As church leaders, it is important to know the social and demographic characteristics of our local communities. Diving into demographic data will help give an understanding of what is occurring in your community. You can understand if your community is growing, stagnate, or declining. It can help you understand if the people in your community are financially sound or are struggling. It will help you understand the data for your community, yet demographics alone will not help.
The next step in this process is interpreting the demographics. When you understand the emotional and physical needs of your community, you will be able to craft your message and ministries to meet those needs. You will be more effective in reaching people and helping them grow in their faith when you make a connection with their emotional and physical needs.
If your community has a high population of single college students and a significantly low population of married couples with grown children, you will guide the ministry a different direction, because the needs of a single college student differ greatly from the needs of a married couple with grown children. If you assess that your neighborhood has a higher population of lower income people, your ministry will look different than that of a higher income community; both income levels have different needs.
Community facts: www.factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml
Psychographics (lifestyles, values): www.neilsen.com/us
Demographics of Episcopal Churches
The Episcopal Church collects data from annual Parochial Reports. Through this data, we can see trends in membership, average worship attendance, and financial giving. This gives us insight into the strength of a congregation and/or diocese and whether current patterns indicate growth, decline, or stability.
The following is provided by episcopalchurch.org:
"By following the instructions below, you can display and print two charts and a community demographic profile. The two charts track membership, participation, and giving over the most recently available eleven years for your congregation and your diocese. These data are from annual Parochial Reports. The community demographic profile will give you a demographic overview of the area within a three-mile radius of your congregation’s physical location. (For guides to understanding the information provided in the profiles, please see Mosaic Descriptions)."
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NOTE: The charts and profiles are in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader software installed, or if you have problems opening the chart, please click on the graphic to download it.