A couple of weeks ago, I conducted a theological survey of our adults at North Side. This is for a requirement for my next degree, but I tailored the questions to help our staff discern teaching and directional needs for our church in the area of evangelism and missions.
Concerning conducting this survey, I was hesitant. A number of our people who are coming to our church are unchurched, dechurched, previously badly churched, or something else. So some of these questions are “senior level” questions for many people who are just getting the foundation laid. For that sake, I did some extra survey info to see which answers came from people if they were in Sunday School, C-Groups, church member, how long a Christian, etc.
We didn’t have every adult that Sunday turn a survey in. In fact, we probably only had a third of the adults in attendance actually turn in the survey, but that is still good enough to get a good reading. I am still trying to cipher through the info regarding whether or not they or a church member or not, but I listed the top answers to the ten questions below. For size of space, I only posted the highest recorded answers for each question (either agreed and strongly agreed, uncertain, or disagreed or strongly disagreed). Each question was answered on a scale of strongly agreed, agreed, uncertain, disagreed, or strongly disagreed.
- A sincere religious person, regardless of religion, may go to heaven. (72% disagreed or strongly disagreed)
- More people will be in heaven than in hell. (48% uncertain)
- Hell is a real place where the unsaved will suffer for eternity. (94% strongly agreed or agreed)
- If a person is morally good, God may let that person into heaven even if he hasn’t heard of Jesus. (77% disagreed or strongly disagreed)
- God is aware of who is going to be in heaven. (97% agreed or strongly agreed)
- God expects me to share the saving news of Jesus Christ with people all over the world. (98% agreed or strongly agreed)
- People get into heaven by being a good person and trying to keep God’s commandments. (82% disagreed or strongly disagreed)
- If a person is baptized, he or she will go to heaven. (79% disagreed or strongly disagreed)
- If a person prays the “sinner’s prayer,” he or she will go to heaven. (58% agreed or strongly agreed)
- I regularly share with people in our town how a person can be saved. (48% agreed or strongly agreed)
One thing showed to be consistent on this survey – we do have a few sympathetic, closet-pluralists (the belief that any way to heaven is fine) or at least inclusivists (the belief that Jesus is the only savior, but if you pray to Buddha, you are OK, cause you’re actually praying to Jesus). I am anxious to see if those people are new Christians, younger people, or non-members. Time will tell. Looking at the answers, the answers concerning other ways to heaven revealed that the same people answered the same way each time.
The answer to number six regarding people’s responsibility to share the good news all over the world was very encouraging. You can tell what we have been emphasizing the last couple of years.
But the answer to number 10, concerning regularly sharing faith, reveals that only 48% of our people regularly share their faith. I think this answer is honest, but also tricky to ascertain. I struggled with how I should answer that one. How much is “regularly”?
Overall, this gave me some good things to think about and knowing some directions to go. The number one thing we are going to have to address is the worldview issue and engage the discussion concerning the roles/credibility of other paths to God. I think people’s love for other people on the other side of the world makes them think surely God will provide another way to heaven.
Over the next few days, I will take these questions and break them down biblically to see what the Bible actually says concerning these issues. So, check back!
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.