Does the survey reflect who we are? (2019 Congregtional Survey)

(2019 Congregational Survey)

Does the survey reflect who we are?

OK, I’m going to spend a little time on some technical jargon. Bear with me a bit – I’ll get to the good stuff soon!

In order for a survey to accurately reflect a population, you need to determine how many are in your population, your confidence level, and your confidence interval. I assume our population is around 8,000, we wanted to have 99% confidence in our results, with a 5% margin for error. Entering this information into a web-based solution, I’m told we need 615 survey results. Since we received over 700, we say the survey results are statistically significant. In other words, we seem to have received enough feedback to make it worth our time to discuss. If you participated – thank you for helping to make this effort worthwhile!

According to Susan DeFranzo of Snap Surveys, “surveys are useful in describing the characteristics of a large population…to gather targeted results in which to draw conclusions and make important decisions.” This is what we want to do! We have Council, leadership teams, and staff all using the survey results (in combination with focus group feedback) to draw conclusions, prioritize our resources, set short-term and longer-term goals, and communicate clearly.

But does the survey really reflect who we are? Yes and no.

In general, people who are more active here are likely to feel more connected and be willing to complete the survey. Nearly 1 out of 7 survey responses were from 10th graders, done on their Rite of Confirmation day. We can see other pockets of responses too that indicate bumps and dips that probably don’t accurately mirror “our population.”

And as a church, we’re called to consider the people not here yet. This survey likely doesn’t have feedback from people who are here sporadically or on the periphery, and certainly does not consider the community around us.

So while I’m excited to use this data to help our church leaders set a course, I am also grateful we will allow space for the Holy Spirit to work in ways that a survey can’t anticipate. Praise be to God!