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Youth survey registration opens Feb. 1

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Registration opens Feb. 1 for the second annual SBC Student Ministry Survey, designed to be a comprehensive guide for Southern Baptist churches across the nation to garner crucial, fresh information about teens, their families and youth ministry.

The free survey will be open for people to complete online Feb. 10–April 13. Coordinators are particularly seeking churches to help provide input from youth, parents of youth, youth ministry volunteers and youth ministers.

After the survey closes, each participating church will be able to download a full report April 15. It will show the responses of their congregation separated into groups without identifying specific individuals who took the survey. All individual input will remain confidential.

During the months of April and May, participating churches will be able to hold “Vision to Action” workshops, which will bring key parents, youth and leaders to the table to set a positive new direction based on the information gathered from the survey.

“A free online manual will be available for each church, which will not only show them how to conduct the workshop but guide them through every step of the survey process, from beginning to end,” said Wesley Black, project coordinator and professor of student ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

Church registration for the survey, at www.sbcstudents.com/annualsurvey, runs through the end of March.

Black noted that the survey has been revised and improved over last year’s survey. As a result, the shorter format will make it simpler to measure each group’s attitudes on subjects such as Christian doctrine, spiritual discipline, parent and youth relationships, and youth ministry leadership.

Another key component of the survey is that while churches are studying their local data, Southern Baptist leaders also will be studying the results.

State conventions will be able to post statistics from their states on their websites, while SBC entities will have access to national figures to help determine effective directions for student ministry within the convention. Participating churches, meanwhile, will be able to compare their results with statewide and nationwide results.

“We will know far more about the youth and families of the SBC than we have ever known,” Black said. “Agencies and schools can then make more of their plans based on facts rather than hunches.”

In the youth portion of the survey, for example, students are asked to respond to such statements as “When I am corrected, verbal fighting is a frequent occurrence in our household,” “I have had an online or phone conversation with sexual content” and “I have intentionally injured myself.”

The inaugural survey in 2007 was the result of more than two years of intensive work and cooperation between student ministry leaders at SBC seminaries and churches.

Participating churches will gain “a process for moving from new facts that may be distressing toward positive ministry changes,” Black said. “Hand-wringing is not the goal. Substantive change in student ministry is.”

Churches and individuals “tend to keep doing what they have been doing unless something prompts them to change,” Black said. “In some churches, if attendance is OK, if parents and teens are reasonably happy with activities, then no one is motivated to think carefully about how ministry should be changed in the future.”
Reported by the communications office of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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