|Organization Name:||Ambrose University|
|Project Name:||Flourishing Congregations Institute Research – National Survey Phase|
|Purpose of Investment:||To conduct national research of over 3000 paid staff, board members, ministry leaders, and attendees from Catholic, mainline and conservative evangelical churches regarding the qualities that make for a thriving congregation.|
Many of the 30,000 Catholic, mainline Protestant, and conservative Protestant churches across Canada are struggling to survive or thrive. This project aims to conduct a national survey with flourishing congregations, with the goal of helping churches be relevant and flourish.
The Flourishing Congregations Institute and its research team from Ambrose University (Calgary, Alberta) and University of Saskatchewan is leading an innovative research project – the first of its kind in Canada – to identify what contributes to flourishing churches in Canada. During this past year the research team conducted interviews and focus groups with more than 100 church leaders of flourishing congregations in five Canadian regions, with initial findings presented in academic and church/denominational settings. A book summarizing early research was also published: A Preliminary Look at Flourishing Congregations in Canada: What Church Leaders are Saying.
This project is to support the next phase of research – a national survey of more than 1000 Catholic, 1000 mainline Protestant, and 1000 conservative Protestant congregation paid staff, board members, ministry leaders, and attenders. Grant funds will underwrite the November 2017 to November 2018 costs for (a) creating/testing the survey and recruitment of participants, (b) carrying out the survey, (c) sharing survey findings in written and presentation forms, and (d) hosting 250 church leaders at Ambrose University to present and discuss the survey results. The two guiding research questions are: (1) How do the perceptions of pastors, board members, ministry leaders, and attenders compare against the elements of the flourishing congregations construct (13 dimensions developed from 2016 interviews)? (2) What variables most strongly correlate with one another in flourishing churches? Survey findings will also be used to aid with subsequent research phases, including in-depth case studies of congregations, interviews and focus groups with lay leaders.
This research is timely because Canadian church leaders tend to turn to the United States for answers in the absence of Canadian data and application; however, there is an increasing desire for Canadian-specific data and solutions given Canada’s different historical, cultural, and religious context.
The eventual impact of this research project will be significant. Canadian congregations – Catholic, mainline Protestant, and conservative Protestant – struggling to flourish will be directly impacted by the discoveries and tradition-specific best practices to arise from this survey research. This research will help to encourage and shape local churches to minister more effectively and imaginatively. In turn, it is expected that churches will more positively engage with and impact their surrounding communities.
- Gather survey data from at least 1000 Catholic, 1000 mainline Protestant, and 1000 conservative Protestant congregation paid staff, board members, ministry leaders, and attendees.
- Present research findings with 4 blog posts (750 words each), 2 articles (30 pages each), and 3 public presentations with church leaders.
- Host up to 250 church leaders from across Canada for a free daylong event, to share key research discoveries, discuss practical implications for congregational life, and network with one another.