What Does the Network Look Like?

I’m asked every year, “Who is the Extravaganza for?”

My stock answer:  “Well, it’s for everyone…especially for people who work in faith formation with young people and their families.”

It’s not the most satisfying answer, I get that.  But it’s truth.  We work to create an event that connects with as many people as possible.  But I suspect that the “question behind the question” is “Is the Extravaganza for me?”

Here, I’m quite clear:  Yes.

One way to get at the specifics is to look at who currently attends.  We ran the numbers on who was at Extravaganza 2019 in Jacksonville, and I think we learned some interesting things.  Here’s the data:

1) In the event registration, we asked participants if they work full time, part time or serve as congregational volunteers:

  • Full Time:  54.1%
  • Part Time:  17.1%
  • Volunteer:  13.6%
  • No response:  15.2%

2) We asked how many years have you worked in your current position?  479 people responded, and the average answer was 5.25 years.  (So much or the myth that the average length of a call in children, youth and family ministry is 18 months!)

3) We asked how many total years people have worked in ministry.  We were surprised with the answer.  The average response was 15.33 years.  (That’s a lot of experience all gathered together.  That’s a group of people I want to learn from.)

4) We asked about the ethnicity of Extravaganza participants.  Our goal has been to grow in our ethnic diversity, so that the Extravaganza and the Network better represent the vision we believe God has for the church.  Again, we had 479 responses.  For this question, we use the same categories that the ELCA uses.  The responses break down this way:

  • Caucasian/White                                       82.5%
  • Multi-ethnic/Multi-racial                           1.7%
  • African American or Black                       7.9%
  • Asian and Pacific Islander                        1.5%
  • Latino/a                                                         4.0%
  • American Indian and Alaskan Native    0.4%
  • Arab and Middle Eastern                          0.0%
  • Chose not to respond                                 2.1%

5) We wondered how we are broken down by ELCA region.  

  • Region 1       7.3%
  • Region 2     12.3%
  • Region 3     24.4%
  • Region 4       6.7%
  • Region 5     13.2%
  • Region 6       7.7%
  • Region 7     10.6%
  • Region 8       7.1%
  • Region 9       9.8%
  • Chose not to respond:   0.8%

6) We always ask with which areas of ministry do people identify?  This helps us to think about the kind of programming we do at the Extravaganza.  For this question, we asked individuals to check “all the categories that apply.”

  • Campus Ministry                                 10.6%
  • Children’s Ministry                             44.1%
  • Christian Educator                              26.7%
  • Church Relations                                   8.6%
  • Deacon                                                  14.6%
  • Ethnic or Multicultural Setting         7.9%
  • Work in Higher Education                 7.1%
  • Work in Outdoor Ministry                10.9%
  • Pastor                                                   14.8%
  • Retired                                                   1.0%
  • Rural Ministry                                     5.2%
  • Full Time College or Sem Student   7.9%
  • Synod Staff                                           6.1%
  • Urban Ministry Setting                      6.9%
  • Youth Ministry                                   85.0%
  • Did not respond                                  3.5%

7)  And just out of curiosity, we asked people what synods they were from.  The five largest synods (and the numbers from each synod) were:

  • Minneapolis Area               45
  • Southwest California         29
  • St. Paul Area Synod            16
  • Florida/Bahamas Synod    15
  • North Carolina Synod        15

These are just some of the basic questions.  The E-Team is processing and analyzing the Extravaganza evaluation results right now as they prepare for their first Extravaganza 2020 Team Leaders’ Meeting in March.  Once we are able to draw themes out of that, we’ll post what we learned from the evals.

We are thankful for all of you who were a part of the Extravaganza.  Our hope is that it was a deep and meaningful experience for you.  And our hope is that you see yourself as a part of this community of support and care.

The Network exists because of, and for…you.

God’s peace,


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