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Practical Dreamers

We Wanted to Know

Y@M

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At our Mornington Church we have a small but quite active youth group which has been named Y@M (Youth at Mornington). Under the leadership of Ginny Kitchingman they recently ran a questionnaire among the congregation asking a range of questions about Faith, Bible, Church-going etc etc. A few Sundays ago they presented a summary of the results in the course of a service.
Many of these answers are significant, and it seems worthwhile for us to post the full summary of results on the website under the headingt "We wanted to Know."
Thanks to Ginny and the Y@M group..

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24 people completed the questionnaire: 12 male and 12 female. 

Their ages ranged from 42 to 77, with an average age of 63.

 

 

How long have you been going to church?

24 responses

 

Number of responses

All my life

16

Since a child

2

All my life (with a gap)

1

More than 20 years

1

10-20 years

3

5 years (plus 35 earlier in life)

1

Everyone who completed the questionnaire had been going to church for a considerable length of time!

 

 

Is there a purpose for you going to church?

22 responses.  8 people simply replied “yes”. 

Of the 14 who gave more detail, the following aspects were mentioned.

 

Number of responses

Fellowship, meeting with others who have similar feelings about God and life

 

7

Worship

6

New ideas, thinking about how to live

4

Spiritual nurture

2

An important part of my life

2

 

 

Do you enjoy going to church?

24 responses.

 

Number of responses

Very much

2

Yes

14

Usually

7

Sometimes

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you enjoy about it?

24 responses.

 

Number of responses

Friendly, like-minded people

15

Music

12

Mental stimulation, learning, thinking about important issues, seeking direction

 

9

Being part of a community, sense of belonging

5

Sermon

4

Quiet, peace

3

Fun, energy

3

Worship, renewal

3

Children

2

Values, attitudes

2

Whole atmosphere

1

 

 

If you don’t enjoy it, why do you come?

3 people mentioned a sense of responsibility, having made a commitment.

 

 

Why are you a Christian?

23 responses.

 

Number of responses

Jesus as great teacher and role model

10

Upbringing

6

Both upbringing and model of Jesus

6

“God made me to need God”

1

 

 

Why are you a Methodist?

24 responses

 

Number of responses

Upbringing, family connection, marriage

14

Because I like Mornington Methodist

4

Convenience (closest church)

3

Philosophy of social concern

3

Open theology

2

I’m not – I’m a Presbyterian!

2

Singing

1

Ability to contribute talents

1

Happy people

1

 


Why do you come to Mornington Methodist?

24 responses.

 

Number of responses

Friendly, caring people

13

Open theology, spiritual space

9

Convenience (closest Methodist church)

7

Music

6

Fun, lively, creative

4

Inclusive, accepting

2

Strong on justice and social responsibility

2

Modern building

2

One of the best churches, my favourite

2

God placed us here

1

Sermons

1

 

 

Have you been baptised?

24 responses.

 

Number of responses

Yes

22

No

1

Don’t know

1

 

 

When were you baptised?

21 responses.

 

Number of responses

As a baby

17

18-20 years old

3

43 years old

1

 

 

Do you remember it?

21 respomses.

 

Number of responses

No

17

Yes

4

 

 

Did you get a present?

Many people couldn’t remember.  Several mentioned certificates.  Presents that were named were: a silver cup, a silver serviette ring, a silver baby spoon, a Bible, a spoon, afternoon tea, and Everlasting Life in Heaven.

 

 


Have there been times in your life when the church has been helpful to you?

24 responses.  10 people simply replied “yes”, and 3 said “often”.

Of the 11 people who gave more detail, the following were mentioned:

 

Number of responses

Times of stress, sickness, or loss

8

As a teenager

2

Allowing me to express my personality and gifts

1

 

 

Have there been times when it wasn’t helpful?

21 responses.  10 people simply replied “yes”, and 3 said “no”.

Of the 8 people who gave more detail, the following were mentioned:

 

Number of responses

Difficulty with some decisions in the church, politics, controversies

 

5

Too demanding, too many responsibilities asked

2

When the service is not relevant

1

 

 

Have there been any special people or events in your life that had a big effect on what you think about the church?

24 responses.  3 people simply replied “yes”, and 6 said “many”.

Of the 15 people who gave more detail, the following were mentioned:

 

Number of responses

People

 

Parents

6

Other relatives

4

Ministers

6

Sunday School or Bible Class teachers

5

Friends

3

Headmaster

1

Jesus

1

Writers

1

Church groups – MWF, choir, church union, youth groups, young mothers’ group

 

7

 

 

Events

 

Youth Conference

1

Wedding

1

Death

1

Easter Passion play

1

Time Overseas

1

 


What do you think happens when you pray?

20 responses.  In general, the responses could be summarised as follows:

 

Number of responses

I think seriously, meditate

12

I have a conversation with God

6

Both of these

1

A wonderful peace comes over me

1

 

The responses were all quite individual and therefore I have included them verbatim below (in no particular order).

 

You think about what is happening and hope to resolve problems, or thank God for the good things.

 

Prayer helps me to focus on the needs of others.  I never expect God to do all the work.

 

I and the congregation around me focus on particular needs – we may act later because of it – I don’t believe my prayers get God to act as he/she might otherwise not do.  It’s like getting in tune with God’s harmony.

 

I think about what is important, prioritise, try to be open to alternative solutions.

 

Essentially meditation, which has it’s own beneficial if indefinable effects.

 

A time of meditation, when you can pray and think about things, and sort out your ideas, and sometimes find an answer.  It is important to have some time to contemplate and think beyond yourself.  I haven’t put God into these answers – mainly because I don’t know.  But I think we have to do some of God’s work ourselves.

 

I hope that God hears me and answers my prayer.

