Every church takes pride in its vibrant youth ministry. It is a great indicator of the future of the church, they say.
We especially are proud when we see our young people participating in church programs.
Parents want them to go to church so they can form great and lasting relationships with fellow believers. The church leaders want to make sure the youth are trained to lead the church in the future, and the Pastors want to make sure that the youth get a strong spiritual base.
It is no doubt that we all want what’s best for the youth but the question is; are we really giving them what they need?
Do we know what our young people think about church?
Recently my church had a good youth-day discussion that prompted me to dig deeper into the issues our young people brought up, and I decided to run an online survey.
About The Survey
Please note that the survey here is by no means scientific.
My goal for the survey was to:
- Discover their needs and pain points
- Find out what our young people think about church
- Discover what their solution to the problems are
Below are the questions I asked the young people. I have also included a short explanation of why I asked the question.
It is important to note that in this online survey, the participants were not required to enter their name or contact information.
We also did not require participants to indicate what ethnicity they are or what church they belonged to. We did, however, create two separate surveys for two local churches in the Inland Empire with the same exact questions.
This survey started out as a local project after a discussion during the Youth-Day Program. I wanted to give the young people a safe uninterrupted space to express their feelings about the church.
The questions I asked were generated from observing some of the issues the young people brought up during the discussion and the questions were mostly open-ended for the purpose of freewriting.
How The Survey Was Administered
I created the survey in Responssuite - an online survey software that made it easy for me to quickly create and send out the survey link via chat and social media.
There are so many other great survey tools you can use, but I used the Response Suite because I’ve used it in the past.
After running the survey with my local church, I got 18 responses within a day and the results were shocking. I couldn’t believe what I was reading and so I decided ran another survey with the youth from another church so I could compare the results.
The results from the second survey were surprisingly similar to the first one. We then decided to open it up to other young people from different churches around the US, and the results were similar across the board.
I think we have some issues here that need everyone's attention. You see we are all happy to see a vibrant youth ministry and we take pride when we see them participate in the church programs.
Our young people are involved in music, media, pathfinder, and every aspect of the church except leadership.
Despite their consistent presence at every church service and event, over 50% of the young people we surveyed have neutral or negative feelings about the church.
Table of Contents
- What is your general feeling about the church right now?
- How likely are you to recommend our church to a friend?
- If you were to rate the quality of your church service what score would you give it out of 10?
- Is our church meeting your spiritual needs?
- Is our church addressing issues you face every day? i.e relationships, sex, health, financial e.t.c.
- What topics would you like the church to address?
- What is the greatest benefit of attending your church?
- If you could change one thing about our church what would it be? Please write what it is and how to fix it.
- What's the number one reason you attend your particular church?
In this article, I present the question and responses I got from 203 young participants. I hope that we can use this information to learn more about what our young people think about church and hopefully come up with a way to help them.
Above all, I pray that you run your own survey to help you understand what your local young people think about the church so you can serve them better.
We asked 203 of our young people what they think about church and here is their response.
Question # 1 - What is your general feeling about the church right now?
According to the Pew Research Center, four in ten millennials now claim no affiliation to organized religion.
Even though young people leaving the church is not new, some argue that this time is different and we may never see them in church again.
If you don’t believe me check out some of the community sites like quora.com and Facebook to see what our young people are saying.
This question was important because it gives us a general idea of what young people feel about church.
Over 50% of unsatisfied young people are a bit too much especially if we are training them to be ambassadors of the church.
Question # 2 - How likely are you to recommend our church to a friend?
The church spends a lot of time teaching and preparing young people to be ambassadors of the church. They are to go out and bring people into the church.
The question of how likely are you to recommend our church to a friend speaks to how well we are doing as a church. If our young ambassadors are not happy with our church how do we expect them to go out and bring others to church?
The results show only 35% of the young people surveyed are comfortable enough to bring their friends to church.
Question # 3 - If you were to rate the quality of your church service what score would you give it out of 10?
