Chapter 10: Recommendations


Businesses want to measure those things that are of the most importance to the organizationThis is because ‘what gets measured gets done’ (Henshaw, 2006, p. 57).


Introduction

Numbers matter to organisations.  The Church of Scotland cannot and must not ignore numerical data.  Instead, it is crucial that the right data is available, in the right way, at the right time, to provide the necessary information to facilitate church leaders’ capacity to plan sensibly and purposefully.  This is not to suggest that the Church of Scotland does not already engage, to some degree, with quantitative data; it does, but more and better data is required.   This thesis set out to examine the extent and the nature of the relationship between statistical data and mission, and between statistical data and planning.  In the analysis in preceding chapters, I have identified areas requiring significant attention and change in the configuration of the data management structures of the church, in the current data practices of the church and I have identified where specific changes should be introduced to build a stronger empirical foundation to aid the mission and planning of the Church of Scotland.


I began this investigation and examination by charting and detailing the long historical connection between the Church of Scotland and data usage in its endeavours to engage the people of Scotland with the Christian message.  I then outlined, in chapter two, how this engagement was not only practically helpful but also ecclesiologically, politically and theologically significant.  Statistical data allowed the Church of Scotland to have confidence in its role within Scottish society and to project greater influence, through its planning and mission processes.  However, I also highlighted that in a changing modern context, where the available metrics pointed towards reduced church affiliation and activity that the Church of Scotland began to distance itself from data which it found uncomfortable, such as that on church membership. The result of this change in outlook was clearly evident in the response of the Church of Scotland to church census data, seen in chapter six and also more broadly through recent national strategic planning attempts, detailed in chapter seven.


The ability to work with concrete information, both quantitative and qualitative, may be of practical interest but I have highlighted in chapter three that it is also an important constituent part of the work of Practical Theology.  Chapter three introduced the role of statistics and quantitative data within a broad understanding of empirical theology.  The chapter went on to set out a typical scheme, using Osmer’s Pastoral Cycle, illustrating how data is not an optional component for such theological insight and understanding, but a crucial part of it.


In chapter four I provided examples of some major ecclesiological and missiological schemes developed specifically to embrace and maximise the insights provided by quantitative data.  This chapter highlighted the desire within the Church Growth Movement and its successor movements to aid the missionary endeavour of the church, whilst noting that such approaches have also generated some controversy, particularly as they relate to the understanding or implementation of numerical measures and indices.  Although personally being positively inclined towards the desire to engage creatively with data for missiological purposes, I present the approaches in chapter four as useful frames of reference without offering a wholesale endorsement of any particular system. I have, for example, written previously, as part of my Masters thesis, of the strengths and weakness of engaging the Natural Church Development Process (C. A. Schwarz, 1996) within a Church of Scotland congregation. (Vint, 2007).


The background work contained in chapters one to four provided an historical, theological and missiological backdrop highlighting how data has been and continues to be integral to the endeavour of mission and planning.  In the chapters five to nine, the focus turns towards the specific experiences and needs of Church of Scotland congregational leaders and then to three recent case studies bringing insight to the work of the Church of Scotland at national, regional and local level.


A key contribution of this thesis is that it provides a unique insight into the use of data sources by ministers and the value they attribute to appropriate data for information, planning and mission purposes. The survey work undertaken for the thesis has also, for the first time, allowed those ‘at the coal face’ of mission, ministers of congregations, to express their desire for an enhanced provision of local data.  Their articulated positive engagement is, however, conditional on an understanding that any provided data is robust, recent and relevant for their ministry.  Chapter five brings to the fore a new awareness that the practical local work of mission and planning is often facilitated and informed by quantitative information.


The general confidence expressed by the majority of ministers in dealing with data, stands, at times, in contrast with the central administration of the Church of Scotland, which often appears to approach data cautiously and with some measure of suspicion, particularly where that data does not directly serve the ambitions or interests of the Church of Scotland as some within central councils perceive them.  A recent tendency, explored in chapter six, by the Church of Scotland to effectively ignore or downplay negative data in favour of constructing a more positive narrative, was interpreted by ministers as ‘spin’ and ‘unhelpful’.  The ongoing tension, sometimes leading to disappointment, between the data agenda of the Church of Scotland centrally and the needs of the Church of Scotland at the local level is another new insight provided in this work.


In the three case studies presented in chapters seven, eight and nine I offer a careful analysis, firstly, of how the Church of Scotland establishment has handled key statistical information for mission and planning.  In chapter seven the political machinations of the organisation, detailing its uncomfortable relationship with negative statistics, has been described and assessed.   This has uncovered some of the mechanisms through which various data indicators and measures have, at various times, been denied, considered theologically inappropriate, or viewed as potentially damaging to church morale.  The role of this work as a cultural audit of central church attitudes towards the publication and dissemination of data offers a basis for framing recommendations which can contribute to the major cultural shift I believe is needed.


The presbytery planning case study in chapter eight plainly underlines some of the practical difficulties encountered by the Church of Scotland when attempting an exercise in complex, extensive planning, requiring substantially more time and statistical expertise than was available to them.  The analysis offered in this chapter calls into question many of the underlying assumptions made about the data used by church leaders in the design and implementation of their strategic plans.  This thesis is the first detailed study to raise important questions concerning the principles and practical calculations surrounding resource allocation through the Church of Scotland planning process. 


In my local case study, contained in chapter nine, I provided a comprehensive analysis of data available to one local congregation, for tactical and for strategic planning purposes.  It is clear, even from that singular example, that extensive insights, arising from internal and external sources for local mission planning, can be made easily accessible to local church leaders.   There remain questions about the levels of local knowledge and understanding needed to make the best use of the data.  There is, however, some evidence to suggest that given appropriate help and support local decision makers could be empowered by the information available.


It is my submission, arising out of the evidence provided in this study, that there is currently a significant deficit in fully appropriating and employing statistical data for church planning and mission; nationally, regionally and locally.  There is, therefore, a pressing need for a fundamental reassessment and review of the framework for gathering, processing, communicating and engaging with numerical data throughout the Church of Scotland.  


I have set out in the paragraphs below, twenty-eight recommendations arising out of the discussions contained in previous chapters which will, I believe, assist the Church of Scotland to create a more dynamic organisational environment for dealing with empirical data. I believe, however, that the potential of this data will be realised only through an enhancement of the skill set of church leaders, backed up with an extended toolbox of relevant data for mission, strategy and planning.


