In October, the TCPC board asked me to work with it on ways in which to more effectively build awareness and usage of the various TCPC resources — books, discussion guides, annual Forums, newsletter, and the website. The board was also interested in starting a discussion about what additional tools and resources TCPC should consider developing as it moves ahead into this new year. As a result, in November, Jim Adams and I developed an e-mail questionnaire that was sent to all supporters and congregations whose e-mail addresses are currently in the TCPC files. This was a TCPC first, and we were pleased at the response — 28% of individual supporters and 33% of congregations negotiated the intricacies of an electronic questionnaire to provide us with thoughtful and helpful responses. We thank you all.
Highlights from Individual Responses
Individuals representing nine different Christian faith traditions, secular humanism and no current affiliation responded to the questionnaire. The majority became interested in TCPC based on personal contact with Jim, but five of the newer supporters learned about TCPC through the website. About a third of respondents indicated that they would like to become more involved with TCPC — even if just to contribute a couple of hours to a specific project.
In terms of TCPC resources, 70% are aware of at least one of the discussion guides or books (40% have read at least one) and 70% are also aware of the website (and 40% have visited it so far). Virtually everybody is aware of the annual Forums and this newsletter. For these respondents, the newsletter is the most valued TCPC resource.
This group had many suggestions, which we will draw from in developing future plans. Some of the most frequently mentioned ideas include: create online discussion groups, list more like-minded organizations, publish more book reviews, provide more information about current print resources, expand the diversity of voices included and issues addressed.
Highlights from Congregations in the Directory
Clergy representing seven Christian faith traditions and three countries (US, England, and New Zealand) contributed to the research. The average congregation size represented was 250 people, and the majority of respondents described their location as urban. Over the past year, half of the congregations reported growth averaging 7% (the remainder reported slight growth or steady membership). One third cited TCPC affiliation as a contributing source of new inquirers.
As with individuals, congregation affiliates have high awareness of the various TCPC printed resources and website, though only about 30% have had a chance to use/visit them yet (the 8 Point chart and the 8 Point Study Guide are currently most used and appreciated). Overall, clergy cite the fact that TCPC “fits with our theology” and “tells others who we are.”
Looking toward the future, these congregational affiliates asked TCPC to consider the following: expanding networking opportunities, supporting the development of progressive curricula for children’s education; adding more website links.
Comments from the Survey:
Benefits of Affiliation
The list of the 8 Points is on our front door; this has encouraged several university students and others to attend”
“We have used the 8 Point study guide for adult education programs, for confirmation classes and new member classes. TCPC has become a source of identity for our congregation and also a source of people who are looking for our kind of church.”
“Networkng. I had an e-mail from France and one from a seminarian in Virginia. Very stimulating.”
“We have used the Study Guide for the 8 Points for several weeks of meaningful worship discussion. And we like being part of something like TCPC because it reminds us that we are not alone in our views.”
Use of TCPC resource materials
“I would recommend them to other clergy with a similar theological ben as some actually usable material. (It’s hard to find materials from this perspective.)
“They get people talking about their faith and theology. There seems to be real excitement when that happens.”