Diocesan Survey: What we learned about our diocese

The survey of the diocese depicts a people celebrating their local congregations, valuing outreach ministries and youth and young adult ministries, and desiring a bishop who is a powerful preacher, particularly speaking clearly on issues of justice and equity.

Items in italics are comments from respondents, lightly edited in some cases for clarity.

Our respondents found their joys and blessings to be centered in their congregations, with the top five items (for example, positive relationships with local congregants, positive relationships with congregational clergy and staff, innovative and inclusive worship, and congregational outreach programs) rated before any diocesan activities. The congregation is also the focus of their energy, with 95% of respondents active in their congregation, compared with 17% active in the diocese and 10% active in the wider church.

Similarly, the top rated challenges were developing outreach to meet local needs and increasing involvement of children and youth. Ministries with children and youth is also ranked a top opportunity in the diocese. Developing and supporting lay and clergy leadership are important challenges, along with reimagining what it means to follow Jesus today.

Ratings of the item, “Imagining creative new ways to worship” differed from all others, in having a somewhat U-shaped distribution. Most (70%) ranked this item high (1, 2, or 3) with 11% rating it lower (6) than any other challenge. These selected comments illuminate the divide:

All the “creative new ways to worship” are exactly what’s driving me away, and what already cost us so many members.
Considering how our cherished traditions and BCP rubrics actually can be obstacles to incorporating and welcoming unchurched people.

All of the Opportunities rated high, with youth and young adults, sharing the Gospel, diversity and inclusion, church growth and outreach and social justice ministries leading the list. All of these were predominantly ranked 1 (most important).

Using expertise within the congregations to make these goals a reality. There is untapped brilliance within our congregations.
Building communities of radical welcome, rethinking who might be participants in our common life, being willing to try new things, being willing to change in order to proclaim the Gospel more effectively.

About the respondents

We received completed, valid surveys from 547 people–about 4% of the total communicants in the Diocese of Michigan. Of these, approximately 88% were laypeople, about 10% were priests, and about 2% were deacons. Sixty-two percent of respondents were women, while 35% were men. Three transgender people responded to the survey, while 10 people declined to indicate a gender, and one respondent chose “other.” More than 75% percent of respondents were over 55 years old; the average age of respondents was 62 years.

Complete survey results available here