How churches use data to reveal mission and ministry opportunities

Go Figure

Do-it-yourself research tools for congregations

By Angie Andriot | Presbyterians Today

Infographic by Jeffrey Lawrence

Presbyterians are known as belonging to a “thinking” denomination. Our Reformed theology emphasizes the importance of having an educated clergy and an informed laity, and we have a long tradition of involvement in education, with more than 50 Presbyterian colleges and universities.

The PC(USA) also has one of the largest denominational research offices in the country. Our Book of Order states that “truth is in order to goodness” (F-3.0104), and, as such, we are constantly discerning, learning and pursuing truth in order to put our faith into practice.

Ministries of the PC(USA) use our Clerk’s Annual Questionnaire to discern information from congregations. These ministries also use our Presbyterian Panel to learn what Presbyterians want and need, providing the Church with insights into general practices, beliefs and opinions.

Mid councils and congregations use data to inform their ministry, too. Each year, the Office of the General Assembly collects data on congregations, which Research Services then shares with the denomination via our Church Trends website (

And, finally, congregations have used our Congregational Life Survey to identify mission and outreach possibilities and often turn to Research Services to obtain demographic reports on their surrounding communities.

Angie Andriot is a research associate with Research Services for the Presbyterian Mission Agency. 


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