Think of the membership process as a continuous flow, from the time a person first
learns about a particular UU church, to the first visit, to the return and
subsequent visits, decision to become a member, becoming connected and active
in that church, to leaving it through inactivity, moving away, or death. The membership journey, for an
individual or a family, might resemble a diagram of intersecting circles (PDF).
Though every prospective member is slightly different and has
their own timetable and decision-making process, collectively there are ways to
measure the progress of a group through this process:
Why would a church want to collect data like this? Because these numbers can help a
congregation determine where in the membership journey they should focus their
efforts. Using membership data can be very helpful. And when this data is collected and compiled nationally
it can be "normalized," that is to say that it can be converted to a ratio that
can be compared to a standard range, so churches can compare themselves to this
range and determine if they are typical.
This may help them identify where they are not typical, and if
appropriate direct their efforts towards the areas where they would get the
greatest benefit. To use the car example again, cars come
in many different sizes, weights, and fuel tank sizes - but if what you care
about is fuel efficiency, you can easily compare very different cars by looking
at the ratio of "miles per gallon."
These kinds of concepts, collectively referred to as process
improvement, have enabled many industries to make significant improvements to
their operations, and can be applied successfully to any process, in other words
anything with a continuous flow proceeding through several steps.
tools are meant to be indicators, and unusual circumstances can often distort
the results. They are continuing to
be refined, using "real life" data about what can be accomplished in a liberal
For more information contact growthresources @ uua.org.
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations.
Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Tuesday, May 17, 2011.
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