Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
People get involved in the local church to develop relationships, grow spiritually and participate in the organization’s mission. A church survey can help assess this involvement.
Members benefit from the opportunities they are given. 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.
Members can become frustrated when they perceive that the church is not meeting their core spiritual needs.
The interesting dynamic, is that church conflict is often avoided.
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.
Why should a church solicit feedback from members?
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 it’s broke”.
My goal in saying this was to help staff 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.
Clearly define and communicate the vision and mission statement, to help 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.
Questions that ask things like how church information is communicated, how well members understand services provided, how well the spiritual needs of their family are being met.
13 Sample Questions for a Church Survey
1. Overall, I am satisfied as a member of ABC Church.
This question provides a high-level understanding of church member contentment.
2. ABC Church cares about its members.
People who give time and money to a local church want to know that someone cares about them.
3. I receive the information I need regarding church projects and decisions.
Members who support a church financially have a vested interest in new projects and financial decisions that impact the church.
4. I have a good understanding of the church’s mission and vision.
Every member should be able to recite the mission statement. If they don’t know what the church is trying to achieve, there is an excellent opportunity to get more people on board with what you are trying to do.
5. ABC Church meets the spiritual needs of its members.
Churches develop members by teaching spiritual concepts that strengthen and develop Christ-like character and behaviors.
6. I understand the process and requirements of becoming a church volunteer.
Every church recruits volunteers a little differently. Make sure members know how to get involved.
7. I feel like I am part of a team helping to fulfill the church mission.
People who join a church do so because of a passion for its mission. When members feel like they are a part of a team to achieve that mission, they feel valued and engaged.
8. ABC Church is welcoming to visitors and new members.
It is common for church members to have close friends in the ministry. However, a church needs to make new people feel welcome so they can easily assimilate into the church body.
9. I believe the church’s mission and vision drive decisions.
The beauty of a mission and vision statement is that it provides clarity as to what a church is trying to achieve. Church decisions should always be pointing back to achieving its core mission.
10. I am provided with opportunities for spiritual growth and leadership.
The work of the ministry is to make disciples. Spiritual growth and leadership development are a means to that end.
11. I believe ABC Church cares about the spiritual development of my family.
Parents care about the spiritual development of their children and expect the church to partner with them to develop kids who have a passion to live for Christ.
12. I intend to continue my membership at ABC Church.
This is a tricky question but can shed light on how committed members are to the church.
13. Please tell us one thing ABC Church could do to better achieve its mission.
This question can provide church leadership with ideas that could be used to further its mission.
Add a rating scale to the survey tool 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.
Here is an example rating scale.
Strongly Disagree = 1 Disagree = 5 Strongly Agree = 10
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Other things to consider as you create a church survey:
- 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 question 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. contribute to certain perceptions.
- Don’t take negative comments personally; it’s not about you. It’s about the process. Consider negative comments as the gift of learning about 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.
If you are a member of SCM you can log in to your account here to access an editable copy of a church survey.
If you are not a member and would like access to editable copies of these documents, you can learn more here.
Solicit Feedback Electronically
Technology is constantly evolving, and there are many free tools to gather this type of feedback electronically.
Google Forms is one that I’ve used. It’s pretty simple to set up and get the feedback you are looking for. Here is a tutorial to help get you started.