September 18, 2017
Death of Sunday School Module 2: Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood: A Look at Demographics
Kim asked us to take a look at the demographics of the towns where our congregations are located. She shared two websites with us: One is neighborhoodscout.com. Click here for the Hastings-on-Hudson information. The other is Census.gov with an eye torward the quick facts.
Looking at age distribution alone for Hastings-on-Hudson per neighbhoodscout.com, and recognizing that we draw from more than just Hastings but the numbers likely do not shift significantly for the surrounding areas, we see:
- Under age 5 = 4.7%
- 5 to 17 = 21.1%
- 18 to 24 = 5.1%
- 25 to 34 = 6.0%
- 35 to 54 = 28%
- 55 to 64 = 16.2%
- 65 and over = 19%
For the first week of RE, we had 30 children and youth (3 in the nursery, 7 in the PreK - 1st grade class, 6 in the 2nd - 5th grade class, 4 in the middle school class, and 10 in Friday night youth group). The numbers in RE at the start of the year reflect the age demographics for our surrounding community. When looking at fluctuating membership or attendance at FUSW, we have to consider the demographics around us.
It may feel to people like there are less than recent years because we have moved youth group to Friday night, at the request of the youth, and the children's classes go directly to class, at the request of families. Last year, only 1 children's class started in worship so only that class of children was being sung out.
We also have to consider how differently younger generations build community and that Sunday morning RE competes heavily with sports and other activities, which we know affects us now and will more so in the spring. Breaking out of the Sunday morning model will be important to explore. The youth group is already there, meeting on Friday night because that's when they are available. We can't let the perception build that not seeing youth on Sunday morning means we aren't serving our youth. Next year, if we have enough facilitators, we may explore offering OWL at a time other than Sunday morning and open it up to the community.
We can only serve to the extent that we have consistent volunteer leaders.
Finally, Kim posed a question that I thought was interesting in terms of broader demographics: Who are we called to serve? Are we called to serve the people who find their way inside our doors? Are we called to serve the neighborhood/surrounding community?