Survey results of the Spring 2014 Church Life Survey June 11th

I want to thank everyone who took the time to complete the survey.  Nothing is more important to understanding how to lead a church forward than to know what the church believes about our life together.  Certain characteristics of church life must reach a certain level of effectiveness before a church can grow healthily.  These characteristics are essential.  Each one must be lived out in the fullest expression possible.  No characteristic can make up for others that are deficient.  They must all be strong or they will all be weak as it relates to the effectiveness of the church in areas of worship, evangelism, discipleship and service.   This report contains the results of the survey taken by SouthWalkerBaptistChurch over a fourteen day period at the end of May, 2014.  This report contains abridged results.  A full report with all the raw data and a copy of the survey are available in the church office for onsite viewing.  The entire report is nearly 100 pages long, so the reason for not publishing many copies.  The abridged report contains an evaluation of the data and recommendations to the church to address certain deficiencies.  Planning and implementation of life together from this point forward will rely heavily on the findings of this report.   The survey questions were complied from a list of questions from the Harford Church Institute, the group from Natural Church Development and the pastor of SouthWalkerBaptistChurch.  Believe it or not 96 questions were left off of the survey, taking into consideration the time it would take individuals to complete the survey.   The results are presented under the 8 essential characteristic of a healthy church and 6 other aspects of church life that are indicators of some of the aforementioned 8.  They are addressed separately for particular emphasis.  The scale that evaluates the two sets is the same.   26 people completed the survey or 18% of the total pool.  Most all respondents attend church 4 times or more a month.  More than likely those who responded are leaders, so these results are being treated as the strong opinions of our church leaders or of people who are deeply interested and invested in the life of our church.   I hope that you will choose to prayerfully consider just how your faith life figures into the life of our church.  The results of the survey show quite clearly where we need to do better to be better church.  The time is always “NOW” to accomplish more for God’s church. I am eager to live the adventure with you as we journey together to strengthen our faith expression.

Mark Carroll, pastor


1.     Empowering Leadership

SCORE: 52.  GOAL: 70 or above.  The survey shows that this is a high priority but that the respondents do not feel as though the church leadership does what it needs in order to allow church members to lead. Efforts have been made in the past but possibly not in a complete way or in a way that demands accountability for those who wish to lead.   RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Gifts and Ministry Identification.  This workshop will be offered 3 times a year.  All new members and others who are regularly involved will be encouraged to participate in this workshop.  Every person who wishes to lead a ministry will be REQUIRED to participate.

Person Responsible: Pastor

  1. Leadership skills workshop.  This workshop will be offered 3 times a year.  Every person who wishes to lead a ministry will be REQUIRED to participate.

Person Responsible: Pastor

2.     Gift-based Ministry

SCORE: 69.  GOAL: 70 or above.  Nearly 50% of respondents indicated that their involvement increased because they discovered and put to use their God given gifts.   RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. See #1 above.
  2. Ongoing ministries of the church will be provided for participants to choose how they may become involved or they will be encouraged to begin their own ministry which means that #2 above will need to be completed.

Person Responsible: Mission/Ministry Development Team led by a team member of their choosing

3.  Passionate Spirituality

SCORE: 72. GOAL: 70 or above.  It is clear that what the church is doing in worship, Bible study and fellowship is having a desired impact the spiritual lives of those attending.   RECOMMENDATION

  1. Continue the same attitude and emphasis as is current in church life.
  2. Stress more the importance of individual responsibility for spiritual awakening and development.  Offer a church-wide retreat once a year to help develop personal spirituality

Person Responsible: Ministry staff led by pastor and Family Care Ministers

4. Effective Structures

SCORE: 54  GOAL: 70 or above.  These results conflict considerably with other results concerning this characteristic.  We believe we have good educational structure, but believe we need more educational opportunities for all ages.  We say we have a strong evangelism structure but say we are weak in evangelism.  We are not so sure that members are making decisions while no major decisions are made without church input and approval.  All this together DOES mean that our structure DOES NOT contribute to church growth.  People will NOT use structures that are NOT friendly to their needs.  This may be the problem.   RECOMMENDATION

  1. We do not attempt to begin ANYTHING until an effective structure is in place.  Use of the planning sheet by all leaders/planners can help with this and will be ABSOLUTELY required to get any item on the calendar and into promotion presentations (bulletins, PowerPoint, etc.)

Person Responsible: All ministry and program leaders

  1. People provide structure.  Leaders of each activity and program and clearly identified and out front of their ministry.

Person Responsible: All ministry and program leaders  

  1. Schedules are maintained except in emergency cases.

Person Responsible: All ministry and program leaders

  1. Structures are designed in a way to be responsive to the target audience, particularly the unchurched or non believer.

