Last month, the LPCC staff completed a report on Soul Table, which provided some very good news about how well the program performed. The report was very detailed, running over thirty pages long. We wanted to share some of the highlights of the report in this brief document. The full PDF report can be found and downloaded under "downloads" located below.
When Soul Table was conceived, we set some benchmarks, in terms of attendance and revenue. The program was designed to bring new people into the building on Sunday nights. It was meant to be a more secular approach to building community. It featured a free dinner, a band playing secular music, and speakers who spoke on topics ranging from social justice, the environment, and spirituality-lite. We hoped that within a year, this approach would be attended by 60 people a week, and generate $14,000 in revenue. There was also a hope that at least some of the Soul Table people would be attracted to other programs in the LPCC community, and perhaps even attend our Sunday morning worship services.
The pandemic lockdown shut down Soul Table after six months, but the numbers show it was well on its way to meeting these benchmark targets. Just half a year into the program, Soul Table was attracting an average of 45 people a week, three-quarters of the way towards our goal of sixty people. This average includes some LPCC members, who were always in the minority. We count them because many were people who rarely came to Sunday worship, along with others who came to ST only occasionally. There were lots of nights when we attracted 60 or more ( up to 90). It became clear that social-justice oriented talks drew in the largest crowds. In terms of money, Soul Table had generated over $11,000 dollars in revenue in just six months. Had it stayed open for another two months, it could have easily reached the goal for the year of $14k.
It has become clear during the pandemic that Soul Table successfully attracted new people to our regular LPCC worship service and other online programs. Every week, people who started out at Soul Table now attend our Sunday worship services, meditation classes, prayer and hymn sing. Our goal was to bring new people into our community, and it worked. Had Soul Table had a full year to operate, this trend would have brought even more people into our LPCC community.
According to our stated goals, Soul Table was working well. Now, our staff and council are considering next steps. As long as the pandemic is in full swing, there is no prospect of reviving Soul Table in its original, in-person form. We have learnt a lot from the experience, and there are things we would do differently the next time. Rev. Milton is working on a proposal about what those next steps should be, and will be working with members of council and the congregation to decide what happens after Soul Table. But what is clear at this point is that Soul Table was a genuinely successful church growth strategy, with multiple lessons for what we can do going forward. And that is something to celebrate.
Rev. Stephen Milton
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