 

God listens then I feel his answering either in my head (my own voice) or by deeds happening.

 

I am with God.

 

Prayer is an attitude.

 

I talk to God or Jesus and believe this is very effective in my life and sometimes is the only thing I can do for other people.  Our thoughts can have a positive effect in the world.

 

I enter into conversation with God.

 

It concentrates your mind on things that need attention.

 

I think seriously.

 

I don’t know.  I think it helps us to think about things and accept some hard things better.  It helps us realise we are not the main person in control.

 

We think about ourselves, situation, past, future, mistakes, opportunities, and seek communication with God’s spirit.

 

God hears, but I don’t know how.  Have a feeling the Holy Spirit comes in here.

 

A wonderful peace comes over me.

 

It makes me collect my thoughts, consider what I want to pray about.

 

Just a way of “sorting things out” in your head – of stepping back from a situation and thinking objectively.  A way of “unloading” and moving on.


Do you think the Bible is useful?

22 responses.  9 people simply replied “yes”.

Of the 13 people who gave more detail the responses could be summarised as:

 

Number of responses

A relevant guidebook for life

6

Yes, but…

7

 

Those responses are provided here:

 

It has much between its covers.

 

I always keep a Bible by my bed.

 

Excellent background for life, then and today.

 

Useful because I learn there of the history and ancient beliefs of the Hebrews and early church; best because I can meet Christ there.

 

I believe it is real – not just metaphor.

 

It’s like a guidebook showing us about the journey of many many people in understanding ideas about God.

 

Some of it – particularly in the New Testament.

 

Yes, but needs to be assessed historically and wisely.

 

There is some inspiration in it, but I think it is very harmful at the same time.

 

When understood with an up-to-date commentary.

 

Lots of good stories and history, but some potentially damaging bits.

 

Yes, but not to the point of describing it as the Word of God.  For me, however, it comes close to being the God of Word – continues to provide a powerful seeding of creative thought and action.

 

As history, source of wisdom and truth, but not infallible.

 

 

Do you have any favourite stories from the Bible?

21 responses.  3 people simply replied “yes”, and 2 said “no”.

6 people said they liked the stories from and about Jesus, and 3 mentioned the ancient myths and creation stories.  Specific stories that were named were: the prodigal son (3), the workers in the vineyard (2), Ruth (2), Jacob wrestling with God, the persistent woman, the good Samaritan, the mustard seed, the log in the eye, feeding the multitude, Jesus gathering the children, and the “Kingdom is like…” stories.


What was so special about Jesus?

20 responses.  In general the responses can be summarised as:

 

Number of responses

How he lived, his love for others

16

His special relationship with God

5

Individual responses are given below, in no particular order…

 

I believe he was sent from God to teach us about God, and how to love all people.

 

A very special man of love and goodness.

 

Light of the World.

 

He showed passion.  Gave his life for us as a parent would for a child.  Half man born from God.

 

He taught love.

 

Am working on this!

 

Teaching, leadership.

 

Personifies a supreme flowering of the human spirit.

 

He was such a very loving person to everyone.

 

Really cared about all people.  Radical ideas about what is fair, and what God is like.

 

What he taught and how he lived in relation to other people.

 

He demonstrated in his own life and teaching that love, not power, was the way to go.

 

He showed us a better way of living and helping other people.

 

Had a connection with people at all levels.  Willing to “buck the system”.  Stood up for what he believed in no matter what.

 

He loved everyone and especially the poor, weak, children.

 

Kindness, healing, suffering for and with obedience, intellect, insight, etc, etc.

 

His identity with the Spirit Creator God.

 

He rose from death.

 

Special relationship with God that enabled him to live an exemplary life.

 

He showed amazing love and courage and healing power.

 

 

 

 

What do you think about other religions?

23 responses.  Aspects that were mentioned can be summarised as:

 

Number of responses

Should be respected

10

Similar threads run through them

8

Interesting – want to learn more

8

Some concerns

5

Individual responses are given below, in no particular order…


All cousins of the one family.

 

I think we need to learn about them and respect other people’s beliefs – but they are not for me.

 

They are necessary as every person in this world should have the right to freely worship as he/she sees fit.

 

Very interested in learning about other faiths/religions as all have an important place in our world.

 

They are interrelated, same “thread” running through them.  Each is right for those believing in them – no one really knows the “truth”.

 

I find them very interesting and appreciate learning more about them.  Many good sincere people in each religion.

 

They have their good and bad points so we can learn from them.

 

They all share in the truth.

 

When you find out about the main things they believe and teach, they’re not too different from each other.

 

They all have merits and some wisdom, but few are as complete and satisfactory as Christianity.

 

Be respectful.  Don’t dabble in non God driven beliefs. 

 

They have their good points.

 

All religions have a place and deserve respect.

 

We are fortunate today in having a much greater understanding of other religions.  I feel more comfortable with those who worship one Supreme Being.  I am not so sure of those that preach violence to those who don’t follow their way.

 

They seem to have some similarities to Bible stories and history, advocated better ways of living.

 

There are many paths to God and all should be respected.

 

I value and deeply respect their faith.  I am intrigued by our differences and our common beliefs.

 

Mostly seem on a similar track.  It is when one thinks they are the best that problems start.  I do have a problem with religions (including many manifestations of Christianity) that are very rigid and dogmatic and impose limitations on particular groups of people (such as women).

 

I have some very special Roman Catholic friends, but I don’t really understand their religion.

 

They are like other languages – I may not be able to understand them much or at all, but I recognise them as having the same validity, cosy familiarity and ultimate meaning for their speakers as my tongue (Christianity) has for its speakers.

 

Interested to find out and understand.

 

Should be respected.

 

I support people to follow whatever religion, providing it teaches love and respect for yourself and fellow beings.

 

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