Since the dawning of time data has mattered. Knowing which way the herds of buffalo would go each year, when is a good time to plant crops, who has the best score on Motorsport Manager (my favourite iOS game) all point to an undeniable fact, data matters. That aside, why data matters in church life makes for an important conversation.
I’ve personally come to this realisation over some time. My early training in marketing definitely helped! However when I took on running children’s ministry, youth groups, helping with my church’s admin and eventually running a non profit the importance of good and accurate data that helped us to make decisions came to the fore.
You may be wondering why visitors only come to your church once. You may be asking yourself what are the needs of our congregation. “How do I help them grow spiritually?”
You may be thinking about how to encourage volunteers in the church’s ministries and what keeps some volunteers so motivated in ‘that’ ministry. How could you replicate it?
You may also be asking yourself, “What sermons have people responded to, what topics have spoke into their lives. All of these are fantastic data points to track.”
In general, good data that helps drives decisions is vital. I believe for churches and non profits in general it actually matters more. Our goal is to encourage more and more people to know God and to know Him better. In everything I’ve read God is definitely not afraid of counting. There are so many times where things are counted in the Bible.
One of my favourites is Gideon. God slowly cuts down the numbers to it is at that stage where no one could possibly deny that it was God doing a miraculous thing. Without this counting, this data, that story would be completely different.
Importance of Good Data In Church Life?
First, it helps you better understand your congregation. Know their needs and circumstances and you can talk into their lives in a more direct and impactful way.
Second, data helps you make better decisions. Being informed can help you decide about whether to continue a programme or stop it.
Third, it can help improve your Sunday (and all week) operations. You find holes where you are missing pieces of data and it can help you focus on those elements until you are getting the data you need. No new person data, is that because you have no new person team?
Finally, it can help you deliver better programmes and ministries that meet the needs of your staff, congregation, community and city!
What Should Church Leaders Be Counting?
The answer could range from ‘something’ to ‘everything’! My suggestion to you would be to look at your wider organisation goals. I know that sounds slightly weird for a church, but many times we have mission statements that are languishing somewhere under appreciated.
These statements are a fantastic place to start looking at what has been important to the church in the past and hopefully the present. Start there. Then find someone on your staff or a volunteer in your church that loves data analysis (you may be surprised, we exist!) and get them to start counting.
Once you start counting and collecting data it will become a habit and you will grow to love it. Analysis and decisions follow, but for now I would encourage you to start counting! I love this quote
“At its core, data matters because it not only measures progress, it inspires it.” — Maura Pally
Data matters in church life. Be inspired with the possibility of what the data could show you.
How well do you think the church is using data? Any other thoughts on using data in church life to add?