I've been working hard on an assignment for the 'continuing education' aspect of my training. It's the Ordained Ministry Audit, otherwise known as the Parish Profile. I might be the odd one out, but I'm so enjoying the analysis of statistical data about my parish from the 2001 census! I'm combining the census information with other research from local websites, magazines etc., and I feel I know the place so much better now. I only wish I had done this much earlier! I have come to appreciate my curacy parish placement more now because I see the great opportunities that exist for the church (and myself as an ordained minister) to make connections with the community.
One fact that stands out is that out of a population of 14,450 people, over 10,000 of them stated on the census that they are Christian! Considering the attendance figures from the 5 churches in the area, there is something going on here that demands attention. The vast majority of those 10,000 people are not found in our churches. They are believing without belonging. I have my views on why this is the case, and it is a huge challenge to those of us who have found a home in church. I just can't get this out of my head, and I can't let it lie unattended to. It's my passion to engage with these non-belonging believers. Many books have been written on the subject, but I want to listen to these people myself. We've got to put ourselves out there!