Mark Steyn calls himself a demographics bore, but anyone who has read American Alone knows that demographics are indeed destiny.
And not just for countries and subcontinents, but also for congregations and school districts.
Today the Wall Street Journal ran a long story on the number of churches running into terrible financial difficulties and even foreclosure on their church buildings because of shrinking congregations and budgets.
This week as well the California Teachers Association announced a push for a new initiative to raise the sales tax by 1% to make up for budget shortfalls –this despite a declining school age population. I might actually vote for increased school funding via a dedicated sales tax, but first I have to be persuaded of the need, and simply shouting fire isn’t enough anymore.
Today’s program features Mike Regele, CEO of MissionInsite.com and DecisionInsite.com, two firms that deal with demographic forecasting for churches and school districts respectively. I have known Mike for 20 years, and believe with him in the power of demographics analysis completely. As a result, i am sympathetic to churches and school districts that have fallen on hard times, but I also have to wonder if the folks running them have taken the time to ask some basic questions, such as whether there are enough bodies in a community to fill the pews and whether there are too many schools for a particular community?
Only a couple of decades ago, a lot of informed guess work went into the decision of where to plant a church or build a school. These days with the programming and data at the fingertips of many extraordinary specialists, it is very hard to justify new taxes (or fund drives) without first seeing in black-and-white a demand analysis. One good effect of the recession may be to force public entities and not-for-profits into the 21rst century when it comes to planning.