Thursday, April 25, 2013

Environics - First Glance

As part of the "Messiah Commons" project our church been engaged in "missional listening," that is, trying to figure out ways in which God is already active in the areas around us. Part of that, in turn, is basic data gathering. Virtually nothing is more basic than a demographic analysis of precisely who lives near the church in the first place. So we commissioned a company called Environics Analytics to do a study for us. This goes way beyond the kind of census data that is available to anyone with an internet connection and some time to collate data. This is an in-depth analysis using proprietary databases that you have to pay to look at. The main market for these studies is the business world, naturally, but a number of churches have used them, too. In fact, Environics was recommended to me by several churches as the place to go for study of this kind. The result is 12 pages of analysis followed by 50 pages of charts, tables, and maps.

On my first read through a couple of things struck me. One was this:

Strongest Social Values:
  • Consumptivity
  • Importance of Aesthetics
  • New Social Responsibility
  • Rejection of Authority
  • Adaptive Navigation
  • Pursuit of Originality
  • Ecological Lifestyle
  • Sexual Permissiveness
  • Personal Creativity

Weakest Social Values:
  • Regional Identity
  • Religiosity
  • Primacy of the Family
  • Attraction to Natur.
  • Pursuit of Happiness to the Detriment of Duty
  • Heterarchy
  • Aversion to Complexity in Life
  • Ethnic Intolerance

Doesn't that just cut it down to the bone? Or how about this, the concluding paragraph?
The local market area around The Church of the Messiah is made up of younger singles and couples, with some families who have older children or are empty nesters. Many residents are in the early stages of starting their careers and while they may have few family commitments, lead full and active lives. Perhaps because of their high education levels, they tend to be interested in gaining more knowledge of the world around them and in exploring new situations. There tends to be some affiliation with the Anglican Church in the market area, but residents often do not exhibit a strong desire for a richer spiritual life. Instead, residents are continually looking to connect with people in their communities and to help them out whenever they can. A third space, such as a coffee shop, could provide a valuable meeting place for residents to converse with others allowing them to learn what is happening in their neighbourhood and how they can be a part of it. Any space created should be an organizations’ best foot forward and provide these detail-oriented residents with only the best experience, aesthetics and products. With their willingness to participate in community organizations and their enthusiasm to adopt new practices learned from others, residents might be open to the expanded presence of The Church of the Messiah, especially if it helps bring people together, deepens community bonds and creates a comfortable place where residents can strike up an engaging conversation with their neighbours.

There are many other gems in here as well. For example, check out this one:

Religious Affiliation in the Parish of the Messiah

That means that we've got 5,179 people in our neighbourhood who, when asked, report being "Anglican." Where the heck are they on Sundays?! Lol. Sleeping in, apparently. There an additional 12,235 who claim no religious affiliation at all. So you can see how useful this kind of information is.

I have a lot more work to do with it, natually, but this is going to feed our planning for years to come. I'm very pleased that invested in this study.

No comments: