You can’t afford to guess anymore
By Joel Mikell and Curt Swindoll
Making important ministry decisions without insight-driven data is a known gap that has existed in almost every church we’ve worked with over the past 40 years — regardless of denomination, church size or ministry budget.
This is why church leaders are constantly wrestling with the same questions:
• How do I lead our church from where we are to where we want to be?
• Will our current strategy ultimately get us where we want to go?
• Are there things we should be doing that we’re not?
Report-writing tools were supposed to help solve these challenges, but it’s evident that those are limited in their application. As a result, church leaders feel like they’re swimming in a sea of information, but still thirsty for insight.
Where do these new report-writing tools fall short? More importantly, is there a better way to analyze the information you have to finally start gaining traction towards your ultimate vision?
Those are the two questions we’re working together to help church leaders answer.
Why your report writer isn’t good enough
Here are four reasons why traditional report-writing tools aren’t sufficient for helping your church make the type of progress you know is possible:
1) The insights they provide are limited. There are three elements of any analytics model that must be present to provide confidence in bridging the gap between your ministry today and where you intend to be one, three and five years from now:
Descriptive Analytics — Descriptive analytics provide a clear and complete picture of your efforts based on objective information. This enables you to challenge or validate the true impact of your ministry decisions in a way that wasn’t possible before.
Predictive Modeling — Predictive modeling helps you look toward the future by providing a real-time look at future results based on historical detail. This allows you to quantify the future impact and implications of your present decisions based on a set of proprietary algorithms that can be manipulated at every level to isolate and understand how one decision affects the overall outcome.
Prescriptive insights — Prescriptive insights put information into action by contextualizing comprehensive data modeling within your church culture to drive prioritization and accountability to ensure change actually takes place. This allows your team to focus its attention and efforts on the parts of your ministry that will take you where you want to go. It will also clearly highlight what must demonstrably change in order to produce the ministry outcomes you desire.
Traditional report writers only provide insights into one of those areas — descriptive data. But, relying solely on this information is like trying to drive a car by only looking at the rearview mirror. It’s the predictive modeling and prescriptive insights that help you know how to move forward.
Bottom line: You can’t afford to make critical decisions based on the output of any standard report-writing tool.
2) It doesn’t inform other areas of ministry. You must be willing to have crucial conversations with your ministry leaders if you want to change the output of your ministry. This isn’t about who’s right or wrong. This isn’t about pointing fingers. This is about using data as a diplomat to challenge or validate your intuition about what it’s really going to take to get you where you want to go.
Bottom Line: If you want to change in the ways that will accomplish the vision God has given you, you need to make the right adjustments, at the right time, with the right people.
3) It doesn’t take into account the long-term impact of your weekly decisions. Making a tactical shift won’t be enough to overcome a trajectory that’s taking you to a different destination. You need a clear line of sight between today and the outcome you want to create.
Traditional report writers don’t project forward the future implications of today’s ministry decisions. As a result, you won’t be able to connect the dots without a multi-year approach to database analysis that removes any and all existing silos.
Bottom Line: You need to be sure you are making decisions based on a complete picture before you will be able to fully grasp the implications of the ministry decisions you make today. You can’t afford to wait.
There’s a better way…
As the ministry landscape continues to evolve, we are more convinced than ever that the challenges you face require world-class tools to ensure sustainability and growth in the future. Through Pursuant, we’ve invested more than a decade and millions of dollars perfecting a series of advanced analytics and modeling tools that have informed decision-making in hundreds of organizations, including some of the world’s leading nonprofits.
These tools haven’t been available to church leaders in a way that is accessible and affordable. Now they are. It’s more critical than ever before if you intend to successfully sustain and grow your ministry. This is why we think it’s vital that you reassess your report writing tool as the basis of your ministry decision-making. Learn how these tools can help you gain a clear line of sight between today and your ultimate vision for ministry.
Curt Swindoll is the executive vice president for strategy at Pursuant, the parent company of RSI Stewardship. He leads Pursuant’s work with faith-based organizations and the firm’s Direct Response practice group. Follow him on Twitter [ @CurtSwindoll ].