UTAS O Week Mission 2016 — Part 2: Survey and Results

Previous Posts:

The big front door of our O Week Mission was a very brief 30 second, A6 survey:

1. Advantages of the survey

  • Previous approaches to contacting focussed on filtering out the Christians. We would ask 'Are you Christian? Would you like to be on our mailing list?' or something like that.
  • This approach got us focussing on just making contact with as many people as possible... and then getting a really large group of people who MIGHT be interested to find out more.
  • Giving a gift in return for people filling out the survey helped guarantee that we got a good cross-section of people. We didn't just get those who were inclined to approach a Christian stall. We got anyone who wanted something free for 30 seconds' work.
  • Getting people to fill out the surveys themselves again protected the integrity of the data... they didn't feel like they had to 'please' us. But it made for a lot of bad handwriting!
  • Our commitment to do as many as possible (we aimed for 700 people, we got 1100)... meant that the proportion of actual good contact was of a decent scale. Some kinds of promotion and contact-making are only worth doing if you do it on a large scale.
  • We got the idea of MAYBE as an option from Cru. I suspect they got it from Facebook? Either way, it enabled us to get a pool of people who didn't feel ready to definitely commit on the spot, but were at least happy to give their contact details. We didn't treat the YES and MAYBE people differently... but it was helpful survey data, a helpful indicator as we contacted them, and a way to take pressure off people.


2. Results of the survey

The 1096 surveys we completed has given us a massive sample size to get a snapshot of the 18000 students at UTAS Hobart, especially the 13 000 undergraduates:

  • 70.81% rate their spiritual life as between 3-7 on a scale of 1-7 

  • In answer to the question 'In your opinion, who is Jesus Christ?' 11.68% said A Prophet, 20.16% said Myth/Legend, 33.21% said God and 34.03% said A Good Man.

55.38% were open to hearing more about us: 17.88% said Yes and 37.5% said Maybe. Of the 55.38% who were open to hear more (606 people), 32% (350 people) gave any legible and correct contact details.

This surprised as, as it demonstrated much higher degree of spiritual value and warmth to Christianity than we would have guessed. It does, however, correlate to a broader nationalsurvey conducted by McCrindle Research.  It also gives us a great mission field of people to follow up.

What does this mean?

  • When surveyed anonymously, a majority of UTAS student express some kind of spiritual value, almost 50% believe that Jesus was spiritually important (30% that he was God!) and at over 50% are 'warm' towards Christianity (as indicated by some openness to hear more about our group).
  • But how does this fit with our anecdotal experience about apathy and resistant to spirituality in the everyday experience of our students and staff?
  • Does this anonymous survey demonstrate their genuine beliefs, that they might be less confident to share in public discussion? Does it demonstrate their 'performance' beliefs: the answers they'd like to think they should say when surveyed? Does it demonstrate their 'nominal' beliefs as opposed to their actually devout and lived beliefs?
  • It's not as simple to say: "UTAS is heaps more spiritually open than we think". But it is a helpful balance to the assumed fear that "UTAS is super spiritually hostile".

3. Changes to the survey

  • In a future blog post I'll comment more on the broader promotion process in how we conducted the surveys, how we tied the survey stalls to other events and how we conducted data entry and follow up.
  • Next time we would have another option for Question 2: 'Historical  figure': for those who believe Jesus existed, but don't think he was a good man or a prophet.
  • Question 1 was unclear as to whether 'Not Important' and 'Very important' were options (creating 7 options in total) or simply a legend for the 1-5 scale.
  • We had lots of illegible responses... but we don't know how to avoid that given how swift and busy the survey stalls were. We'd make sure stall supervisors are constantly saying 'Please print legibly and carefully'.
  • We had a lot of people say 'YES' or 'MAYBE' to Question 3 but not leave their contact details. And a few people say 'NO' to this question but leave their contact details. We'd make sure stall supervisors are constantly saying 'Leave your details if YES and MAYBE, don't leave them if NO'.

4. Other observations

  • The Fine Arts School was very noticeably more suspicious of the stalls than any other campus! It's like they were worried that even doing our anonymous survey was somehow being complicit with Christianity or endorsing us.
  • The Fine Arts School also took a lot longer to answer both Question 1 and Question 2.
  • We are going to draft a one-off email to all those who said NO to Question 3 but left their contact details, pointining them to online gospel-explanation resources.

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