We believe you can’t manage what you don’t measure. You know we believe the information contained within your church membership system is absolutely mission critical. It’s data that provides a window into the lives and discipleship journeys of individual members and the church community as a whole.
Unfortunately, many church leaders feel this thinking doesn't belong in the local church. They believe it is the Holy Spirit’s job to get more people in the door and keep more people staying than leaving. They believe that, through relationship alone, they can make more disciples.
Here’s my challenge to that line of thinking. Does it meet the definition of care and stewardship outlined for us in 1 Peter 5:2–4? I don’t think so!
This is where we miss it when it comes to metrics in the church. It’s not just about tracking attendance, mailing information, and contribution records. It’s about enhancing our relationship with people and surfacing better questions we need to be asking.
Behavior is a much better indicator of reality than words. Behavior is much closer to the ‘truth’ of the situation.
So what behaviors should you measure?
Let’s look at the typical church engagement process and the behaviors we should explore to help us define the depth of relationship someone is developing with our church.
First Impressions: What caused someone to show interest in our church for the first time?
Connections: What prompted someone to take the next step with our church? What gifts, talents and passions do people reflect to us as they connect?
Equipping: Does the behavior of a person — over time — reflect deeper levels of engagement? Why or why not?
Evaluation: When someone reaches a new milestone in their engagement, do we know why? Do we learn anything from people who decide to leave? We need to learn from these experiences, good and bad.
Used correctly, Church Community Builder enables leaders to find ways to measure what’s working and what isn’t. If 80 percent of the people who have attended a new membership class aren’t giving, serving, and connected to a small group within six months of completing the new membership program, you should be concerned. It’s time to evaluate the content and structure of the program, because you didn’t accomplish your goal. But you wouldn’t know that if you weren’t ... yep, say it ... measuring.
Do you know:
- What percentage of your people have been connected in small groups for at least six months?
- What percentage of your people have been missing from small groups for four consecutive weeks?
- Who has attended every class on missions but never taken a missions trip?
- Who has set up a recurring giving schedule for the first time?
- How a particular member or member segment prefers to contribute to your church?
These are all vital questions that ensure you are cultivating disciples and accurately stewarding the people God has brought to serve Him through your church. Defining the key questions is going to take more than one staff meeting and should be reviewed often, but it’s worth it. Measuring is a powerful discipline to adopt, and it absolutely has a place in the local church.
When was the last time you ‘defined the relationship’ with your membership? Are you capturing the data you need with your present system?