Dr. Paul Riedesel
Member, First Unitarian Society-Minneapolis
Congregations are strongly encouraged to conduct a member survey as part of
their ministerial search. While the results may help you in defining what you
are looking for in a minister, a more important purpose is to provide potential
candidates with a profile of who you are as a congregation. Your Search
Committee will compile other materials to describe your congregation, but a
well-conducted survey is necessary to reveal the whole picture.
A survey is meant to provide an accurate, statistical portrait of your
congregation. It should not be looked on as a vote. You must
This is not easy work, nor something to be turned over to a busy part-time secretary. If you have someone in your congregation with an advanced degree in the social sciences or who has a working knowledge of statistics, try to involve them. The Settlement Office of the UUA can show you examples of other surveys, but there is no one form that is right for everyone. You will probably want to have a small team be responsible for executing your survey. Ideally, it will not be composed only of Search Committee members, but perhaps of one Search Committee representative plus others from your congregation who have some talent and time to donate.
I am going to suggest four major questions that you must address and answer in order to carry out an effective Ministerial Search Survey. Each question is linked to a separate page with advice, recommendations and strong opinions about how you should proceed. In so doing, I draw on my experiences of over 30 years in doing survey research in a wide variety of settings. One thing I know is that you must start at the end and work backwards.
I am happy to provide this advice, but would ask a favor: Would you be so kind as to email me a copy of your final questionnaire? Your survey results are your business but I can be of more help to others if I know what congregations are actually asking these days.
This page last updated on 05/03/2012