This page gives details of the survey construction and breakdown of participants.
The survey itself
There were 18 questions, 13 asking for the participant’s opinion about a particular statement, 5 were gathering information about the participant.
The 13 statements came from the results of qualitative interviewing in Stage One of my PhD thesis called The Disconnected Church: a critical examination of the communication of the Christian church in New Zealand (clicking that link will take you to the 500-word abstract of the thesis). During my PhD research I used a very in-depth interviewing process with 7 people who were not Christianised, meaning they had never been part of the church or been part of a family with Christian faith. The interview analysis resulted in what I refer to as the 9 perceptions the people interviewed have of the church (clicking on that link will take to a list of the 9 perceptions). You can read about my qualitative research methodology and method, and why 7 interviews were sufficient, in my thesis, which can be downloaded here…
The purpose of this 2014 Christian/not-Christian comparison survey, using a simple quantitative method and the online survey tool SurveyMonkey, was to broaden the picture, seeing how another way of gathering data would add to some of my earlier research.
My goal was to survey 1000 New Zealanders
I paid for advertising on Facebook, using the four ads shown below, which appeared on the right-hand-side column of Facebook users newsfeed. The Facebook users targeted were all those living in New Zealand over the age of 18. At the time this was 2,018,400 people, or approximately half of the New Zealand population. I was happy for any of these people to participate in this survey. The sweetener to participate was the optional chance of going into a draw to win a $20 iTunes voucher.
My own identity was not connected to the survey in any way, and I never asked anyone to participate. Participation was solely though people clicking on an advertisement alongside their Facebook newsfeed.
Each of the 13 statement questions required the participant to respond indicating their opinion from five possible options, as shown below, responding to the 13 statements was compulsory and could not be skipped:
These statements were not simply dreamed up or plucked from thin air, they originate from a thorough and supervised research process of interviewing and thematic analysis:
- The church is a spiritual place.
- The church is stuck in the past, in a time where it had power and abused its control.
- The church is sincere and trustworthy.
- Christians are sincere and trustworthy.
- The church lacks integrity.
- Christians lack integrity.
- The church is emotive and manipulative.
- Free independent thinkers don’t need the church.
- The church is oppressive.
- Christianity is not relevant or necessary.
- Some Christians do amazing good.
- The church is after your money.
- The church does not have a good public profile.
Click here to see graphs showing the response to each of these statements comparing those who claimed to be not-Christian with those who claim to be Christian. In these graphs I have joined the “strongly disagree” and “disagree” results, and the “strongly agree” and “agree” results.
The survey participants
There were 1079 participants. They were asked to place themselves into one of the following five categories. 1043 participants answered this questions, while 36 skipped:
- Not religious or spiritual (157 participants)
- Spiritual but not Christian (387 participants)
- Christian and a regular church-goer (265 participants)
- Christian but not normally a church goer (130 participants)
- Other – please specify (104 participants)
There were 939 participants in the first four categories and their distribution looked like this:
I chose these four categories as a way to split the sample into two main groups: not-Christian (categories 1 & 2), and Christian (categories 3 & 4). The graphs here show the response to the 13 statements under the simplified categories of “not-Christian” and “Christian”.
Of the 934 participants who disclosed their gender, the mix was:
Of the 933 participants who disclosed their age, the mix was: