By Mark MacDonald
Church Branding Strategist and Consultant
Church congregations are everchanging, which presents many challenges for pastors and other leaders.
But leaders can learn a lot about their local ministry and the needs, concerns and interests of members simply by asking questions.
Here are six revealing questions to ask your congregation regularly:
- What brought you here originally? Establish a baseline of why people chose your church. Get feedback from several people or groups to better understand the foundation of what’s bringing people in from the community. Master those things and you’ll probably see growth.
- What’s keeping you here? This allows you to understand what’s creating the “sticky” quality of your ministry. Make sure you continue to do these things or improve on them.
- What are we known for in the community? Who better to ask than church members from your community? This gives an idea of the church’s perception and allows you to understand what needs to be corrected or communicated differently to reinforce who you really are.
- Do you know why someone is leaving? This will reveal what may be not working well. Allow church members to reply anonymously in order to expose more truth. Exit interviews with parting members also can help with this eye-opening data.
- Are there any barriers to visiting us or getting connected? Exposing barriers (from the members’ vantage point) is the first step in eliminating them. It may be difficult for a member to answer this particular question, so listen for peoples’ difficulties in discovering next steps, finding information on your website, signage issues, etc.
- If you could improve one thing, what would it be? This empowers ministry improvement. It shouldn’t be asked to stir up trouble or gossip, so request constructive solutions or ways to improve incrementally. They’ll feel like you want their opinion and may be more open to helping implement changes.
There are at least two ways to be strategic in asking questions:
- Focus groups: Set up homogeneous groups based on demographics or ministry areas. Create groups of 6–10 and have a caring person lead them. You’ll get even better feedback if the leader is a consultant who understands focus groups and the church.
- Informal conversations: Each time a church leader has the opportunity to connect with a member, consider it an informal focus group. Help staff understand the importance of these questions and create a mechanism to collect feedback.
EDITOR’S NOTE–Mark MacDonald is communication pastor, speaker, consultant, bestselling author, church branding strategist for BeKnownforSomething.com and executive director of the Center for Church Communication, empowering 10,000-plus churches to become known for something relevant (a communication thread) throughout their ministries, websites and social media. His book, “Be Known for Something,” is available at BeKnownBook.com.