As I stated in my previous post, I’m encouraged that more and more church leaders are becoming interested in using metrics to assist them in their programming, revenue planning, and overall ministry strategy development. This is a non-negotiable in the business world. Few people tolerate managers and executives who can’t substantiate their decisions with objective data. I know it irks some people to try and compare the church world with the business world but that is the lens God gave me and I think there are some powerful parallels. No one complains when a business succeeds using Biblical principles. Many of those same principles apply to the local church yet are often ignored.
Let's face it, if you want to generate meaningful reports about the health and direction of your ministry (and you should), you must create systems and processes which capture the right information. Data mining is a garbage in, garbage out proposition. If you’re not gathering and tracking information consistently, you can't possibly make informed decisions. You are left to depend on your "gut".
Many churches struggle to create the systems and processes necessary to capture accurate and meaningful data. It’s not easy. To be fair, if you’ve never done it before, it can be a very intimidating process. Furthermore, I completely understand the desire not to allow the need for data to supercede the desire to connect with people. This is why the "coaching" services we offer at CCB are becoming so popular. After all, few are called to the church to do something as impersonal as creating structure. However, as Tony Morgan addresses in this blog post, purpose without structure just keeps people guessing.
The problem is you can't have your cake and eat it too in this instance. If you want meaningful metrics, you must have structure and process. For example, if small group leaders are not told why it matters that they enter their group attendance after each meeting, it is very hard to arrive at statistics which help you assess "group health" or trends. Yet, this is a very common "miss" by churches of all shapes and sizes. In my next post, I will share some thoughts on how to easily close this and other process gaps.
How is your desire to capture better data more consistently shaping the way you approach the core ministries within your church? Has it made it easier to get the information you need on a more consistent basis?