Looking in the mirror can have a sobering effect for some of us – and a celebrative effect for others of us. I looked at a friend sitting across from me in a meeting this week and noticed how much thinner his face was looking since he has lost some weight. I looked in the mirror this morning and the face looking back didn’t tell the same story. Either way, the Bible does talk about looking in the mirror and not forgetting what you see. When talking about congregations, however, that’s a lot harder to do – at least it used to be before having the Congregational Snapshot.
We have long had a lot of information about our congregations. There are end of the year statistics and all sorts of reports that get sent out to clergy and key leaders. But often all of these pieces of information are like different pieces of a puzzle that are scattered around the house -- in drawers, behind dressers, under beds and out in the garage – that never get put together into a coherent picture that brings into focus from a statistical perspective what is going on in the life of a congregation. (Please know that I know that to really know what’s going on you also need to hear the stories of people about their experiences that can’t be quantified or counted!)
Well, no longer! The Congregational Snapshot brings together 19 pieces of information over a 5 year window to allow you to get a better sense of what is going on in your congregation. I am amazed at how often I hear congregational leaders say that they did not know critical information about their congregation. Now, all this public information is available on line on one page that anyone can print off and share with other congregational leaders.
How do you find your Congregational Snapshot? You can (or soon can) find it four different ways.
From the Conference website (www.flumc2.org
) click on Congregational Snapshot
at the very bottom of the page under “Forms and Reports.”
The first time you go to see your Congregational Snapshot, click on the information page and read about the different information there. For example, it explains the significance of trends in the number of children and youth in your congregation. It explains why “POF minus Deaths” is significant. It also explains that pastoral compensation lines are totals representing what the congregation spent in each category for all appointed clergy.
As you look at your Congregational Snapshot, please remember that most of the data there comes from the end of the year statistics and is only as accurate as the data sent into the conference. In looking at some lines, for example the debt line items, we realize that different congregations have interpreted the data being asked for differently.
We hope that this will be helpful in gaining a clearer picture of your congregation – at least by gathering the most significant data about it all on one page.
If you find the CE Blog thought provoking,
even if at times irritatingly so, consider forwarding it to
other leaders in your congregation and encouraging them to
sign up at www.congregationalexcellence.com.
Dr. Jeff Stiggins
The Center for Congregational Excellence