Firstly, I will highlight some general recommendations applicable across the Church of Scotland, with a number of items which would require initiatives to be taken at national level.  Secondly, I will consider a set of recommendations arising principally from the presbytery case study, with the potential to re-shape practice in strategic presbytery planning.  Thirdly, from the congregational case study, I will draw out recommendations that will enable local congregations to more fully engage statistics for mission or strategic planning purposes.  The recommendations, in the main, are broadly based and strategic, providing a solid platform on which to build new practices and processes.  I could have gone further in providing a more extensive and detailed set of specific data items to be collected for analysis but given my call for an urgent in-depth review of current practice, that would be premature. 


As the research and writing of this thesis has progressed, I have been fully aware that through the recent part-time employment of a professional statistician, a range of changes, initiatives and developments have taken place or are under consideration.  This is to be welcomed and has highlighted the fact that the organisation has the flexibility to respond when developments are necessary and where improvements can be identified. However, and I say this in full support of the (unpaid) statistician now in place, substantially more is required, hence the recommendations which now follow.


It is my submission that each of the following proposals are both necessary and important, however, from a practical standpoint there does require to be some consideration given to issues around prioritisation, resource implication, management responsibilities and other related matters.  I have attempted to address some of these matters by providing a summary of the recommendations now being proposed in Table 27, which provides a possible staged timeframe and the group or groups which might be responsible for the practical implementation of the recommendation highlighted. 


As a guide to potential resource implications which might arise, general estimates are also provided in table 27 based on available information. Where ‘no new cost’ is entered against a recommendation this is to indicate that any potential resource implication would be covered by what had been previously identified in an earlier recommendation or where there already exist people and money within, for example, a church council or committee, with a related resource budget.  As is evident from this column the Church of Scotland may need to spend in excess of £100,000 per annum to enact the proposals.  Over a ten-year period, this is a substantial spend but one I would consider a worthy investment.


A fourth column in Table 27 notes which recommendation(s) require effect, in my view, for the best implementation of the recommendation highlighted.  A graphical representation of the dependency of recommendations is also presented in Table 28


The recommendations are offered to the Church of Scotland along with a short additional explanation of each with the desire, on my part, that a mechanism might be found, perhaps through the establishment of a review group, to consider the validity, the practical implications and the potential impact contained within this thesis and its recommendations.  It would then be my hope that this group might then oversee the prioritisation and implementation of the tasks outlined.


Table of Recommendations


For the attention of Central Church Administration

Timeframe

Group Responsible

Resource Implications

Dependency

Page

 

Within 2 years

 

 

 

 

 

Recommendation 1: To introduce a new organisational structure, with appropriate funding for dealing with statistical data.

 

Stage 1: Setup

Assembly Council

Statistics specialist plus admin support

 

Possible Cost £80,000 per annum[1]

 

None

215

 

Recommendation 2: To ensure that a ‘Statistics for Mission Group’ is free and independent

Stage 1: Setup

Assembly Council

No new cost

R1

216

 

Recommendation 3: To adopt sound principles for data gathering

 

Stage 1: Setup

Statistics for Mission

No new cost

R1, R2

217

Recommendation 4: To review current data gathering practices

Stage 2: Review and Revise

Statistics for Mission

No new cost

R1, R2, R3

217

Recommendation 5: To audit, review and renew data sets

Stage 2: Review and Revise

Statistics for Mission

No new cost

R1, R2, R3, R4

218

 

Recommendation 6: To review and revise the collection of data on children and young people involved in the life of congregations

 

Stage 2: Review and Revise

Statistics for Mission

No new cost

R1, R2, R3, R4

218

 

Recommendation 7: To review data transmission, storage and retrieval protocols

 

Stage 2: Review and Revise

Statistics for Mission

No new cost

R1, R2, R3, R4

220

 

Recommendation 8: To standardise data - with clear guidelines on data gathering and reporting

 

Stage 2: Review and Revise

Statistics for Mission

 

Possible investment required in specialist computer software

 

with licence costs around £20,000 per annum[2]

R1, R2, R3, R4. R5, R6, R7

221

 

Within 5 years

 

 

 

 

 

Recommendation 9: To include an enhanced attendance census every five years.

 

Stage 3: Data expansion

Statistics for Mission

No new cost

R1, R2, R3, R4. R5, R6, R7, R8

222

 

Recommendation 10: To instruct ministers and congregations to comply with data gathering exercises

 

Stage 3: Ministerial Training

/Engagement

Ministries Council

No new cost

None

223

 

Recommendation 11: To develop courses for ministers, in association with academic partners, on empirical dimensions within practical theology

 

Stage 3: Ministerial Training

/Engagement

Ministries Council

 

Budget for academic course development

 

Cost dependant of length of course and complexity of material

 

Indicative possible costs

£5000[3]

 

R1, R2, R3, R4. R5, R6, R7, R8

223

Recommendation 12: To run training modules for ministers at regular intervals

Stage 3: Ministerial Training/Engagement

Ministries Council

 

Budget for training material production and delivery

 

Indicative costs

£7,000[4]

 

R1, R2, R3, R4. R5, R6, R7, R8, R11

225

 

Recommendation 13:  To provide regular data briefing materials to aid planning and decision making

 

Stage 3: Data dissemination

Statistics for Mission

 

Possible costs dependant of method of delivery –  if electronic then no additional costs added

 

R1, R2, R3, R4. R5, R6, R7, R8, R11, R12

225

 

Within 10 years

 

 

 

 

 

Recommendation 14: To promote evidence-based research project(s)

 

Stage 3: Research and development

Statistics for Mission with all Councils

Research costs minimal if conducted

 in-house

R1, R2, R3, R4. R5, R6, R7, R8

225

 

Recommendation 15: To develop useful church performance indicators

 

Stage 3: Research and development

Statistics for Mission

No new cost

R1, R2, R3, R4. R5, R6, R7, R8

226

 

Recommendation 16: To assess and monitor the level of ministerial workload

 

Stage 3: Research and development

Statistics for Mission with Ministries Council

No new cost

R1, R2, R3, R4. R5, R6, R7, R8

227

 

Recommendation 17: To reconsider the nature and duration of ministerial tenure

 

Stage 3: Research and development

Ministries Council with theological commission

No new cost

R1, R2, R3, R4. R5, R6, R7, R8

228

 

Recommendation 18: To rethink the allocation of ministry without reference to parish population size

 

Stage 3: Research and development

Planning Group with Statistics for Mission

No new cost

R1, R2, R3, R4. R5, R6, R7, R8

228

 

Recommendation 19: To reflect on alternative models of ministry to areas of social deprivation.

