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For The CRG Created For The CRG
Five Things to Know about Assessments

Assessment tools are used in congregational planning. Such tools are helpful in strategic planning, formation of new programs, improvement of existing projects and more.

There are internal assessment tools and external assessment tools. Internal tools help you learn about your congregation, its members, staff and other constituents who are part of your congregation. External tools help you learn more about your neighborhood and the community around you.

Here are five things to keep in mind when thinking about using assessment tools.


  1. Surveys that you create yourself are not typically reliable. You often receive opinions rather than good data. Plus, surveys that you create yourself do not typically have additional data sets to which you can compare the information you gather. So, I do not recommend surveys that you create. 

  2. Look for tools that have data sets that you can use as comparisons to the information you gather. This is especially true for internal assessments. 

  3. Tools that measure strengths are helpful because you can connect the data to your congregation’s capacity and passion. Assessments that focus on problems or weaknesses can be dispiriting. It is typically more productive to fortify strengths than to try to fix weaknesses. 

  4. It is natural to feel overwhelmed when you receive information from assessments. Don’t try to interpret all of it at once. Start with the data that most closely relates to your original reason for using the assessment tool. Go back to your original questions. Set your original questions alongside the data. What behaviors come to mind? What action steps get generated? In other words, allow yourself only so much time figuring out the data. Go with what generates the most energy and discern what actions, however small, might be first steps. 

  5. Assessment tools should help conversation along. They are not the lasts word. The conversation you have about the results of the assessment is more important than the data. You know the tool is helping you when it leads you to a really good face-to-face conversation. 

     

For The CRG Created For The CRG
Congregational Resources during COVID-19

During the rapidly evolving pandemic, please know that your congregation is not alone. We offer this short list of resources that you might continue your work faithfully and safely.

Looking for different resources? Get information that meets your needs by connecting with us at info@thecrg.org or click Chat with an Expert at the bottom of this page.

Resource List for Online Church

This succinct guide quickly connects leaders to information on a variety of topics: COVID-19 processes and checklists, streaming software and equipment, faith formation, online giving and recorded webinars.

Concerning COVID-19

The Episcopal Church provides guidelines for compassionate Christians, instructions for live streaming and mass messaging, plus creative worship and faith formation resources.

Coronavirus Resources for the Church

This Wheaton College resource center offers a congregational planning manual (also available in Spanish), a free weekly webinar to prepare congregations for the coronavirus, a free online summit starting March 26, as well as tip sheets and links to top resources.

How to Lead Calmly in a Global Outbreak

In this article, experienced pastors George Mason and Mark Wingfield provide a pep-talk for faith leaders to lead calmly in a time of crisis.

Q&A: How to care for the elderly without putting them at risk of coronavirus

In this article, the chief medical officer at AARP offers advice for common COVID questions and how to support elderly loved ones.

Virtual Shabbat Box

Create a virtual shabbat with short meditations and readings. Instead of a physical group gathering, engage the senses through rituals that heal the body, mind, and spirit.

Resources for Community- and Faith-Based Leaders

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers official information for emergency planning and action steps, verified information about the virus, cleaning and disinfecting practices, and important organizational practices.

Three Big Communication Mistakes Organizations are Making During the COVID-19 Crisis

Communications leader Kem Meyer offers advice to organizations about communications during the pandemic.

 

For The CRG Created For The CRG
4 Steps to Free Community Data

In the last few years there’s been a surge of congregations interested in their communities. Nearly 10% of all Center for Congregations calls include some type of community involvement. For many congregations, the first step is to gather data about the area.

The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) provides the ARDA Community Profile Builder, a free demographic data tool for clergy and lay leaders to learn about people and assets in their communities. This unique tool allows users to view the many characteristics of their communities by searching by ZIP code or local address.

How to Use the Community Profile Builder

 


  1. Go to this web address: http://www.thearda.com/demographicMap/ and enter your ZIP code, city and state, or address in the box at the top of the page and click “Go.” After clicking “Go,” the map will take you to your community and show you all congregations in the area.

  2. Enter the radius (in miles) that you would like the online tool to include. One option is to think of driving distance. How far do people typically travel to attend your congregation?

  3. Click on the map to set the center point for the radius you selected. A dashed circle will appear showing you the areas from which the tool will draw its data.

  4. Click the “Profile” button. This will generate your report for the area you selected.

The generated report can include eight different community metrics from religion and housing to income level and ethnicity. It can even include population projections.

