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Spotlight on Engagement in the Lone Star State, Part II

by Albert L. Winseman, D. Min.
Religion and Social Trends Editor

This is the second in a three-part case study on congregational engagement at Broadway Church of Christ in Lubbock, Texas. In the spring of 2002, the church assigned Gallup to measure and improve its congregation's level of engagement, using Gallup's SE25 survey.

At a Gallup seminar following the survey's administration, Broadway's senior pastor Dr. Rodney Plunket and other Broadway leaders discovered their congregation lacked a clear sense of direction -- the church and its members were unclear of Broadway's mission. When asked if "The mission or purpose of my congregation makes me feel my participation is important," only 20% of Broadway's members "strongly agreed" by giving a score of "5" on a scale of 1 to 5.

Broadway's leaders left the seminar with the goal of defining the church's mission, developing a set of "vision statements" identifying how the mission would be accomplished, and clarifying Broadway's values. The board of elders formed a task force charged with addressing that goal, and by the time the next SE25 survey was administered to the Broadway congregation in the fall of 2002, the task force was in the process of publicizing the mission and putting it into practice congregation-wide.

According to the fall survey, 24% of Broadway's members strongly agreed that the mission or purpose of their congregation made them feel their participation was important. The engagement mean score had risen to 3.51, and the commitment mean score had risen to 4.37. Broadway was beginning to experience the power of engagement.

Broadway's Engagement Improves

By the spring of 2003, Broadway's engagement scores had improved considerably. While the percentage of actively disengaged members stayed steady at 29%, the percentage of engaged members increased to 36%, up nine percentage points in just one year.

Several changes led to the improvement in congregational engagement. Among the most notable were a revitalization of both the men's and the women's ministries; the offering of Vacation Bible School for the first time in five years; the addition of a minister of Hispanic ministries; a focus on increasing participation in college ministry programs to more than 300 participants; and implementation of a community-wide Independence Day musical program.

Engagement Outcomes at Broadway

The increased percentage of engaged members at Broadway has led to an improvement in the outcomes of giving, life satisfaction, inviting, and serving. (For descriptions of these outcomes, see "Congregational Engagement Outcomes: Serving and Inviting" and "Congregational Engagement Index: Life Satisfaction and Giving" in Related Items.)

Broadway's finance committee reports that giving is significantly up in 2003 over the same period in 2002, ahead of 2003 projections. Thirty-seven percent either agree or strongly agree that they have invited someone to Broadway in the past month, as opposed to 34% in the spring of 2002. And in what may be the most significantly improved outcome, 51% of Broadway members report volunteering two or more hours per week in community service, up from 41% when the survey was first taken in the spring of 2002.

Broadway's focus on increasing engagement among its members seems to be paying off. However, there are still areas in which the church wants and needs to improve -- such as in helping actively disengaged congregation members to become engaged. Broadway is in the process of designing specific strategies in order to address the high percentage of actively disengaged members.

Next week: What's next for Broadway?


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