For the last several years Big Data has been a buzz word tossed around in the for-profit world as the “Next Big Thing.” However, analysis and insights that were once reserved for big business are now accessible to nonprofits and churches.

Churches can and should leverage data in their church management system to create deeper engagement with church members and to enhance discipleship and make better, more informed decisions for the future of their ministry.

Here we will dig deeper into four specific ways that churches can use data to make better ministry decisions:

1 – Measure Progress Towards Your Mission, Vision, and Values

Many churches create a vision or values statement, print it out, post it on their office walls and then occasionally glance at it in quarterly meetings. To have meaningful values it is important to measure progress against them.  We have all heard Peter Drucker’s famous quote that “What gets measured gets done.”  This is true in both business and churches.

If your church values “Worshipping God Intimately” then you can measure attendance to your worship services. If you value prayer, you can measure sign ups and attendance to your prayer gatherings. If you value connection, you can measure participation in small groups.

Your ChMS should allow both staff and lay leaders to track attendance through either kiosks, sign in sheets, headcounts, or via mobile apps. When tracked consistently these measurements will allow you to better understand how your activities are aligning with your vision and values.

2 – Create More Relevant Programs for People in the Pew

Data does not have to dehumanize the discipleship process – it can enhance it.  Knowing more about your congregation at an individual level allows you to create classes or programs to help them in their stage of life.

If your church is seeing an uptick in the number of unemployed members you can offer support groups with classes on building resumes and mock interviews. If you have a large number of young families in your congregation you can use that data to offer childcare for date nights. If you notice that your contributions are not where they should be, you can offer money management courses to help your congregation better manage their money.

Your ChMS should not only allow you to find these people but should also support granular communication allowing you to target specific groups of people with information that is more relevant to them. Many systems offer built-in email and SMS capabilities.

3 – Keep People Engaged Between Sundays

Relationships are key to the life of a healthy church. New people come through the doors and others leave through those same doors.

Attendance tracking not only allows you to measure your church’s performance against your values but also allows you to find the people that are dis-engaging before it is too late. TouchPoint ChMS allows you to define someone as connected.

For instance, if they have attended two times in the last month and given once in the last month they would automatically get a “connected” badge on their people record. The badge status is updated dynamically based on their attendance and giving history with no extra work for your staff. You can then have reports automatically emailed to your small group leaders when their participants have missed two weeks in a row or generate other reports to track the people that were formerly “connected” but are no longer.

Data can help you proactively re-engage the members of the congregation and communicate with them before they leave permanently.

4 – Drive Greater Commitment and Generosity

There are a couple of ways to use data to increase giving and drive people towards deeper levels of generosity. The first is to be intentional about tracking and intentionally engaging with new givers. There is a tendency to believe that if someone gives once or twice, they will continue to give. What we’ve found in our research is that it takes five gifts before someone gives regularly. Knowing this, and being intentional about walking alongside people from their first to their fifth gift is a great way to use the data you have at your disposal to drive generosity.

The second is to meet with your top givers on a regular basis and share with them how their personal giving impacts real lives through the ministry. Many of your church’s highest givers have full careers and busy lives that may prevent them from being as active in the church as they would like but a personal relationship with these members can connect the dots between their career and the ministry their contributions support.

Are you ready to eliminate the guesswork around important ministry decisions?

Using the right ChMS you can leverage data to make better decisions to support your church’s values, drive higher engagement through relevant programs, and encourage deeper generosity. For more information on Touchpoint and to sign up for a demo or trial.