DMI Survey - Frequently Asked Questions

This page provides answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about the Disciple Maker Index survey. For questions about the CLI Portal and/or user guides, please click here. You can also download and print a version of these FAQs here.

About the Survey Design

How was the Disciple Maker Index survey created?

Catholic Leadership Institute gathered 100 bishops, priests, diocesan officials, parish leaders and authors/thought leaders (Sherry Weddell, Matthew Kelly, etc) to a 2-day “think tank” on parish engagement which produced some initial hypotheses. CLI then took a smaller group of the same constituents and crafted the survey. After that, CLI shared the survey with 15 bishops for feedback and edit. The survey was first administered in 2014 and to date has received more than 600,000 responses.

Can we add unique questions about our parish to the survey?

Not at this time. Part of the value of the survey is to see results benchmarked against other parishes around the US and in Canada. All participating parishes will be taking the same survey and the consistency allows for the benchmarking. Additionally, it keeps the survey from getting too long. Catholic Leadership Institute is evaluating this possibility for future years.

Why is there no opportunity to write in comments?

The primary purpose of the tool is to create a snapshot of the whole parish. In the first two years of piloting, the DMI did allow for write-in comments. The feedback from parish leaders were that often these comments were addressing very personal, individual issues with the parish that while at times legitimate, pulled the focus away from reviewing the parishioner community as a whole. Additionally, the anonymity provided often resulted unfortunately in hurtful personal attacks and rarely helpful feedback. CLI suggests and supports follow-up interviews, focus groups and subsequent surveying to acquire this next level feedback.

This survey looks like it is geared to people in the pews. Aren’t we supposed to be going after “the lost” or those not present in our pews?

The survey will most likely be completed by people who are coming with some degree of regularity to your parish. The survey results will tell you what about the parish is keeping them engaged, as well as things that might be prompting them to start falling away. Both elements will help inform how we can reach out to those completely detached from the parish. Additionally, it is our belief that more deeply engaging and equipping those who are present in our pews is a major step toward bringing others into the Church. How can we equip those in our pews to be disciple makers? These results will help us find those answers.

Numbers, graphs, likelihood to recommend, this sounds like a lot of corporate language and consumer mentality. This is the Catholic Church not the Home Depot.

Remember, these graphs and numbers are the aggregated voice of your people who have taken time to give you their feedback. Evangelization will always be best on a 1-1 basis. Understanding where your people are from a macro view allows you and others to “meet them where they are.” We do ask some parishioner satisfaction questions – these are to help you identify if there are any barriers or opportunities to help aid in your pastoral outreach. The Disciple Maker Index also asks the individual parishioner to reflect on their discipleship and the practice of their faith in order to get past the consumer mentality and into a discipleship/mission mentality.

About the Survey Results

How will the Disciple Maker Index results be shared with parishioners?

Those staff and parishioners who the pastor invites to be a part of the data review process will get access to data reporting. In terms of sharing the data with the parish, we suggest that you summarize what you have learned, highlight 2-3 things to celebrate and 2-3 opportunities. Catholic Leadership Institute has sample bulletin inserts and communication pieces to assist you and we can also work with you to craft the most helpful summary and update. It is important to both thank your parishioners and share with them some reflection of what you learned, in addition to incorporating it appropriately in your plans for the future.

What about confidentiality? With whom will my parish’s results be shared? How about individual parishioner’s responses?

We take parishioners’ confidentiality very seriously. We want them to provide honest feedback. No one in the diocese or on your parish staff - including the pastor - will have access to individual parishioner responses. As for your parish’s results, your results will be shared with the pastor and those key leaders he chooses to involve in the data review process. Catholic Leadership Institute will not share your parish’s individual data without your expressed written permission. If one of your parishes receives the highest feedback on a particular question (liturgy, preaching, social outreach), that will be indicated on every parish’s report in an effort to share best practice.

What is the Net Promoter Score?

