Preparations have already been going on for over a year, with several project groups working on the concept of the International Youth Convention (IYC) 2019. The youth had the chance to take part in an on-line survey in 2017 to express their wishes and expectations of this major event. “Spirit” has published the results.
Jennifer Jendral’s face lit up as she said, “I was very happy that 3,000 young people took part in the survey. That was a super response!” The figure probably doesn’t sound so high to a non-expert, particularly when the number of expected participants to the IYC 2019 will be around ten times that figure. Jennifer went on to explain, “For statisticians a survey response of ten percent is a super result. Surveys are often carried out where only one or two thousand people take part and the results are supposed to represent a cross-section of the whole of Germany, even though, for 2,000 respondents, that would only represent a minute percentage of the total population of around 80 million inhabitants!” The 27 year old has been working for some months for the administration of the Northern and Eastern Germany district Church in the section for public relations and communications and is a member of the IYC 2019 communications project group. She discovered her passion for statistics during her studies of cognitive and media sciences. As expertise was being sought to plan and conduct an online survey of the youths’ expectations for the IYC she immediately made contact.
The first step was to split the survey participants into various age groups. “It would have been easier to create equally-sized groups or groups with the same age differences, but our idea was to consider groups whose ages were based on stages in life. For example, we had presumed that the majority of males from their mid 20s onwards would show more interest in the subject of the ministry of the Church than those of a younger age group”, as Jennifer explained. The lowest age classification was the eleven to seventeen year olds. “We processed the results starting from age eleven,
because the current eleven year olds will be confirmed in 2020 and are already invited to come to the IYC”, she continued. The second age group ranged from 18 to 24 and the third group took in those aged between 25 to 34 years. Persons over 34 were able to complete the survey but their input didn`t enter into the survey results, because they don’t belong to the primary age groups of the IYC. “There were 698 results recorded from the first age group, while 1,336 came from the second group. In order to make a meaningful comparison, we will use a weighting processing which takes the number difference into account in our evaluation”, as Jennifer explained. At first sight of the survey results, this effort might appear to be somewhat exaggerated. It is hardly surprising, for example, that hip hop and rap music attracts the 11 to 17 year olds more than the older participants, who would perhaps prefer classical music. On the other hand, as Jennifer said, “To conclude that those under 20 would like to hear hip hop in divine services would be a misinterpretation. The survey was directed toward questions of specific interests in specific contexts; in this case, of the choice of music during the IYC. The survey cannot interpret a general statement of the youths’ musical tastes”.
Jennifer explained why it had helped to plan the wide-ranging survey not just on a “yes/no” answer basis. “Because we asked detailed questions, we have received much more detailed feedback and results. For example, we wanted to know the attitude toward the event’s style and programme items within the age levels and we couldn’t have found that out with “yes or no” answers
The outcome of the survey has been of great help to the planners of the IYC. For example, knowing that pop music, world music and gospel are all popular across the different age groups, means that they can be included in the musical styles of the larger programme events, while classical music or hip hop are likely to be played in the smaller programme items for the respective age groups.
The survey not only gave participants the chance to cast their vote on choices of music but also to show their opinion on programme items and topics. Both these survey items showed that the young people expect a particular New Apostolic thread to run within the IYC 2019. Most important across all age groups are the divine services and the musical programme; the highest number of votes were given to the subjects of Christ’s return, life beyond death and Christianity in everyday life. On the other hand, topics such as ecology and best practice didn’t find much resonance and are likely not to be considered by the planners. The subjects of career guidance and contact exchanges also didn’t seem to be much in demand. Preferences in specific programme items or their contents between the genders were very similar, with one exception: the subject of the ministry and the Church, as expected, was much more of interest to males than to females. It was surprising to note that over fifty percent of females (and 50% again of those under age 18) rated the subject as interesting, which is why Jennifer recommended that the subject shouldn’t only be directed toward the Church’s Administration Brothers. What response from the survey impressed her most? As she replied, “It’s great to realise that the younger youth occupy themselves with the subject of Christ’s return. Over 80% of all who responded showed their interest for this topic. That’s a key message of our faith!”
The communications project group didn’t only want to find out what the wishes an expectations of the youth for the IYC are but also through which medium they would most like to be kept informed about the event. The survey result showed clear trends: the younger group preferred using Whatsapp or Snapchat and the older groups preferred the IYC website (www.iyc.org) and (www.facebook.com/iyc2019) as their information sources. The IYC app and the Newsletter per email were also popular with many; on the other hand, Twitter or the RSS feed hardly received a mention.
One thing is clear: the communication will be online. The communication project group has now opened up the communication channels with the IYC website, Facebook and the IYC app, which the youth are already making good use of two year before this great event. The online survey was also well received. Will there be any more such surveys? Jennifer laughed as she said, “We shouldn’t overdo this tool; experience shows that every new survey for the same event produces less and less interest. Perhaps we could ask the youth for more ideas on specific items for the IYC. We’ll give it some thought”.
The text is freely translated from: “Spirit- das junge Magazin für neuapostolische Christen”, 5th edition 2017, pages 22-23 © Verlag Friedrich Bischoff GmbH, Neu-Isenburg (Author: Annette Conrad)
The “Spirit” magazine has been producing news of the International Youth Convention since March 2017, under the section “IYC Countdown”. This is the third article of a total of 12 to be published.