Person Responsible: Pastor helping ministry leades

  1. Maintain clear and frequent lines of communication between the church and the outside agencies we are working with.

Person Responsible: All ministry and program leaders

  1. Resources are clearly identified as to amount and source.

Person Responsible: All ministry and program leaders  

5.     Inspiring Worship

SCORE: 69  GOAL: 70 or above.  In most every category, worship scores well with the exception of an emphasis on children, more member leadership and a time for greeting each other.  As is the case in every church in America today, ours is conflicted about music style.  But we are the exception in that when the dust clears most everyone is pleased with the music mix in our worship.  The notes provide insight as to amount, organization and quality of music in worship as well as opportunities that should be given to our students.   RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Use of more traditional hymns arranged in a contemporary music style.

Person Responsible: Music Leader  

  1. Reduce the number of hymns sung in a given service

Person Responsible: Music Leader  

  1. Form a group of lay members who want to help lead worship and prepare them in reading, choral reading, and other dramatic forms of worship.

Person Responsible: Pastor

  1. Greater and consistent use of musical talents of our students

Person Responsible: Music Leader

  1. Music demonstration workshops that will determine who will lead from the stage, who will offer special music renderings, etc.  Workshops to develop musical interests will be offered to develop the talents of those who want to lead from stage, either regularly or on special occasions.

Person Responsible: Music Leader

  1. Weekly rehearsals for worship team other than on Sunday morning before worship.

Person Responsible: Music Leader

  1. Incorporation of children’s sermon into worship then dismiss them to children’s church.

Person Responsible: JAM Leaders

  1. Personal greeting time will be encouraged AFTER worship had ended.

Person Responsible: Pastor

  1. Weekly rehearsals for worship team other than on Sunday morning before worship.
  2. Incorporation of children’s sermon into worship then dismiss them to children’s church.
  3. Personal greeting time will be encouraged AFTER worship had ended.

6. Holistic Small Groups

SCORE: 65. GOAL: 70 or above.  Overall, we are pleased with our Sunday School and small groups, but what we do does not reach the level of priority we give to them.  To a person, each one said that we need a greater emphasis on children’s ministry.  Over half want a selection of subjects for adults for study and sharing.  Every person indicated that our students need to by involved in serving other regularly.    We find that small groups and ministry go hand in hand in the minds of our members – small groups should be structured around ministry and service.  For adults, small groups are needed to build better relationships that strengthen the life of the church.   RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Family by family visitation of our regular worship attendees encouraging Sunday School participation, beginning with families with children.

Person Responsible: Sunday School Outreach leader, Pastor

  1. Train teachers and offer a Study curriculum for adults, meeting either on Sunday mornings or weekday evenings or on weekend retreats.

Person Responsible: Pastor

  1. Enlist a student ministry support team (which would be a small group) to assist with their ministry and service efforts.

Person Responsible:  Student Ministry Leader  

  1. Increase and broaden the activities of South Walker Wild Men

Person Responsible: Pastor and men’s leader  

  1. Pastor personally calling on inactive families and active non-members to seek out their needs and desires for their faith life with the intention of getting them involved in a small group or ministry.

Person Responsible: Pastor  

  1. Configure and offer a curriculum on marriage, family and parenting

Person Responsible: Pastor  

  1. Encourage ministry groups to become a holistic small group for their members.  This will be part of the leadership training workshop.

Personal Responsible:  Family Care Ministers and Pastor  

7. Need-Oriented Evangelism

SCORE: 44.  GOAL: 70 or above.  From the composite score it is obvious that this particular area is nearly non-existent in our fellowship.  For that matter reaching out beyond our own fellowship in any way has a low value in our church.  62% are pleased with our effort.  Few want to do more to see it accomplish more.  Evangelism, mission as outreach and outreach is not a priority and it is not seen as  an overt effort in our church.  This characteristic, relational evangelism and mission involvement are holding back church growth more than any of the other characteristics of church growth.   Providing help to the needy is a high priority but we are only moderately satisfied with our effort.  At the same time we are not very eager to use our material resources to meet such needs. In short we want to see need-oriented evangelism occur in our church but we don’t want to invest time, materials and financial resources to make it happen.  Ironically, we support Community Hands, which serves people in need, but we say we wish not be involved in such support. It is all a bit confusing.  Poor communication factors into this.   One shining ministry we are succeeding in is our food pantry.  Another is the use of our facilities for the Grace Activity Center, a ministry to special needs individuals.  And Celebrate Recovery is in the launching stage at this very moment.  We ARE undertaking ministry that meets real needs!   So what do we do to change our perception of need-oriented evangelism?  It is not a matter of the heart; our church cares deeply for people who need help with life.  Another portion of the study indicates that we are passive about these characteristic rather than active.  We need a more active approach to need-oriented evangelism beyond our walls   RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Through the South Walker Wild Men, build a relationship with Fuller Center for housing to begin projects in Livingston Parish.  Be a leader in our parish in involving other churches in an effort to help repair houses for people who qualify

Personal Responsible: A man in the church who is interested and The Pastor  

  1. Identify a need group (such as the population that is served by Grace Activity Center) and do all we can to minister to that particular need group.

