Church Survey

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 Feedback from Church meeting on Local Church Review

Tuesday 28th January 2020  

On Tuesday 28th January 2020 just under 40 members of the congregation of Alva Parish Church met to discuss the results of the recent survey produced as part of the Local Church Review process. The survey looked at five main areas of church life:

  • Life of the Congregation (Worship, Evangelism/outreach, Service, Discipleship, Fellowship)

  • Wider Church

  • Resources

  • Communication

  • Leadership Development

Overall the feedback from the survey was positive, with consistently high levels of satisfaction in all areas, but with some suggestions for improvement.  After splitting into eight groups of five, Jim asked each group to identify up to three areas where the church was doing well and/or three areas where things could be even better. The groups were asked to consider the comments from the survey as well as their own ideas.  After an hour each group relayed the outcome of their discussion back to the wider group.

Results of feedback

The Ministry team, Worship Group, Friday Zones, links with schools and social groups were acknowledged as strengths, as well as the levels of volunteerism and participation within the congregation itself. Even the fact that 66 individuals accessed the on-line survey and almost 40 members attended the open meeting is to be celebrated. The group recognised these as evidence of an active and engaged church, for which we are thankful.

The two main areas for growth identified by each group were within the category ‘Life of the Congregation’: worship and evangelism/outreach. It was felt that both of these areas, while good, could be better and developing them may help us fulfil our mission of ‘Reaching out to the people of Alva with God’s love’, and ‘Growing to closer to God and our neighbour’. The other areas such as Resources, Communication and Leadership Development were identified as key supportive elements to enable successful outreach and worship.

Worship:

the group asked that we consider the use of other musical styles in worship. This may involve inviting groups such as the Youth Orchestra to participate in special services, holding Songs of Praise services where the congregation chose the songs, and possibly setting up a Praise Group. It was felt this may make the church more appealing to a wider range of ages, provide opportunities for inviting to a special event, and use untapped talent in our congregation. It must be stressed that the overall feedback was positive; people valued the input of the Worship Group and Jim’s friendly and accessible sermons that always provide food for thought and wisdom.

Overall people were clear they did not want to alienate existing members or create a scenario where two separate congregations existed within the same church.

Evangelism/Outreach:

It was acknowledged that many of our congregation are already involved in reaching out to their neighbours in an informal but very significant way such as dropping in on a neighbour, offering lifts for hospital appointments etc.

Other formal group work includes the Pastoral Care team and the gifting of prayer shawls and baby blankets by the Craft group. All these activities speak of our love and care for those around us and are invaluable. However we miss the opportunity to be involved in local events such as the Alva Fun Day or Alva Games.

It was suggested that we seek out these opportunities and develop better links with groups such as the Community Council and Alva Development Trust.

Other suggestions included holding drop in sessions during the week where people are able to access the Sanctuary for a period of reflection with the option of tea, coffee and chat.

How we reach the parents of Zones children was a question we discussed and agreed could be explored further. Other proposals included holding a ‘Back to church Sunday’ and reaching out to those people who have stopped coming to church. It was pointed out many of the people moving into the new houses at the east end of town are relocating from within Alva and that focussing only this group might mean missed opportunities elsewhere. It was suggested we should consider reviewing the practice of the Minister automatically visiting members over the age of 75, many of whom attend church regularly.

Although the survey was positive about communication within the church, it was thought that our reach with the wider community could be even better if we used multiple forms of media, including local newspapers as well as Facebook and the church website, as different age ranges will access information in different ways. We discussed the use of flyers, leafleting using Royal Mail, upgrading the church notice board and perhaps allowing it to be used by the wider community, and increasing the circulation of the Alvanac once a year.

The following week Jim, John and Lesley met to digest the comments and feedback (notes taken during the meeting are appended to this paper). It was felt that the congregation was asking for a greater openness in how we live and interact with those around us.  We concluded that the congregation wanted the church in Alva to be open to God, open to the needs of others in our community and open to all generations. 

Next steps

These findings will be circulated to Elders and made available to the wider congregation ahead of the Session meeting in March.

Feedback and comments will be welcomed. 

An open meeting will be held in March to agree how we can start to work towards being a more open church; this will include developing an action plan for the future.

 

 

APPENDIX


Summarised list of issues raised by all Groups

Weaknesses:

  • Outreach

  • Evangelism and wider outreach

  • Evangelism – how do we reach out to those outside our doors?

  • Younger generation – how do we get them involved

  • Not reaching everyone

  • Not reaching 20-30s age group e.g. Zones parents

  • Not reaching those people who have stopped coming along to church

  • Not reaching out to those people who don’t come to church

  • Worship style

  • Type of worship not appealing to all

  • Music and hymns

  • Worship style doesn’t appeal to younger generation

  • Resources for volunteers

  • Communication externally

  • Hall use – is it used to full advantage

  • Update on progress (not sure what this referred to, assume it’s around communication)

  • Finances

  • Youth worker not an initiator of activity

  • Leadership – what are we projecting?

Strengths:

  • Friendship evangelism

  • Ministry team

  • Social groups such as Chums, Guild etc

  • Volunteerism

  • Good participation

  • Decisive and active Session/Board/Congregation

  • Worship Group

  •  Key roles filled with deputies for some

  • Zones

  • Links with schools

Suggestions (including those from the survey):

  • Bring a friend to church

  • Back to church Sundays

  • Special services using Youth Orchestra that we can invite friends to

  • Reach out to parents at Zones - coffee and chat on a Friday

  • Remove pews and rethink church space

  • Hold services at different times or on different days in different venue

  • Publicise organisations more to attract others

  • Perhaps distribute Alvanac to all of town once per year

  • Use Post Office/Postal for leaflet drop

  • Publicise services and events on Alva Community Facebook page

  • Open up halls during week for tea coffee and a chat (Drop-in sessions once or twice per week 11am 3pm)

  • Become more involved in Community day or at Alva Games – have a presence at these events. Give out fliers about the church

  • Put notices and information in local newspaper as before

  • Upgrade notice board and consider making it a community noticeboard

  • Rethink “no 140” model and explore where this would fit

  • Baptisms and funerals are opportunities to reach people not normally in church

  • Set up Theatre group and/or music group, although it was acknowledged these need people with relevant talents and time. Or perhaps just the opportunity to be involved?

  • Ask pupils undertaking DoE or McMillan challenge to help out at café to raise money (and expose them to the church)

  • Can we rethink Messy church and incorporate sports as well as crafts to appeal to more people?

  • Link with other organisations or community-based people (social work, school, etc) to see what the needs of Alva are and focus on helping meet these

  • New hymns

  • More congregation participation in worship

  • Prepare/train people to evangelise/talk about their faith and church and provide material to use

  • Expand current membership of church groups

  • Find out what other churches are doing to encourage people to start journey of faith

  • Another Alpha Course

  • Bible study groups

  • More house groups

  • Extend zones to 2ndry school

  • More use of electronic media

  • Look at doing something about poverty and drug abuse in Alva

  • Relook at minister visiting lists (+75) and consider lapsed member visits

  • Enhance pastoral care group

  • Meet your elder / minister coffee morning

  • Outdoor songs of praise

  • Watch out we don’t use jargon

  • Work more closely with other hillfoots churches

  • Clearer visibility of who does what (photoboard / website?)

  • Celebrate volunteers. Annual service?

  • Artwork and wall displays need refreshed periodically

  • Utilise halls for outside use better

  • Focus not just on new houses but also on new residents in existing houses

  • More social events

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Alva Parish Church

Stirling Street

Alva

FK12 5EH

alvaparishchurch@gmail.com

Scottish Charity No SC000006

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