 

Stage 3: Research and development

Mission & Discipleship

No new cost

R1, R2, R3, R4. R5, R6, R7, R8

229

Recommendation 20: To challenge negative attitudes

All Stages: Ethos and Culture

All Councils

No new cost

None

229

 

For the attention of Presbyteries

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page

 

Recommendation 21: To engage with professional statistical support

 

When support is available

Presbytery and Statistics for Mission

No new cost

R1, R2, R3, R4. R5, R6, R7, R8

230

 

Recommendation 22: Presbytery to provide regular opportunities for eldership training towards an enhanced understanding of local church statistics and their use for church planning and goal setting

 

As soon as practicable

Presbytery and Statistics for Mission

 

The required budget for training elders will vary according to Presbytery and may already exist in many areas

 

R1, R2, R3, R4. R5, R6, R7, R8

230

 

Recommendation 23: To set out clear goals and objectives directly related to the task of presbytery planning

 

As soon as practicable

Presbytery and Mission Council

No new cost

R1, R2, R3, R4. R5, R6, R7, R8, R22

230

 

Recommendation 24: To plan using appropriate forward planning statistical tools and techniques

 

 

 

As soon as practicable

Presbytery, Mission Council and Statistic for Mission

No new cost

R1, R2, R3, R4. R5, R6, R7, R8, R22, R23

231

 

Relating to local congregations

 

 

 

 

 

Page

 

Recommendation 25: Church courts to fulfil their functions in actively revising and superintending church roll data

 

With immediate effect

Kirk Session and Presbytery LCR teams

No new cost

None

232

 

Recommendation 26: Kirk Sessions to collate a roll of ‘adherent’ and ‘associate members’

 

With immediate effect

Kirk Session

No new cost

None

233

 

Recommendation 27: To expand and enhance the level of demographic information in church roll data

 

With immediate effect

Kirk Session

No new cost

None

233

 

Recommendation 28: To implement an annual month-long census of attendance of all congregations to compile a ‘Worshipping Community’ statistic

 

As soon as practicable

Kirk Session

No new cost

R25, R26, R27

234

Table 27: Table of Recommendation

 

Table 28: Logical dependency progression of recommendations


Central Church Administration

 

Recommendation 1: To introduce a new organisational structure, with appropriate funding for dealing with statistical data.


The gathering of annual church statistics is presently a function of the Principle Clerk’s Office.   Committees and Councils currently make their own arrangements for gathering, analysing and presenting statistical information pertinent to the work under their consideration.  The veracity and quality of statistical productions across the church is however unassessed.  Given the limited availability of an appropriately trained statistician working in the Church of Scotland, it would be natural to be wary of the statistics produced.


I would, therefore, recommend that the Church of Scotland set up a new ‘Statistics for Mission’ group with sufficient personnel to provide a hub for numerical and statistical work servicing all such needs of the central Councils and Committees.  In addition, the group would have the related task of providing training resources and courses for those who use statistics at regional or local level. Such a group would necessarily include individuals equipped with appropriate professional knowledge and understanding of what constitutes best data practice.  Knowledge requirements would include techniques for data gathering, the choice and use of appropriate statistical tools and the appropriate presentation of statistically sound conclusions.  Having adequately skilled people on staff would also, I believe, provide increased confidence and trust in the data provided to committees, presbyteries and ministers.  This belief is borne out by the elevated level of trust expressed by ministers in the Church Statistics profile versus official governmental statistics as noted in the survey in chapter 6.


The cost implications of this recommendation would be dependent on the eventual range of activities to be undertaken but, initially, certainly during the first period involving the review and revision of datasets, as outlined in recommendations below, the group might simply comprise one suitably experienced full-time statistician assisted by another individual who could deal with database handling and more general clerical duties. In addition to the cost of employing these two full-time members of staff, a budget would be required for the necessary computer equipment and software licences as required.


Clearly, as activity moved beyond the initial stages of data review to data expansion, database development, data analysis and graphical presentation tasks, and beyond these to fulfilling remits related to training and support for Presbyteries and local congregations, additional funding may be required to enable this work.  The main budget considerations here are largely dependent on whether additional paid staff or unpaid trained volunteers would be required.


Recommendation 2: To ensure that a ‘Statistics for Mission Group’ is free and independent

The present sub-divisions within the structures and organisation of the Church of Scotland provide an environment where in-house political power relationships can exist, with a resultant effect on the work of Councils and Committees (Gay, 2017a).  


Scepticism concerning data in decision making has sometimes originated from examples, both in church and in the wider society, where select or distorted data has been utilised deliberately for political purposes and in support of partisan policies or decisions.   Considering these general concerns, it is important that the church appropriates and engages with any data with full integrity, transparency and with a genuine willingness to hear the truth and wisdom it might contain. 


I have outlined in previous chapters how, at times, the Church of Scotland has effectively chosen to ignore or sidestep discussion around inconvenient data and uncomfortable trends.  On occasion, it has processed and presented data in ways which will portray a positive image, while discarding or ignoring data that would do otherwise.  To act in such a manner is not only to do damage to the totality of the situation encountered but also to harm both the reputation and the function of the Church of Scotland as a guardian of truth in its fullest sense.


It is, therefore, imperative that not only is data openly received and wisely reviewed, it must also be allowed full freedom to inform and help drive appropriate responses.  To facilitate this may mean that a ‘Statistics for Mission Group’ will require to remain organisationally at ‘arm’s length’ from the established church Councils and be provided with its own budget allocation to facilitate the work it does.[5]  Not only must it be free from interference, it must also be seen to be free to provide the fullest range of objective data and informed analysis.


Recommendation 3: To adopt sound principles for data gathering

The work carried out by a ‘Statistics for Mission’ group ought to set explicitly within the framework of principles first proposed by the Church of England’s Statistics Review Group which were previously expressed within this useful summary statement. 


Any data-gathering exercise should only be commissioned against a clearly defined objective and should always lead to the recommendation of specific action steps.

Statistics are of the appropriate quality and produced to the highest professional standards.

All work is conducted with transparency.

All statistical exercises should be validated against the following criteria

·         That the information has been appropriately collected;

·         That appropriate sampling methods have been used;

·         That appropriate methods of calculation have been used to derive any statistics from the raw data;

·         That the inferences drawn are based on sound statistical techniques;

·         That the presentation of the information minimizes the risk of misrepresentation;

That all the above work has been conducted in accordance with the best statistical practice(Church of England, 2000, p. 26f).


