Some time back a Fuller student, Graham Bates, asked me to post a survey he was doing, and he recently notified me of the results. What I was so happy about is the number of us here at the Jesus Creed who responded — leading to the conclusion that the survey became a sketch of the readers of this blog.
Anyway, here are the results.
I’ll split what I learned into two headings: Things I Already Knew and Things that Surprised Me.
Things I Already Knew
Most of the people who took the survey came from Jesus Creed and so the results about reading blogs were expected – 80% visit daily or more. 3/4ths of McKnight’s readers are male and also very educated – 57% have post-graduate degrees.
Half attend some type of in-person sermon or lecture weekly.
More people felt websites and podcasts they read/listen to helped them learn more about God, the Bible and how they fit into this world. I should put this in a pseudo-category “Things I figured but didn’t know.” I control what websites and podcasts I frequent. I can’t change the minister’s sermon.
Things that Surprised Me
When asked if in-person lessons help give purpose to their life less people “agreed” than “strongly agreed.”
Denominational affiliation was at the bottom of both lists of important aspects of both in-person and electronic messages. “Challenges me to think” came in first both times. This could be because Scot’s blog is inter-denominational or could be a shift in the Christian-cultural landscape. I hope for the latter, but that is more of an opinion than fact.
People seek in-person sermons to connect to others. They seek electronic lessons to learn from broader perspectives.
Most people considered their blog’s audience to be friends and family. But they wanted their audience to be challenged in their thinking and connect to their views while being exposed to different views. I’m not sure why this was surprising, but it was.
If you are a minister – think of your sermons and classes more as a place to connect people to each other since blogs often cannot do this, being removed from the reader’s life. Encourage the learning of facts to be done outside of class.
Encourage your members to seek out helpful materials to bring to class. Your role is more like an editor on Wikipedia instead of the editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica – an expert curator instead of an authoritative gatekeeper. Help understand what is going on outside instead of preventing it from ever getting in.
If you are not a minister – don’t be afraid to go outside your group to learn. And don’t be afraid to bring what you read and learn back to your group.
My only fear is that due to the single-blog source of traffic that this does not give an accurate view of churches today. If only the minister reads blogs and listens to podcasts then the minister must connect the member to the both Word of God and each other. However, I think if Christian ministers were to start openly asking members to contribute by bringing in posts it might start a snowball effect.
Many thanks goes out to Scot McKnight and his readers for helping me out in this project. I could not have done it without you. And Carrie – I’m sorry we haven’t kept in better contact.