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November 7, 2011

Thinking about Connect

by tbuegler

The Connect Journal is put out by the Network puts out 3-4 times per year (depending on where we’re at budget-wise.)  in late spring and early summer we did a survey of our Network membership about how they use the Connect Journal.  We’ve been processing this data, and it’s been really kind of fun.

When we started doing Connect about 5 years ago, we surveyed the membership about whether they would prefer a “paper” version, or an “online” version.  Back then, the results were pretty significantly in favor of doing a “paper” journal.  It was probably a 70-30 split in favor of paper.

We suspected that with the continued ‘digitalization’ of our culture, the results would be a little different now, and we weren’t disappointed.  Here’s what we found out, and how we’re interpreting it:

Our first question was “How important is it that the Connect Journal be printed and mailed to you?”  The rating was on a 1-5 scale (1 represented “Not at all important” and 5 represented “Extremely Important.” Lutherans love the middle-ground, and you didn’t disappoint.  The average score was 2.3.

Our second question was “Would the Connect Journal being exclusively online be:  A) More helpful as a resource; B) Less helpful as a resource; C) Wouldn’t change how I use Connect Journal; D) It doesn’t matter, I don’t read it anyway, and; E) No response.

It was interesting that 30% said it would be more helpful being exclusively online. 21% thought it would be less helpful.  And 42.5% thought it wouldn’t really make a difference to them.  Only 2 responses said that it doesn’t’ matter, they don’t read it anyway.

We wondered about the implications for Network membership.  Only 4.6% of respondents said that going to an online version would make them less likely to renew.  We felt pretty good about that.

The comments were also interesting.  There was lots of really good feedback on the Journal that was positive.  People like that we have something that looks at issues around children, youth and family ministry through a specifically Lutheran world-view. People feel like there is a nice blend between the “think pieces” and the “practical pieces.”  There is a sense that the depth has been growing as the journal has matured.

Some people felt like having a “paper” journal gave the journal itself (and by default, the Network) more credibility.  The phrase was used “It gives the Network more ‘gravitas.'”

Some people thought it was too long, others too short.  Some said that their answer would change if it was available for the iPad. Some people really liked the Network being more ‘green,’ and being better environmental stewards.

There was some good constructive criticism too.  The design/format feels a little dated…we’ll be working on that in the next year.  Some people wanted more stories about ‘what’s working on the ground.’

So what are we going to do?  Well, nothing right away.  We suspect that as culture continues to change, in the very near future, online journals will become even more the norm than they are now.

So we made commitments to do three things:

  1. Continue providing the Connect Journal in two formats: paper and digital.
  2. Upgrade the current online version of the Connect Journal.  This past week we changed service providers and have upgraded the online journal substantially (and for the same cost!)   We’re pretty excited about it.
  3. We will revisit this question in another couple of years.  We are in the business of networking people and sharing ideas.  And we don’t believe that there is such a thing as a final-decision when you work in these areas.  The world is one in constant change.
We are committed to making Connect as useful a tool as possible as you seek to renew, learn and network with each other.  Please continue to give us feedback.  We love to know what you think; this is your journal!  And thank you to all of you who filled out this survey!  We really appreciate your time.
Blessings,
Todd

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