In a project called Vision 2019, church leaders from within Canada's Anglican Church used a qualitative research approach to ask parishioners about their dreams and concerns for the church in the coming decade. Parishioners were asked two candid questions: “where is your church now and where do you want the Anglican Church of Canada to be in 2019?”
They set up a website for people to submit their responses, and over 1000 comments were received, in writing, on video, in audio recordings and photos, as well as via email, phone, fax and social media.
Marleen Morris from Marleen Morris & Associates was engaged by the Anglican Church to collate and analyze the responses and identify important issues for the Church. Morris used state-of-the-art qualitative research software NVivo to help her do this.
“We received things such as collages that kids in Sunday school had submitted, which we needed to analyze,” Morris explains.
“We also used voice recordings and that was a breakthrough because people who were not comfortable with technology could just pick up the phone. We'd then upload their message straight into the NVivo software, along with video, blog posts, scanned pictures and text – everything qualitative that we received.”
The responses to the questions highlighted a number of recurring themes, and Morris used NVivo to identify and classify or 'code' each of them. She also used the software to investigate each theme further and find links between different groups and their responses.
“In the end when everything was coded and I was looking for linkages, being able to 'query the data' in NVivo was a brilliant feature,” Morris says.
“For example I could look and see how many times someone who mentioned one of our themes such as 'inclusivity' also mentioned 'youth'. You really get a vision of the crossovers or linkages between themes."
The results from the research are now being used by the Anglican Church to develop a number of strategies to help shape the church's future. Thanks to the research, church leaders are now able to pinpoint the key themes they need to address. Morris says NVivo played a crucial part in the process.
“NVivo is absolutely remarkable for being able to allow organizations to create dialogue and then make meaning out of what's produced.”