In an attempt to break out of my pandemic-induced-information-vacuum-bubble I asked the congregation to fill out a brief 9-question survey. My goals for the survey were simple, find some rudimentary gauge for attitudes and preferences for the congregation. I think the survey succeeded in providing this data. Granted, the survey wasn’t scientific and the questions were amateur; nevertheless, I read from the results that we’ve largely been on the right track, and that there’s room for some variation in the future.
Here’s my breakdown:
What I take away from this question is that we are largely of the same mind when it comes to COVID-19. We do not have a sharply divided congregation in terms of whether the virus is dangerous or not. Over half of the respondents are very to extremely concerned about the church being a potential spreader.
Question 2 is a set up for the next question. In order to get a sense of how activity has been impacted, this question served as a kind of baseline.
These responses sent me to prayer more than any other. Part of my being in an information bubble is that I stay busy with church matters no matter what. I stay in contact with church leaders who are busy with church no matter what. This experience skews my view of church activity. My hope was that as a follow up to question 2, I could see some measure of how the virus had impacted the average person’s engagement with church. The fact that almost two-thirds of respondents said their engagement has dropped off significantly is both sobering and not surprising. More than anything, I think this question indicates “the feels” of how people are relating to church. There are many reasons for this that I don’t need to list. Nevertheless, this Q&A weighs heavily on my mind and spirit.
This Q&A will affect my future plans and decisions more than any other. If nothing else it tells me that we need to offer some variety in worship for 2021. Almost a third of respondents flat out want some variety. We’re trying some variety in December with Zoom, and Drive-In worship services. I hope December will give us some clues as to what options are viable for us.
I’ve had some short conversations with people about what the “unsure” response might mean. It could mean uncertainty based on vaccine availability. It could mean all the options are equally attractive/unattractive. It could mean that 2020 has us all stymied and the old brain just ain’t getting in gear like it used to. Suffice it to say, 2021 will see some variation and experimentation as opposed to waiting for a magic date when everything goes back to the way it was pre-pandemic.
All things old are new again. One thing we’ve learned for the 8,764th time is that people connected with a small group stay engaged with their faith and their church more so than those who are not a part of a small group. Christians have known this for a couple of thousand years now. It’s kind of like saying diet and exercise are important factors in one’s physical health. Yet, some of us still experience resistance to beneficial practices.
The humble newsletter made a comeback here. In the age of more social media platforms than I can name, the church newsletter shone through. This response interests me. I’m going to give our newsletter and web site some attention in 2021. Send me your thoughts.
The missions committee is the hot new night spot that everyone wants to go to. What the pandemic did not do was restrict the need for or our enthusiasm for reaching out to the community. Gladly, Skyland UMC has responded. The missions committee has been as active as ever. Do stay in touch with their efforts. The survey data shows that you want to do this.
There’s a lot to think about from this Q&A. Part of what I read from this item is encouragement that the people of Skyland are still keen to follow Jesus in these unusual days. Thanks be to God.
This question is where the amateur nature of the project showed itself the most. In setting up the questionnaire, I inadvertently omitted a setting that allowed a respondent to fill out more than one choice. That said, people could change their choices. So what we have here is either everyone’s first and best choice, or just garbage in garbage out. I’d like to think that this echoes the local option of Q5 for the newsletter and that our own web site needs more of our attention than a new Instagram account.
The next question about what one thing should we continue doing was a free answer and more difficult to quantify for this blog post. If I come to any conclusions about the responses, I’ll post those conclusions separately. For now, we move on to two simple demographic questions about age, and whether their are children at home or not.
I don’t have much wisdom or insight about this information. It’s close to what I expected. Do you have any insights for me? One thing I was surprised about was the total number of respondents, 148. That was well beyond anything I had hoped for. Thank you for your participation. That high response alone is a sign of life and hope. Continued blessings to you during these days.