March 17, 2006

The Church and Central Intellegence

So ive been reading a lot about the crm struggles issue that many churches are having, here are some things I believe are worth thinking about. The question to ask is what metrics do church leaders want to monitor in order to make good decisions. This is the whole world of business analytics applied to the church. Before we can begin to shape an open source CRM like sugar or vtiger (A branch of sugar) into a church management intellegence system, we have to begin to nail down just what we want to measure, in other wise begin with the end in mind.

So what do you think should be measured, attendance of course, participation in small groups, giving perhaps, but what else. This is part of the difficulty of managing a church....the things that realy matter in the church are things like spiritual maturity, faithfullness to God, quality of prayer life, etc. Those are hard to measure statistically.

However for the things we can measure, what I would call measures of church health, we should have Dashboards of quickly readable information available to decision makers. This is discussed in a newsweek article I recently read. Im interested in people reading it and responding.

2 comments:

Mark Stephenson said...

With a truly web-empowered church, there will be many opportunities for individuals to login and post to the website including forums, prayer requests, polls, devotions, class registration, etc. Our hope is that this new data collection point can help with monitoring the health of the church, the health of groups within the church, and the health of specific individuals.

At Ginghamsburg, we have experienced a small glimpse of the benefit of this. We can look at the statistics from our online Transformation Journal daily devotional to estimate how many people are going to the TJ each day. We can also compute how many people are journaling. The journal itself is, of course, encrypted, but we can count the number of journal entry records. We know there are many other ways people could be in the Word, but this is still helpful information in assessing the health of the congregation as well as the impact of sermons that encourage daily time in the Word.

This is one of the main reasons that I think the ChMS (including CRM) and the website CoMS system need to be fully integrated.

In Christ,
Mark

Stephen Wareham said...

Great perspective, Chuck. I think the database can be standardized for general church use. I even think the metrics you are speaking of can be enumerated in such a way that different churches can choose their own priority vitals, perhaps even adding a few along the way.
You brought up what is arguably one of the key challenges though: how would the system measure spiritual maturity? Sure, each person record could have a value chosen from a drop-down list of ascending values. You could use your own model, but for example sake, using the "purpose driven" model, your drop-down list could contain "Community, Crowd, Congregation, Committed, Core" or some variation thereof. My question is this: Who chooses this value?
From a technical perspective, I think we long for a piece of software that looks at an individual's giving, attendance, leadership, and other items in your "to be measured" list and places a score on that individual. This, in my opinion, is where we run into "taboo" issues with different denominations/perspectives. Should a machine be determining my commitment level to Church and God?
As a software developer who has attempted to build a large Church Management System that does this, I can say that this concept does not resonate well across the board. However, I don't think we should give up. In fact, to a large degree, this concept may be possible if we can simply find the right semantic. Instead of actually hard-coding the words "spiritual maturity level" or "church commitment level", I would suggest that we use a word such as "indicator". Of course, the next question is "who can see this value and what can they do with it?". And, keep in mind, this is as much an indicator of maturity/involvement as it is accurate data entry. Good discussion.