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October, 2009
Volume:2 Number:9
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Troubled Times

Some Telling Comments from Our Anxiety Survey

In a survey conducted by the Center for Congregational Health in May, the heightened anxiety of faith communities and its negative effect upon congregational life was clear. Nearly half of you described the overall anxiety level of your faith community as “somewhat anxious” (45.5 percent) or “extremely anxious” (3.1 percent), compared to one third of you who reported that your church had this level of overall anxiety a year ago.

Three hundred fifty-eight of you from our Door Post email list responded to the survey and 137 of you answered this question: “What other sign (if any) of increased anxiety have you observed in your congregation?” Here are some of the most telling responses.

  • Just a general anxiety over the losses many have experienced in their retirement incomes
  • Families within the church experiencing conflict. Individuals from outside the church increasingly asking for financial help
  • There seems to be some increase in reported illness.
  • The greatest anxiety comes with our stewardship committee, which is working hard to monitor spending but also to insure that ministries do not get cut.
  • We've recently had a lot of break-ins and crime done to our church in a community that has been so safe people don't even lock their doors.
  • This is a farming based economy. Drought is in the second year. Those in deep debt are facing difficulty.
  • We have a very high unemployment situation in our community, about 18 to 20 percent, and this is creating anxiety especially as to whether we are going to have to cut salaries or reduce staff.
  • Calls for financial help from community (outside the church flock) increased at least 50 percent
  • Our job seeker ministry has vastly increased.
  • Church has lost its focus on mission and is focused on money and the buildings.
  • Increased anxiety among military families as military members get frequent assignments to Iraq and Afghanistan
  • Persons choosing to disengage with congregation rather than confront issues; withholding offerings in protest to ministry decisions; a longer than normal steady dip in giving overall
  • A small number of members have been seeking jobs and there seems to be a raised level of marital conflict among families.
  • Church is scared to spend any money
  • Church is maintaining a Clearing House and Support Network for persons looking for work.
  • Last night, we had a conversation about there not being enough money in checking to pay my salary on Sunday. I turned in an expense report two months ago that has yet to be paid.
  • Because so many in this small city have lost their jobs, the community churches are trying to host more ecumenical events where we can be joyful and try and celebrate all that is good.
  • They are concerned that they may die as a church.
  • Am getting more calls from people that want to talk about their stress. We are getting more requests to help church members with their bills.
  • Unwillingness to replace ministerial and support staff positions when there is a vacancy
  • The biggest sign that anxiety is on the increase in our congregation is a decrease in momentum.
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