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US Congregational Vitality Survey website launched

Information is now free to all PC(USA) congregations

by Melody K. Smith | Presbyterian News Service

The ecumenical U.S. Congregational Vitality Survey is now available free to PC(USA) congregations.

LOUISVILLE — The ecumenical U.S. Congregational Vitality Survey (USCVS) is designed to help church leaders understand the attitudes, opinions and perceptions of worshipers and leaders in congregations. Created through a collaboration of sociologists, theologians and Christian educators in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the survey has been helping congregations from many denominations measure their vitality since 2001.

The USCVS assesses congregations’ strengths based on seven marks of congregational vitality — discipleship, outward focus, evangelism, servant leadership, worship, caring relationships and ecclesial health. “The USCVS is not a test,” said Dr. Angie Andriot, research analyst for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). “There are no right or wrong answers.”

The USCVS is a substantially revised version of the US Congregational Life Survey (USCLS) survey, which was offered to congregations for nearly two decades. Over 500,000 worshipers in more than 5,000 congregations completed the USCLS between 2001 and 2018.

This new, third wave addresses some issues with the previous survey by redesigning the questions to scales (the industry standard for creating indices) and by having a stronger theological grounding for the vital marks. It also works with new data — the most recent USCLS benchmark data was from 2008-2009.

Funding from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has enabled all PC(USA) congregations to receive free USCVS surveys. They have to pay only the flat $25 shipping and handling fee, along with any fees for custom survey supplement design and/or onsite consultations to interpret results. For other denominations, the cost of the USCVS is based on typical weekly worship attendance, as follows:

1-49 worshipers: $175​

50-199 worshipers: $375​

200-499 worshipers: $475​

500-749 worshipers: $600​

750-999 worshipers: $725​

1,000+ worshipers: $975​

There are also two pre-designed supplemental surveys available: Caring for Youth and Race & LGBTQ. Research Services can also design a supplemental survey for your congregation and is available to present and interpret your results. Contact research@pcusa.org for more information and pricing, or complete the website form.

The survey is more than just completing paperwork. Once a congregation places an order, they receive a box of surveys and instructions in the mail. About four weeks after a congregation returns its completed surveys, they will receive a Congregational Vitality Report.

This report provides the congregation’s scores on seven marks of congregational vitality, as well as results for all questions that measure each mark. Putting these pieces together lets each congregation see its unique strengths. It is up to them to interpret the findings in light of what they know about the congregation —where it is located, how it is changing, and where it is going.

Research Services recommends each congregation dedicate a leadership meeting to reviewing the results together. “Do not focus on the negative — celebrate your strengths,” said Andriot. “Your report will also include guidance for interpretation.”

The U.S. Congregational Vitality Survey (USCVS) has currently been taken by over 15,000 respondents from six denominations.

(The percentage scores were calculated based on average responses to multiple items in the surveys, which have been combined into scales representing each of the seven marks of vitality.)

These scores represent the overall results on the seven marks of vitality for all the congregations that have taken the USCVS thus far. This includes over 15,000 respondents from six denominations.

However, the vast majority (95%) of the churches that have taken the survey so far are from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and The Episcopal Church.

Of the 241 churches that have taken the USCVS so far, the denominations include:

 

 


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