I would view such a framework as foundational and providing a core set of behaviours and standards designed to generate confidence in any data work undertaken.  This summary of principles needs to become a standard against which all our data activity is measured.  The question as to how far this is presently the case is important and so my four recommendations naturally follows.


Recommendation 4: To review current data gathering practice

It is recommended that a wholesale review of practice is undertaken to determine which data is presently gathered, and for what practical purposes, within the Church of Scotland. The church itself considers it good practice to gather information that is of practical use to an organisation.   

The statistical process should not simply be about ‘collecting information for information’s sake’, it should be about collecting the right information, interpreting it wisely, and using it appropriately to further the mission of the Church (Church of England, 2000, p. 3).


At present, the range of statistical information regularly gathered from church employees, congregations and Presbyteries is wide-ranging, some of the information is actively and immediately analysed, reflected upon and reported.  Some information appears to be used only occasionally and other pieces of gathered data are either not actively used by any group or committee or considered robust enough to use for planning or strategic purposes. 

Data providers, often local parish ministers, experience a sense of frustration when the effort expended in collecting data locally is not honoured by being used.  The same can be said when identical or similar information is requested by different parts of the organisation.  In light of this uneven pattern of data gathering and potential wastage of time and effort in collecting, collating and reporting some data items, it is important that the current situation, as it exists, is closely examined and that where possible, is streamlined.


Recommendation 5: To audit, review and renew data sets

Attitudes within the Church of Scotland certainly vary towards the role of statistical data but from the surveys carried out as part of this thesis, in chapters five and six, it is clear from participants that where the data is considered fresh, reliable and pertinent, then many of those tasked with ministry in the church are happy to have and to use it.  However, we must take cognisance of the fact, also highlighted earlier, that where data is old or stale, as for example as in the Statistics for Mission CD or considered not to be ‘fit for purpose’, as perhaps with membership figures being used as a proxy for attendance, then confidence falls.   It is, therefore, crucial that there are effective systems put in place which continually amend and update data as required.


There is, as previously highlighted, in addition to locally generated data and statistics, a wealth of available data both from governmental and private agencies, which can be utilised by the Church of Scotland to enhance local, regional and national understanding of trends and patterns.[6]  It is proposed that as part of this general audit and review process information should be gathered on what data is available and how it could be best developed and presented for use within the Church of Scotland.


Recommendation 6: To review and revise the collection of data on children and young people involved in the life of the congregation.

In research conducted by the Church of England, it was highlighted that

Growth is found where there is a high ratio of children to adults.  Churches which offer programmes for children and teenagers are more likely to grow.  Three quarters of churches that offer retreats, conferences or camps for youth report church growth (The Church commissioners for England, 2014, p. 10).


Knowing that this correlation exists in UK congregations, it is surely appropriate to collect a range of information related to the number of children and teenagers involved in the life of a congregation and the type of activities involved. 


In 1995 the annual data on Sunday school and Bible class membership was not included within the report of Board of Practice and Procedure statistics.  The report of that year from the Board of Parish Education is a detailed appraisal of the decline in numbers of children and young people in the church, within which is highlighted the inadequacy of the practice to that point of only counting Sunday School and Bible Class attendees when there were often more children and youth engaged with various aspects of a local churches work and witness.

The report argued that, 

The Church has no idea how many children it has.  Our only ‘head count’ is through Sunday Schools and other organisations.  Many members, even good members, may have their children involved in worship and other activities yet they do not appear in our statistics.

It is not good enough to total the past fifteen years of annual baptisms and say this figure represents our total child complement.  We know we lose lots of people for all kinds of reasons.  We also know that we have not a few children around the Church who were never baptised.[7] 

Whilst there appears to be a disenchantment with the gathering of data centrally, the Board of Practice and Procedure does recommend that Kirk Sessions should keep records of children, but only in relation to communion.  There is permission given that Kirk Sessions can record additional data on groups and categories of people as it wishes.


As instructed, the Board has considered the matter of roll-keeping.  Recognising the need for flexibility and acknowledging that rolls serve both an administrative and a pastoral function, the Board recommends that only one roll be kept, but in such a way that names can be coded or annotated so as to identify members, adherents, children attending communion, children not attending communion, persons on the supplementary roll and any other categories a Kirk Session may choose.[8]


At a later point, there is the introduction of a general question in the annual statistical return asking for the number of children aged 17 and under involved in the life of the congregation.  This question is vague and gives no indication of the type of activities being attractive, to which age group and which gender.  If the Church of Scotland is going to plan with reference to work among the youth, then surely robust and detailed data will be required.


It is, therefore, recommended that as part of the annual statistical return by congregations, data on the extent of direct engagement with children and young people, is collected.  Such a return must include information on the type of group or activity along with a breakdown on the age groups and gender involved.

 

Recommendation 7: To review data transmission, storage and retrieval protocols

The current data collection processes use a combination of paper forms, telephone and email mechanisms.  In an age where fast and ready internet access is at high levels across the UK,[9] it makes sense that congregational data is gathered electronically and stored within a central secure database.  Moving to a direct electronic entry method of data input by ministers would lessen some of the current workload undertaken by individual presbyteries who at present engage with congregations for the information, input it to their computer system and then send it electronically to the central administration.  This cumbersome method of collection should now be replaced by a more efficient and direct method.


The creation of a password protected central database of information relating to each individual congregation would be helpful not only to the central administration of the Church of Scotland but, if it was also made available to local congregations for reference, it would present them with a repository of useful strategic planning information. At present, a time intensive manual search is required through previous Kirk Session minute books and other records to find some, if not most, of the data transmitted to presbytery.


The Church of Scotland IT department may be able to design a bespoke information submission and retrieval database.  However, given that stable and tested software is already available and in use by the Church of England via the provider, Z/Yen, that may be a logical starting point.[10]   The cost of commissioning a similar system with the same company would be dependent on the functions required and is likely to be available at a reasonable cost.[11]  The availability of an electronic dataset has also been valued as a helpful source for academic research to identify and investigate church growth and the mechanisms leading towards growth (Archbishops' Council, 2017b).