Using the Data

This data can help your congregation consider community needs before investing your resources. As an example, in the report you just created look at the Gender/Age tab. A growing number of children could mean an opportunity for children’s programming or a daycare. On the other hand, if there are no young adults nearby, you could make a strategic decision to focus your efforts elsewhere. You might even consider a new building location based on community factors.Want to start learning about your community based on data and not conjecture? Go to http://www.thearda.com/demographicMap/ to get started!

ARDA’s Community Profile Builder is completely free thanks to generous support from the Lilly Endowment and others. The ARDA, which is housed at Pennsylvania State University and has been online since 1998, has more than 16 million pages of content, from profiles of hundreds of past and present religious groups in America to denominational reports and survey findings. Thanks to ARDA Assistant Director Andrew Whitehead for providing this information.

Books
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book Updated
Protégé: Developing Your Next Generation of Church Leaders
This five-part resource equips congregations with the tools and information needed to find and nurture leaders for the next generation and beyond.
book Updated
Preparing to Build: Practical Tips and Experienced Advice to Prepare Your Church for a Building Program
This comprehensive book takes readers through the complete building process from analysis to land acquisition to working with architects.
book Updated
Practicing Witness: A Missional Vision of Christian Practices
This concise book offers a history and definition of missional theology, focusing on practice and context.
Articles
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article
Resources for a Church that Wants to Fight for Black Lives
This guide helps congregations educate themselves about systemic racism and move toward racial justice.
article
Congregation-Based Community Organizing: Building Just Communities
This short booklet gives an overview of congregation-based community organizing (CBCO) and basic steps to join justice movements.
article
4 VBS Strategies for This Summer
This booklet offers strategies to adjust your summer programming due to COVID-19.
Web Resources
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web resource New
Teaching Tolerance
This resource hub helps students K-12 to learn about diversity and social justice issues.
web resource
Christians and Racial Justice: A Discussion Guide
This four-part guide educates about the original sin of America - racism - and invites congregations to reflect. Then it encourages discussion about the church’ s work in racial reconciliation.
web resource
The Work Of The People
This media library provides artistic visuals and creative short films that declare scriptural truth.
Organizations
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Faith in Action
This national faith-based organization mobilizes diverse faith leaders to advocate for justice.
organization
Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective
BEAM provides emotional health care, resources, and healing for Black communities.
organization
Sojourners
These thought leaders advocate for faith-based social justice. They create thought-provoking content for congregations to engage in evolving social justice issues.
Media
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media
10 Ways to Appropriately Respond to Racially-Fueled Events
This workshop shares 10 ways faith leaders can process and respond to racially fueled violence like police shootings.
media
The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church's Complicity in Racism
This book and accompanying DVD calls for honest reflection and urgent steps to undo racist systems within the church.
media
How to Preach a Dangerous Sermon
In this webinar Dr. Frank Thomas shares how to preach and promote justice with moral imagination.
Periodicals
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periodical
Lifelong Faith Journal
The Life Long Faith Journal is an online free magazine available in PDF format that covers a wide range of topics, such as: faith formation in a missional age, cultivating a community of practice, the emerging media and the gospel, church leaders and tech visionaries, hybrid networking, drawing children to the center of congregational life, faith formation in small congregations, less talk-more action, infant faith formation and doing children’ s ministry differently.
periodical
Generations
In this bi-monthly online magazine issue of Net Results, readers will find a number of related themes around the topic of Generations.
periodical
RELEVANT Magazine
Since 2002, RELEVANT Media Group has published RELEVANT magazine, intended to speak to Christians in their 20s and 30s about how God is relevant to every aspect of culture.
Events
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event
Rural Ministry Conference
This conference focuses on educating and empowering prospective and current clergy, for ministry and in general, at rural congregations.
event
Creating a Culture of Renewal
This series of education events hosted by Rebekah Simon-Peter equips participants to lead congregational change.
event
Wild Goose Festival
This event is part outdoor music festival, part retreat, and part justice conference. It brings speakers and performers from across the theological spectrum, and hosts interactive workshops.
Software
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software
WeShare: Online Giving for Churches and Other Community Organizations
This company makes online donation software that can be used with computers, tablets, and smartphones, and through credit cards, debit cards, or electronic transfer of funds.
software
SecureGive
This customizable giving platform provides many giving and reporting options for large congregations.
software
Servant Keeper
This Servant PC management software offers a low-cost and straightforward interface to track giving and attendance, create custom reports, and communicate with members.
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