How data can drive better ministry

Your church management software is a treasure trove of actionable information … but only if you know how to mobilize it.

What are the most important, yet often overlooked, ChMS data points?

Gordon Proud
Director of Sales and Marketing
Shelby Systems

Gordon Proud: First, member management — who’s attending your church, how often and what classes or ministries they’re involved in.

In addition, it’s helpful to have ChMS software that allows you to automate communication with your members and guests by sending emails to people who might be sick, absent, no longer attending and so much more. ShelbyNext Membership includes a powerful tool to engage members through “interactions,” the automated communication tool inside the system.

Second, pay attention to giving data. Having an integrated giving solution — like ShelbyNext Membership and ShelbyNext Giving — lets you manage who gives, when and how. Being able to pull data within a membership (ChMS) platform allows data to be integrated in one place.

Finally, integration is important. This is the key for any church that’s low on staff, but still has many goals to accomplish. Having solutions that work out of one ‘ecosystem’ allows these churches to manage church members / parishioners. It also reduces keystrokes and data entry by having multiple systems share information.

For example, a church member who gives would be entered into the ChMS system as well as pass through to your accounting system, eliminating many steps.

In what ways can church leaders use ChMS data to maximize small groups?

Proud: You must have ChMS that allows you to automate the management of groups by setting up “Actions” to stay in touch. Your ability to grow comes from staying engaged with the groups and reaching out to those who stop coming, are absent for extended periods, or need more information. To this end, automation tools within ShelbyNext Membership let you stay connected and help grow groups with an established communications process. Using automation technology to your advantage allows you to work 24/7 instead of just on Sunday mornings.

How can ChMS data fuel better, more effective outreach efforts?

Proud: ChMS member management includes information on each member — their interests, specialties, skills, ministry activities and more. One way to use this info is to look at a member’s ‘skills’ so you can better use them to help your outreach programs.

Your church might have a great group of ex-athletes, for example. Ask them to start an athletic ministry to support local youth in understanding the values of athletics, health, and how that ties into biblical principles.

The more holistic your information on a member, the more you can help them connect to outreach efforts that would best appeal to him or her.

How can ChMS data be used to enhance the discipleship process?

Proud: ChMS can help engage people at all levels in their faith walk. It can let you create forms on your website that allow them to reach out to their churches and talk about their needs or desires to grow spiritually. Then, a church can take that next step and reach out to these individuals and form a small group or create ministries for, say, new believers.

Who in the church should do data analysis like this?

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Proud: That depends how many people church leaders feels comfortable having access to this information. Certainly, pastors, administrative staff and group leaders are a great place to start.

Developing an effective assimilation process — and building a core team of people to use the information securely and responsibly — will only help a church grow and reach more people in its community.

What’s the learning curve for such training?

Proud: ChMS software should be easy to use and intuitive; otherwise, it’s not serving its purpose. Staff should be able to navigate easily to find information and reports. Churches need to spend time doing God’s work. Spending too much time in systems only hinders their calling.

In what ways have you seen churches use ChMS data to drive better ministry?

Proud: At one small church, manual data was previously kept on spreadsheets. Leaders decided to modernize their approach by using ShelbyNext Membership (along with Giving and Financials) to automate the management of youth groups, adult ministries, camps and more. They replaced many of their manual processes into an automated ‘interaction’ by setting up workflows to handle communication with new members, absenteeism, and more.

How can a church “vet” its ChMS’ ability to provide such analytics?

Proud: Ask simple questions. How easy is navigating to areas within the system? Does it allow for group management and interacting through ‘actions’ to help automate communicating with members and groups? Is it integrated with Financials and Giving?

If the results of that vetting aren’t so encouraging, what advice can you offer?

Proud: Understand your goals first.

Most would agree that the top goal is to minimize time spent in the system and maximize the quality of output. Make sure you look for systems that are integrated — save yourself time.

Finally, look for ChMS that’s consistently being updated and improved.

— Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh


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