The purpose of the Disciple Maker Index is to provide a tool that will help us equip and call forth disciple-makers – people who bring others to know Jesus. We want to build promoters of the faith and promoters of our parishes, so that they can spread the message of parishes as places of community where we encounter Jesus on a personal level. Given this purpose and the fact that the survey will most likely be responded to by people who are already coming to the parish, the Net Promoter Score is a helpful and cutting edge way to analyze survey responses on a 5-point scale of agreement for any given question. When we take the percentage of those who give a specific question a 5 (aka a promoter) and subtract those who gave a specific question a (3 – neither agree nor disagree, 2 – disagree or 1 – strongly disagree) we have the net percentage of promoters for that question. If that net percentage is positive, that is probably not an area you need to be concerned with. If it is negative, it most likely is something you want to think about more. Research shows that the unprompted positive behavior and endorsement of those who give something a 5 on a 5-point scale will influence another person’s behavior. As part of the Disciple Maker Index, you will receive the survey results through this lens. You will also receive all of the data for each question.

Why are you comparing parishes against each other?

For the data to be as helpful as possible, it always needs to be put into context. There is not a one-size fits all parish model. Inner city parishes look different than suburban parishes. Northeast parishes look different than Southwest parishes. It’s helpful for a parish to understand the results in the context of parishes of like profile. It’s also helpful to see what was possible on a particular question. If my parish has 30% of parishioners who would recommend our religious education program to a friend – that is one piece of helpful information. If the national average of 100 parishes for that question is 35%, it still is an opportunity to improve but perhaps it is not where we need to focus right away given limited time and resources. Conversely, if the national average was 67% and parishes of like size and location was 57%, 30% would mean something different.

What is the needed response rate from the parishes?

Parishioners have the option to complete the survey using an online link as well as by completing a paper survey. We encourage you to distribute this link to the email addresses that you already have. This might be a good time to update the email list for your parish- so we provide pew cards for collecting email addresses. The survey can be taken on a smart phone or a tablet device. Getting a high count of responses is your ultimate goal.

Catholic Leadership Institute would hope to see an 8-10% response rate from your parishioners. If your response rate is less than 8%, the data will still be helpful, though not as conclusive as if you had a higher response.

About the Survey Distribution

How do I access the Disciple Maker Index survey?

You access the online version of the survey via an online link that will be provided to the parish. Note that this survey will only be active during the launch time. A paper version of the survey will also be made available to the parish.

Is there a staff position that is best suited to be the point contact?

That is up to you and should be based more upon the characteristics and skills versus a dedicated role. The person who will be most helpful is one who is organized, can help us connect to other appropriate staff and info (email lists, etc) and who believes in this endeavor. A Full-Time staff member is preferable, but we will work with whomever you appoint.

Taking the Survey

How long does the survey take to complete?

10-15 minutes

What is the youngest age able to complete the survey?

Keeping in mind local diocesan and civic policies, Catholic Leadership Institute recommends that only individuals 18 years of age and older complete the survey, however in some cases, it may be beneficial to have children take the survey.

In which languages is the survey offered?

The survey will be offered in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Portuguese (Brazilian and EU), Polish, French, French (Canadian), Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Tagalog, Italian, Vietnamese, Burmese, Kirundi, Swahili, Kinyarwanda, Korean and Tongan. As Catholic Leadership Institute continues to raise funds, it is our hope to expand it to other languages. To select a language online, click on the Start Survey button and then click on the down arrow in the Choose Language box to see a list of available language choices. Click on the language you want to use.

What other dioceses have participated or will participate in the Disciple Maker Index?

Archdioceses of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Dubuque, Galveston-Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Omaha, Philadelphia, St. Paul & Minneapolis, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Toronto, and the Dioceses of Beaumont, Biloxi, Bridgeport, Buffalo, Burlington, Camden, Cheyenne, Cleveland, Columbus, Covington, Crookston, Fort Wayne-South Bend, Green Bay, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Houma-Thibodaux, Jackson, Lansing, Laredo, London, Ontario, Madison, New Ulm, Oakland, Orange, Orlando, Peoria, Pittsburgh, Portland, Pueblo, Richmond, Rockford, Rockville Centre, Saginaw, Saint John NB, Savannah, St. Augustine, St. Petersburg, Toledo, Tulsa, Victoria, Wichita, Wilmington and the Eparchy of Parma.

I have more questions. Who can I contact?

Please call Catholic Leadership Institute at 610-363-1315 or send an email to

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