This was a hard question to answer because it is not specific, but I wanted the young people to wonder as far as they could.
I was shocked by what I read and I bet you’ll be shocked too.
Here we got 100% no response and I am not sure what this means but I think it’s more negative than positive. You will have to read the rest of the results to understand why I say so.
Question # 4 - Is our church meeting your spiritual needs?
I remember my parents asking me, “what did you learn today?” after every church service. I think it’s safe to say that I paid attention to the sermon so I could answer the question.
It’s different these days because the church is not only full of young people but young people with cellphones. They sit behind the church while the adults occupy the front seats.
I am not the one to say what they do on cellphones but, I have seen then put the cellphones away when there’s something interesting is happening.
The question we should ask is, do the young people get on cellphones because the sermons are not resonating with them? or their cellphones are just more interesting than anything else?
The answers to this question were similar across the board as you will see below.
It is important to note that some churches scored very low on this one. In one case we almost 100% of the young people say NO.
Question # 5 - Is our church addressing issues you face every day? i.e relationships, sex, health, financial e.t.c.
One of the biggest complaints from young people is that the church is not meeting their needs.
During the youth-day meeting, I referred to above, it was clear that the youth want to church to address much more than spirituality.
I added this question because I wanted to find out what was important to them in terms of topics they wanted the church to address. The first part of this question was a yes or no answer.
Question # 6 - What topics would you like the church to address?
The following are some of the topics our young people wanted the church to address. To be fair to the church, some young people said the church already talks about these topics but they would like more of it.
I have written another article that Diggs deeper into the topics our young people want the church to address.
Question # 7 - What is the greatest benefit of attending your church?
In this question, I wanted to mix it up. I wanted young people to think about some of the good things happening at their church.
They say the grass is always greener on the other side.
I wanted the participants to think about why the attended one church and not the other. The answers I got were shocking to me and you will see why.
The results above show that people come to church for various reasons and the greatest mistake we can make is to assume they are there for the same reasons as we are.
Knowing this information will help you nurture your members on a personal level and also meet their needs.
Question # 8 - If you could change one thing about our church what would it be? Please write what it is and how to fix it.
For some reason, we always thrive on pointing out what’s going wrong even if we do not have the solutions to the problems.
In this question, I wanted the participants to think about solutions to the problems they were presenting. What would they do if they were in charge and here are some responses I got.
Young people have some great ideas that need to be heard.
Question # 9 - What's the number one reason you attend your particular church?
It is a fact that people are more mobile today than at any time in history, therefore they tend to attend the church they like even if it’s 50 miles away.
In this question, I wanted to continue the same positive vibe to help young people think about why they attend a particular church and not the other.
I know that most young people will attend the church their parents go to but unless they see the value in that church, they may leave at the first chance they get.
Here is what they said
One can argue that young people go to church for the wrong reasons, but that’s their reality. The truth is that our young people try to find something to hold on to and friends, music and the community seem to be those things.
My Final Thoughts
The information about should make every church member and leader think. We all should be rethinking our evangelism strategy to make sure that no one is left behind.
It is true that young people always complain about church, yes they’ve always left the church but they come back at some point.
You are right but this time is different. We now have the internet where people are consuming non-denominational and religious-free gospel.
Our young people are joining online communities they identify with and where they are valued by like-minded individuals.
We now say, “there’s a group for that.” you can find a group on Facebook that is dedicated to the very thing you’re struggling with.
If you are worried about the future of the church and want to do something about it, start by listening to the young people.
I know that we won’t be able to give them everything they want, and that ok.
They say that give young people not what they elicit but what they need. right? Even that statement requires that you at least know what they want and need.
I really hope that you disagree with the information I present in the article. I pray that this information prompts you to prove this wrong and run your own survey.
At the end of the day, I want us to create an environment where our young people can freely express their feelings and needs. Because only then can we fully engage and impact their lives.
Run a survey today and your future church will thank you