How two churches use data & technology to reach more — & raise more

Learn what they did — and what you should do next

By Joel Mikell & Derek Hazelet

INTELLIGENT CHUCH GIVFunding ministry is likely the most complex part of your role as a church leader. Changing attitudes around giving and involvement don’t help; tithing and weekly attendance is no longer considered normal. These shifts are making it harder and harder for you to fully fund your vision.

It can seem impossible.

Yet, many church leaders are beginning to learn that working smarter, not harder, is the way to discover your path to developing a culture of stewardship in your church.

CE_graphic (2)You can’t overcome the looming challenges you face by doing things the same way you’ve always done them. But, here’s the good news: Data and technology provide a new way to guide how you engage members, cultivate generosity and grow your church. These new tools in your toolbox will actually increase your opportunity for personal interactions and support your desire to disciple more effectively.

Intelligent church giving in action

Here are two church leaders who have discovered that doing things differently is exactly what was needed to improve ministry funding and Kingdom impact.

Lance Taylor — Executive Pastor, Long Hollow Baptist Church

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Long Hollow Baptist Church has experienced tremendous growth over the past decade, reaching as many as 7,500 people on a Sunday and making a worldwide impact, including funding orphanages on three continents.

As the church grew, the leadership realized that greater complexity required better systems. “You can’t communicate in a church of 5,000 the same way you do in a church of 2,500,” Taylor says. “We knew we had to become better at targeting our communication efforts if we wanted to help each individual grow and challenge them to take the next step in their spiritual journey.”

For the past several years, Long Hollow has taken steps to automate its communication strategy using technology to improve engagement. Through segmentation, Long Hollow has been able to provide specific and relevant content in a way that provides actionable insights for its team.

For example, Long Hollow strategically evaluates each age group in the church and how the messaging should be targeted. Additionally, guest attendance, new member activity, and first-time gifts automatically trigger workflows when an action is taken. These systems ensure church members aren’t slipping through the cracks by sending personal touch points to members who haven’t been involved in the church after several months.

“We realized that what we were doing would have to change if we were going to be positioned to go to the next level,” Taylor explains. “Leveraging systems and technology solutions has improved our engagement efforts, actually enhancing our discipleship strategies.”

Dana Lawson — Chief Financial Officer, Cornerstone Church

Cornerstone Church has experienced tremendous growth over the past several years. Like many growing churches, it was looking for ways to fund the new opportunities that were emerging because of the rapid growth.

The leadership team tried a variety of approaches before deciding to use data to drive their decision-making. What they found completely transformed their strategy.

“It wasn’t until we started digging below the top-line numbers that we realized the answers we were looking for were right in front of us,” Lawson recalls. “We just didn’t have a way to surface them until we started mining the data.”

Cornerstone’s leadership uncovered the insights they needed to make more informed ministry decisions. They learned which giving segments were growing, which ones were not, and why. They even discovered hundreds of givers who don’t even live in the same state, yet are connected through their TV broadcasts and online presence. With this detailed information, they were able to refine their thinking and shift their planning, which resulted in not just growth in giving but also expanded ministry opportunities.

“We assumed we were doing all the right things in the right ways, but quickly realized how important it is to challenge or validate our assumptions with objective information,” Lawson points out. “Analyzing data gave us the clarity and confidence we needed to improve ministry funding and ensure it keeps pace with our rapid growth.”

Are you ready to reach more — and raise more?

Your church has the ability to apply the principles behind Intelligent Church Giving just like Long Hollow and Cornerstone have done. Take an even deeper look into how data and technology have helped churches reach more people — and raise more money — by downloading our latest resource.

Joel Mikell is president at RSI StewardshipFollow 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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