Survey Says - Part Two

Yesterday I blogged about the worship survey that we gave out at church. I went over some of the questions and what the answers were.

I left the more open-ended questions for today. Two of the biggest questions is "What Christian artists do you listen to?" and "Who is your favorite Christian artist?"

The answers to these questions were as varied as you could imagine. But still, some patterns can be drawn, and this information might be useful.

The most commonly-mentioned artist in the surveys was Hillsong. Some people specified Hillsong United, but I suspect that United was who most of them were referring to. We do quite a bit of Hillsong/United music anyway, so this was no big surprise. Israel Houghton was another strong showing; again, not a surprise there. We try to stay fairly current on the Hillsong stuff. We've done some of the newer Israel and New Breed music with our choir, and the team is recording "Say So" on our upcoming album, but we've done nothing (yet) from The Power of One.

Other artists with a strong showing: Kirk Franklin, Casting Crowns, David Crowder* Band, Mary Mary, Smokey Norville, Leeland and Carman. Yes, that Carman. (OK, so only two people listed Carman, but anytime I can get Leeland and Carman in the same sentence is a score!)

This represents who people are listening to not necessarily whose music they want us to play. But it's a good indicator of what styles of music people like.

57% of the responses that indicated a preference for "new, fresh" music or "familiar, well-known" music came back preferring new music. That was actually a little surprising. We had suspected the opposite to be true, based on our observations. But, it seems we were wrong.

As for songs, of course, there was a wide gambit of songs mentioned. One that kept getting mentioned, though, was "We Cry Out" by Brian and Jenn Johnson. "The Power of Your Love" and "I Can Only Imagine" got multiple mentions.

In the "Do you have any recommendations" question, there were a lot of varied answers. The vast majority were along the line of "No, you're doing great, keep doing it." which was awesome to read. There were several recommendations like "the vocals are hard to understand" and "the instruments are too loud" which indicates to me we've got some mix issues. (...and some ammo to ask for money for in-ear monitors.) Of course, there were some specific suggestions. ("...rock it out for Jesus." "Don't sing the chorus more than four times." "sing more hymns") and a lot of "Keep praying" type suggstions.

So what does it all mean? It means we have some thinking and praying to do. And that we can take encouragement from the fact that - in general - our congregation is happy with their worship experience. It means we can improve, and we have a direction to go in. And it means we're trying, and they know it. And that's what matters most.


  1. This is wildly interesting. I'd love for us to do something similar.
    Sounds like you get your congregation and your congregation gets you for the most part!

  2. Interesting mix of answers (and therefore people) you have.

    I suspect the artists that people say they like is a strong reflection of what the worship team brings regularly. People often buy what they recognise, both in terms of music and artists, and they'll get a lot of that recognition from what you do. I know you're a big Israel H fan, and you congregation like him too. I doubt many in our old church have even heard of him, whereas Mary Maclean would feature well up such a list. Food for thought.

    I do know who Carman is BTW ;-)

    As for the comments about sound, the fact that there were just a few comments suggests that actually the mix is good, but that people vary a lot, and what works for the majority will not suit some. Obviously you must filter that throughknowing the age, ability and temperament of the person making the comment, since some won't like anything above a whisper and some will like nothing below a storm. It may also be worth considering where they usually sit, as room acoustics make a huge difference to a mix, and corners etc can do odd things.

    Good that you are doing this kind of survey - it's always helpful to review things. You might also consider asking someone from outside the church whom you all trust to come and listen & feedback sometime. It's much easier to spot strengths and weaknesses with fresh and unbiased ears.

  3. That last is a good idea. Feel free to come over anytime!!

    Room positioning is huge. We have a fairly small room - maybe 40x50 feet. This makes it necessary for some to sit near the stage and near the mains. We have a huge amount of stage volume. That is something we really need to approach. Getting rid of the wedges would help. Ideally, we'd enclose the drums, go to in ear monitors and fly the mains over the stage. All it takes is money! :)

    Absolutely, people go for familar, and with us doing a lot of New Breed and Hillsong, those will come up. Plus we are a very ethnically mixed congregation, so there adds a lot of diversity.

  4. Well done, having been there a couple of times with these sorts of surveys I can agree that they can give you lots of encouragement as well as lots of things to consider.

    I'd encourage you to use the survey answers as conversational ice-breakers with the congregation. You can learn a lot from surveys, but it's always kinda general and a good survey frames the issues you can unpack further in face to face conversations.

    I suspect I'm with Toni on the issue of how congregations reflect what is brought to them, in terms of artists and repertoire. Sometimes you have to take the lead in introducing new faces and sources. Sometimes it's good to encourage people to experience worship somewhere else, just to get a feel for other material and approaches.

    One thing I've never seen a church do well is grow the pool of music made available to the congregation outside of Sunday services. That could be a way of introducing new artists and material without committing to it as part of the worship set. Maybe you could set up a church streaming audio service, or get worship team members to post their iPod favourites lists, or something.


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