I’ve been reading the first part of a book called Data Analytics Made Accessible by Anil Maheshwari. His book sparked several Big Data Ideas for Church. FYI, I consider today’s post to build on the foundations I presented in my earlier posts Big Data and the 21st Century Church, and Using Big Data in a Local Church.

big data ideas church

Big Data Ideas for Church: Nuggets

He writes, “Datafication is a new term that means that almost every phenomenon is now being observed and stored” (Loc 680). Your church probably has more data than you know how to handle. The problem for those of us who care about analyzing data is learning what to do with all that info on people, and their activities that we store in our church software.

I also found two good quotes that have to do with getting your senior pastor to care about data analytics and understand what the heck you’re talking about: 1) “A good data mining project beings with an interesting problem to solve. Selecting the right data mining problem is an important skill” (Loc 1006). 2) “Present the conclusions and not just report the data. Choose wisely from a palette of graphs to suit the data. Organize the results to make the central point stand out. Ensure that the visuals accurately reflect the numbers… Executive dashboards are designed to provide information on select few variables for every executive” (Loc 993).

While Big Data can live in the cloud, your data probably lives on a hard drive. Hard drives fail. I’ve replaced 3 in ministry computers this year (2018). To prevent data loss from a failed hard drive, I recommend Carbonite Online Backup to my family, friends, and work partners!

Thoughts about Applying Big Data Ideas to a Church from Businesses and other Organizations

  1. Instead of “Maximize return on marketing campaigns” we can think about asking how people heard about us, and then see where our time/resources are being most fruitful.
  2. Rather than thinking about “Maximize customer value,” we can use the data we have on people to make sure they are aware of all the relevant ministries that we have to offer.
  3. Instead of “Identify and delight high-valued customers.” We can look at people by spiritual gifting. Then, make sure we are putting them in the right places.
  4. He talks about using data to assess “treatment effectiveness.” We might use it to see if those who have completed financial classes actually felt an improvement in their finances.
  5. We can use data to compare our overall group enrollment, track group member retention, and compare number of leaders gained vs lost, etc., instead of showing educational institutions information about “Student Enrollment (recruitment and retention).”
  6. He describes using data to “decide on course offerings.”  We can use it to track attendance over certain topics. We can see what day/time schedule is most effective in our church.

New Big Data Ideas for the Local Church so far with this Book

The great thing I’ve discovered is that big data concepts can help you tailor your ministry to your particular context. You can avoid blindly attempting to copy what the big church down the road is doing. Instead, you can change based on data. For example, you might choose to put more time and resources into a certain type of outreach. You might do it because your data shows you that one style is most effective. Likewise, you may choose to avoid doing something that another church does. Maybe you can tell that attendance and giving decline every time you’ve tried copying them in the past.

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