One additional and more controversial idea which might be considered in this area is for the creation of centralised church membership database.  Congregations at this time, keep membership information on paper files or on a computer spreadsheet or database.   A centralised database, which can be accessed remotely, would allow for greater continuity of data, improved security and additional facility.[12]


Recommendation 8: To standardise data - with clear guidelines on data gathering and reporting

As part of the review proposed above, consideration ought to be given to the appropriate level of standardisation and continuity required within data sets.  At present, there is wide variability in how data is collected by Presbyteries and how requests for information are understood by ministers and office-bearers.  Differences in understanding or interpretation directly affect the quality and usefulness of the data eventually submitted. 


The call for specific items of data from the central church to congregations is often frustrated, in part, by a lack of definitive specifications of the data required which leads to variability in local interpretation and submission.  If data is going to be useful for purposes of national comparison and analysis, then every effort must be made to minimise this issue.


Recommendation 9: To include an enhanced attendance census every five years.

In chapter six the clearly expressed will of the majority of Church of Scotland ministers was that data beyond the normal annual submission of congregational information should be collected. [13]  In the submissions received, there was a noted desire that this should include a wide range of congregational data including levels of participation in Sunday and weekday activities. 


An extended attendance census taken over a four-week period would enumerate attendance at Sunday worship services, detailing the number of children and adults present, along with additional information on the number of church members present, the number of adherents, the number of associates of the church and the number of visitors. [14]   The data gathered would then be used to derive a Sunday Worshipping Community statistic. If the local church also has weekday worship events, then a similar process that collects weekday information would allow details of additional ‘Worshipping Communities’.


The true size of a ‘Worshipping Community’ includes those who are ‘members’, ‘adherents’ or ‘associates’ but who were only absent from worship due to illness or disability, in which case this information should also be recorded.  This group is part of the church community, receiving the active care of the church.  It represents an often unrecorded component of the pastoral workload of the local ministry team.


During the census period, any group directly associated with the local congregation should be recorded, together with an indication of the age group involved, using age bands, along with average attendance.  Such groups might include Bible Studies, prayer meetings, Boys’ Brigade, Girls’ Brigade, Church Youth Clubs, Guild, Men’s Fellowship etc.


Groups which use the church premises either on a ‘let’ basis or free of charge, whether charity, community or commercial groups, should also be listed along with an estimate of average attendance (if possible) and the age group likely to be involved.  This information will begin to build a rich picture of the church at work and the level of engagement at worship, in church activity and in community connection


If the cycle of information gathering coincided with the timing of the government’s own population census, the next to be held in 2021 (National Records of Scotland, 2017c), this would allow population data and the derived parish data to be linked directly to congregational participation data so providing a rich stream of information reflecting the life of the local church.  Although the national census is only carried out every 10 years, governments are conscious that the time period is too long in an ever changing social environment and so annual mid-term population estimates are also constructed (National records of Scotland, 2017a).  Ten years between detailed information gathering would likewise be too long for Church planning purposes and so the proposal I make is for a five-year cycle of information gathering.


Recommendation 10: To instruct ministers and congregations to comply with data gathering exercises

It was noted in some of the survey responses that there is variability in the willingness of some ministers and local office-bearers to fully and diligently participate in data gathering exercises.  Various reasons were forwarded for this, including giving the task a low priority within a busy schedule, scepticism in the value of the exercise and even hostility towards statistics for ministry and mission.  Whilst variation in personal viewpoints is to be expected, none the less, noncompliance with a reasonable request for information might be interpreted to run contrary to the oath taken by ministers of the Church of Scotland at their ordination and/or induction prior to taking up an appointment. 

Do you acknowledge the Presbyterian government of this Church to be agreeable to the Word of God; and do you promise to be subject in the Lord to this Presbytery and to the General Assembly of this Church, and to take your due part in the administration of its affairs? (Mission and Discipleship Council, 2013) 

Central councils and committees of the Church of Scotland and Presbyteries, for their part, also need to provide clarity about what data is required of ministers and what items can be expected to be given voluntarily.


Recommendation 11: To develop courses for ministers, in association with academic partners, on empirical dimensions within practical theology

As highlighted in chapter three of this thesis, there is a general need for the church, not only to provide a practical and pragmatic narrative for the use of statistics but also to provide a confident theological underpinning and understanding for the use of statistics in ministry and mission.  As part of this engagement, I would suggest a renewed emphasis on the empirical dimensions of practical theology.  The ability of ministers to be able to work with the type of pastoral cycle outlined by Osmer, as an aid towards a more holistic and renewed ecclesial praxis would, I believe, provide a powerful tool for ministry today. 


It is insufficient simply to put powerful tools into the hands of leaders without also providing relevant training in both the uses and limitations of those tools.  If these tools are to be utilised within an appropriate theological framework, to aid ministry and mission, then appropriate training should be incorporated within the syllabus required for Church of Scotland leaders. 


It was clear from the responses given to the surveys conducted as part of this thesis, that a significant proportion of ministers do not understand the purpose or value of statistics, or how to make use of them in a parish church setting.  The views expressed in the surveys indicated both theological and practical obstacles to affect change.  A small number of ministers suggested that involvement in census type activities might violate God’s will, as evidenced by David taking a census.


Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel (1 Chronicles 21:1 New International Version, 1984).


Some ministers voiced a confidence in their own personal assessment of numbers both within the congregation and the local parish.  Some have a general distrust of statistics as a valid method of measurement or assessment and others hint at their own technical inability to deal with statistical analysis and utilisation.


In addition to the theological and technical aspects relating to statistics, there is also an issue around both awareness and availability of useful datasets, which may helpfully enhance and deepen local demographic and community understanding.


All of this strongly indicates a multi-strand group of training needs ranging from issues around the legitimacy of statistics as a tool for ministry and of its implementation for church management, mission planning and strategic development.  Given the global nature of this training necessary for ministers prior to taking up a position, it would seem reasonable that such training be gained as part of the Church of Scotland training syllabus during a candidate’s time at university.


Recommendation 12: To run training modules for ministers at regular intervals

Both the range and type of data available, as well as the tools to process the data, have changed and will continue to change over time.  It is, therefore, imperative that training courses be available at regular intervals to continue to develop the skills and knowledge of those charged with church leadership.  This aspect of ongoing professional development could be delivered through the new Ministerial Development Review and Continuing Ministerial Development processes.


Recommendation 13:  To provide regular data briefing materials to aid planning and decision making

Data provides evidence, gives insight and helps in the formulation of plans.  In this sense, data is invaluable.  It is recommended that data, with explanatory commentary, is published and distributed regularly by the ‘Statistics for Mission’ or similar group.  Distribution should be prior to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, thus providing commissioners with a full and timely source of information on which debates can take place and decisions taken.


