At the end of each year, the students in our youth ministry fill out a survey. It’s a pretty comprehensive survey, including questions about their spiritual growth, the events we did, our ongoing programs, and their relationship with the volunteer leaders. It’s proven to be one of the most valuable tools we have for casting vision, evaluating our calendar, and taking the pulse of the ministry. Here are some tips:

Don’t be afraid to ask direct questions

Too often, we don’t know because we don’t ask. Don’t be afraid to ask direct questions. One of my favorite questions we ask is, “How often do you talk with your parents about spiritual stuff?” It would be hard to discover that answer without simply asking, and the responses we get from students tell us a lot about family dynamics.

Don’t be afraid to take some time

Our survey is 10 pages long and takes around 20 minutes to complete. It’s worth it! We have to rearrange the schedule to accomodate it, but doing that once a year is an easy trade-off for how helpful the information is.

Don’t attach your worth to it

When we open ourselves up to criticism, it is a very vulnerable feeling. You need to be prepared for honest answers, and the honest answer might be that a student didn’t like an event. There are lots of reasons that could be true that have nothing to do with you. Maybe they were stressing about homework, or felt sick, or were teased, or didn’t sleep well in the bed at the retreat center. One pattern we’ve seen over the years is that for every event, at least one student didn’t like it. We’ve also found that for every event, at least one student picked it as their favorite of the year. That’s just how group dynamics work. Don’t take it to heart when a student didn’t like a program or event, that is very different than saying they don’t like you or the youth group.

Don’t jump to conclusions

You are looking for trends and insight, but be careful not to extrapolate the information beyond it’s intended scope. What I mean is that if your first 4 or 5 surveys show that students didn’t like your fall retreat, you’ll start to think that fall retreat was bad. That thought will stick with you, even if the next 10 surveys say they LOVED fall retreat. We focus on negative feedback and give it undue priority in our decision making, try and be as objective as possible.

Don’t switch to a democracy

The survey is a tool to help you as you lead your student ministry, but you are still the leader. It is very important to try and understand what your students are experiencing and what, at least in their eyes, is working. But at the end of the day, you were hired/recruited/begged to be the one who sets the vision for the youth ministry. The survey isn’t about asking what you should do, the survey is about asking how are people responding to what you’ve done. If a program you feel is important doesn’t get high marks, that might mean you just need to spend more time championing it for the students. The survey should not trump your God-given passions and ideas.

Don’t re-invent the wheel

You are welcome to create a survey from scratch, but if you’re like me and appreciate someone else getting the ball rolling so you can tweak it, then go ahead and download the survey below. It’s a copy of what we gave to students last year. Enjoy!

 

Download The Survey Template

 


This post was inspired in part by “Youth Ministry Topics You Should Cover” on www.studentministry.org

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14 comments

  1. Sarah Carlstrom

    Thank you so much for this survey. I was just about to write my own, but didn’t even know where to start. I appreciate having a blueprint from which to customize and make work. THANK YOU and keep on reachin out to the kids. They need God (and you)!

    Blessings,

    Sarah

  2. Found this while searching google! Thanks! Love your blog! Adding it to my youth ministry blog list!

    • Luke

      Thanks for stopping by! Glad you like it.

    • Luke

      That’s awesome! I’d love to hear what you find out.

  3. Luke,
    I’m grateful for this work. We modified it to fit our needs and have spent the past 2 weeks handing them out to students. We have about 75% of the number of responses we expect to get and I’m wondering if you can help us understand the best way to go through this information? Surely there must be a way to track it more than simply reading through them and taking notes of the comments?

    Any and all response would be fantastic. Thanks so much for your hard work and dedication to helping students know Jesus better.

    • Luke

      Hey there Adam, you’ve inspired me to write a post about best practices once you have the survey data. I’ll try and have it up in the next week, so stay tuned. Glad the survey was useful!

  4. Did you ever write the post about what to do with these results? I have the raw data but am not sure how to compile it.

  5. Maurice

    Hey Luke!! I’m a youth pr in training here in Jacksonville, NC. I just wanted to say thank you for the survey blueprint. It really helped a ton in creating a survey for out youth here!! Be blessed brother!!

    • Luke

      Hey Maurice, glad to help! Good on you for surveying/improving early on in the career, it’ll serve you well. Keep it up, always encouraging to hear from new YPs

  6. Aaron

    If this is a sample, could we get the full version? Willing to pay.

    • Luke

      Hey Aaron! I called it a sample just because it is specific to my ministry (asks about certain events or series we do). You can download and edit it to your hearts content! No need to pay, but feel free to give a social media shout-out to anyone you think could benefit. Glad it helps!

  7. Brandon Dodd

    Hey Luke,
    I’m super particular about fonts and design and your fonts on the picture look great. Could you give me the name of the two fonts that you used to write the survey? Thanks!

    • Hey Brandon,
      Happy to help, I completely understand the picky font feeling. The majority of the survey is in Helvetica Neue, with some plain Helvetica here and there. Avenir Next is a similar typeface, not identical, but will give a similar feel.