Following on from yesterday’s blog about opinion polls, here’s ten reasons why your church should be doing street questionnaires.
- It works! We met somebody in the street on Saturday, they turned up in church on Sunday, just because we invited them after they had done the questionnaire. At any one time, a percentage of the population (10%? 1%? 0.1%?) are just waiting to be invited to church. If you are not inviting them, how are they going to find you?
- It reminds the general population that there are people who think God exists. When you are hidden away behind closed doors, Christianity can be forgotten. When you are out in the street asking questions, it reminds people that the existence of God is a possibility.
- It shows the general population that you believe what you say you believe. If Christians claim that Jesus is the answer and then do nothing about it, that implies that you don’t really believe it. See what Atheists think of that.
- It helps your church people to realise that they believe what they say they believe. It’s not difficult doing a questionnaire – you don’t have to have all the answers – you’re asking the questions. If somebody does fire a sticky question at you, invite them to meet the pastor – they’ll have an answer(!)
- It gives your church people the opportunity to take an easy step of faith in evangelism without it being too scary. Thousands of people work in market research doing street questionnaires professionally. They’re not all raving extraverts.
- It makes your participants think. If you ask good questions, it will make people think about the deeper issues in life, and also that the church might have something to say about them. What they do with that afterwards is up to them.
- It makes you think. If you ask good questions, then you can use these in your sermons. When we asked the general public if they would like to ask God a question, we found that on average, half the people we polled wanted an answer to “Why do bad things happen to good people?” in a variety of their own wordings. The other half had a wide range of issues, from creation to the end of the world. Nobody wanted to ask about the Synoptic Problem. You can infer from this that more sermons should address the former, rather than the latter.
- It makes you realise that “church” is a toxic brand. When you ask people to do a questionnaire, many will just say no from habit, without knowing whether you are from the church, or a baked-bean company. Others will start the questionnaire, but then say something like “Is this about religion? In that case I’m not interested at all.” In some ways this is incredibly sad, but it’s better to know the truth than to be in denial. It knocks on the head the bizarre evangelistic strategy – “They know where to find us if they need us”. They also know where to find the restaurant which failed the hygiene regulations, and they aren’t going there either.
- It’s easy to do. It doesn’t require training, oratory or expensive equipment. All you need is some questions, some pens and paper, and at least one volunteer. You could start tomorrow.
- It costs next to nothing. If you have no budget you can still start tomorrow.
In tomorrow’s blog I’m going to move on to How your church can do street questionnaires in an easy yet effective way.