We got an excellent response to the survey we sent out last week, with more than 90 responses from across the US and beyond. The information from this survey is helping me better understand who who you are, and how we might move The Lamb’s War forward in the coming months. So, first of all, thank you to everyone who took a few minutes to answer the survey. It means a lot to me.
Now that the data is in, I am beginning to make sense of what you’ve all said. If you’ll bear with me, I’d like to share with you a little bit of what I’ve learned, and then lay out what I’m thinking at this point. I strongly invite your comments and contributions at this point, because no one can help me understand who The Lamb’s War community is better than you!
By the Numbers
First of all, I’m going to walk you through some of the raw data, to let you see what I’m seeing. Once we’ve reviewed that that, I’ll share my reflections on what impact this information might have on the future of The Lamb’s War. (PS: If you don’t want to wade into the statistics, just skip down to What Does This All Mean? We won’t judge you!)
My readers are roughly evenly split between men (51%) and women (45%), with a couple of folks identifying as genderqueer. There is solid representation across the age range, double digits for each decade between 18-75. However, no one under 18 responded, and we have only two folks over 75. Overall, the readership of The Lamb’s War is on the older side. About 60% of respondents were over the age of 45, compared with roughly 40% under 45. Breaking it down by generations, we’re approximately 29% Millennial, 27% Gen X, and 40% Boomer.
In terms of geography, the lion’s share of us come from the Northeast (33%) and Midwest (24%) of the United States. Outside of these areas, there is significant representation from the US South (7%), and the US Great Plains, Intermountain, and West Coast each represent 5% of respondents. There is some international readership of The Lamb’s War, including 5% from the UK and 3% from Canada. We also had responses from individuals in the following nations: Ecuador, Belize, Ghana, Germany, Australia, Spain, and the Netherlands.
The Lamb’s War has an exceedingly well-educated readership. 82% of respondents have at least a college degree, and when you take into consideration the fact that most people who said some college are probably still in college, we’re looking at a 93% rate of university education among our readers. This should come as no surprise, given the demographics of the North American Quaker community, but it still stuck out to me as remarkable.
My question on religious identity proved to be one of the most interesting, and at times quite complex. Many individuals chose several different religious affliations for themselves, sometimes ones that I would have assumed were mutually exclusive! To oversimplify somewhat for the sake of reporting, I found that: 73% of our readers are some variety of Quaker Christians. The second largest group is Quakers who are non-Christian, not exclusively Christian, or spiritually seeking – about 13%. 10% of readers are non-Quaker Protestants, and we got responses from individuals identifying (solely) as: Anabaptist-Mennonite, Roman Catholic, Anglican/Episcopalian, and Atheist.
When asked about Yearly Meeting participation, the largest single category was those who did not have one (29%). Those who do have a Yearly Meeting affliation, however, represent a total of 24 Yearly Meetings, including 9% from Philadelphia YM, 5% from Ohio YM, and 4% from Britain and New England YMs.
Finding The Lamb’s War
I also asked people about how they came across The Lamb’s War originally. About one third said that it was through a personal connection with me, and 20% said it was through the blogging portal QuakerQuaker.org. Personal recommendation and surfing the internet came in at 14% each. A smaller number of us became aware of The Lamb’s War through Facebook, other blogging communities, and Friends of Jesus Fellowship.
When I asked you what types of posts you preferred to read, theological reflection had the strongest response, at 78%. 69% of you said that you liked reading about Quaker themes. Spiritual/Devotional got 64%, while 55% of you wanted Updates from Micah’s Ministry. How-to, ministry praxis got votes from 43% of you, while only about 30% are interested in reading about Social justice witness.
When I asked you what kind of new content would be a good addition to The Lamb’s War, 43% of you said you want to see guest bloggers appear on The Lamb’s War. 24% want to watch video, and the same number would like The Lamb’s War to feature photography. About 21% of folks are eager to hear Lamb’s War podcasts, and 9% say you would like to take part in a webinar or videoconference.
What Does This All Mean?
If you’re still reading after all those statistics, congratulations! But what do all these figures mean? What do your answers augur for the future of The Lamb’s War? A few take-aways:
Your educational level is astonishing. You may know that only roughly a quarter of Americans are college-educated, but nine out of ten of you are. That’s really big. That makes the readers of this blog substantially different from the crowd I might gather if I went out on the corner with a bullhorn. So what does this mean for this site?
While I’ve always suspected that my audience has more formal education than the average bear, I have done my best to make my writing as accessible as possible for people who don’t have a fancypants degree. For me, it’s important that my message be expressed in words that are easy to understand. Knowing that almost all of you can understand those fancypants words, however, should I start using more of them?
I’m sad to see that no one from East Africa responded to my survey. The majority of Quakers worldwide live in Kenya, and I know that I do get readers from East Africa. Nevertheless, they’re clearly not nearly as engaged with this blog as they might be. Are there ways that I can engage with this audience? Is my writing and perspective relevant outside of the developed world? How can I be in conversation with my brothers and sisters in the Global South?
Many of you are unplugged from the apparatus of institutional Quakerism. Now, granted, a fair number of you aren’t Quakers. But still, I was surprised at how many folks did not identify with any Yearly Meeting – including quite a few who indicated a Monthly Meeting. Is The Lamb’s War a haven for discontented, renegade Quakers? I don’t know about that; a lot of very plugged-in folks responded as well. What do you think?
Seriously, Theological Reflection is your favorite category? I remember that when I added that category, I assumed that only a few church geeks were going to express interest in my theological reflection. Surely, I thought, folks are more interested in social justice work or ministry praxis! But here we have it, in black and white: More than three quarters of my readers just love reading theological treatises, while less than a third express interest in social justice witness.
In light of this, is the future of The Lamb’s War to become primarily a theological reflection site? Even if that’s what you want, I don’t think I want to go there. Quakers already have a huge amount of theological reflection going on – and it’s great – but I feel like I’m called to offer something more than that. Yes, we need to reflect, but I want to encourage us to act as well, in practical ways that brings good news to the poor, sight to the blind, liberty to the captive and proclaims the jubilee year. I hope others will come with me on that journey. (And OK, OK, I’ll still do some theological posts!)
I think guest bloggers are in our future. Of all the possible new forms of content that I suggested, far and away the most popular selection was guest bloggers. I like this idea, and I think I’m going to pursue it. I suspect that having other voices joining in on The Lamb’s War could be really healthy for our community. I also anticipate that the process of collaborating with other writers will give me encouragement to really nail down what the core vision and purpose of this site is. In the meantime, please let me know if there are individuals whose voice would be a really great fit for this site.
We’re still fishing in a very small pond. Looking at our demographics, I can’t help but noticing that the vast majority of this site’s readership is coming from a Quaker background. We’ve got some lovely folks who are Quaker-curious, perhaps, but this is very much a niche Quaker site, little known beyond the Religious Society of Friends.
And yet. I believe that the message that is being expressed here is one that might be beneficial to audiences beyond our small community. I believe that The Lamb’s War represents a movement among Friends that could prove valuable to the entire Body of Christ. In the months ahead, I would like to explore ways to connect more with readers outside our little circle. Do you have ideas on how I could best do this? I’d welcome your wisdom!
Again, thank you to each of you who took the time to fill out this survey. This has been immensely helpful for me, and I hope it has been interesting for you, as well. Now you know what sort of community you’re a part of here on The Lamb’s War! I hope that we can continue to make this a vibrant platform to help express our shared call to be disciples of the risen Lord Jesus in the here and now, together in his Spirit.