Data is really just a tool to use to reach your ultimate end goal—helping more and more people get to know and follow Jesus.
Numbers, numbers, numbers. Doesn’t everyone just love it when numbers have to be reported? How many people showed up to what? Where are you seeing growth or decline?
Why Data is Important In Ministry
Collecting data and numbers is an important part of your ministry role as it helps you evaluate it. And, no matter what ministry role you serve in, you’ll either be reporting numbers or data to a supervisor, or you’ll have numbers reported to you. Each ministry has different numbers and data they report, but collecting data is really important. Why? Because data helps determine whether or not your ministry is effective.
For example, maybe you do a weekly event. One of the ways you can figure out it’s effective is by tracking the number of people who are coming to that event. I know that sounds simple, and it doesn’t explain the whole story, but it’s one data point that you can reference to determine whether or not changes need to be made. From there, you’ll be able to have follow-up discussions with leaders to help figure out why those numbers are what they are and if it truly tells the whole story.
The reality is, someone is evaluating your ministry—even if you aren’t. Someone is looking to see if your ministry is effective. If you’re the one collecting the numbers, as tedious as that can be, you can be the one to determine which numbers to collect, and therefore which ones will be used to evaluate your ministry.
As Reggie Joiner says in When Relationships Matter, “Don’t let an outsider evaluate your ministry for you. Determine what the win looks like as a team, then proactively evaluate your weekly experiences.”
What Data Should Your Church Track?
So what information should be collected? There’s a variety and each ministry gathers different data. Once you determine what a win looks like for your ministry, that can help you determine which kind of data you want to keep track of. Here are some examples of numbers that can be helpful to collect.
How many people are actually involved in your ministry?
This isn’t just youth group night or Sunday morning attendance. This is your whole attendance breakdown from a weekly perspective. Depending on what your ministry does or doesn’t do, this could incorporate many different numbers.
Determine what are the primary numbers you need to collect for your particular ministry that get reported. This is an important place to start when using data to evaluate your ministry.
How many volunteer leaders do you have?
You need leaders to show more people the love of Jesus. Unfortunately, you can’t put every leader on the payroll.
That’s why it’s so important to have a strong volunteer leader base for each ministry. Report those numbers—they can lead to follow-up discussions about what you’re doing to get more leaders and train them.
How many people are involved in discipleship relationships in your ministry?
While reporting the total number of people involved in your ministry is important, determining how many people are involved in discipleship relationships is a better indicator of your ministry’s effectiveness. It’s because it’s in those relationships that life-change has a better chance of happening.
Whether it’s children’s ministry, student ministry, or beyond students, you can track this number different ways. The bottom line is to find how to best track discipleship relationships for your ministry.
Data Show Momentum
Collecting data can seem like a dull task, but it can really help you see where momentum or decline is in your ministry. It doesn’t help answer the “why” behind it, but can help you see where positive things are happening and where improvements need to be made.
Also, keep in mind that some ministry just isn’t measurable. You can’t measure whether an event softened someone’s heart toward God. You can’t track how an event helped a middle schooler to worship and connect with Jesus. There’s not a yardstick to track when a student chooses to turn away from something that was hurting them.
So data is important, yes. It’s important for you to be able to establish your wins and measure how you’re doing to reach them. But data is really just a tool to use to reach your ultimate end goal—helping more and more people get to know and follow Jesus.