Do You Really Know Who’s at Your Church? (and How to Find Out)

What’s the makeup of your church? Mostly young families? Singles? Seniors? Church people? Unchurched people? Diverse? Homogenous?

How well are people getting connected? To what degree are they embracing your vision? Do they serve? Invite people?

Because good pastors are shepherds who know the sheep, they typically have some idea about these things. But I would bet that most pastors don’t know some of the answers to the questions above as well as they think (I know I didn’t).

church survey

Borrowing largely from a questionnaire described in Andy Stanley’s Deep and Wide, we recently took a few moments in a Sunday service for people to fill out a brief church survey (here is a PDF of the survey).

We did this survey two years ago and will do it every year from here on out. This process is fascinating and enlightening. And it allows you to make some needed adjustments based on what you learn.

For instance, here are some things we learned from our most recent church survey:

1. We are continuing to reach a significant number of unchurched people. 19% of our regulars and 21% of our guests did not attend church in the three years prior to coming. Additionally, 68% of our regulars invited at least one unchurched person to church in the last year and 27% invited three or more unchurched people. These are encouraging numbers.

2. We are growing in diversity. Unfortunately, we didn’t track ethnicity information in 2012. But more people are coming who aren’t married and/or don’t have kids than we expected (45% don’t have children under 18 years old). Additionally, 39% of the non-white people have been at our church less than a year. This is a good trend.

3. About 40% of people seem to have come from either out-of-town or small, lesser-known churches. Almost 20% of our church were unchurched. About 25% came from our original sending church. About 15% came from five other area churches. We are not getting that many people from other big local churches.

4. Involvement percentages are down across the board. Compared to our 2012 survey, we had lower percentages of people who participated in Inviting, Small Groups, Serving, Classes, and Membership. This is not surprising considering our numerical growth. As the church has grown and ministry options have expanded, I’ve expected those numbers to drop. However, we do need to take this to heart, remember who is to blame for the 80/20 rule, and work to close the gap.

5. People who serve seem more likely to be in community than people in community are likely to serve. 81% of those who have served have also been in a small group, while 65% of those in small groups have served. Might this mean that serving is a more effective “next step” for people to eventually own the ministry? This is something we’re exploring.

6. Unchurched new people really like the church but don’t know how to take next steps. 77% of our unchurched guests said they would “definitely” invite an unchurched friend to come. Additionally, 62% of our unchurched guests said they would like to take a next step with their involvement but don’t know how. Put these together and you realize they like the church a lot, but we need to get much more intentional and obvious about helping them take next steps.

We learned a lot of other interesting things, but I’ll leave it here.

The bottom line is — without this kind of information — leaders are mostly guessing about who is in their church, where they came from, how involved they are, and what to do about it.

So, rip of these questions or make your own — but taking the time to use a church survey to gather this kind of information will really help you.

Published by Luke Simmons

I was born and raised in Denver, CO and lived there through high school. Then I moved to Champaign, IL where I attended the University of Illinois and played on the Fighting Illini baseball team. I was married in December, 2001 to Molly, who I met at the U of I. In June of 2002, we moved to Phoenix and have been here ever since.

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