Secondly, further relevant data should be distributed to Presbyteries and Kirk Sessions, as might be required for local discussions and deliberations.  For example, in 2017 the General Assembly was informed by the Convenor of the Council of Assembly that decline was a major concern.  The response elicited was contained in the deliverance,

Issue a call to the Church of Scotland to pray that God will do a fresh work amongst us as God’s people and instruct Presbyteries and Kirk Sessions to consider how best to respond to this call.[15]


The basis for this action emerged from various pieces of data including the Scottish Church Census, Church Membership Data and Church of Scotland Financial Data.  Neither this data nor any helpful briefing material on which it was based was given to Presbyteries and Kirk Sessions to inform and guide their instructed response.[16] 


Recommendation 14: To promote evidence-based research project(s)

As a general principle of good and wise stewardship, the Church of Scotland should engage in more rigorous research into what works in helping churches to grow in Scotland.  The Church of England has given a lead in this area through its Church Growth research programme and it looks towards the fruits of such research guiding its management of resources and strategic decision making (Archbishops' Council, 2017a). 


Research by the Church of Scotland, looking at patterns and models of church growth in Scotland, was discontinued previously by the Committee on Review and Reform. The new pilot scheme for congregational renewal has, however, engaged a university practitioner to evaluate its effectiveness and potential.  Evidence based research is a persuasive mechanism to help guide the church in its decision making and, at its best, will engage the best of quantitative and qualitative methodologies.


Far too much of what is initiated by the Church of Scotland in the realm of mission, planning or strategic initiative is presently unexamined by the standards of modern research.  In business and management, there is a requirement that evidence of success, or at least fruitfulness, is required for a course of action to be prolonged or for an allocation of funds to be continued.  If the evidence does not realise the results or benefits anticipated, then there would be a change of direction to attempt another solution.  This, of course, is the wise principle of good stewardship. 


Recommendation 15: To develop useful church performance indicators

Whilst trend analysis and similar tools might point towards possible trajectories for a congregation, church performance indicators, gathered regularly, would allow presbyteries to be proactive in monitoring and adjusting presbytery plans.  Although church attendance statistics need to be treated with caution, an annual attendance census with detailed demographic information on attendees would be particularly useful, not least in building a database of information which allows better analysis of trends and patterns.  Information of this type, allied to other data, e.g. Sunday School and Bible Class numbers, weekday activity, levels of engagement with the local community and a range of others, would give excellent church health insight.  


In addition to Church Performance Indicators, Mission Performance Indicators could be further developed in order to create some measure of how missionally active and effective congregations are beyond the normal Sunday or weekday activities, frequented by members, adherents or associates of the congregation.


The Local Church Review process, recently introduced, provides a helpful mechanism for ongoing congregational assessment and review and therefore a useful tool for dynamic and ongoing presbytery planning.  This should be developed further.  In its present form the process is non-directive, containing no set criteria against which to judge ‘effectiveness’ in the life and work of a church.  This lack of objective markers or ‘yardsticks’ against which to gauge ‘effectiveness’, severely limits both the ability of local congregations to properly assess themselves and to prepare plans which are carefully calibrated to address their needs.


In the world of non-profit organisations outside the church, there are a number of ways in which the effectiveness of a hospital, school or other agency is measured.  One such tool used by Education Scotland is called HGIOS (How good is our school?) (National Improvement Hub, 2016).  This assessment process is one which engages a suite of quality indicators to be employed by education establishments as an aid to the delivery of its core purposes.  Much of that scrutiny is undertaken locally within an honest self-assessment process, which can be examined and assessed for accuracy by those with oversight within local authorities. 


As a major piece of additional research, I would suggest that this work is both essential, and, given the nature and extent of the decline of the Church of Scotland, also urgent.


Recommendation 16: To assess and monitor the level of ministerial workload

The planning process is closely related to the provision of ministry in each parish and yet there is little assessment of ministerial workload, potential workload or future workload.  This is surely wholly inadequate in a planning process of this type. 


The number of Sunday services, funerals, weddings and baptisms are currently values known or can be easily ascertained by presbytery.  Through regular attendance censuses and computation of the size of the worshipping community, there would be metrics indicating the size of the congregation and some indication of the pastoral load on the ministry.  Gathering information on weekday activities and chaplaincy, where the paid church employees play a role in leadership, would provide further strata of information.  The emphasis would be on gathering information on ‘core’ activities relevant to ministry and not every piece of work undertaken, in order to provide some indication of workload.


This recommendation may not be welcomed by ministers who traditionally, have been able to minister without the requirement to account for the viability of their position.  On a more positive note, active monitoring workloads of ministry could provide presbyteries with a dynamic indication of the need for additional ministries. 


Recommendation 17: To reconsider the nature and duration of ministerial tenure

A major restriction in allowing presbytery plans to be dynamic and flexible relates to ministerial tenure.  The permanent nature of many ministerial positions means that issues relating to performance and capacity, both for the minister and for the congregation involved, are not necessarily a high priority.  The General Assembly has attempted to address this issue through the appointment of a special commission, but, to date, has found it difficult to resolve.[17]  

While varying the arrangements for a minister ‘in situ’ with unrestricted tenure is difficult, the situation presented at a time of vacancy can allow presbyteries, in some circumstances, to designate a congregation as a ‘reviewable charge’ (The Church of Scotland, 2003).  This designation may be appropriate where there is data indicating that changed circumstances may exist requiring some future modification of the congregation’s status or ministry.   Such data may be derived from the aforementioned trend analysis or scenario planning.


Recommendation 18: To rethink the allocation of ministry without reference to parish population size  

Population has been the main determinant of ministry allocation at the macro level.  It might, therefore, appear logical to use the parish population figures as one of the major factors for presbytery planning.  However, as was highlighted in Chapter 8: Appraisal of a Planning Process - Glasgow Presbytery, there was no correlation found between gross parish population size or the ‘Church of Scotland’ proportion of the parish population.[18]


It was also noted in Chapter 9: Case Study - Local Church Statistics, that the mobility of people in a town or urban locality means that church allegiance has little real meaning.  While parish areas may have a use in terms of an area of responsibility (for services[19]), it is limited in its connection to the required resources of a local congregation.

 

Recommendation 19: To reflect on alternative models of ministry in areas of social deprivation.

