, and even spiritual engagement or the questions that positively correlate to outcomes such as giving and church attendance. In 2013, the Ministerial Search Committee sought to build on this concept of engagement by building its own set of core question items. The engagement would have to meet the following three criteria: 1) Alignment with UUCA s three main mission components (connect, grow, and serve), 2) Demonstrated strong positive correlation to outcome measures such as church attendance, pledging, and length of membership, and 3) Baseline measurement in order to compare future survey measurements. The idea was to develop a way to measure the level of congregational engagement, and to quantify the Board s ends of connect, grow, and serve. Cognitive testing was performed on different iterations of these items with a sample of congregants in order to assure the wording of the question items were fully understood. The result was a final set of core question items. A Cronbach alpha test was performed on these core items to test for internal consistency. Results were.87 which is considered good to excellent. This means that each item has a high level of reliability. The survey captures the reported experiences of the UUCA congregants through a series of statements. Each of the statements is formulated to align with UUCA s core mission elements: connect, grow, and serve. These 10 statements tell us how engaged we are. The more likely you are to agree with these statements, the more engaged you are. Initial results based on a detailed regression analysis show that the statements have positive and significant associations with church attendance, household pledging, and tenure. What this means is: o The more a person attends church, the more likely they are to be 17

18 engaged o The more a household pledges to the church, the more likely they are to be engaged o The longer person has been a member, the more likely they are to be engaged. These question items are a powerful tool and help the board measure the Senior Minister s ability to meet the church ends. Core Engagement Items I am likely to recommend someone to UUCA who is not a member I have developed close relationships with others at church I feel welcomed, encouraged, and able to be part of the church community I look forward to going to church most Sundays At church, there is someone I can turn to if I need help The church has changed my life in some way The church challenges me to be my best self I have found ways to grow spiritually and personally at church Through church, I am serving the larger community At church, I am serving other people in the congregation Inter-cultural Competencies Added in 2016 I can bring my full self to church People at church are curious about who I am and what I can bring to the community The church helps me be more aware and self-reflective about my belief system and cultural lens Together, these 13 statements form the core of UUCA s congregational engagement. Engagement is a quantitative construct that defines what progress we are making on our mission. 18

19 SURVEY METHODOLOGY The survey s research objective was to get quantitative reading on how the congregation feels about the various aspects of the church. The Strategic Planning Committee initiated and designed the survey under the guidance of Warren Wright. The survey was fielded between May 12 and June 6, The survey consisted of 21 questions in total a combination of multiple choice, Likert scale, and open-ended questions covering six main segments: demographic profile, participation in church activities, level of engagement, faith profile, satisfaction with worship service, and views on leadership. A concerted effort was made to get the highest participation rate possible. A direct mail postcard was sent to everyone s home, an with the survey link was sent to all s addresses on file, the survey was promoted through our website, and announcements were made during Sunday worship service and in our weekly newsletter, Connections. The survey was available online through a link managed by SurveyMonkey. Paper surveys were available as well. Total response levels reached 645 out of a census population of approximately 1,400. This population includes Members, Friends, Inquiring Friends, Newcomers, and youth Validity and Reliability Response levels by age group were monitored to assure respondent levels were consistent with UUCA s census population base on file, in order to assure survey s quota distribution. Sample size was large and diverse enough to perform sub-group analysis (i.e. adults vs. adults 60+). A Chronbach Alpha test was performed to test for internal consistency on core survey items related to congregational engagement. Results were.87, which is considered Good to Excellent. 19

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