Christian Growth

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A Leading Question

A survey could help introduce someone to Christ.

  • Author: Jennifer Abegg
  • Published: March 1, 2004

"Why do you smoke?"

When college students in Cincinnati gathered daily for cigarette breaks, their peers involved in Campus Crusade for Christ saw past the puffs. They recognized an opportunity to initiate spiritual conversations with people otherwise just standing around. They developed a questionnaire that started with the obvious—smoking cigarettes—but eventually led the conversations into invitations for the smokers to consider Christ.

With the help of a questionnaire or survey, Christians are creating ways to engage people in conversations. Spiritual voids frequently surface, often leading to gospel presentations.

That's what David Wilson, who directs the work of Campus Crusade in Great Britain, hoped for when he developed a survey aimed at employees in prestigious advertising companies and banks in London. He calls his questionnaire a "spiritual audit."

"I've found that when a company is concerned about its employees' spiritual health," David says, "it has a lower staff turnover, more employee loyalty and high ethics."

That's what he explains to the human-resources representatives who readily give him face-to-face access to their employees.

He individually asks the employees various questions related to faith, such as, "Do you feel the need in your life to experience spiritual growth?" Some of the employees hadn't ever really thought much about God; others had considered His existence. Most were not followers of Jesus.

"The surveys give people an outlet to talk through their spiritual feelings in an unthreatening environment," David explains. "On some occasions I have seen this come out in a gush like a cork out of a bottle, because they have strong feelings, but no forum in which to say them."

At the conclusion, David invites each employee to participate in a Bible study he wrote based on the Gospel of John. Lots have enlisted. They're intrigued by Jesus.

A survey changed the life of Greg Criptenden, a college student from Kentucky. All he wanted was food. While a sophomore at Western Kentucky University, Greg was waiting to go into the cafeteria on campus. Someone approached him with a short spiritual-interest survey. He ranked his spiritual interest and agreed that if God could be known in a personal way, he was indeed interested.

To possibly win a $100 drawing, students included their room number or phone number. That allowed Jordan Sparks, a staff member with Campus Crusade, to later knock on Greg's residence-hall door. That afternoon Greg prayed and received Christ in his room. Two years later, he is a student leader in Campus Crusade.

"I can point to a number of people who are involved in the ministry as a result of a survey," explains Thomas Weakley, who directs Campus Crusade at Western Kentucky.

Questionnaires can be created or adapted to apply to any audience. To try evangelism using a survey:

  1. Determine the kind of people with whom you want to strike up a spiritual conversation: Golfers? Shoppers? Anyone? What kind of questions best suit your audience? Do you want a general survey, or one tailored to specific interests or topics? If you're interviewing people at the airport, you could start by inquiring about their feelings on flying, for example.
  2. Keep the survey short, especially if you plan to interview people in random situations (like door to door or at a park). In light of this, consider multiple-choice questions, leaving room for "other." This standardization will also help you tally the results later.
  3. Ask at least one question that might lead into a conversation about Jesus and knowing Him personally. There are lots of ways to transition into that. For instance: "On a scale from one to 10, how sure are you that you'll go to heaven when you die?" Or, "Rate your desire to know God."
  4. Be prepared to explain the good news of Jesus Christ. Either memorize a gospel presentation or carry an evangelistic booklet such as the Four Spiritual Laws with you (call 1-800-827-2788 to order copies).
  5. Don't bait and switch. Be honest. When approaching people on the beach or in your neighborhood, tell them you're conducting a spiritual survey. Or consider saying, "I'm with a local Christian group..." That way people won't feel deceived when the questionnaire turns spiritual.
  6. Take "no" for an answer. If someone does not want to answer the questionnaire, simply thank them for their time and move on. You do your part and let God do His. "Success in evangelism," according to Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade, "is taking the initiative to share Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God."
  7. Tally the results. If you say you're conducting a survey, that implies you are interested in the results, not just conversation. Pass the results to your local newspaper for an article, or publish them in the church bulletin. One local church asked neighbors about how they could best meet their needs and then offered to mail the tallied answers back. However, if you don't intend to analyze all collected answers, call it a questionnaire, not a survey.

Whether auditing a business or striking up conversations with students, surveys help develop spiritual conversations that may challenge people to consider Christ.

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