And the Survey Says . . .

By Kathy Ferguson Litton

“Get out your cell phones.”

When is that ever said in a gathering?

During the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention we gathered 800 plus women in a room to have a very intimate conversation.

Sort of.

And we got to keep our phones out.

We conducted a very informal survey that allowed participants the ability to respond to questions via their cell phones. Plus we had the nifty feature of seeing all responses immediately as answers populated the large screens in real time for all to see.

Our survey did not meet all necessary standards of research. The women in the room did not reflect a diverse cross section of all evangelical life or even in Southern Baptist life. In our world those attending a convention are usually highly connected and resourced.

Yet we learned much about the hearts of the women sitting around us.

Who We Were
  • Our audience was fairly young with 44% present under the age of 39.
  • 52% of women in the room worked full or part-time outside the home.
  • More than 48% came from churches of less than 249 people in weekly worship while 24% came from churches of more than 1000 in worship attendance.
What We Said About Our Marriages
  • 38% said what their marriage needed most was improved communication. While 11% stated their biggest need in marriage was healthier sexual intimacy.
  • While responding to this statement, “My marriage is very satisfying.” 56% replied “Strongly Agree”, while 4% texted this response, “Strongly disagree”.
  • On the topic of pornography, when asked to respond to this statement; “Pornography has affected our marriage.” 6% said “Strongly agree”. While 16% replied “Agree” and another 6% shared “I fear this but have no proof.”
What We Discovered
  • 38% reported that their personal relationship with Jesus was “Developing steadily.” While 20% revealed is was “Stable but not life giving.”, 4% said it was “Becoming less important.” and 1.5% confessed “I’m not sure I know Jesus Christ personally.”
  • 19% were discouraged because of little fruit in their ministry, 17% were discouraged as their children were struggling. Yet 21% had no present discouragement.
  • When asked about issues occurring in their families in the past five years 9% said issue of homosexuality or same sex attraction. The most common family issue was “Overwhelming debt” which 52% revealed.
Two Revealing Responses

“I see myself as a leader in our church.” 83% of women either responded “Strongly agree” or “Agree”. This encouraged me. Now again our population may have been skewed toward more engaged women by the very nature of the event, yet that is a strong response. In my interactions with ministry wives I notice a hesitancy to refer to themselves as leaders. Yet when we chat about their ministry it quickly becomes clear: they LEAD.

Implication: We ARE leaders. When we perceive ourselves as leaders we will be more intentional and better stewards of that role.

“I see myself as a leader in the community.” Only 10% chose “Strongly agree”, while 54% responded with “Disagree” or “Strongly disagree”. The concept of engaging our communities has strong implications for advancing the gospel. The church will NOT be effective when it is sequestered in buildings and Christian huddles. Nor will its leaders. Ministry types can unconsciously live with little or no connectivity to the larger communities to which we are called. There is that great BIG “Go” we must obey (Matthew 28:19-20).

Implication: In obedience to “Go” we need to intentionally engage our community. We need to set example of this as well. This will take great intentionality and life will have to be re-prioritized. Yet doors will open as we build relationships outside of the church bubble.

This small response to how we view our community leadership is loaded with implications. It is easy to be consumed with church life to the detriment of connecting to our neighbors, towns, and workplace.

How can you change this in your world?

Stay tuned with Flourish in the fall as we conduct an on-line poll that will provide all our followers a chance to participate.

Published June 24, 2015

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Kathy Ferguson Litton

Kathy lives in Mobile, Alabama, with her husband Ed, pastor of Redemption Church. Both lost former spouses in car accidents, and God uniquely gave them new love and life together in 2009. Kathy enjoyed 26 years of life and ministry alongside Rick Ferguson. She has three children and ten grandchildren. Presently she serves as Director of Planting Spouse Development.