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Help for Congregations

Congregational Surveys — Discover Your Strengths!

Research Services offers two options for congregational surveys. Both are based on the U.S. Congregational Life Survey.

Option 1

The first is a basic four-page survey that helps you learn about your worshipers (who they are, how they're involved in the congregation, and what they value there) and compare the answers of your worshipers to those of worshipers in a national random sample of congregations that have already participated in this survey. By making this comparison, you can identify your congregation's strengths and find ways to build on those strengths. Learn more about the U.S. Congregational Life Survey and how your congregation can take part on the U.S. Congregations Web site. After taking the survey, your congregation will receive two customized color reports, videos and leader guides to help you understand and use each report and two books (A Field Guide to U.S. Congregations and Beyond the Ordinary: Ten Strengths of U.S. Congregations) that describe the results of the national random sample survey and will help you see your congregation in the context of all congregations across the United States.

Option 2

Couple completing the U.S. Congregational Life Survey

A couple completing the U.S. Congregational Life Survey. Their congregation is one of 5,000 across the country that have participated. Photo by David P. Young.

The second option is to add an insert sheet to the basic four-page U.S. Congregational Life Survey. The optional page provides an opportunity for worshipers to indicate interest in 24 typical study topics, express their satisfaction with 20 church activities or programs that you can specify and describe their priorities for the pastor. If you would like to review a copy of the insert sheet, please contact us and request a copy. Note that use of this additional page in the U.S. Congregational Life Survey increases the cost above that described on the U.S. Congregations Web site by $1 per survey ordered.

In either case, Research Services will provide all the materials you need to give the survey in your congregation, analyze your worshipers' answers and provide a comprehensive summary.

To learn more about findings from the U.S. Congregational Life Survey, read the blog Beyond the Ordinary:  Insights into U.S. Congregational Life

Why take this survey?

Surveys can give your congregation: a picture of "who you are" (including age and marital status of worshipers, average length of church attendance, etc.), information about the strengths and priorities of church programs and tools for strategic planning. Surveys are particularly helpful when considering new programs or missions, when preparing to call a new pastor and when renewing or re-evaluating your strategic plan.

Hear what pastors say about the survey

Beyond the Ordinary
Ten Strengths of U.S. Congregations

by Cynthia Woolever and Deborah BruceBeyond the Ordinary

"... a wonderful resource that every congregation should add to its tool kit." --J. Brent Bill, executive vice president, Indianapolis Center for Congregations, Inc. Results from the U.S. Congregational Life Survey, the largest project of its type ever conducted in the United States, have prompted this second book from Westminster John Knox Press authors/researchers Cynthia Woolever and Deborah Bruce.

"This was a quick, painless way to get a lot of information — especially to see our strengths. It also helped us pinpoint some areas where we want to grow stronger."

"Thank you for the U.S. Congregational Life Survey results! They are exciting!"

"We are using it to evaluate, plan, and shape some of our future thinking about our church and the various needs of our congregation. The study is a great contribution to the health of churches."

"You can sit around and imagine how your congregation is, but then when you see stuff like this, it is like holding up a mirror to yourself. You see what you haven't been able to put a finger on."

"This church had never had a stewardship program. We decided we were going to do that ... because we had no idea we were so far behind what other congregations and other individuals gave within the church. So by taking the survey, we were able to honestly look at ourselves and say there is a place here where we really need to grow."

"Church leaders now feel set free to do some things that they have been thinking they really ought to do."

"We are a smaller, blue-collar congregation. I was afraid it might be too academic or stuffy, but we found it really easy to understand."

"It's not very often you can have a document like this. To share it between the governing board and the congregation has built good will. It has really been a help to us."

For information, call us at  (800) 728-7228, x2040, or send us an email.

Instructions for a shorter "Three-by-Five Card Survey" and for conducting mailed surveys are included in the Research Strategies booklet.