Clearly, at both national and regional level, ministry to those who suffer the most severe consequences of deprivation, is viewed as important.  At the same time, it appears, from the available data, that the church, as presently configured and ministry as it is traditionally offered, is unlikely, to create and sustain numerically strong communities of faith.[20]


The present system of diverting traditional, ministerial resources away from churches in areas without significant deprivation, often with larger congregations, to churches with smaller numbers based solely on social indicators of material poverty, does not appear to be logical or relate to sound principles of good stewardship.  The ’two times multiplier’ on population figures for ministerial provision in defined priority areas is an arbitrary number and unrelated to any known measure of effectiveness.


Those with the responsibility for presbytery planning, therefore, might consider a fresh approach to resourcing the church’s work among the poor and disadvantaged by looking at alternative models of ministry rather than a simple diversion of scarce ministerial resources. 


Recommendation 20: To challenge negative attitudes

We have noted at various points in the thesis the existence, amongst some ministers, of negative stereotypes and erroneous assumptions concerning the general reliability of statistics and of their worth for church strategic operations in mission, planning, management and a host of other related areas.   In previous generations, it might have been argued that numerical data which was both reliable and inclusive was limited.  However, we now live in a ‘data rich’ world.  In our present context of ‘big data’, the challenge is often not availability but making wise choices around what data to process and utilise. 


Negative attitudes often stem from limited knowledge and/or understanding concerning the role and function of quantitative data.  They can also stem from bad experience or suspicion about how data has been or will be used.  The church has a role nationally to build a strong reputation as a trustworthy and transparent data user and provider, thereby creating a positive culture around the use of data.

 

Presbytery

Many of the more general recommendations above which are directed towards the central administration of the Church of Scotland are also pertinent to the work of presbytery.  Statistical information used for presbytery planning or mission strategy should be relevant, robust and suitable for the task.  I have added below a further group of recommendations which I believe to be particular to the role and function of presbyteries and which follow from consideration of the presbytery case study found in Chapter 8.


Recommendation 21: To engage with professional statistical support for presbytery planning.

In order that data analysis is both robust and consistent, presbytery planning should engage directly with the ‘Statistics for Mission’ group to assist in the creation of local plans. This may necessitate a sub-group of skilled individuals whose job will be peripatetic in nature.  A system of mobile help is already a pattern adopted both by the Mission and Discipleship Council, who employ mission development staff and by the Board of Stewardship and Finance who have stewardship promoters assigned to groups of presbyteries.


Recommendation 22: Presbytery to provide regular opportunities for eldership training towards an enhanced understanding of local church statistics and their use for church planning and goal setting

In order to facilitate implementation of Recommendation 26 below, elders will require some basic tools and strategies to decode statistical information and to appropriate it for the purposes of local church planning.   It is therefore proposed, that presbyteries arrange for the dissemination of relevant training materials and provide regular training opportunities, perhaps with the assistance of the ‘Statistics for Mission’ peripatetic personnel referenced in Recommendation 22.  


Recommendation 23: To set out clear goals and objectives directly related to the task of presbytery planning

Presbytery planning is, at its most basic level, an exercise in resource management.  Presbyteries, having been allocated a fixed number of full-time equivalent (FTE) posts are asked to decide, based on local information, where ministry might be required, at what level of allocation and what type(s) of ministry would likely be most effective.


There is a fundamental question to be answered by presbyteries concerning the purpose of the various ministries.  In the case study, we noted an attempt to frame the answer in terms of ‘mission’, though there was little attempt to outline what ‘mission’ meant.  Was the mission to support and encourage existing congregations who were strong in number?  Was the mission to support and encourage existing congregations who were strong in financial resources?  Was the ministry intended to demonstrate God’s ‘bias to the poor’?  Was the mission to generally serve a local population and to respond to their spiritual needs?  Was mission to be directed beyond the local church to make new disciples?  The answer is likely to be different in different places, dependant on the local context.  However, the answer arrived at, by averaging responses in a scoring exercise detailed in the case study, found in chapter 8, was all of these.  presbytery planning, attempting to satisfy a diversity of goals which may or may not be relevant in each unique locality, is likely to be confused, more so, as observed, when a raft of divergent data is introduced to attempt an exercise in uniform ‘objectivity’.


Recommendation 24:  To plan using appropriate forward planning statistical tools and techniques

The majority of the analysis carried out by Glasgow Presbytery gave consideration to historical data along with whichever current data could also be quickly and easily gathered.  There was little evidence of detailed trend analysis or of actuarial type computations that could predict how congregations might progress or decline, given current conditions, in five, ten or more years.  There was also no analysis of the likely impact related to the addition or removal of FTE posts. 


In a situation where ‘mission’ and not ‘maintenance’ is being promoted as a central concern for presbytery planning, there requires to be some attempt at basic scenario planning or alternative future projections to aid in planning for the distribution of personnel. 

 

Congregation

Congregations are unique, each with their own peculiar and special character and culture.  The recommendations set out below build on the findings of the thesis, as a whole, to highlight a number of changes which would benefit all local congregations.


Recommendation 25: Church courts to fulfil their functions in actively revising and superintending church roll data

The task of leadership in a congregation is one given to the Kirk Session as a body.  The Kirk Session is responsible for the gathering and submission of annual statistics to presbytery for onward transmission to the Church of Scotland central administration.


The church regulations for the keeping of records requires that church membership rolls be revised annually by the Kirk Session.  

The Communion Roll and Supplementary Roll shall be submitted once a year to the Presbytery of the bounds for attestation, and Presbyteries are enjoined to see that each Kirk Session keeps a Communion Roll and Supplementary Roll in terms of this Act, and submits the same annually to the Presbytery (The Church of Scotland, 2000 subsection 14).[21] 

A major issue raised within the General Assembly and other discussion forums is a frustration that church membership rolls are not being revised in accordance with the guidelines set down.  Furthermore, it is also formally set out in the regulations, that one of the functions of presbytery is to superintend the regular revision of church rolls. 


It is usual practice for a presbytery to check annually on the existence and format of church rolls, but questions regarding the veracity of the roll as a correct record are not often tested.  The system, as it operates at present, means that there is little confidence in the communion roll information, the default position being that the roll misrepresents the strength of a local church.  This situation does a dis-service to the importance of church roll information and the churches own understanding of both professions of faith and discipleship.


It is recommended that this annual submission should continue to be engrossed within the Kirk Session minutes.  However, rather than simply being an item for noting the annual statistics, it should also become an active agenda item as part of the ongoing process for reflection, discussion and forward planning, including an annual revising of the goals associated with the congregation’s local church review. 

