Ministry

How to Create an Effective Survey

  • 22 November 2017
  • Randy Wollf

Taking a survey can feel like a chore. The questions are long, the format is confusing, and there's often no follow-up to the findings. There are lots of reasons why churches choose not to use surveys, but this doesn't change the fact that results from a well-designed survey can provide you with a wealth of information. For churches in particular, survey findings can help you determine your next steps to accomplish your ministry goals. 

The key is designing a survey that people will want to take. Here are several tips on how to design excellent surveys that will provide you with excellent data. You can also watch the accompanying video for additional teaching on each point.   

1. Establish a clear purpose  

If you can't state the purpose of your survey in one sentence, don't go any further. You'll be wasting your time and the time of those who do it.  

Once you identify your purpose, make sure to communicate this effectively. When people understand purpose, they feel empowered. Instead of feeling like a chore that has to get done, the survey can function as a tool that will serve their leaders well.  

2. Create incentives 

Simple incentives like a drawing for a gift card can often motivate people to complete a survey. Plus, a unique giveaway can also serve as a reminder that the survey is happening. 

In addition to physical incentives, help your audience understand that their feedback is an important part of your decision-making process. While it is true that people want to be heard, people will be even more motivated to share their thoughts if they feel assured that their opinions will make a difference.  

3. Craft every question to serve the overall purpose of the survey 

Choosing to Quit: When Ministry Impedes Ministry

  • 19 October 2017
  • Keith Reed

stopI was raised to never give up. A drawing was fixed to my family's refrigerator door that I still remember. A heron is being choked by a mostly-swallowed frog that's gripping its predator’s neck in a desperate act of survival. The caption? Never give up.

We love inspiring images like this. Every story worth telling involves a degree of adversity and the best stories tell us how a hero overcomes extreme odds to achieve something extraordinary. Terry Fox. Captain Sully. The Hickory Hoosiers. 

We feel inspired by these stories and the slogans that fuel them. An entire brand was launched on the premise of these axioms (No Fear). The most beloved team of my childhood was defined by a three-word rallying cry that still gives me goosebumps: refuse to lose.  

Vince Lombardi once said that winners never quit and quitters never win. An inspiring quote fit for any locker room, but in most other settings it's a statement that's misleading and inaccurate. You see, the best winners know exactly when to quit.

To be fair, we must understand how to correctly define winning and losing. The best coaches and players understand the importance of "making adjustments". This is the positive way of saying they recognize what isn't working and choose to do something different. Stated differently, they choose to quit so they can win.

But what coach would actually say that? Quitting is associated with such negativity that it's typically equated to the willful acceptance of failure—a behaviour quickly linked to shame and embarrassment. Little consideration is given to the positive results of surrendering harmful practices or to the healthy consequences of giving something up after careful consideration.

In his book called Necessary Endings, Dr. Henry Cloud uses the word "ending" to describe the calculated decision to give up something up for the sake of a new direction. He uses a pruning metaphor to illustrate the positive effects of proactive termination. A skilled gardener intentionally removes branches that fall into any of three categories because this will produce the desired results: 

4 Ways to Strengthen Your Small Group

  • 30 September 2017
  • Randy Wollf

small group
Have you ever wondered why some small groups thrive while others spin their wheels? Have you ever asked yourself what it would take to take move your group into a healthier position?

Jim Egli and Dwight Marable have discovered that groups that see people accept Christ, increase in size, and multiply into additional groups have four things in common. Their book called Small Groups - Big Impact: Connecting People to God and One Another in Thriving Groups outlines these commonalities. Let's take a look at each factor:  

Prayer

The study found that 83% of groups that had a leader who modelled and facilitated prayer saw someone come to Christ in the past nine months (versus 19% of groups that did not have a praying leader). Praying leaders spend time with God. They actively pray for group members and group meetings. They pray for unsaved people in their lives and in the lives of others within the group. As the leader and others in the group engage in a lifestyle of prayer, people sense God’s presence in the group. Life change happens. People get saved. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that kind of group?

Outreach

When group leaders and their groups have an outreach focus, they are much more likely to see people come to Christ. The study found that 90% of groups with this kind of focus saw someone come to Christ in the last six months (versus 11% of groups without this outreach emphasis). In the book, Egli and Marable talk about the five I’s of reaching out: 

    • Investment - Members spend time with friends in order to share Christ
    • Invitation – Leaders encourage members to invite others
    • Intention - Outreach is a stated purpose of the group
    • Intercession – Group members pray during their meetings for unsaved friend 
    • Imitation - Leaders model relational outreach

If we want to grow our small groups, outreach needs to be an important part of group life.

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