I have not written much about our 20/20 Vision process lately.
It has been dormant while St. Timothy’s searches for a new rector believing that whoever God calls to be the shepherd of our flock should be an active participant in framing our parish vision for the future.
But that should not stop us from research and examination of useful information when that 20/20 Vision process picks up again hopefully next year.
So here is a good news story to keep your attention focused on our 20/20 prize.
Nielsen is out with a very interesting new study of the attitudes of women. What makes this study useful for our work in the Church Growth Program is the breakdown of the data from the survey results across ethnic and other demographic lines that make it a good resource for planning mission and ministry programs.
We’re learning from the 2010 Census data about the profound changes in demographics reshaping our country. Those changes are not just ethnic they are also being reshaped by the changing role of women in the workplace and in our society. Hispanics are the fastest growing ethnic group and their attitudes about optimism and opportunity will have major impacts on media, retail and manufacturers now and in the years ahead—and provide lessons about of message of hope and opportunity for an optimistic role for woman in the Episcopal Church.
The Nielsen study offers good news for our mission and ministry work in the vineyard over the next year working congregation by congregation to help each devise a church vitality and growth strategy that works for them. Its focus on attitudes about optimism and opportunity are very important benchmarks for our church vitality and growth work ahead.
So what are the headlines from this Nielsen study?
- Optimism was highest among African American and Hispanic women, especially how they viewed the opportunities they have had compared with those of their mothers.
- Women of today are not only optimistic for themselves, they expect their daughters to have more opportunity than they do.
- American women are heavy users of technology – even if they aren’t early adopters. Women of all ethnicities use media in similar ways, with one key exception: smartphones. Just 33 percent of Caucasian women have a smartphone in their household, compared to penetration rates in the 60s for women of other ethnicities.
I recommend this Nielsen Report to you: Women of Tomorrow: U.S. Multicultural Insights.
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Image by no22a via Flickr
The U.S. Hispanic market has grown substantially over the past ten years according to the 2010 Census. in fact, in California Hispanic population growth made up more than 90% of total state population growth over the decade.
The U.S. Census 2010 reported that U.S. population increased by 27.3 million people, or 9.7% from 2000 to 2010, down from 13.2% growth the previous decade. More than half of the 9.7% population growth was in the Hispanic population which increased from 13% to 16% by 2010. That translates into 50.5 million Hispanics in 2010 compared to 35.3 million from the 2000 census or 55.7% of the total growth in the U.S. population during the decade.
U.S. Hispanic population growth occurred well beyond the traditional states. South Carolina’s Hispanic population grew by 148% increase to 5% of the total state population in 2010 from 2% in 2000. Alabama saw an increase of 145% to 4% from 2% of total population. Tennessee was third with a 134% increase, with Hispanics now comprising 5% of its total population up from 2%. Kentucky was fourth, with a 122%, or 3% up from 1 percent. Arkansas ranked fifth with 114%, followed by North Carolina with 111% and Maryland and Mississippi with 106%each. South Dakota had a 103% increase in its Hispanic population.
While the total numbers of Hispanics in each of these states is not large, the trend reflects the broadening diversity of the US population. Meanwhile, states such as California and Florida still continued to attract Hispanics, but at a lower rate than other states. California Hispanic population grew 28% during the decade with Hispanics now comprising 38% of the Golden State population up from 32% in 2000. But 90% of California’s overall 10% population growth over the last decade was Hispanic.
Implications for 20/20 Vision
The work of the church is being influenced and enriched by the increasing ethnic and cultural diversity. Here in Contra Costa County the fastest growing area of the county over the decade was the East CoCo market around Antioch and Brentwood with a large share of that growth in the Hispanic population.
While the recession has taken a toll in housing growth and population everywhere the East county area has been hit hardest. This is a key area of focus for the Diocese of California and St. Timothy’s can and should be actively involved. To our East and South the ethnic population make-up is more Asian than Hispanic. So St. Timothy’s is located in the midst of a great melting pot—and a great symphony of voices.
Our new rector must be open to such diversity and creative in engaging the parish community in the opportunities it brings. And like it or not, St. Timothy’s will be key to the success of the Diocese of California area ministry strategies for congregational vitality.
