Message from Bishop Schol – Survey results

June 24, 2015 | Messages from the Bishop

Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God. -1 Corinthians 10:31

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Doing our best for God is a continual aim for Greater New Jersey leadership. One of the ways we assess our effectiveness and commitment to excellence is through evaluation and surveys. Recently conference leadership conducted two surveys to assess our ministry. One survey focused on the direction, administration and resourcing we are developing to fulfill our mission to equip leaders to make disciples and grow vital congregations to transform the world. This survey was based on a letter sent to the conference that can be found on our website by clicking here. The other survey was sent to participants at our most recent annual conference session. I’d like to share with you an overview of the results of these surveys and our goals for the future.

Survey Results on Direction, Administration and Resourcing

Our goal is to achieve agreement on 80% of the questions regarding the direction of the administration and resourcing of the conference. We believe results indicating up to 20% of respondents disagreeing is healthy for two reasons:

  1. If everyone agrees, it means we are not taking risks. Risk taking is important to our growth and development as a conference.
  2. We have important things to learn from those who disagree. They have information and experiences that we need to pay attention to.

All but three areas received an 80% or higher favorable rating. Working together, we can address the important concerns people have raised.

GNJ Direction, Administration and Resourcing Survey Results Total Agreement Of Total Agreement Those Who Strongly Agreed Not Yet (or disagree)
The conference is headed in the right direction. 65% 37% 35%
Making disciples and growing vital congregations is an appropriate mission at this time. 91% 43% 9%
Organizing staff into regions maximizes resources for the mission and will better assist congregations and clergy. 79% 47% 21%
The use of circuit elders seems appropriate at this time. 73% 39% 27%
Yearly evaluations of clergy are appropriate. 96% 45% 4%
The new resources – coaching, PaCE groups, Pursuing Laity Excellence training, Team Vital and Communities of Hope are appropriate for the needs of congregations and leadership. 82% 48% 18%
Organizing charge conferences for focused covenanting, evaluation and goal setting is appropriate. 84% 45% 16%
Utilizing shared services is appropriate at this time. 90% 50% 10%

From this survey, overall people feel we are developing the resources and thinking about administration appropriately. We also learned that:

  1. Some people are concerned that circuit elders will provide an additional layer between clergy and the bishop. This is understandable. Our goal is to flip the pyramid and put congregations at the top. We are developing resources and leadership to support congregations and spiritual leaders. We will monitor this so that we are in fact not creating new layers but creating resources and people to equip congregations for ministry and mission.
  2. Some people indicated that they did not appreciate cluster charge conferences in the past and that they prefer their own charge conferences. Congregations will have their own charge conference. They may be conducted at regional sites to facilitate joint learning. Also, we conduct 550 charge conferences each year over a two month period of time. Common locations will facilitate the ability to conduct 550 charge conferences and maintain a healthy ministry with personal and family balance.
  3. Some people are requesting more communication about the direction, resourcing and changes taking place in the conference.
  4. Some people are concerned that the resourcing will not be tailored to the small church. We want to assure you that the resourcing begins with the congregation and its context. We are not prescribing a one size fits all model. As smaller congregations participate in the new resources they will find resources that will assist them in their ministry.
  5. Some people want to see more spiritual resources for leaders.

We will continue to evaluate these areas to learn how we can best serve God and the church.

Survey Results on Annual Conference Session

The annual conference session survey was very positive, yet there are things we can continue to improve. The following are the results from the survey.

GNJ Annual Conference Survey Results Total Agreement Of Total Agreement Those Who Strongly Agreed Not Yet (or disagree)
The annual conference theme and agenda were shared so that it was connected with GNJ purpose and mission. 97% 62% 3%
The purpose and objective of annual conference were outlined in the pre-conference materials and at annual conference. 98% 60% 2%
The annual conference achieved its objectives. 95% 55% 5%
GNJ mission was shared so that participants connected with GNJ mission and the mission of the larger church. 95% 52% 5%
Annual conference promotional materials were clear, informative and done with excellence. 97% 53% 3%
The pre-conference book received prior to annual conference was informative and done with excellence. 96% 58% 4%
The materials and presentations were culturally sensitive and diverse. 94% 48% 6%
Annual conference included information that was important and relevant to my leadership in the church. 87% 39% 13%
Through annual conference I learned how to implement leadership in my local setting and had the opportunity to practice it. 67% 20% 33%
The hotel I stayed in suited my needs. 87% 40% 13%
Worship was inspiring, spiritually nurturing and appropriate. 95% 67% 5%
Overall leadership were well prepared, listened and engaged participants. 95% 48% 5%
Andrew Forrest was well prepared, provided information that will help me in my setting and delivered the content in a way that assisted my learning and ability to lead/serve. 94% 62% 6%
The Episcopal/Leadership address was well prepared, provided information that will help me in my setting and delivered the content in a way that assisted my learning and ability to lead/serve. 94% 54% 6%
Legislation was well prepared and was presented well. 89% 40% 11%
Workshops were well prepared, provided information that will help me in my setting and delivered the content in a way that assisted my learning and ability to lead/serve. 85% 40% 15%
Registration prior to annual conference was easy to navigate and clear. 87% 46% 13%
Registration at annual conference was easy to navigate and clear. 95% 64% 5%
The Wildwood site was appropriate for the event and provided a good place to hold annual conference. 96% 70% 4%
The technology used during the event assisted learning and was appropriate. 97% 67% 3%
The meals and other refreshments were healthy, well prepared and served. 88% 33% 22%

There were three consistent concerns that were included in the comments section:

  1. More seating is required on the ground floor for those that have difficulty navigating steps.
  2. The meals were much improved but there is still room for some improvement.
  3. The workshops need to be more practical and in rooms with no interference from activity in other rooms.

We will continue to work to improve these areas.

Both of these surveys reveal that there is healthy support for the leadership and ministry of the conference.

We will survey twice a year about the direction, ministry and resourcing of GNJ. Your participation in these surveys helps us know when we are doing well and when we need to do better. Our goal is to glorify God through our ministry and serve the church and its leadership well. With your help and support we will continue to do and be our best for God.

Thank you for all you are doing in your ministry. I encourage you to press on toward the goal that is making Christ known and experienced in our communities.

Keep the faith!

John Schol, Bishop
The United Methodist Church
Greater New Jersey