Big Data, Ministry Analytics & Your Church with Matt Engel
Thank you so much for joining us for another great episode of the unSeminary podcast. I’m thrilled to be speaking with Matt Engel, a research fellow at Leadership Network and also works at Gloo, a technology company. Our talk today is all about data intelligence.
So what is data intelligence? We as ministry leaders are taught to steward well and have great intentions when it comes to measuring data. But we tend to measure the three B’s: butts, budgets, and baptisms, rather than measuring how people are engaging with our church. So how do we get better about the type of data we collect and how we are using it?
- Analyzing and quantifying data. // Matt realized that every week in his church the staff prayed for requests that came in, but no one could identify what they specifically prayed about in a quantitative way. So he and his staff team began to analyze the prayer requests that were submitted during a three-month period to see what people were concerned about. These requests were then divided into specific categories, and it allowed Matt and his team to see that the top prayer request was for marriage while the second was for health. They then repeated this exercise during another three-month period, from January to March, with the same process and measurements. The staff was surprised to see that the top prayer requests had changed. During that time most prayer requests were for finances. After doing some research, the staff also discovered that February, in their state, was one the highest months for divorce filings. So between analyzing prayer requests and doing research in the larger community, the staff was able to identify the top two concerns of their people with regards to relational health during this time were sex and finances.
- Act on results. // With this new information, Matt developed a plan to preach on stewardship and generosity in November, before the financial pressures of the holidays. When you want to get actionable insights, you need to develop a culture that is responsive to the results. Matt’s church wanted everyone to know that the reason finances were being addressed in November is because of the studies they did in the first quarter of the year. As a result, attendance grew and continued into the next year, plus they saw an improvement in people’s finances and a drop in requests for help in this area. Matt found when people in the church knew the results of surveys and understood what the church would do about them, it encouraged the people who didn’t respond to get their voices heard, and led the congregation into a path of action. When gathering data, explain why you’re doing it, share what you learn, and what your response will be to the results.
- Know and match. // At the end of the day if we’re going to be accountable to our people, we need to know them well. There’s a core process Matt talks about: connect, know, match, catalyze. First we connect with people and then we get to know them a bit. Next we need to match them with their next step according to what they need and catalyze them into whatever God’s calling them to do. Ask yourself: How as a ministry leader can I do a better job of knowing and matching my people? First we need to increase our ability to know, and to do that we need a level of infrastructure and rationale on how and why to collect that data.
- Fill the gap. // Matt now works at a tech company called Gloo, which helps you look at the individual growth of your church and then use technology to support community and facilitate relationships. We need face-to-face relationships, but there is a gap in that area. Gloo helps facilitate “know and match” so you will better be able to connect the people in your church to what they need and ultimately serve them better.
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Ministries Following // Sun Valley Community Church, Crossroads Church, NewSpring Church
Influential Book // Who Can You Trust?: How Technology Brought Us Together and Why It Might Drive Us Apart
by Rachel Botsman and Everybody Lies
What you do for fun // Time with wife and kids, college sports, collect & restore classic cars