In the spring of 2020, DisciplesToday underwent the massive effort of circulating a communications survey through our global fellowship. Over five thousand disciples filled out the survey that asked about a dozen questions on how they currently receive church information and which platforms and topics are most relevant to them online. Of the global total, most of the disciples were born between 1965-1980. The majority were married with children and over half lived in the United States.
The global survey revealed that a significant amount of people [over one thousand] were unsure of which regional family of churches they belonged to. This implies that global information may not be cascading down to the local and regional level for disciples. Overwhelmingly, disciples reported that they felt ill equipped and would like to know more about how to transition into new life stages [ex. marrieds to empty nesters]. These resources are available for disciples on various websites at the global level, and yet they remain in high demand implying that information is not cascading down to every member.
What were the regional survey results?
Seventy two individuals from the Northwest Family of Churches filled out the communications survey. This is less than ten percent of all disciples in the Northwest. The survey was advertised through Facebook, Disciples Today, newsletters, emailed to church leaders, and announced at regional meetings. The survey did take a few minutes to fill out and it's understandable that some may not have had the time as the Spring of 2020 was a stressful time for us all. Though only a marginal amount of disciples in the Northwest region took the survey, one could assume that these disciples are some of the most engaged with our region's online content. You would of had to have been subscribed to the Disciples Today newsletter, read Disciples today, or read a leaders announcement in order to find and fill out the survey.
The majority of those in the Northwest family of Churches who filled out the survey were working professionals, followed by some stay home parents. Sixty five percent of participants were female.
Seventy two percent of participants were married and twenty eight percent were single. Only a couple college students filled out the survey. Forty nine percent were born between 1965 and 1980, twenty eight percent were born between 1946-1964, and twenty two percent were born between 1981-1996. No participants under the age of twenty four took this survey in the northwest.
The survey showed that disciples use church websites, email, and Facebook as the main channels for church communication. About half of the participants receive information from videos shown during Sunday services, and less than a third get church information from Instagram or Youtube. Testimonials followed by benevolence is the most inspiring church content for disciples.
Only about a third of our churches are showing Hot News, Keydogo, or Hope videos on a regular basis. The survey asked three questions to discover what disciples feel ill equipped in, challenged in, or want to study more deeply. Disciples feel ill equipped to address homosexuality, gender issues, the legitimacy of the Bible, questions of grief, and social media. Disciples would like to know more about parenting, being an empty nester, personal Bible study, healthy relationships, and modern day issues in helping them through their current challenges in being a disciple. Disciples struggle to understand the Biblical topics of the church, God, prayer, predestination, social justice, baptism/salvation, unity, the Holy Spirit, and the LGBTQ community. See the word clouds below generated by the frequency and relevance of these three questions' responses.
What are the possible implications of this survey?
Information is not cascading down effectively from the global to the local level. This is shown by few disciples watching global videos, and a significant number being unaware of which family of churches they belong to, as well as a confusion of how to find available international resources.
Global information is not appearing for a majority of our northwest region in the form of Sunday videos or Sunday church bulletins. Many disciples are left to find or not find these resources on their own.
Our regional websites, email lists, and Facebook platforms are effective in reaching our marrieds and working professionals, but they may not be reaching the youth. No one under the age of twenty four took this survey, though it was broadcasted on all the main church communication platforms.
Disciples in the northwest are inspired by content featuring testimonials and serving the poor.
Disciples in the northwest feel ill equipped advancing through life stages and dealing with topics like parenting or social issues.
There is a greater demand for local and regional online content, rather than international. There is a need to develop local and regional online platforms.
What can I do with this information?
"Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage." - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
The information from this survey can help northwest disciples in a few ways. We can now more clearly see the communication needs and seek to meet them. How can your local ministry adjust its marketing strategy to inform and equip others in your congregation? More importantly, how can you help to produce local content or direct your brothers and sisters to regional and global online content? Are you subscribed to the various emails, newsletters, and channels that our local, regional, and global church offers? More than ever, the church needs volunteers to spread the good news online!