Second, as is true of virtually every church in the country, we have undergone significant change in the makeup of Covenant during the Covid pandemic, leading to a number of people going to other churches and a number of others finding Covenant a better fit. We wanted to use the Snapshot as a way of getting to know who we are now.
Third, we wanted to use the Snapshot to serve the church family. Several of the questions gave the members of our congregation the chance to ask for help getting plugged into a small group or a ministry, as well as the chance to get a call from a member of our staff.
Diane Shockey spent hours gathering all these requests, which we then gave to our staff for follow-up. As a result, 85 people have been placed in small groups, a number more have been plugged into a ministry, and all 35 of those who requested a pastoral contact have had those connections.
Many interesting things surfaced in the Snapshot. Among other things, we learned about our age and ethnic makeup. We discovered what brought people to the church and what had them stay. We gained greater clarity about what helps us identify with and feel connected to the church family.
In the midst of all the insights, here are two of the most important findings:
First, participation in a small group has a clear, positive impact on a person’s spiritual growth and church connection. When a member of the congregation is in a group, as three-fourths of our church family are, they are more likely to feel connected. They are also more likely to rate themselves higher on loving God, loving God’s people, and loving the world. Brently Jordan has done a great job shepherding this area and Christ-centered relationships will continue to be emphasized as part of our church’s discipleship model in the future.
Second, since our emphasis on living a life of love began in 2020 – coinciding, as it happened, with the start of Covid – the number of those who are finding Covenant because of our reputation in the community has jumped. While we don’t know exactly what that points to, we find that result deeply encouraging. We do seem to be coming to be known in the community for our love. That means each of you, in your own neighborhoods and workplaces and schools, are living out John 13.35: the world will know we are followers of Jesus by the life of love that we live. We are excited to see how God will lead us into the next chapter of this long-term emphasis.
Special thanks go out to two people who provided specialized help in the process. Franki Kung is a member of our Session who teaches industrial-organizational psychology at Purdue. He brought his expertise to bear both in helping us craft the survey and interpret it. Covenant Communications Director Michelle Leichty invested a lot of time creating an online and print version of the survey.
Thank you, Covenant family, for taking part in the Family Snapshot! We hope you will do so next time around. The Elders have expressed how energizing it has been for the Session to interact with such a wonderful breadth of feedback, and how helpful this will be in our work of discerning God’s continuing guidance and activity in and through Covenant.
Your input provides us with valuable information that helps us engage in faithful and effective ministry and become more and more the loving community God intends us to be.