Thanks to the 135 of you who completed the MCCN survey from December 2016. Here’s what we learned about our membership:
by Jennifer Schrock, Leader, Mennonite Creation Care Network
Thanks to the 135 of you who completed the survey I sent out in December. I appreciate your help in shaping this network to serve you better. Here’s what we learned about our membership:
Why are you part of MCCN?
- About 56% of respondents listed their involvements with creation care efforts in a Mennonite Church as their reason for joining MCCN. An additional 4% are involved in a church of another denomination.
- About a third said they were involved in creation care in a business, nonprofit or neighborhood.
- Over a quarter want to know what is going on in MCCN for professional reasons.
I was surprised that the number of people actually doing creation care in their congregations was as high as it was. I, for example, am on email lists for various causes that I am not doing anything about. Perhaps our most active members were most likely to take the survey.
Ideas for a regular column
Respondents rated their interest regarding Biblical/spiritual input, simple living stories, commentary on political issues related to the environment, a leader/council member column and a column called Knowing Your Place, about creation care in specific geographical contexts. At least 60% of respondents professed to be interested in all of these columns. I only hope you are as interested in writing them!
The most popular option was the Simple Living Column. We Mennonites have a long history with this term and it resonates deeply. Only 6% of respondents were willing to admit they were not interested in a column on simple living. This surprised me, since I was one of them! My thought was that there are already more simple living resources available than I can implement in my context. But you have convinced me that there is a place for fresh and honest voices discussing what works and what hasn’t. And, like children with muddy feet, our habits slide without reinforcement.
The Knowing Your Place column received the second highest rating. I hope to implement this column as well. In fact, I hope we can get all of the columns going in time.
Of the ways to network that were proposed, regional creation care gatherings rated highest, with 67% of people saying they were interested. Here in the Goshen area, MCCN has hosted regional meetings off and on, and Todd Wynward and the Watershed Way folks in the southwest have met as well. If you are interested in planning a regional MCCN gathering, we can help you find other MCCN members in your area.
What surprised me most on the networking question was the number of people (53%) who said they were interested in “Watershed Way: A relationship between my congregation and one or more other congregations committed to working at creation care over the long haul.” This was the most demanding option provided, requiring both coordination and long term commitment. I’m curious what people were picturing when they said yes. Was it the vision provided in Ched Myers’ recent essay collection on Watershed Discipleship or Todd Wynward’s Rewilding the Way? Was it loneliness in their own congregations? Was it the excitement of teaming up with a congregation that might be quite different? Tell me more!
How old are MCCN members?
The bulk of survey respondents—48%–are baby boomers between the ages of 50 and 70. Over a third of us are between 30 and 49. That leaves 14% over 70 and just 4% under 30.
What is the single most helpful thing that MCCN could do for you and your congregation?
Almost 70 people wrote responses. The largest clump of responses (26) were general comments calling for resources and inspiration to keep going. People emphasized stories about what other congregations were doing, tip sheets, curricula, practical advice, etc.
The next largest group of respondents (11) stressed spiritual leadership. They said things like, “Help us understand why creation care is central to faith,” and “Don’t leave Jesus out.”
For 7 respondents, various forms of fostering connections were the most important thing MCCN could do and an additional 4 emphasized increasing the visibility of the organization.
Of those who requested resources on specific topics, 4 advocated for the needs of those who were in rural areas; 3 wanted us to focus on climate change and 2 creative souls asked for a creation care personality type inventory to help congregations discern what their niche should be.
This is the first survey MCCN has initiated, but it won’t be the last. I found it a great way to reflect on our next steps, and I look forward to discussing the survey with our Creation Care Council at our February 2 meeting. So what struck you about these responses? Join our new Facebook Group and share a comment.