by Jeffrey Peters – serves as director of business development for Esri, playing a key role in strategic planning and corporate leadership.
The Reverend Kammy Young has seen the empty pews at Sunday morning service. She has read the surveys that show membership in decline. Once-thriving congregations now depend on part-time volunteers to keep their doors open. At a time when the relevancy of religion is in question, she feels a sense of urgency for churches to connect more deeply with their communities.
The challenges faced by Young and the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast are not unique within the Episcopal Church. In fact, they’re not unique to the Episcopal denomination. During the past decade, the percentage of US adults who say they regularly attend religious services has been declining across every denomination and nearly every religion. The central question is how religious institutions might reverse that trend.
Article snapshot: Faith-based organizations facing declining attendance are hoping to reinvent themselves and engage unreached populations with help from technology traditionally used by businesses to find and retain customers.
Young and many of her Episcopal peers have begun to believe that if they develop a deeper understanding of the communities around their churches, they will be able to connect in new ways with the people who live and work there. With that goal in mind, they’re moving to embrace innovative techniques pioneered by businesses around the world.
In the age of digital transformation, the Episcopal Church is using science to find the faithful.
The Old Ways Don’t Work Well Anymore
The old way of operating simply isn’t working anymore, Young says. “We’re no longer an established church that can just sit back, put our sign out front, and wait for people to walk in the door. We need to be engaged in our communities in significant ways in order to connect with people.”
The Reverend Tom Brackett, denominational manager of planting and redevelopment for the Episcopal Church, agrees. Part of the church’s decline, he says, may stem from complacency with the status quo.
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