  

Recommendation 26: Kirk Sessions to collate a roll of ‘adherent’ and ‘associate members’

The gathering of basic membership information has a long history in the Church of Scotland and therefore is useful in providing a baseline figure and an indication of trends.  It is however insufficient, since it provides only a partial picture of the size of the worshipping community, even when it is correctly revised.   To build a fuller and richer depiction, indicating the true dimensions of a local congregation, it is recommended that information is collected on a number of additional categories of participants.  Firstly, the group known as ‘adherents’, that is, those who are regular in attendance but whose details are not contained within the roll of church members, given the regular attendance of this group it is not a practical challenge to collect and collate their information. 


A second group might be termed ‘associates’; that is those who, not being members, still participate in the congregation perhaps at special events and services, or regularly at midweek events and activities where worship is a feature. 


Another group of people whose presence can distort local congregational statistics are ‘visitors’.  Visitors will come to special occasions such as a baptism, wedding, funeral, school or other service.  Visitors may include those involved with other congregations as their base community, those who have travelled from outside the district and those who do not intend to make a return visit (except for another special event). 


Recommendation 27: To expand and enhance the level of demographic information in church roll data

Kirk Sessions are required by church law to keep a number of formal records, including a roll of all communicant members, along with a supplementary roll of people who have been removed from the main roll of members. The information contained in these papers varies in detail from congregation to congregation but often contains only very basic information, such as the name, address, the date and means of joining the congregation (The Church of Scotland, 2000).  It is recommended that for the purpose of compiling a demographic profile of the congregations, both date of birth and gender are added to the information held. 


Church membership data is, by its nature, sensitive information and congregations would be required to gather and keep such information in accordance with best practice as outlined by the Data Protection Act and guidance issued by the Church of Scotland legal department.

 

Recommendation 28: To implement an annual month-long census of attendance of all congregations to compile a ‘Worshipping Community’ statistic

As a concept, ‘the worshipping community’ gives a helpful understanding of the true scale of involvement in worship and so an excellent piece of information for the allocation of ministry resources.  Appendix 10, Worshipping Community Guidelines issued by the Church of England Statistics Unit provides information on the process they have adopted.  In Chapter nine, I have also included a worked example of how the ‘worshipping community’ can be calculated.


My recommendation is to designate one month each year for the purpose of gathering data on all who attend both Sunday and other worship services.   I recommend that the information of who is in attendance is gathered unobtrusively by means of a prepared register of people, comprising registered members, adherents and associates, which is completed by a few designated church elders[22].  Visitors, and any who are found not to be on the prepared list, can be noted on a blank sheet.


I have chosen a scheme similar to Benson and Roberts (2002) but shorter in duration both to match the practice of month long census of attendance conducted by the Church of England and to avoid an overly burdensome collection period, as would be the case with eight weeks or more. 




[1] This estimate based on the current salary scale for Church of Scotland staff being employed at grade 5 and grade 6 together with the necessary additional costs to the organisation of pension contribution and National Insurance contribution.

[2] This estimate may be higher or lower depending on commercial negotiation with companies able to provides the necessary software.  This point was chosen from indications given on possible costs with one such company.

[3] This budget cost for course development is a broad estimate for a short course requiring 200 hours of work if the rate of £25 is applied.  These figures would require further detailed examination.

[4] This figure assumes that the training material is produced by the staff of the ‘Statistics for Mission’ group and is presented as part of the Church of Scotland Ascend training programme.  Final costings would require variables such as place of presentation, number of participants, length of course, whether residential or day to be identified.  The figure given is for 50 participants at an Edinburgh conference location where the whole cost is being met by the Church of Scotland.  Currently the Church of Scotland offsets the cost of courses by levying charges on participants.

[5] All groups and committees within the Church of Scotland require systems of appropriate oversight and accountability making total ‘freedom’ practically unobtainable.  I   suggest that a ‘Statistics for Mission Group’ might exist within the Central Services Committee of the church alongside the IT department.  This places the group outside any one Council and is clearly a resource which supports and informs all.

[6] Mapping information by Datashine, church census information by Brierley, SIMD and Health Board information are a few of the many, diverse datasets, which can provide layers of information not collected by the Church of Scotland, but which might aid congregational, presbytery and national planning.

[7] 1995 Reports to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Board of parish education 4.7.4.4.2

[8] 1995 Reports to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Board of Practice and Procedure p3

[9] The Scottish Government report that 82% of all Scottish adults use the internet (Scottish Househould Survey, 2016). It would be expected that when that figure is adjusted to take into consideration those who cannot use the internet for example a proportion of elderly, infirm and disabled adults then the percentage representing the general population will be considerably higher.  All Church of Scotland ministers have an email identity provided by the Church of Scotland IT department but how many don’t have ready internet access is unknown but presumed to be small, if any.

[10] The system has been in operation since 2011, initially with a limited number of dioceses and is now in use nationwide with the Church of England (Harris, 2017).

[11] Costs are difficult to define without specific specifications but informal discussions with company place it in the ‘10’s of thousands of pounds’.  In terms of software licencing for a large organisation this is in line with the scale of cost normally expected.

[12] These might include regular backups, ease of moving from one roll keeper to another when required and would also allow automatic transference to membership to another congregation when members move home.  It would also greatly enhance the ability to provide members with publications and central communications (if email contact information was to be included).

[13] 80% of those who responded to the census survey indicated that least every 10 years another census should be conducted.

[14] Details of terminology can be seen in Appendix 12: Regulations on Keeping Church Statistics

[15] General Assembly Remits Booklet 2017 p3

[16] Sections of the data may be available to ministers and commissioners to the General Assembly within the Reports to the General Assembly book, supplementary reports and daily papers but no coherent briefing paper or document has been produced to contain all the necessary information.

[17] Reports to General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 2014 23

[18] Derived from the census responses on religious belonging

[19] ‘Services’ in the broad sense implied by the declaratory articles of the Church of Scotland which includes ‘distinctive call and duty to bring the ordinances of religion to the people in every parish of Scotland’ (The Church of Scotland, 2017b) .

[20] According to the data produced by Glasgow Presbytery Planning group, Non-Priority Area parishes averaged attendances of 148 people (median = 133), Priority area parishes average attendance was 67 people (median = 52)

[21] The full text of the regulations concerning the administration of the Communion Roll of a congregation can be found in Appendix 12: Regulations on Keeping Church Statistics.

[22] In the exercise carried out in the Chapter 8 case study only one individual was required each week to complete the paperwork, larger congregations may require 2 or more.