February 16, 2020: Holy Cow Survey News Part II

This is the second in a series of three weekly messages sharing initial, high-level insights from our recent all-parish assessment. All three will be posted with supplemental materials at AllSoulsDC.org/governance.

Last week, we covered who took the assessment and how it works. With that baseline established, what did our survey reveal about our congregation’s perspective and priorities? Broadly speaking, we can divide this into three groups of self-reported lenses through which we evaluate our shared parish life: 

1) Drivers of Satisfaction: Where do we focus when asked how happy we are at church?

Holy Cow categorizes us as highly “clergy-focused.” Describing just 16% of their cohort, this title doesn’t imply that our clergy runs everything, nor that we want them to. It indicates that, in contrast to most other churches, our clergy/rector is our primary focus as we measure satisfaction. What’s more, we also scored higher on this measure than 90% of the Holy Cow cohort.

This high level of focus brings both unique strengths and distinct challenges. In short, while the potential for making changes and growing quickly are both real, so too are the risks of parish anxiety and clergy burnout when so much focus is placed on the perceived performance of one individual. In fact, Holy Cow suggests some unhappy members of clergy-focused churches may indicate dissatisfaction with areas of the church that arguably have little or nothing to do with the clergy.

Our Holy Cow assessment points to our clergy-focused culture as an area that needs further understanding and attention.

2) Drivers of Energy: What do we focus on when assessing our motivation at church?

Common themes from our top-five energy drivers include having a highly-involved and appreciated parish, attending excellent worship services, and a rector who brings out the best in us—all within the context of a complex lifestyle in the nation’s capital. Like our satisfaction drivers, the degree of focus on all of these is either high or very high. So, we should prioritize further assessment, understanding, and action in these areas of our parish life moving forward.                                       

3) Priorities: What are our common goals for the future of All Souls?

Our top goals clearly connect to our current parish life. A high emphasis on reaching new people (and young families in particular) aligns with our new scout troop, exploration of a possible daycare center, and concerns about recent turnover and attendance patterns. Holy Cow also says deficit budgets like ours are a common cause for placing higher-than-average emphasis on financial support, a top concern for a majority of participants.

We also placed higher-than-average emphasis on providing ministries for those living on the margins and improving our own physical facilities. These reflect, respectively, that we are a socially-conscious congregation and that we appreciate our century-old church.

In next week’s installment, we’ll assess how we’re performing against these success metrics, cover other ways in which Holy Cow uses our parish’s responses to describe us, and share efforts already underway to further explore and respond to our Holy Cow results.

The full list of our ranked priorities, as well as our top-five drivers for energy and satisfaction, are available with other supplemental materials at AllSoulsDC.org/governance.
Last Published: February 13, 2020 10:56 AM
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