In 2013, under the leadership of Pastor Peter Strommen, who was Trinity’s Interim Pastor during our time of transition, Trinity members took the CAT (Congregational Assessment Tool) survey. The primary purpose of taking the CAT survey is to help assess the health and vitality of a congregation. I wrote more about the CAT survey in Part 1 of this series last week.
We took the CAT again this past winter. We had three goals in re-taking it four years after the first time we took it:
- To again measure our health and vitality
- To compare our current data against our 2013 data and see how we’d grown and changed
- To compare our data to our strategic plan and make sure we’re still on the right track.
I did a full presentation on the CAT both to the congregational council and to a group of Trinity members. You can click here to see a video of this full presentation, if that’s helpful.
We learned a lot about the areas in which Trinity has grown over four years. There are just a few that I think are really worth highlighting:
In 2013, on a scale of 0 – 100, Trinity was evaluated by our membership as a 27. When we took the CAT again in 2017, we scored at a 48.
This tells us two things: Trinity has put a lot of time and energy into thinking and growing in our hospitality. This is an area we’ve really felt we needed to strengthen. In 2013, the CAT told us that there was an “inner circle” of people who really felt like trinity was home. But there was also a second, and even a third “ring” of people who were here, but didn’t feel connected. We feel like our efforts to connect people, through small groups, book studies and “connection coaches” have been effective. And our efforts at creating comfortable spaces (the furnishings on the Mezzanine, the couches and chairs in the Narthex, etc…) for people to sit, talk and build relationships.
Secondly, these numbers tell us that while we’ve seen great growth in this area, it is one of the places we could continue to put effort and resources.
Morale refers to how people feel about their church. This index measures how members are emotionally engaged and satisfied in the mission of the church.
Morale relates to energy and to satisfaction. It relates to the level of conversation, the sense of community and the excitement over the ministry we share in. In 2013 morale was scored as a 57 and in 2017 as a 79. We can feel good about this shift!
In any community, disagreement can come up. In a church, because of the passion people feel and the strong sense of ownership people have, people can certainly disagree. Disagreement is not a bad thing. I believe it is a part of the discernment process churches go through as they grow.
Disagreement becomes a problem when it morphs into conflict. And so congregations need to be prepared to figure out how to best manage conflict.
Trinity has seen great growth in the congregation’s perception of how we manage conflict. In 2013, the question of “how we manage conflict” scored a “30.” In 2017, the score more than doubled to a “70.” Clearly, people feel better about levels of conflict and the processes we’ve put in place to tend to conflict when it does come up.
Closely tied to how we handle conflict is the question of Trinity’s governance system. That is, congregational leadership and how we make decisions.
In many congregations, when “how we handle conflict” scores low, governance also scores low. There is a lack of confidence in the leadership and its systems. In 2013, Trinity scored a 51 in questions around governance. But just as our “conflict” question grew significantly in 2017, so did governance. In 2017, it scored a 75. Confidence in our leadership and decision-making systems is growing!
Pastors love to see this score grow! Spiritual vitality the extent to which individuals express views that their faith is central to their lives.
- It is about how much God is the subject of our sentences.
- It is about how much people participate in daily faith practices.
- It is about how we serve.
- It is about how much Trinity looks beyond the walls of the building to see what God is up to and how we can participate.
Trinity’s Spiritual Vitality score increased from 45 to 76 since we first took the CAT Assessment four years ago. This is an important sign of health in the life of any congregation!
Readiness for Ministry:
This area measures how members understand their responsibilities for ministry.
Readiness for ministry reflects how prepared people feel they are to do ministry both through Trinity’s programs, but also outside of church, on the ball field, or in the office, or in their neighborhood.
Trinity’s score in this area was already high at 74. But now it has grown to 85.
We can feel good about these numbers, and others. We also scored well in areas of “engagement in education,” and in worship and music. These numbers were consistent with our numbers from four years ago.
God’s Holy Spirit has obviously been at work, and our people have opened themselves up to what God has been up to. The CAT Assessment results are key indicators that we are growing deeper as a community of God’s faithful people. We post these results not to say “hey look at us…look at how great we must be!” but rather to let the congregation know that we are moving in positive directions and we are growing both deeper in our faith and spirituality, and broader as a community.
If you have any further questions about the CAT results, please feel free to contact me. Otherwise, you can download the full and actual CAT assessment report on our web site.
In the next post in my blog series on the CAT Survey, I’ll write about the implications for the results in light of our strategic plan.
Thanks for being a part of this community! Thanks for growing deeper with your sisters and brothers,