Implementing data analytics takes too many resources
“I’m tired…and my knee hurts.”
“(confused pause)…my elbow hurts…”
– Conversation between Russell and Carl as they trudge through the jungle in the Disney movie UP
As we wrap up this series on church data analytics, the above dialogue is a perfect analogy of the final argument we often hear about using (or implementing) analytics in the church. It takes too much “_______” (insert your excuse, er, the reason here).
“It takes too much money.”
What if you’ve already got all the software you need?
“Well, it takes too much time.”
What if it’s prepackaged and available in your ChMS already?
“Well, it’s too complicated.”
What if it’s easy enough that everyone can use it?
“Well, it just takes too many…resources.”
The better question here might be how much additional time, resources, and money are you losing because you’re not analyzing your data?
The source of this objection generally stems from an overall lack of understanding about data analytics – what it is, what it truly takes to implement and use it, and how best to leverage it for maximum impact. As we’ve discussed, data analytics sounds intimidating. How do we overcome these perceptions?
The first principle to apply here is that data analytics is not a “one size fits all” technique. Just like many of the programs or ministries within your church (children, youth, discipleship, music, men/women), you can start small and develop it from there. Bringing data analytics to your church doesn’t mean you have to build your version of IBM’s Watson machine in the church basement.
The best advice is to start simple…but start. Chances are you already have some data elements in place. Do you track attendance? Giving? Baptisms? If so, then you’re already doing it! Now keep it going, and build on it. Remember the framework we outlined earlier. Start with the problems you most want to solve or the questions you most need answered. Identify how you could answer or address those. What data would you need? Start there and begin to build on that.
The second element to understand is that, as with the scope of your efforts, the method or tools you use can also vary. Many churches already use spreadsheet solutions (Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets). These work great because they can scale with your knowledge – from very simple tracking to pivot tables and some advanced analytics. There are multiple software options as well – ranging from free church-specific tools to ChMS integrated solutions.
Thus the overarching counterpoint to this objection is a data analytics solution for every sized church. Throughout this blog series, you’ve hopefully recognized that there is a great benefit to your church’s mission through the use of data analytics – for your leadership, your congregation, and your community. Although it’s easy to make excuses and push it off, given the fresh and evolving challenges facing the Church in America, there is no better time than now to begin taking advantage of data for the impact and growth of the Kingdom.
For more resources on Data Analytics, please visit Church Growth.
Rev. Chuck Salter joined ACS Technologies in 2019 when ACS Technologies acquired MissionInsite, a company he co-founded and which provides community demographics and data analytics to the faith-based market.
Chuck is a clergy member of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. He has over 30 years of experience in the strategic use of community demographic information, has served as a church planter, and has provided UMC Conference leadership in missional development and ministry advancement.