As church leaders, we often think we’re seeing the whole picture when in reality we’re only seeing a fraction of it. We think we have a strong grasp on the lives and emotions of our members, but we’re forgetting to do one key thing: Ask them.
We’re not collecting their feedback in an honest and telling way. Instead, we’re making assumptions that ultimately may not be leading us to make the best decisions for our members. To avoid that common pitfall, it’s important for church leaders to take deliberate steps to be more member-driven.
Top Tips to Make Your Ministry More Guided by User Feedback
Here are 10 gentle reminders—some general and some more specific—to help you create a church atmosphere that’s driven by member feedback:
Listen – Leaders should be listening to staff and congregation members in every way possible. Why? Because there’s no better way to discover and understand your church’s problems than by listening to your members.
Practice empathy – People are thankful when you listen and feel their frustration and pain. Empathy isn’t just good business practice, it’s an outflow of the gospel.
Aim to improve – You should always be looking to get feedback from your members and finding ways to improve. That should be continuous.
Find out what streaming technology congregation members prefer to use to listen to sermons. There are many options available, including Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Vimeo, etc. Do your best to meet your members where the majority are at (hint: the more places you can make it available the better!)
Offer the option of monthly giving. Recurring gifts that are automatically pulled out of somebody’s checking account are a convenient option for congregants and help make giving more consistent and predictable for your church.
Make note of the vocations of your members in your database. When a disaster happens and the hearts of your congregation are ready to be engaged and their talents are ready to be leveraged, it’s often too late to ask if members have a specific skill set.
Conquer fear of negative feedback. Don’t be defensive or resistant when it comes to hearing about the bad things. Rather, embrace this feedback. Understanding where people see problems will help you improve.
Cultivate a growth mindset – Don’t get stuck in a fixed mindset that’s afraid to change. Praise your staff and volunteers for trying new things. Focus on making experiences about learning and viewing new challenges as opportunities.
Ask everyone if they could change only one thing about your church what would it be? Use that insight to pick “one thing” to work on over the next year. Collectively set your sights on one specific, measurable goal and put all your muscle behind it.
Make sure you have a unified system for collecting, aggregating, and reporting on data – If your data is disorganized and in silos, you won’t use it. Having a single source makes it easier to access and actually put your data to work (which is essential to success!)
Remember, This Story Isn’t Ours
Our churches are God’s story that he’s given us. If we are shepherding people, we have to create a story for others—not for ourselves. That’s what user-driven churches do.