The street survey
A simple questionnaire
Doing a simple questionnaire on the streets can be the hardest thing to find volunteers for, but can be a very valuable way of advertising your presence and getting a range of responses. It can help if you have used local media beforehand to advertise that your church will be carrying out this survey, and why. If this is for a specific project it can be a good way to gain some additional publicity for it.
Those involved in the undertaking of the survey need not only be members of the church, but could look for volunteers from local schools or uniformed organisations – it might make a good school project – or from voluntary groups.
The survey team needs to approach people of all ages who live locally to find out their feelings and perceptions about the community. This can be done informally and without too much pressure, in pubs and shops, by consulting the users of the church hall or even talking to the people who walk by the church building. The purpose of the survey is to build a story of the local experience and expectations.
If you are doing this as part of a programme to develop your church building you will also find it particularly useful to consult the people who attend Churches of other denominations in the area – especially the laity.
Sample Survey Questions
Here are a few examples of the sorts of questions you might ask. They are intended to gather useful information for any church trying to assess the needs of its community.
- What age-group are they in? (e.g. under 18, 18-30, 30-45, 45-65, 65+)
- How long have they lived locally?
- What is the most significant change they have seen in the locality while they have lived here?
- What do they feel is the best thing about living here?
- What do they feel is the most difficult aspect of living here?
- What change would they most like to see happen in the next 5 – 10 years?
- Have they ever been inside your particular church building and for what reason?
- What do they think your church community could do for them? For the area?
- What impression do they have of your particular church community?
- What (if anything) does your particular church community mean to them?
- What do they think of your church building or of other church buildings in the area?
To bear in mind
For some of those questions, you may want to give them a choice of pre-prepared responses. For example, instead of asking: “What impression do you have of St Swithun’s in the Swamp?” you might ask: “Which of these words describes your impression of St Swithun’s? Friendly, busy, stand-offish, cold, pleasant, a family church, welcoming, cliquey, run-down, community … and so on”. Make sure that you have words which allow people to express negative as well as positive feelings.
These questions are simply examples. If you have a specific project in mind, you will want to shape them accordingly. However, make sure you ask questions about the place generally, and not simply about the church.