What statistics will actually guide mission?
In the business world, executives and management talk about Key Performance Indicators (KPI). These are statistics that help measure success and engagement in their market. The use of Social Media makes collecting this information easy.
Here are some of the things executives learn from their use of social media. It took many in the business world a while to adopt new ways. It is now accepted as a business “must.”
It has been a game-changer for many—particularly small businesses.
We’ve also noted how the same information could benefit church mission.
Keep in mind that most congregations never consider this information when they plan their budgets and mission activity and for good reasons.
- This information was once difficult to measure.
- Most church leaders are not business-minded.
Return on Investment
IN BUSINESS: How many sales resulted from the expense of research and development, marketing, staff, etc.?
IN CHURCH: How effective is our annual budget at achieving mission goals?
The church NEVER measures Return on Investment. Dare anyone ask: What return is your congregation getting for the money you are spending on salaries and property? We never ask, so endowments are eaten away with no attempt to figure out why. We just accept that this is the way it should be.
Measuring the money aspect of investment in ministry is off-putting to the Christian mindset. So don’t. Analyze your ROI with this question: Is our mission being advanced by our investment in salaries and property—the major budget line items of every congregation? If not, how can our investment (in time, wealth and talent) insure that mission dollars ARE advancing mission?
IN BUSINESS: How long does it take for a prospective customer to make a purchase?
IN CHURCH: Let’s call it the Membership Funnel. How long does it take from a seeker’s first engagement with a congregation to membership and involvement?
We should not only measure the process, but how visitors first come to us. (We still rely on people coming to us, don’t we? But that’s another post!). At which point did prospects commit or drop out. Congregations need to know this to fine-tune their mission strategies.
IN BUSINESS: Businesses know that it costs much more to find new customers than to serve old customers. They call it customer retention. They measure it!
IN CHURCH: A congregation needs to know why and how members are leaving. Existing members are both the financial backbone of the present church and and important to the future. That means more than adding to the endowment. It is legacy. New members will notice how old members are treated. And yet some denominational advice is to ignore the old members, close churches—and in our congregation’s case — lock us out.
Goal Completion Rate
IN BUSINESS: Did we make our projected revenue? Did we launch the new product in time?
IN CHURCH: Congregations rarely state their goals in concrete terms. Mission statements are pie in the sky. Yet, measurable, concrete goals are the only way to actually achieve lofty missions.
A pastor of an average-sized congregation once told me that he was aware that to “hold its own” his congregation had to accept at least ten members a month. If growth was the goal, they had to exceed that average.
Does your congregation have concrete goals?
Incremental Sales and Traffic Sources
IN BUSINESS: In the business world, these statistics break down the larger numbers. For example, if there was an overall improvement of 50% in sales, what percentage came from television ads vs print ads vs internet? Additionally, what percentage was on the sales of widget A as opposed to widget B?
IN CHURCH: How many members came from attending programs? Which programs? How many were invited by members? How many were first approached by a pastor? How many learned of your ministry online? How many youth joined because of music or fellowship or a service project?
We can learn this information by engaging. Social Media facilitates engagement.
The information opens new doors for church analysts. The use of Social Media makes more information easier to collect. But still, most congregations limit their use of the internet to bulletin board/brochure-style sites.
Add this one question to the list of questions above.
- What is the connection potential of each member — old or new?
Connection Potential? What’s that?
The social connections of members are gold. Congregants are always encouraged to invite. But now congregations can engage congregants and others on Social Media.
Because your message will reach a vastly broader audience. You’ve handed members a powerful tool and you’ve expanded your evangelical power.
Consider this: If your members each have a circle of 250 followers they are in keeping with the average. Your members’ reach becomes your congregation’s reach. If you start to engage in ways that your members will be excited to share . . well, you do the math.
A church with 50 members is a small church, right?
Using very lowball figures:
If a congregation has just 50 members using social media and each of them has a following of 100 members (less than half the average) and each of them has a social reach of another 100 members, you have the ability to reach 500,000 people with every online post. You simply have to provide content that your membership will be eager to share.
Built into the use of social media is the ability to measure all the things you need to measure to be viable in the 21st century — no matter how small you are. So start sharing the Good News and learn how to achieve your mission.
Just for fun ask the members of your governing board how many followers they have on social media. Then ask your youth group the same questions. The statistics —and their potential—may surprise you!
Also just for fun – and to help your congregation break into social media: Talk to your congregation before worship starts about their role in growing the church. Invite them to pull out their cell phones, take a selfie with others sitting near them and shoot it off to their friends.
Some might protest. Their reasons will sound very valid in the thinking of twenty years ago. “It’s disrespectful.” “It’s distracting from the reason for coming to church.”
But it is welcoming and engaging. It communicates to your congregation that they can make a difference. A church we visited recently who did this had 500 worshipers in attendance.
So just maybe, it might help achieve mission.