It’s time to work smarter, not harder

The secret to reaching out — without burning out

By Joel Mikell & Derek Hazelet

INTELLIGENT CHUCH GIVSimple church can feel incredibly complex at times. There are always more people to reach. There is always more ministry that can be done.

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the pressure or nervous about the future, you’re not alone. Research shows:

  • 90 percent of pastors admit they are frequently fatigued and worn out on a weekly, or even daily, basis, and
  • 62 percent of senior pastors are concerned about giving.

Here’s good news: Data and technology have made it easier than ever to reach more people and raise more money. This isn’t about adding another thing to your plate; it’s about identifying ways you can work smarter, not harder. It’s about improving how you reach out so that you never burn out.

IntelligentChurchGiving_Graphic3 keys to working smarter, not harder, with data and technology

Here are three ways you can apply the principles behind intelligent church giving to work smarter, not harder.

1) Make better decisions by balancing intuition with information. If making more disciples is the end game and discipleship is a life-long process, then effective ministry requires a long-game approach. It’s about equipping and sustaining comprehensive ministry.

While there will always be an element of faith involved, we must get past “going with our gut” when it comes to the ministry decisions we make.
In the same way a car dashboard helps us monitor if our car is operating correctly, there are indicators to help us measure ministry effectiveness and make better decisions along the way. For us to play the long game, we have to have feedback mechanisms and tools that help us measure if things are on the right track. Your car dashboard helps you monitor things that help you reach your destination. As church leaders, we can use data as indicators to measure disciple-making strategies and improve ministry effectiveness.

2) Accelerate discipleship through automation. Leading people into a deeper relationship with Christ requires us to help them take the next step. Our ability to respond to indicators of spiritual growth (participating, volunteering, giving) in measurable ways is essential for helping people grow. Unfortunately, manual processes aren’t easily replicable or scalable. What happens when the person you rely on to follow up with church members forgets or isn’t around anymore?

Fortunately, automated communication gives us confidence that we are effectively engaging church members in relevant and personal ways. It gives us a chance to communicate with every church member without relying on manual processes.

3) Go deep and wide with new technology tools. Understanding how people are interacting with your church not only helps you understand what’s working, it helps you engage each church member effectively and uncover what’s most pressing in their lives. For example, maybe you notice a church member has stopped giving — this might be an indication of a financial strain you have the opportunity to address.

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Technology allows you to bridge the gap between Sundays. If all of your communication is based on what happens on the platform, your church is being silenced by outside forces competing for attention throughout the week.

This is not about dehumanizing people or the disciple-making process. It’s about enhancing it.

As church leaders, we are responsible for the people in our church. We’re responsible for their spiritual condition. The end game is not “big data” or how much information we collect; it’s about taking what we can learn about the people we engage to make smarter ministry decisions. The end game is not using the latest tools and technologies to be “cool.” It’s about using those resources and tools to help each and every person take steps to grow as a follower of Christ.

Are you ready to reach more people and raise more money by working smarter, not harder?

Joel Mikell is president at RSI Stewardship.Follow him on Twitter, @joelmikell or find him on Facebook.

Derek Hazelet is senior vice president at RSI Stewardship. Find him on Twitter — @dhazelet — or LinkedIn.


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