For many years now, VitalChurch Ministry has been conducting diagnostic assessments. Not only do we work with individual churches, but denominations also bring in our diagnostic experts to evaluate their member churches. Over the years, we have worked with hundreds of churches to help them diagnose their internal issues, discover what they are doing well and what can use improvement, and get a better understanding of the makeup of their congregations.
One of the components of all our church assessments is a church member survey (or a congregational survey, if your church doesn’t have membership). This anonymous survey allows us to give churches insight into their attendees and learn things that they may not be aware of.
Recently, we made this survey more readily available and affordable by making it a stand-alone piece that churches could administer largely on their own. We did this because we know that many churches cannot afford to bring in our team for a full diagnostic assessment, but they could still benefit from the information that a church member survey can reveal.
Here are some important things our church member survey, which we call our Church Vitality Survey, can tell you about your congregation:
Basic Demographic Information
Looking around your church on a Sunday morning can give you a good sense of who attends your church when it comes to things like age, gender, and race, but some things may surprise you if you dig a little deeper. For example, a church member survey may reveal that a majority of your church members drive more than ten miles to get to your church every Sunday, or that most of the people in your church have been believers in Jesus for more than a decade. This type of information will tell you that your church may not be doing a great job of reaching those in your church’s immediate community, or those who are new believers or unbelievers. As another example, you may have always thought that your church was doing a good job of ministering to all age groups, but a church member survey could reveal that there are actually very few people attending your church in the 18- to 30-year age range.
Insight Into Your Congregation’s Foundational Beliefs
Do your church members truly understand the gospel message? Are they solid in the fundamentals of the Christian faith? Don’t just assume that the answer is “yes” to both of those questions. You might be shocked at how many church-going people have a misunderstanding of what it means to be saved by grace through faith, or who don’t see the importance of things like prayer, serving, giving, or sharing their faith.
Your Congregation’s Thoughts and Feelings about Your Church
While it’s important that your church teaches biblical truth, it’s also important that people feel a sense of belonging in your church. We often use words like “family” and “body” to describe our congregations, but these terms don’t always ring true with church attendees. They may sit in your building with a group of people every Sunday, and even get involved in mid-week Bible studies and activities, but still feel like outsiders—not at all like they’re part of a family or a body.
An anonymous survey that contains well-worded and insightful questions can help church leaders get a good understanding of their members’ sense of acceptance and belonging.
Using the Results of a Church Member Survey
A church member survey isn’t just about pointing out your church’s shortcomings. It’s also about finding out what your church members love and appreciate about the church. You may learn that people have a desire to serve more or would get more involved if given the opportunities, or that they love how welcoming your church is to new attendees. You might never know these things if you don’t ask!
At the completion of your church survey, diagnostic experts from VitalChurch Ministry will produce a report that includes a summary analysis of each question. They will also give you the opportunity to schedule a one-hour follow-up call with one of our team members who will go over the survey results and offer insights into how your church could use them moving forward.