There is a term in the tech world called “Minimum Viable Product” or MVP. It’s where a new product or website is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters, and then the final set of features is developed after considering feedback from the initial users.
What this does is it creates a sort of feedback loop where you build something, you put it out there, you take your data and learn from it, and you make improvements. This is a great approach to apply to your ministry.
Even once you reach your goal and accomplish what you set out to achieve with a specific project or fundraising effort, the process doesn’t end.You should always be looking to get feedback from your congregation members and find ways to improve. That should be continuous.
Examples of How Your Church Can Put Data to Work
There are a number of ways you can leverage feedback to make better ministry decisions. Here are five examples:
Segment contacts based on their communication preferences
You have to get the right message to the right people at the right time. You also need the right communication channel. May churches still have a number of aging individuals who are active in the congregation, which means having a social-media-only communication approach is probably not a wise decision. It’s important that you’re segmenting within your church based on communication preferences. Learn how members want you to communicate with them.
Use spiritual gifts responses to discover potential volunteers
Getting people involved in volunteer opportunities that match up with their spiritual gifts can have a big impact on their discipleship. One church we worked with had their members do a spiritual gifts assessment and logged that information in their database. That enabled them to search for people with specific gifts and see if they have a heart for something like teaching in addition to the gift.
Discover where people are disengaging or falling through the cracks
If someone’s attendance or giving start slipping, that is a really good indicator of a heart problem. Maybe it’s a problem at home—with their marriage, kids, or a death in the family. Or maybe it’s a problem with the church or questions of faith. Either way you want to be there. Discovering those things through the data—having red flags that go up—creates an early warning system so you can act. Your team can chase down those lost sheep before they walk out the door for the last time.
Make smarter technology investments
To have a deeper impact on the lives of the people you serve, it’s important to offer more than just a one-hour impact each week. To do that, you need to understand demographically the makeup of your church and what technology they’re using. Think about what investment will help you expand your reach. Whether it’s video streaming technology or a new PA system, do what makes sense for your members.
Use data analytics to track giving
Tracking giving trends throughout the year can be helpful for strategizing and planning. For example, you can see if giving is down from this time last year and work to figure out why. Or you can plan a giving series during the time of year when you traditionally have the highest attendance and/or giving. Tracking and monitoring analytics can help you do all those things—and more.