People get involved in the local church to develop relationships, grow spiritually and participate in the mission of the organization.
The member benefits from the opportunities they are given and the church benefits through member financial support and free labor to fulfill its mission. If done well, it is a win-win!
Tensions arise when either party feels like their needs are not being met. Church leadership can become frustrated from dealing with high maintenance members who seem to ask for more than they contribute and members can become frustrated when they perceive that the church is not meeting their core spiritual needs.
The interesting dynamic of the church is that conflict is often avoided because Christians want to be perceived as kind – often resulting in issues not being resolved.
The other interesting dynamic is that the leadership is often unaware of member frustrations.
This can sadly result in unresolved issues and member defection.
Soliciting feedback is one way to determine the perception of how well the church is meeting member needs.
I used to tell my employees, “I can’t fix it if I don’t know its broke”.
My goal in saying this was to help them feel comfortable sharing the sometimes difficult issues that need to be dealt with.
I discovered that complaints are often a gift and a learning experience.
Church leaders need to understand church member perceptions and develop systems to meet their needs – as long as their needs fall under the umbrella of the vision and mission of the organization.
This is another reason to have a clearly defined and communicated vision and mission statement which helps church members understand what the church is trying to achieve.
When developing a church survey, it is important to think about those things that affect the member experience.
Ask questions about processes that impact the experience, things like how church information is communicated, how well members understand services that are provided or how well the spiritual needs of their family is being met.
13 Sample Questions for a Church Survey
Here’s an example which can be downloaded here and modified to fit your organization.
- Overall, I am satisfied as a member of ABC Church.
- ABC Church cares about its members
- I receive the information I need regarding church projects and decisions.
- I have a good understanding of the vision and mission of ABC Church.
- ABC Church meets the spiritual needs of its members.
- I understand the process of becoming a church volunteer.
- I feel like I am part of a team helping to fulfill the mission of ABC Church.
- ABC Church is welcoming to visitors and new church members.
- I believe our mission and vision drive church decisions.
- I am provided opportunities for spiritual growth and leadership.
- ABC Church cares about the spiritual development of my family.
- I intend to continue my membership at ABC Church.
- Tell us one thing ABC Church could do to better achieve its mission?
Adding a rating scale to the survey tool helps to determine the degree of respondents agreement or disagreement with the question. I like to use a 10 point scale because it creates a more sensitive instrument.
- Keep the survey as short as possible and limit the questions to 15 or less. The longer the survey the lower the response rate.
- Make sure the scale is clear so there are no accidental ratings. If someone accidentally rates all questions with a 1 and means to rate a 10 your data will be skewed.
- Take some time to conduct a focus group with a select group of members to drill down on responses.
- Add a comment section with adequate writing space. You will often learn more from the comments than the scores.
- Make the survey process as easy as possible by providing easy and quick access to the tool and response locations.
- Add a section for demographic information so you can determine if age, gender, etc contributes to certain perceptions.
- Don’t take negative comments personally, its not about you its about the process. Consider them a gift of learning what can be improved.
- Don’t spend the time or energy asking for feedback unless you are committed to communicating the survey results and a plan to address issues.
Lastly, this can be an expensive project if you hire a company to administer a survey. However, there are affordable and even free software solutions.