No matter what business niche we measure with our information dashboards, the success of our effort depends on selecting the right metrics and indicators. When attempting to truly understand the health of our business, we are challenged to look beyond the usual and obvious KPIs and incorporate the “you’re right, we have to take that into account” measurements that add up to a fuller comprehension of our progress against goals. The selection of metrics can have subtleties that surface only after several iterations of dashboard design.
Today we look at this topic by examining a case study involving a pastor who tracks his church-related metrics through a dashboard. Dave Ferguson explained his choice of metrics in a Christian Standard post entitled Golf Scores and Dashboards: Keeping Track of How the Church is Doing.
He explains how golf is about keeping score and how the church needs to do the same. I’ve clipped some of his great commentary:
What’s the score at your church?
So, how does your church keep score? Usually churches keep score by counting the attendance and offering, which typically are published in the program or on the Web site. Attendance and offering are often the key indicators discussed at staff meetings.
Occasionally, churches also keep score by tracking how much is given during capital stewardship or faith-promise campaigns. A few churches even keep score of how many Timothys or missionaries they send into ministry.
So, how does your church keep score?
The Bible and Numbers
And don’t try to tell me we shouldn’t keep score. Bible writers obviously didn’t shy away from counting. For example:
6—the number of days it took for creation.
40—the number of days and nights it rained during the flood.
500—the number of years Noah lived before he became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
3,000—the number who accepted the message and were baptized on the Day of Pentecost.
There are all kinds of statistics in the Bible. There is even a whole book called Numbers. Since the Bible doesn’t shy away from statistics, counting, or numbers, neither should we. But that still leaves us with these questions: What should we count? How should a church keep score?
When it comes to a church dashboard, the “obvious” attendance metrics are, of course, attendance and collection. Pastor Dave explains his thinking behind going beyond these numbers.
Beyond Attendance and Offering
I was preparing an update to present at Leadership Community, our monthly gathering of leaders from all our campuses, and the stats were looking pretty good. That month we had set a new record attendance with an increase of more than 1,000 people over the previous year and we also had set a record for giving. I was feeling pretty good about the score.
But, as I thought about it, I wondered, Is that really a good score? Is increasing the number of butts in the seats and increasing the amount of money in the plate the best way for a church to keep score? What about the spiritual formation of the people at my church? They may be showing up for more church services, but is that really all I want to measure? What about growing their influence and using their giftedness for making a difference? What about starting new church sites and churches to reach a lost world?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized we could do better.
Watching the Guage on the Dashboard
What if, instead of just keeping score, we developed a dashboard that could display several key indicators and measurements?
We can all relate to a dashboard. As I’m driving around town I keep an eye on my odometer because it tells me how many miles I can drive after the yellow fuel light comes on. I lean forward to get a look at the speedometer to make sure I’m not going too fast. Since I drive a 1994 Toyota Paseo, I watch the temperature gauge in the summer to make sure my little car isn’t overheating. I am familiar with the dashboard in my car.
What would the dashboard at a church look like? What would it measure?
Over the last several years at Community and through our NewThing Network, we have developed our own dashboard. This report can be printed on one page and helps me understand—at a glance—how the church is running without needing to dig into every detail.
A dashboard that measures only attendance and offering does not match our vision at Community. Our vision is not to warehouse a large number of Christians at multiple sites till Jesus comes back. Our vision is to mobilize 3C Christ followers who are ready to go out and accomplish the mission of Jesus.
So, in addition to attendance and offering, our dashboard includes the following measurements:
3C Christ followers—We want to know what percentage of people are growing in the spiritual experiences of celebrating (weekly, as part of our celebration service), connecting (doing life together in a small group), and contributing (giving of their giftedness in service and of their finances). If I could have only one indicator on our dashboard, this would be the one! This gauge tells me more about the spiritual health of a person than any other indicator.
Baptisms—We also want to know how many people are making commitments to become Christ followers. This was something that was counted in the book of Acts and it counts today, so we track it. This is the best indicator of a church’s evangelistic temperature.
Leaders—We also want to know how many people are apprentice leaders, leaders, and coaches. This may be unique to the culture of Community, but I think it is absolutely critical. This tells the number of small groups and teams (leaders); the number of potential small groups and teams (apprentice leaders), and what the leadership development pipeline looks like.
The strength and depth of a church’s leadership tells how soon the church can reproduce a new site or church. Why? Because the leaders facilitate all the small groups and teams for kids, students, and adults.
Artists—We want to know how many artists we have at Community. When we use the term artist, we are using it in a very broad sense to include worship leaders, vocalists, musicians, actors, dancers, painters, videographers, sound and light technicians, etc. As with leaders, the strength and depth of the artists tells us how soon we can reproduce a new site or church. Why? Because the artists create and lead all large group worship and celebration events.
Services and sites—I want to know we are reproducing at all levels. I want to know how many services we do on a weekly basis. When we started Community, we had only one service at one site. Today we have more than 25 services at nine sites. I want to watch that gauge, too.
So, what’s your score? Hoping to do better on the second hole? Me, too. Whether it is score-keeping or gauge-watching, decide what you need to measure to best accomplish the Jesus mission and count it!
Here’s a peek at some dashboard metrics:
The image above shows the percentage of people that are connecting at each of our nine campuses and as a church overall. We have set an expectation that we want 75% of our people connected in small groups. As you can see in the diagram five of Community’s campuses are beyond the 75% mark. These are the campuses in green and they have between 84% and 120% of people connected. The three in yellow have between 60% and 68% of the people connected in small groups. And the one campus is currently in red is slightly below 60%. We have several pages like this one that are updated on a weekly basis that show how many people are celebrating, connecting, contributing, giving, baptisms and more. It is a terrific tool that helps you really understand numerically how you are doing as a church.
Present Year and Present Month Statistics
Pastor Dave blogs about his church dashboard metrics at his blog.
Tags: Church dashboard, church attendance metrics, church managment, church dashboards