Since 2001, campus ministry leaders at The University of Texas at Austin have worked together to “spiritually map” our campus. Spiritual mapping is defined as the systematic gathering and evaluation of data through surveys, research, and spiritual perceptions in order to discover the factors, influences, and trends that deter or advance God’s work on campus.
What We Want to Know
As missionaries, we want to have a more clear understanding of the students we are trying to reach (spiritual background, world-views, hindrances to the gospel, openness to the gospel, experiences with Christian students, social rhythms, fears, concerns, interests, etc.).
We also want to see a more complete picture of the Body of Christ on campus (who was doing what, what parts of campus were being reached, what parts were not being reached, what was working well, what was not working well, what gifts, tools and resources each ministry has, etc.).
What We Did To Know
Over the last fifteen years, we have focused on three types of spiritual mapping.
Campus Ministry: Annually, we have every campus ministry and church complete a year-end report so that we can tangibly measure the Body of Christ at UT. The survey asks questions about campus ministry staff (number, ethnicity, gender), student involvement (large groups, small groups, prayer), and the students being reached (number of students saved, people groups being reached, mission trips).
Christian Students: Every 4 years (one generation of students), we survey Christian students. These surveys ask questions about our students’ devotional life, family background, evangelism, scholastic life, social life, sexuality, etc.
The Student Body: About every 4-6 years, we survey the student body. These surveys change depending on we want to discover that year. They have been extremely useful in helping us get a better understanding of the campus at large and where obstacles and opportunities to campus ministry and the gospel are.
What We’re Doing This Month
This month, twenty campus ministries and churches are working together to conduct more than 1,500 surveys on campus. The surveys have been specifically designed to help us understand the social and religious activity of students at UT (what they are involved in and why or why not).
To maximize and diversify our sample size, we have intentionally broken the campus into 150 locations (departments/buildings, dorms and apartments, coffee houses and bars, on-campus malls and lawns, cafeterias and restaurants, etc.) and people groups (Greeks, athletes, ethnic groups, international students, activists, registered student organizations, etc.).
Students can sign-up to conduct 10-20 surveys at a particular location or in a particular people group this month through a website we created. What’s exciting about our survey this year is that Christian faculty within the sociology department volunteered to process all of the data and publish a report for the campus ministries next month.
Justin Christopher is the Campus Director for Campus Renewal at The University of Texas at Austin and the author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at UT.