Thank you to all who completed worship surveys for the Worship Planning Team this year. In January 2022, 82 participants gave us feedback about the content of worship, especially online worship and expanding options for Holy Communion after the pandemic. In November 2022, 68 participants gave us feedback about worship times.
A survey becomes a statistically valid, representative sample when 15 to 25% of a given population responds. For both surveys, we well exceeded the 15% threshold of our active constituency. The Worship Planning Team feels confident the survey represents the thoughts and attitudes of our church community well.
Below are the detailed results of the surveys, as well as a list of steps the Worship Planning Team has already taken and future improvements we will consider.
January Survey: Worship Content and Format
- 45% of respondents indicated that the Contemporary Service (in-person or online) was their primary service, making it the largest proportion of responses.
- Close to 16% indicated that online worship at 9:30am or 11:30am was their primary worship service
Worship Service Preferences
- 51.3% said sermon or message was what they like most about worship.
- Other common responses include music, friends, and Holy Communion
Holy Communion Preferences
- 29.3% prefer receiving Holy Communion by intinction
- 24.4% prefer receiving Holy Communion at the offering rail.
- 19.5% have questions about Holy Communion and need more teaching on it.
Quality Ratings (out of 5)
- Music: 78% of respondents rated 4 or 5
- Preaching: 89% rated 4 or 5
- Prayer 92.7% rated 4 or 5
- Holy Communion: 78.2% rated 4 or 5.
- Announcements and Offering: 40% rated 3 or below, indicating a need for improvement.
- 68.3% would prefer topical sermons on Christian doctrine or a take on current issues from a Biblical perspective.
Online Worship Experience
- 62.2% view online worship either on YouTube or through the church website.
- 72% prefer live recordings of worship services online.
Areas of Improvement
- Top 3 responses: sound quality, announcements, and transitions between parts of the service.
The Worship Planning Team has made the following adjustments:
- Installed a new soundboard in the summer of 2022. Waiting for another component to improve mixing of online service.
- Planned improvements in 2023: Install visual monitors in the transepts; upgrade projectors
- Incorporated an offertory prayer at the Early and Late Traditional Services
- Included a specific and separate time of offering at all services.
- Embedded the livestream on the front page of our website for ease of access.
- Encouraged staff other than the Senior Pastor to offer the announcements at each service.
- Involved Bible readers at the Contemporary Service and more liturgists at the Traditional Services.
- Returned to distinct styles of Holy Communion at all three services.
- Early Traditional: Served at the altar rail
- Contemporary: In stations (returning to intinction in 2023)
- Late Traditional: In the Pews
- Offering gluten-free bread and self-contained communion cups as alternatives at all communion services.
November Survey: Worship Times
- 35.8% of respondents indicated that the Contemporary Service (in-person or online) was their primary service, making it the largest proportion of responses.
- 8.8% indicated that online worship at 9:30am or 11:30am was their primary worship service
- This is almost a 50% reduction from the January survey, indicating that some constituents are starting to return to in-person worship.
- 26.5% of respondents were from the Early Traditional Service, an increase from 18.3% in January.
- Only 4.4% of respondents had children under 4 years of age who attended the nursery. (Increasing this percentage in the future is one reason we conducted these surveys to seek feedback and improvement.)
Satisfaction with Existing Worship Times
- 76.4% are satisfied with the worship times as they are, rating them 4 or 5 (out of 5)
- 50% want to move the start time of the Early Traditional Service from 8am to 8:15am, while 50% do not.
- This change would necessitate the start time of the Contemporary Service to also move from 9:30 to 9:45a to maintain 30 minutes of setup and rehearsal time for the Praise Band. However, only 11.8% of respondents indicated they would be satisfied with that change.
- 13.2% were interested in other worship times.
- Many of these responses included comments that three services is too many and indicated a preference for fewer, more well-attended services. However, many of those same respondents (particularly Early Traditional Service respondents) indicated that they themselves would be unwilling to attend a different service or to move their service to a different time.
- 83.8% prefer receiving Holy Communion on a monthly basis.
- 14.7% expressed an interest in transitioning to a weekly basis.
- Rev. Dr. Richard Williamson offered a vision for weekly communion at the Early Traditional Service to distinguish from the Late Traditional Service.
Common topics for comments include:
- Hope for a fuller sanctuary and increased participation from children and youth.
- Concern about the need for three services.
- Desire for more familiar hymns at traditional services.
- One comment suggested that one month was too long to focus on the topic of stewardship/giving, as it could potentially turn off guests and visitors who began attending during that time.
- Comments from online worshippers requested improved sound quality for the livestream.
The Worship Planning Team met on November 17 to discuss these results, and will make the following recommendations to the Church Council:
For the time being, maintain the existing three services at their current start times, but keep the door open for future discussion and exploration of adjustments over time.
- Thoughts and reasoning: These surveys, while incredibly valuable, are preliminary. Overarching changes to worship times or style require thorough study and consideration, which is the goal of the Vision 2030 team that begins its work in January 2023. By no means is the issue settled, as a significant minority expressed an openness to alternative worship times.
- It is difficult to address the split between Early Traditional attendees on whether to return to an 8:15am start time. One commenter summarized the heart of the matter: “Pre-COVID times were better.” Change is hard, especially when it is mixed with the grief and nostalgia associated with the loss of normalcy and stability. Pre-COVID times were better. But with patience and perseverance, the future will be better still.
Publish complete survey results to demonstrate transparency and serious consideration of time taken offering feedback by congregants.
Offer most effective times and times of year for combined services to promote church unity.
- These will possibly in conjunction with large fellowship events (a practice we already implement on occasion, such as our several combined services during the upcoming Advent Season) or at times when attendance is historically low, such as Independence Day weekend and major travel holidays.
Acquire additional soundboard components that will allow the Audio/Visual team to control the sound quality of the live feed independently from what is heard in the Sanctuary.
- This will allow us to build a more effective sound mix for our online worshippers.
- Because lack of Audio/Visual team participation is another significant barrier affecting the quality of the livestream, we will also request the recruitment of more volunteers to control the soundboard.
Thank you again for offering your honest, heartfelt feedback. We realize we cannot please all of the people all of the time, but we have faith in the sincere desire of each member of our congregation to please and glorify God above all. Through objectivity, thoroughness, and thoughtful contemplation of these issues so important to the future of our church, we are all continuing on the journey of growing as followers of Jesus Christ
With the Love of Christ,
The Worship Planning Team
Deanna Greene, Cathy Henderson, Marty Roberts, Monique McCutcheon, Penny Weiermann, Scott Spradlin, and Rev. Dr. David Averill