What Are You Thinking? – by Mary Ann Weber

What are you thinking? It’s my job as an editor to find out. Or, at least it is as long as your thoughts are about resources produced by MennoMedia.

That’s why I spent time earlier this summer exploring how to develop surveys. What makes a good survey? How can I convince people to complete a survey? How can I write a survey to get the information I need?

I discovered that it’s good to offer an incentive to complete a survey. For example, we frequently include a discount code that can be used toward a future MennoMedia purchase at our store. I learned that it’s helpful to let people know about how much time they may spend taking a survey. No one who has two minutes of free time wants to get trapped in a survey that takes five minutes or more to complete. And I gathered that it’s good to include a no-answer option for those who want to take the survey but don’t want to respond to a specific question.

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(We generally use Survey Monkey to create handy online surveys
that are actually kind of fun to complete.)

With my new found knowledge, I put together a number of surveys related to projects I’m working on. Are churches interested in an intergenerational worship resource? How do pastors and other church leaders find resources for their ministries? What would be a good title for an upcoming Bible study guide? Which cover option will make people want to purchase a book? Why does your church offer vacation Bible school? As you can tell, survey topic possibilities are endless.

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The information I receive is used to shape current and future projects. It turns out that half of the people to whom I sent the survey about intergenerational worship resources, responded. That might sound like a small percentage in general, but in the world of surveys, a 50% response shows tremendous support. Those results spurred me to begun preliminary steps to create a worship resource that all generations can use together.

We can track how many times the offered discount codes are used. Surprisingly, they are not redeemed very frequently. Maybe it’s the idea of receiving something, instead of actually receiving something that motivates people to complete surveys. Or, maybe people just understand that if they want their voices and opinions heard, they need to take a few minutes and tell us what they are thinking. Surveys also help us involve a wider spectrum of the church and the public in developing or fine-tuning the projects and products we produce. They give us some hard data to go on, instead of guesses.

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If you ever receive a survey link from a MennoMedia staff member, we’d appreciate if you take a few minutes to work through it. Your willingness to do so means that we can continue to create and offer relevant products that meet real needs. Thank you!

If you would be willing to give occasional feedback by means of surveys, please indicate your interest by leaving a comment below. We will then be able to have your email address as well as your area of interest. Here are some key areas in which we solicit feedback:

  • Trade books
  • Book content, titles, and covers
  • Curriculum materials
  • Websites
  • Periodicals

Thanks again for any help you are able to offer!

Mary Ann Weber, Curriculum Managing Editor120127_3988

Rebooting for Today’s Leaders

A few years ago I visited my parents’ congregation in Pennsylvania during Advent and immediately recognized that their church was using the same visuals and worship resources as my own congregation in Ohio. The same thing happened during Lent a couple years ago as well.

And it’s no small coincidence, given that Leader magazine publishes worship resources for Mennonite congregations to use during the seasons of Advent, Lent–Easter, Pentecost, and the summer.

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Leader magazine is published quarterly by MennoMedia in cooperation with Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA “to inspire, equip, and empower both pastors and lay leaders in helping their congregations fulfill the missional vision of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA.”

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But what does that mean?

In a nutshell, Leader magazine is filled with interesting articles on a topic that the editorial council believes will be of interest to congregations. Recent issues have focused on:

  • Crucial Conversations (Fall 2012)
  • Interfaith Dialogue (Winter 2012–13)
  • Adult Faith Formation (Spring 2013)
  • Worship (Summer 2013)
  • Fear Factor (Fall 2013)
  • Family Complexities (Winter 2013–14)
  • The Externally Focused Church (Spring 2014)
  • Children and Youth and Faith Formation (Summer 2014)
  • Creating Authentic Community (Fall 2014)
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At MennoMedia, it’s our goal to keep Leader magazine accessible across the Mennonite church, both in the articles and the worship resources. We are trying to reach a broad spectrum of leaders from a variety of settings. We are doing a disservice to our mission if we are only serving a slice of the church.

We also want Leader magazine to be practical. There are other places for esoteric talk on the church. With Leader, we strive for concrete examples from congregational life—giving our readers ideas to use and apply in their own settings.

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Those have been our goals all along with Leader, and now after 10 years it’s time for us to take another look and think about changing some things to meet the needs of today’s congregations.

Our editorial team is hard at work on determining what Leader will look like starting in Fall 2015. Toward that, we are asking:

  • The worship resources are the most-used part of the magazine. Our recent survey has shown this to be true, so how do we get leaders to get into the articles as much as the worship resources?
  • What do those who read the articles find appealing? Why are some skipping over the articles?
  • How can the magazine’s appeal be broadened beyond pastors and elders to Sunday school teachers, youth sponsors, and other congregational positions?
  • What kind of new design or format would best meet the needs of today’s leaders?
  • What kind of online repository could be created with past articles and worship resources?
  • How are congregations planning worship today—or are they? And who is doing the planning?
  • How are congregations training leaders to lead?

I would love to hear from you! How are you using Leader in your congregation? How would you answer the questions above?

Amy Gingerich

Amy Gingerich

Editorial Director