by Mark Brumley, President and CEO of Ignatius Press | CWR blog
Recently I saw an interview with the controversial educator Michelle Rhee. She is the former chancellor of public schools for Washington, DC. She put in place a rigorous program of educational accountability, including serious testing. There were accusations--not against her but against some teachers--of manipulating test results to meet the higher expectations of the chancellor. And even apart from such cheating, standardized tests are limited in the extent to which they can measure all the pertinent dimensions of learning.
Limited, yes, but numbers do tell us some important things, even if numbers aren't everything. Two cheers for statistics.
The same idea applies to quantitative assessments of church membership. They don't tell us everything but they can tell us something. Which brings me to my point.
First Things recently ran a piece about relative Catholic decline in solidly committed
Catholics compared to committed Protestants. The Catholic decline can be read
in different ways. However it is read, it isn't good news.
To be sure, if the issue were simply about numbers, we could give away big-screen TVs and various bits of SWAG to drive up the church rolls, at least temporarily. Every Sunday a bingo night and every parishioner a winner. But it isn't just about the numbers.