Measuring Digital Church

Measurements are the lifeblood of an organisation. Knowing what to measure, how to measure it and what the measurements mean is absolutely critical if you want to grow.

An old colleague of mine used to repeatedly quote the famous sentence “What gets measured, gets done”

Truth right there.

Measurement in Church is also critical if you are interested in understanding how the Church is doing; where you are doing well and where you might need some help.

The same goes for Digital Church.

So What Do You Measure?

Traditional Church has tended to use attendance as it biggest metric and then some more enlightened ones go as far weekly salvations, baptisms, people at a group etc. etc.

I know we have all seen the chest beating social media posts.

But these don’t work for Digital Church (I also don’t think they work for Traditional Church, but that’s another blog…maybe).

Attendance is not the critical metric. It is a very narrow and one dimensional metric which is largely outdated.

What we need to be measuring is engagement.

Engagement is multi-dimensional and incorporates so many other facets and gives you much greater insights into your organization and its success.

How do we measure engagement?

The first step is to understand how engagement is made up. In traditional church it could be a balanced scorecard of attendance, giving, volunteering etc.

In Digital Church, this can be quite different. Important measures could include:

  • Time watching content (arguably a version of attendance)
  • Giving (studies show online viewers actually give more)
  • Contribution or how often people are actively communicating (chat, group message etc)

These are good, but I am convinced they do not show the full picture and are simply a shadow of the traditional metrics.

I am a member of a number of very active special interests groups (scale models if you must know) and I would consider myself highly engaged with the content and my life (well ,modelling techniques) have been impacted by their content.

One of the groups I follow has over 25,000 members with only a very, very small minority contributing.

However if the way I engage in this group were translated into engagement with a church I would most likely be described as just a ‘consumer’ purely because of percieved lack of engagement as I dont ‘contribute’.

I certainly hear the argument to be a contributor and not only a consumer, but this moves the focus away from the fact that the 99% of the people, in the modelling group for example, are the same. They may not contribute, but are being impacted.

Rather than labelling them and trying to change them to fit a model (in this case attendence), would it not be better to realise that they are still a very important part of the group and think about how we can better serve this large community.

Imagine what would happen if the organisation decided that only people who were ‘active’ could be in the group or get special content (that’s yet another blog post) through scarcity or ‘turn up and get it’ manipulation? They would be missing a massive opportunity and platform.

What to do the measurements mean?

This is why knowing what the results mean is so very important.

It is easy to look at basic metrics and make a judgement without going deeper as no metric can be understood in isolation.

Today’s business analytics and visualisation suites probably offer your best chance in understanding the data as they give you the opportunity to create complex models that shows the impact of one thing on another.

Two good examples of this are two counter intuitive facts from a recent church survey

  1. Churches with the biggest online presence are growing physically more than those that don’t
  2. Churches that offer the least worship style choice, are growing quicker than those that offer a variety

These facts can only be found by looking at metrics from multiple dimensions.

So how do we measure Digital Church?

Well I don’t think anyone has cracked it, but I would suggest we look to organisations like Amazon or Netflix, where consumption is their business.

They are more concerned about helping people consume then helping people into buildings.

These guys know how to measure, what to measure and what to do about it.


About Digital Church

Here at Digital Church, this is our passion. We want to help Churches recognize the opportunities and then give them the strategies, tools and practical help to put it into practice.

Please do reach out and contact us on hello@digitalchurch.com, if you are interested in how we can help your church or organization.