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Can a Church be Both Spirit-Led and Data-Driven?

Can a Church be Both Spirit-Led and Data-Driven?

Plot lines …

·      Many churches have historically been managed in a passive, casual way.

·      Managing through data and metrics does not negate being Spirit-led.

·      As the congregation becomes more heterogeneous, accurate contextual data is essential to provide the best personal ministry possible.

For years, most churches have been operated and managed in a fairly passive, casual manner. The underlying root cause of this varies. Sometimes it comes from the leadership style of the Senior Pastor; sometimes from the lack of good formal processes and metrics; and sometimes it’s from the inherent nature of dealing with “spiritual things” because church, as we know it, is not talked about much in the Bible and if it’s not in the Bible, we must not need it, right?

I’m saying that “tongue in cheek” because there are many aspects of life and church that are actually not addressed in The Word. Some would say church as we know it is not in the Bible at all (See Pagan Christianity by Barna and Viola). But once again, I’m getting outside the realm of this story.

We certainly agree that when the Spirit leads, great things can happen which only God can do. But many times, the human execution of the Spirit’s leading is not always on target. Understanding the data that is a reflection of your congregation and the measurement of the success of your processes can help you better maneuver through the difficulties of implementing that in which the Spirit guides. Data, presented properly, can be vital information that can help churches identify areas for growth, give perspective of changes that are happening right in front of you, and present opportunities to minister to those in need.

Cities, neighborhoods and, because we are all connected across the world through the Internet, society as a whole are all changing at a very rapid pace. Does a church know what their core competencies are, who they minister to best, or is it trying to execute a “one size fits all strategy?” American families used to be very homogeneous: biological Mom and Dad, 2.5 children, two dogs and one cat – those were the norms. The norms have shifted drastically. Are you ministering to the new norms, or still ministering to what the norms were 10 years ago? If a person attending your church is outside the old norms, are you aware enough to minister to them in the personalized way they need?

Families today are much more heterogeneous than in the past. If your congregation does not have the same diversity as your community, something is probably wrong. How many blended families, people with different needs, outside forces from many different aspects of life including a plethora of digital technologies, things that affect the identity of the family unit are all within your care? With families now being so different, it is important, if a church is going to be successful helping them navigate the trials of life, that the church has something beyond superficial, or casual, data that may be so unruly that it doesn’t mean anything anymore. How many “dead records,” those representing people who no longer attend your church, are contained within your database, and reflected in your metrics? How many people who do attend your church have incomplete profiles?

If a church cannot depend on the data in its ChMS to help the pastor, management team and Elders make better decisions, then it is time to examine your processes, people and technology to determine what causes the information to be unsound. We have seen many churches that reach a ceiling in their attendance because the underlying management tools, practices, and team culture are holding them back. Give us a call and we can talk about how Communitas can help.

Reach out to me any time and we can discuss our ideas about church systems. Drop me an email at jhook@communitastech.com or text me at (214) 668-9807. We can even set up a time to discuss over the phone or face-to-face when we are in the same city in the near future. Technology is rapidly changing the ways people live, for the sake of the next generation, the church cannot be left behind. I look forward to hearing from you.

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