Data Reflects Turndown From 1995
Current growth in attendance comes from new openings rather than from established corps
By Robert Docter –
Year-end territorial statistics indicate a slowing growth trend in four of five key measures, with only senior soldier enrollments continuing a positive growth curve. The five key measures selected were senior soldiers, Sunday morning attendance, junior soldiers, Sunday school attendance and first time seekers.
Evangelism, Cross Cultural and Adult Ministries Secretary Captain Donna Ames, said: “The People Count! emphasis of the last two years is helping individual soldiers make the vision of corps growth a matter of individual commitment through achievable steps of prayer, kindness, invitation and discipleship. I believe that the tremendous increase in Bible studies and mentoring programs is a direct result of these individual commitments. In recent months we have seen a record-breaking increase in the number of soldier enrollments that represent an important milestone in the discipling process. Growth is happening throughout the territory, but it is particularly evident in new ministries in corps, especially in cross cultural and innovative approaches.”
Using 1990, the beginning of the MISSION2000 campaign, as a starting point for the curve, senior soldier numbers continued to climb and reflect a 13 percent increase over the starting figure in 1990. Approximately 2,000 senior soldiers have been added to the rolls in the seven year period.
The Sunday morning meeting attendance revealed strong positive growth through 1995, with a 19 percent increase. During 1996, however, there has been a slight downturn of 1 percent. While this 18 percent territorial growth figure is highly encouraging, if the rate of current growth continues, it will not be possible for the territory to reach its MISSION2000 goal of doubling attendances by the year 2000.
Analysis of the growth trend in Sunday morning attendances, moreover, reveals that it has occurred primarily through the addition of new corps rather than attendance increases in existing corps. If the new corps additions are deleted from the totals, a very slight increase was evident in existing corps Sunday morning attendance for the first three years of the decade. Beginning in 1994, however, the trend line began a significant decline. Attendances in the new openings continued to grow.
The number of junior soldiers grew considerably the first year of the decade, then leveled off with slight declines evident in 1995 and 1996. From 1990 through 1995, Sunday school attendances grew 10 percent but dropped to a point of 7 percent growth over the 1990 figure this past year.
The final statistic examined involved numbers of first time seekers. This highly volatile statistic ranged from a low of 3 percent one year to a high of 73 percent increase over 1990 figures in 1994. Continued involvement with the Mercy seat is evident throughout the territory.
In a recent letter to retired officers, Commissioner Peter H. Chang urged officers to maintain the vision and move beyond maintenance work with risk taking behavior. “I would rather see our officers being adventurous, making some mistakes here and there in the process of achieving progress and growth. Will you join me in praying for our comrades and in encouraging our officers to be more alert and courageous in taking risks at God’s leading and inspiration?”
Data from each year was compiled over the 12 months of that year with the exception of 1996. For 1996, a 12 month period was taken from November 1, 1995 through October 31, 1996.