Monday, 20 May 2013

A view from the edge

This is the 'headline report' which we are sharing at meetings in the parish and in the deanery for the exercise initial results from which were posted here and here.  It paints a picture consistent with what people having been observing more generally, but, of course, the value of the exercise is limited by my amateur socilogical research design and by the limited size of the sample; it is only a partial look through the door

 During February and March 2013 we asked 70 people to fill in a questionnaire.

 They were all people who have taken one step towards involvement with us – booking a Baptism or Wedding, coming to a Quiet Day, or sending a child to the Youth Group.

 They come mainly from the age group (under 40s) who we do not seem to be able to recruit into church attendance in the way we did a generation or more ago.

 Many are tentative in making a reply – where we asked for a tick or cross to answer a question, each time between one fifth and two fifths left the space blank.

 58% say they believe in God, and 21% say they do not.

 Almost three quarters agree ‘I think there is more to reality than the physical world around us', and 61% agree ‘I believe in something but I’m not sure what it is’.

 63% say they have had some Christian contact in the past year (over 30% each had spoken to a member of the clergy, said prayers at home, or attending at Christmas).

 A quarter of those who had had this Christian contact had also had contact with an alternative spirituality (e.g. 10% of the sample had visiting a clairvoyant and 16% had taking part in tai chi or yoga).

 29% are doing something on Sunday morning which they might not have a generation or more ago (at work, at a dance class, in a football team, or shopping).

 But more than twice as many (63%) are simply at home, where time with family (26%) and housework (19%) and are what is most likely to be occupying them.

 They don’t suggest the church operating at alternative times in the week would be better for them: 45% say our Saturday 4.30 p.m. slot is not good for them; 45% say Sunday at 5.00 p.m. would be good, but 31% say it wouldn’t be.

 They don’t think the church has relevant things to say to them about most moral issues (e.g. 16% do think the church has helpful things to say about gay marriage, but 43% explicitly do not).

 But they do think we may be onto something when we talk about forgiveness (two thirds said this, while 12% explicitly said they didn’t).

 For them, the word God is most likely simply to trigger the words Church, Prayer, Religion and Jesus, and the word Church is most likely simply to trigger the words God, Prayer, Religion, Wedding and Funeral.

 They always say ‘Christening’ not ‘Baptism’, and are much more likely to say ‘Wedding’ rather than ‘Marriage’.

The doorway is in the Casa de Pilatos in Seville.

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