Person Responsible: Church Life Planning and Implementation Team

  1. Become a entity partner with South Fork school as a means of becoming involved with the school and the families it serves.

Person Responsible: Church Life Planning and Implementation Team  

  1. Open our facilities to other ministering groups who share our values and who we can serve as they serve.

Person Responsible: Minister/Ministry Development Team

  1. Offer facilities to neighborhood associations for meetings, etc.

Person Responsible: Minister/Ministry Development Team

8.     Relational Evangelism

SCORE: 51 GOAL: 70 or above.   Not one question about relational evangelism scored higher than 78.  There is not much interest in developing programs and activities for the unchurched nor to change worship to make it more appealing to the unchurched.  The highest marks go to encouraging people from the pulpit to invite people to church and to encourage people to make a personal witness about their faith.  Since our emphasis seems to evangelizing our friends and family by bringing them to church, we must make the most of the church experience.   Another important aspect of reaching people that we have a relationship with is to make sure the church experience is fulfilling and complementary to the person’s needs.  The physical plant needs to be clean, user-friendly and attractive.  The leaders must value the presence and time of the visitor.  Members must be genuine and authentic in the way they relate to visitors.  The worship service must be impeccable and the leaders who participate must present a quality offering, reflecting preparation and organization.  In short, we must offer an experience that makes it very difficult for our people NOT to invite their friends and family to church.  Through this we can become an asset for our people to introduce Jesus to their friends.   RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Preach more often on the value and effectiveness of “Lifestyle Evangelism.”

Person Responsible: Pastor  

  1. Encourage members to invite friends/family to church using email, mail, phone calls, etc.

Person Responsible: Pastor and Sunday School Outreach Leader

  1. Offer One-on-One personal evangelism training 2 times a year.  Greatly encourage all new believers in a calendar year to attend one of these training opportunities.

Person Responsible: Pastor

  1. Put a plan and resources in place to enhance the physical plant and to insure a quality worship experience for our visitors.

Personal Responsible: Physical Plant Team  

  1. Visitors must know that they are highly valued.  The pastor will personally contact every visitor that provides information within 24 hours.

Person Responsible: Pastor  

9.     Loving Relationships

SCORE: 76  GOAL: 70 or above.  Once a person feels like they are a part of the church they know they are loved.  Most people that feel this way are a part of a Sunday School, attend Wednesday nights or is involved in some sort of way in ministry.  The key for this becoming a reality for all is to get as many people as possible into small groups and ministry/service opportunities.   One natural tendency in churches is for the people that plan activities or lead in some capacity to call on people with whom they are familiar, who were already a part of the church when they became a member or who are present a activities outside of worship.  This is precisely how cliques are started and perpetuated in churches and it is HIGHLY DESTRUCTIVE to the growth or a church, both numerically and spiritually.  Actively seeking the involvement of non-members and “inactives” in the little things we do is very important.  Getting their children involved in activities is very important.   RECOMMENDATION

  1. Have more people enjoy the reality of the love of our church by encouraging deeper involvement in small groups and ministry.

Person Responsible: Family Care Ministers, Sunday School Outreach leader, ministry and program leaders  

  1. Family Care ministers make a priority of involving people outside margins of church life in activities of the church.

Person Responsible: Family Care Ministers

Other Aspects of a Healthy Church


SCORE: 48  GOAL: 70 or above.  We are not satisfied with our mission effort, but it is not a high priority either. Only 55% are very satisfied with our missions effort while only 41% say increasing mission support is a high priority.  This says we are not satisfied with our effort but we don’t really want to change the status quo.   RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Emphasize Missions as a part of our church DNA.

Person Responsible: Pastor and his delegate.  

  1. Aggressively promote the mission offerings.

Person Responsible: Pastor and his delegate.  

  1. Invite missionaries to speak at least 3 time a year.

Person Responsible: Pastor and his delegate.  

  1. As we have done with About Face Missions, identify directly with a mission effort no more than 1 day drive from our location and become hands on with them.

Person Responsible: Pastor and his delegate.  

Pastoral Care

Only 52% are satisfied with the level of pastoral care the church is receiving, especially in the area of pastoral counseling to help with personal problems.  However, only 12% say that this needs more emphasis.  Personal counseling is a legal arrangement and must be approached by a pastor with great care without actually ever giving advice or remedy.  That being said, a pastor is available to provide scriptural support to life issues while clothing it all in prayer.   RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Offer 1 day a week for in office appointments to meet with people for the specific purpose of offering pastoral care counseling.