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Image via CrunchBase
The Nielsen Company is out with a new report profiling the changing American family. Its findings are a good companion for the US Census 2010 data trickling out now for use by the Search Committee in preparing a parish profile. While generalized across the Nielsen sample, it nonetheless provides a big picture context for the changes we all see around us.
You can download The New Digital American Family report yourself directly from Nielsen. Here are some quick facts from the study that provide important implications for our parish future:
- Time Shifting TV Watching Increases Family Viewing Together. The higher family income the less TV is watched but families tend to spend more time watching with kids because of DVRs and services like Netflix and Comcast on Demand than low income households.
- Hispanic Families use more Mobile Services for Family Connection. They are more likely than the average household to have cell phones with Internet (55%) and video (40%) capabilities and text more than any other ethnic group sending 943 texts per month.
- African-American Watch more TV and use More Mobile Minutes. They own more TVs per household and spend almost 40% more time watching TV, especially premium cable channels, than the U.S. average. African Americans use more mobile voice minutes per month—1,261—than any other group.
- Asian-Americans have big appetite for online media, logging 80 hours on the Internet and viewing 3,600 web pages, 3.5 times more than any other ethnic group.
- Marriage is declining. In 1960, 72 percent of the adult population was married. By 2008, that number plummeted to 52 percent. The college educated have the highest marriage rates; those with a high school education or less, the lowest rates.
Church Lessons from the Nielsen study
Ward and June Cleaver have left the building. It’s not the traditional post-WW2 family anymore and that has implications for marketing firms (AND CHURCHES) trying to reach customers and audiences in key demographic groups. What are some of those implications?
- Hard Choices about Youth Ministry. Family units today are multi-cultural, older, and increasingly childless households. A focus on youth ministry as a basis for growing the church is likely to be less effective than in the past. It still is an important part of church life but critical mass in kids will be harder to get. This argues for collaboration across parishes and with the Diocese to build shared youth ministry programs serving wider audiences with an ever changing menu of programs and services many of which are mobile or create online networks.
- Slow Organic Growth in New Households with Children (38 million) will force business to steal market share from competitors or expand product segmentation to fit multi-cultural lifestyles For St. Timothy’s and the Diocese this means collaboration on adult ministry programs and shared services since no parish is likely going to be able to do everything.
- Every Day is Pentecost with ‘Welcome Home’ in many Cultures, Ages and Voices. It also means our ‘welcoming tradition’ is both more important than ever before and needs to be communicated in many different ways to reach a multi-cultural audience. One size does not fit all anymore, if it ever did. Reaching target audiences to introduce them to St. Timothy’s requires a network of multi-channel messages for reaching different types of families, using differences in media preferences, device usage and time-shifting behavior to help people ‘do church’ on their time while feeling “connected” to a community of faith they can call home and where they feel welcome, respected, wanted and loved for who they are just as Jesus taught us.
- Hispanics represent a large and fast growing part of California’s future with distinctive cultural habits that we must respect to get our message out. At the same time Nielsen found there are two myths of Hispanic consumers which must be recognized
- Myth#1: you can be successful reaching Hispanics with general market campaigns
- Myth# 2: Hispanics are late technology adopters, so don’t use online and mobile.
- St. Timothy’s Market Service Area also includes a Growing, diverse Asian community. The messaging and outreach strategies for the Asian community in the Dougherty Valley and San Ramon parts of our service area is different than the Hispanic focus on growth in East Contra Costa County. So our messaging will also need to reflect those differences. If the Diocese is successful in developing area ministry programs to support parish needs those programs are going to be multi-cultural so they can meet this broad diversity of needs.
Nielsen tells us the New Digital American Family has arrived at a ‘demographic inflection point’ that will change the way everything from advertising, product design and church are offered and accepted in a competing marketplace of ideas and messages.
Doing Church is going to be an Interesting Experience and the rector we choose is going to be called upon to work in ways quite different from our ‘DIY’ traditions where each parish or congregation does their own thing. We may not want to change but change is still coming our way because of technology, changing demographics and the changing needs of those we seek to serve.
Resistance is futile—besides our growing family is so rich with new cultural lessons to teach us we won’t want to miss it.
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