Being More Welcoming
A Story Using Ratio Decision Making
Here is a fictitious story about two congregations to give an illustration of making decisions using ratios. The figures in the ratios are derived from the membership data the congregations collect.
Both the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church of A and the UU Church of B have had flat membership in their congregations of about 500, with volunteer help rather than paid membership staff for the membership and visitor functions. Members in both churches believe the problem is that they are not welcoming enough, and have encouraged the membership committee, who is already engaged in a large variety of activities, to step up welcome efforts with more (or more enthusiastic) door greeters, "pew buddies," visitor orientations, welcome tables, welcome corners, special cups, in-service introductions, roving after-service "welcomers," welcome packets, free snacks, calls and postcards after visits, and a host of other ideas that will bring people back.
The UU Church of A gathers the membership process data and discovers that compared to other churches of like size, they have a very low return of visitors. They survey "one-time" visitors and discover they indeed did not feel welcome, and focus their efforts on changing this by implementing a number of the suggestions.
The UU Church of B finds the opposite: they have a very high percentage of return first-time visitors, but a very low number of visitors compared to other congregations. The data suggests this church's resources are better spent attracting more visitors than doing more things to make those who are coming feel even more welcome. They focus their efforts on ways to bring more visitors in the door.
Let's look at another example of using ratios to make decisions.