Person Responsible: Pastor.

  1. Educate the church concerning the availability of counseling through the Christian Counseling Center.

Person Responsible: Pastor and his delegate.  


This is our second greatest deficiency in our church life.  Only our cooperation with other churches scores lower.  In an age with all sorts of communication options, we are not communicating.  We currently use Facebook, email, texting, bulletins, PowerPoint presentations, the US mail and a web site and yet only 23% strongly agree that our church is well informed about ministries.  Ironically 41% strongly agree that our immediate community is well informed about our church and yet we do very little in advertisement or communication in the immediate community.  The highest priority is listed as a greater use of the web site.   RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Make our web site the “go to” source for all of church life.  From the site, offer links to helpful sites in areas of evangelism, salvation, marriage and family, missions, the particular missions we support, etc.

Person Responsible: Media Support Ministry ______________________________________________  

  1. Refer to our web site in all Facebook posts so that people are cognizant of the existence and usefulness of our web site.

Person Responsible: all leaders in the church who post on FaceBook information about the church or ministries  

  1. Demonstrate the web site in place of announcements before worship.

Person Responsible: Media Support Ministry

  1. Mail a current bulletin to everyone who does not attend worship on a given Sunday along with a personal note to them. Do this on Monday following.

Person Responsible: Family Care Ministers

  1. Send out a mailing to the community immediately around our church facilities 4 times a year.

Person Responsible: Person Responsible: Media Support Ministry  

  1. Mail a newsletter to our entire mailing list once a month.

Person Responsible: Person Responsible: Media Support Ministry  

Cooperation with other churches and agencies

Simply put, this is not a high priority for our church.  Only 23% say that it is.  We do cooperate with other churches via Community Hands, association and convention ties, but this is almost exclusively financial.  It is healthy to have at least one church with whom we partner to execute ministry and we should strive to do so.   RECOMMENDATION

  1. Identify and partner with a sister church on a mission or service project.  Form a team out of the two respective memberships to lead the two churches to serve together.

Person Responsible: Pastor and a designate from the Ministry/Minister Development Team  

Church Identity

Only half of the respondents are positive about their perception of our church identity.  26% say morale is high and 31% say that there is excitement about our church’s future.  And yet 78% say that it is easy to describe to friends the uniqueness of our church.  Such a positive response about a church’s uniqueness usually means that morale is high and that there is excitement about the future.   Church identity is not something one can manipulate or promote.  Identity is the sum total of all that is important to us as a church.  When everything is working well and is healthy, then the identity of the church is perceived as positive.  To improve the identity of the church means to improve on the eight quality characteristics of a healthy church.   RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Promote the core values, mission and ministry statements of the church.  Make these statements visible around the church.

Person Responsible: Person Responsible: Media Support Ministry

  1. Visually with pictures promote the ministry successes of the church at various locations in the facility.

Person Responsible: Person Responsible: Media Support Ministry

  1. Use banners along the driveways to remind people who we are as a church

Person Responsible: Person Responsible: Media Support Ministry

  1. Use video testimonies describing what it means to be a part of South Walker Baptist Church.

Person Responsible: Person Responsible: Media Support Ministry


Promoting stewardship is not a high priority among the respondents to the survey.  Educating our people about stewardship seems to be the preference for promoting personal giving to the church.  This is difficult to do in our church since so few are a part of Sunday School, the most effective venue to promote stewardship.  If it is mentioned from the pulpit too often, then people begin to believe that the church is all about money.  With only 44% saying that stewardship is a high priority, it becomes difficult to know just how to increase faithful giving among our people.  But something must be done.   When a median giving amount ($1,250 annually) is determined and extrapolated out over our regular attending family units (120 – I know, it sounds high but we have that many family units through our church over a 6 week period), we are only giving about 6% of our income.  If we use a 10% tithe and apply it to the attending families, then our regular giving income could be approximately $150,000, a $58,000 difference in our current annual giving averaged over the last 3 years.  Imagine: if we had that level of giving coupled with the amount we pay on our mortgage ($18,036) which will be paid off in a couple of years, our financial resources would increase by $78,000 – nearly double what it is now.   RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Have a regular section in the bulletin, “Why I Give” written by church members who catch the vision of the church and our mission, stating why it is important to them that they give back to God through the church.

Person Responsible: Finance Team

  1. Continue the Harvest Month only have the Budget and Finance Team promote it.

Person Responsible: Finance Team

  1. Promote stewardship once a quarter from the pulpit by the pastor.  Use bulletin inserts to accompany the quarterly emphasis

Person Responsible: Finance Team & Pastor