What are the people in your congregation thinking?  Do you really know?  Do you want to know?  These are questions that caused me to question how I could find out what people were thinking. 

A mentor of mine suggested I use a survey to determine the answers to my question.  I found this exercise very helpful to me as a pastor.  Here are some thoughts on this matter. 

1.       I believe it is very important to know what the people are truly thinking.  What they say may be the truth and it may not be, but if they are thinking it, it is truth to them.
2.       The simplest form to find this out is just three questions.

a.       What do you like about our church?
b.      What do you not like about our church?
c.       What are you hopes and dreams for our church?

3.       Getting it done

a.       Have a set time to pass out the questionnaire/service time.
b.      Let the church know the three questions that will be on the form ahead of time so they can prepare to answer them.
c.       Pass out a questionnaire to everyone in attendance.
d.      Ask them not to put their name on it.  If you ask for a name, you squelch the response.
e.      Give them sufficient time to fill it out.
f.        Collect and have the secretary go through and formulate the response.
g.       You will have multiple responses that say the same thing so you can state the fact and put a number behind it.
h.      Take the results to the Deacons and or leadership and review the results.
i.         Take the results to the church body with the results.

4.       Response

b.      REMEMBER- PERCEPTION IS TRUTH.  It may not be true but if it may be perceived as truth.  You go from where they are to where God wants them to be.
c.       Take the results to each department affected by the survey.  They may not like what they hear, but it is their responsibility to have the right response and make appropriate adjustments.
d.      Follow through with each department to see it is accomplished.
e.      If it is not appropriate to make the changes suggested, you as pastor might address the concern. 

5.       As it relates to the Pastor

a.       REMEMBER- the results for the pastor might not be as favorable as you might like, BUT LISTEN.  Comments such as:

 i      Messages are too long
ii.      I don’t like the music
iii.      I wish you would let others do things so you don’t have to be so busy
v.      Please don’t refer to the Greek or your visit to the Holy Land
v.      I wish you would visit more in our homes

b.      REMEMBER- constructive criticism is like iron sharpening iron.
c.       REMEMBER- don’t preach or address the negative stuff in your sermons.  If you do, you will never get the church to share their thoughts again.
d.      BE ASSURED: It will improve your service as the pastor.

6.       There are other questionaries’ you can use or develop. 

a.       It can be more specific and direct.
b.      It can be departmentalized.
c.       It can be age related.
d.      It can be financially related.
e.      It can be member only or former members included, especially if you are seeking to know a pattern of thinking over many years. 

I have personally been involved In the simplest to the most detailed.   I’d start with the simple if it was my first time.  

Pastor, God bless you as you lead (not drive) the sheep God has entrusted to you.  May the Lord give you direction and wisdom as you work with and walk through the ministry God has assigned to each of us, namely His church.

Dave Little