New Data Definitions for the Church?

Big Data and Analytics

The above 3-minute video from the Harvard Business Review introduces some new terms for consideration — big data and analytics. While the context of these concepts is business-related, there is much in here that can be applicable to local churches and the Church as a whole. In particular, the three types of analytics — descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive — are important for the church now more than ever. Information that describes the current situation based on past data, forecasts the future (as much as possible), and offers guidelines and best practices should really be the focus of all of our work and ministry (especially those of us in middle judicatory and other wider church settings).

How do you think the DELTA model might apply to churches as well? As articulated in the video, DELTA is:

D – Data that is clean, accessible, and unique

E – Enterprise-wide focus, with key data and systems available to the whole organization, not just a few specialized teams

L – Leaders at all levels that promote an analytics culture

T – Targets for key areas (or ministries) that can benefit from this approach

A – Analysts to execute the strategy

My office has been hard at work on E with all we have done in the past year to make the UCC Data Hub a shared, denomination-wide system of tracking congregations and ministers and using that data for ministry. This, in turn, has led to L and T. We continually strive for D and A as well by performing checks on the accuracy of the data and training and equipping wider church staff for using data and conducting evaluations in their own areas of ministry.

In what ways do you envision data and analytics impacting your congregation? Your Conference? How is information / data shared in these settings, and how might aspects of the DELTA model improve it? Who are the “analysts” in your setting? Do your leaders promote the shared use and importance of information / data? Do those in your setting have access to data and reports? How reliable is your data?

I realize that data and analytics alone is not the solution; however, as church people our tendency is not to use this kind of factual information at all. This also gets us into trouble. We must balance our reliance on our own ideas and opinions, however inspired they may be and even though they may come out of our own individual experiences, with the facts and figures of the situation. If no one is tending to certain aspects of the DELTA model, where does that leave us? See below… 🙂

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