As I get older, I’m becoming more of a “tools guy.” That means I find myself browsing at Home Depot instead of just going in to grab the one thing I need. I’ve also realized that my tool collection is growing…much to my wife’s annoyance.
Among all of my tools I have a single favorite, the Leatherman Skeletool. Even though it’s one of the smallest and cheapest tools I own, I wouldn’t trade it for any other tool because it’s an effective multitool. It does a great job with dozens of different tasks. It’s also easy to use and it’s always with me so I can pull it out whenever I need it.
As a pastor, you probably have lots of tools, too. You have sermon prep tools, planning tools, accounting tools, and communication tools. For me, if there’s one tool in my ministry toolset that’s the most like the Leatherman Skeletool it’s the ministry survey.
This post has been adapted from episode 3 of our podcast. You can listen to the full podcast here, watch the video below, or keep reading.
The survey is my favorite ministry tool because it’s flexible, applicable in many contexts, makes me a more effective leader, and it’s easy to use.
Ministry Surveys are Applicable in Many Contexts
You can run a survey of your entire church or just a small portion. You can focus on people that already meet certain criteria or run a survey of a blind sampling. You can survey your community or local businesses. You can even pull data from existing surveys about your city or region.
Ministry Surveys Can Make You a More Effective Leader
When you use a survey to glean more information or feedback from your people, you’ll be more well-informed when you make your next ministry decision. That means your leadership decisions won’t happen in a vacuum and your people will know that they’ve been a part of the process.
Ministry Surveys are Easy to Use
You don’t need expensive equipment or a complicated process. You can create an online form with Google Forms or you can use a pre-built tool like Disciple Labs to automate your surveys.
Ministry Surveys are Flexible
You can run ministry surveys to gather information about people, to gauge people’s interests, to get feedback from a focus group, to get input for an upcoming decision, and so much more. Below we’ve detailed three significant survey opportunities in ministry.
Spiritual Health Surveys
Spiritual health surveys are something that I was introduced to about a decade ago when I was just coming up in church. A few years ago my wife and I were serving on a church staff that was about two years old. They weren’t previously having small groups, so we joined on to serve over small groups and communication.
As we were developing what we wanted those small groups to look like, we knew that we wanted to gauge our effectiveness and see how we were doing. As a ministry, are we actually making disciples? Are people growing when they’re in our small groups? We wanted to figure out the weak points of what we were doing and the areas that we could improve in.
I started taking a deep dive into these spiritual health surveys and looking at what was out there. I ended up developing our own based on a lot of different surveys and discovered what made sense for gauging a number of spiritual health areas. We’ve refined that over time and have continued to use it. For myself, it’s something that I visit regularly for my personal time with the Lord, just to see how I’m growing and to keep tabs on the areas trending up or down.
We’ve developed the spiritual health survey that we use at Disciple Labs to cover eight different health areas inside a believer’s life. These areas include Bible application, character, evangelism, fellowship, giving, serving, prayer, and worship. We believe these examine the characteristics of a healthy disciple of Jesus and make a big impact in how someone is growing in their walk with the Lord.
Last year, we spoke with a lot of pastors while we were demoing TrainedUp to people, and kept hearing over and over again that they wanted this tool to help them measure spiritual health and how discipleship was happening in their churches.
This week, we launched Disciple Labs. The simplest way to explain it is that it’s an automated survey tool that helps measure the spiritual health of your people. It also keeps track of that data over time so you can see how your people are growing in those eight areas of spiritual health.
You can learn more about Disciple Labs on the site, request a demo, and chat with me right on the site if you have any questions.
The demographic survey is what you would generally think of as the census survey where you answer questions about what you do for a living, how many kids you have, etc.
One of the things that I get excited about is knowing who our people are. In marketing, we call this a persona.
We make decisions based off the information we get from demographic surveys that inform our persona. It helps us make decisions based on reality, not on guesses or estimates.
As a ministry tool, demographic surveys can be hugely valuable and pretty simple to do, especially if you have a Facebook page.
There are two ways that you can do this inside of your church. First, if your church has a Facebook page, looking at your audience insights can give you a decent idea of the people that like your page.
Next, I’d encourage you to take it a step further and do an anonymous survey of your church members to better understand what’s going on in their lives. Are they married? Are they single? How old are they? Do they have kids? How many kids do they have? How old are they, on average? What is their income range? These are all subtle things that help you define your message. They define how you talk about your church. They define the programs that you offer. They define everything that you do as a body and how you target and reach new people.
Demographic surveys are a rich source of data to aid your church in making decisions about your ministry direction, strategy, systems that you need to build, the kind of language you need to use, and the way you need to talk about ministry in your church.
Volunteer Team Survey
The ministry survey I use most is the volunteer team survey, or the engagement survey. There are actually two surveys that I like to run in this category. One survey gathers feedback from new volunteers and the second measures engagement of our existing volunteers.
You can find templates for both surveys on our blog. You can use them as-is or modify them to fit your needs.
Volunteer engagement surveys and volunteer team surveys help measure something that is generally difficult to measure – engagement. In other words, how bought in someone is, how happy they are, how fulfilled they are in their role as a volunteer.
First, running a follow-up survey after a new volunteer’s first time serving can be invaluable in making sure they are in the right spot. It can also identify any weak spots in your training before onboarding the next new volunteer. A critical factor in engaging a volunteer, and retaining them, is ensuring that they join the team well. The follow up survey is vitally important for making sure that your process for onboarding new volunteers is solid.
Second, the engagement survey reveals how well existing volunteers are engaged with your ministry. The survey on our website is 20 questions long and asks engagement related questions like, How fulfilled are you? How much energy do you have after a service? How excited are you when you are able to serve on a Sunday morning or during the week? These questions assess how your team members are enjoying their roles, which then allows you to make decisions on how to better care for your volunteers.
These are the types of surveys that I love to use. I’ve used them with great success in my ministry.