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How to Ask a Congregation: Surveys and Questionnaires

Are you interested in knowing more about your local congregation, but don’t know how to start? We’ve got some resources for you.

First, you need to figure out what you’re interested in knowing. You may want to know what time is best for Worship versus Educational Hour. Maybe you’re curious to know what areas of the town or city people are coming from. Maybe you’re interested in how frequently people pray or enact their religious beliefs outside of worship. Maybe you want to ask new attenders how they heard about your local congregation. And you might be interested in which demographics (men/women, ages, races/ethnicities) have various preferences, views, or opinions. If you are interested in sampling part or all of your congregation — and if you have a way to contact them (through a paper questionnaire in worship, sent through the mail, or emailed), surveys are often a good way to go.

For surveys to be effective, you need to spend a lot of time thinking about what questions to ask and the best ways to ask them. You want to avoid some common survey pitfalls like asking too many questions or questions that aren’t specific enough. See our page on Questionnaires and Surveys for some general suggestions for writing questionnaires, or the page on Questionnaire Construction for suggestions of questions to use. And, you can always reach out to us for suggestions and resources.

About the Author
Dr. Ellen Childs holds a Ph.D. in sociology from University of Notre Dame. She is Website Director at