Knowing your congregation rural ministry
o two congregations are identical. Like people, congregations take on a clear personality of their own with recognisable personality characteristics that unite some congregations and make them different from others.
Take the obvious distinction between the extravert and introvert congregation. Extravert congre- gations attract people who feel at home talking with each other before the service begins and chatting over coffee afterwards. They like being actively involved in the service. As soon as a newcomer turns up they engage that person in conversation. However, introvert congregations attract people who feel at home walking into a quiet and meditative space and prefer to slip off quietly afterwards. They like being left to their own space during the service. When a newcomer turns up they wait for that person to make the first move.
Have you noticed how you react to these different types of congregations? If you happen to be an extravert yourself, then you are likely to feel at home in the extravert congregation straightaway. You are just as likely to feel that the introvert congregation is cold and unfriendly. If you happen to be an introvert yourself, you are just as likely to feel that the extravert congregation is far too demanding and intimidating.
The Knowing Your Congregation project takes these ideas for personality psychology seriously and tries to help local congregations undertake an assessment of their preferred style. The distinction between introversion and extraversion is just one of the four dimensions addressed in the project. The other three distinctions (between sensing and intuition, thinking and feeling, and judging and perceiving) are less immediately obvious, but no less important.
What is this church’s congreation like?
Sensing congregations like engaging in practical issues that affect their church, building God’s Kingdom in the here and now. They enjoy church services which stimulate their senses, through sound, smell, touch, and even taste. In sermons and Bible study they prefer commentary that focuses on evidence and specific details.
Intuitive congregations enjoy shaping future possibilities for their church and preparing for the Kingdom of God. Church services need to stimulate their imagination, through the use of symbol, story, and metaphor. Sermons that inspires them to ask questions and make changes are preferred.
Thinking congregations feel
comfortable when dealing with issues of justice and truth. They apply logic and reason to issues of doctrine and church practice. They are good at working on church projects where tough decisions need to be made.
Feeling congregations feel at home when dealing with issues of peace and harmony. Interpersonal values are applied to issues of doctrine and church practice. They are good at treating people with care and compassion.
Judging (meaning structured and www.arthurrankcentre.org.uk
decisive not judgemental) congregations appreciate organisation. They tend to turn up for church services on time and may be irritated if events do not run to plan. They like church services which follow an established structure.
Perceiving congregations value spontaneity. They tend to turn up for church services at a time which suits them and easily adapt to unexpected events. They like variety and experimentation in church services.
So what kind of congregation is your church? Who feels at home and who is pushed to the edges? And what can you do to help a wider range of people worship God in your church? The Knowing Your Congregation project can help you find answers to these questions through a short questionnaire which can be completed by your congregation. For more information please contact the Project Officer.
Welsh National Centre for Religious Education
University of Wales Bangor Normal Site (Meirion), Bangor LL57 2PX
Telephone: 01248 382829 E-mail: c.cr
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