Joanna: Today I want to talk about gathering stats, numbers, and data on your church and on your digital platforms.

Joanna: Stats and data and numbers are really important for church because it helps us understand where we're going what's working what's not and if we are doing what we said we would do. And so I think sometimes you get a little weird about gathering stats and data and numbers on church because it's about people and a discipleship and of course there's a lot of stuff it's hard to measure around the success and growth of church. But there are some things that we can measure so James I want to talk about data and numbers I know for you as a person who runs a small business. Data and stats they are your friends. So what are some things that you're wanting to keep track of throughout the year to see if you are meeting goals in your own work?

James: Well I mean I really like the stats and I really like the numbers because I think they usually just tell you a big picture. It's always important for me to kind of know how many people are on our Websites? How many people are downloading things? Which things are the most popular? I mean yeah if one specific item or one specific background or intro video is getting downloaded a lot. It speaks to that people are enjoying it and finding it successful and you know we just like to keep track of usage because that's going to drive what we do next. And if something is a total flop then we're not going to invest the time into making something that no one would really like. So numbers from the from the media communications product side of things is really important I think it transfers really well into church stuff just in like if you're doing social media posts and getting no interactions on something but another thing is getting a lot of interactions. You should look at those numbers as telling you something.

Joanna: They tell you something for sure. You still may need to do the other kind of stuff like the other kind of posts that don't have as much engagement or data coming back from them. But at least you're understanding and learning from the data from the stats. What's happening. Another thing is it can help us inform our budgets like we've talked about before how the news videos that we film at church. They're an important thing that come week to week. But but they have a short shelf life and not a ton of views on online. But we know that in terms of eyeballs on it in services thousands of people are going to see those news videos we find them valuable in that way. But then you do a testimony video and that thing can live on your YouTube channel and get views over a number of years. And so it's hard sometimes to know just because there's a stat or a number attached, we also of course want to make sure we are keeping it in an appropriate place in terms of value. Just because something has a higher or lower number of statistical numbers connected to it doesn't mean it is invaluable. But another thing in church world of course is we're trying to measure has giving increased? What about how many baptisms we've had this year? Or children who come to a kid's camp? There's all kinds of things. The joke about in church in more maybe charismatic churches is like the "Oh I see that hand" you know if they if they invite you to give a response to a preacher's invitation it's just like how are you measuring and counting hands raised everyone with their eyes closed and their head bowed their hand up like are those real numbers that can be measured and how much weight do we put to that. What do you think about that kind of those kind of measurements?

James: Well look I mean I think you always have to do a mix between numbers and gut right? Like every decision I make can't be purely based on numbers. And I mean I'm a big sports guy so in baseball the big thing is analytics right now. But I find the most successful people aren't the people that just dive purely into numbers and then purely on gut. It's you have to find a balance if to look at the numbers see what they're saying to you. And then also making a gut choice that's what makes people good at jobs. I mean if it was just a robot doing it then there would be no need for us. So you do have to kind of mix what you feel might be coming, so in my world it's seeing what is popular what do you think a good trend is going forward or seeing something before it's happened. You have an idea. So I mean when I first got started in this no one was really doing you know nature worship backgrounds I had a gut feeling and I had no numbers to back it up that that was something that I thought people would like and enjoy. I had to make a bet on how to make a gamble on it. I had to invest time and money with nothing to really be able to prove that it was going to work. And I think that's something you always have to do in communications and media as you have to kind of make a gut call in. I mean Jo I know you've done it many many times where we're thinking ahead three months ahead to Easter. Okay what do we think is going to work for this theme for Easter and you kinda you're using past history and numbers and here's what worked in the past but you're ultimately also going along with your gut right?

Joanna: Yeah. And of course in church sometimes leadership makes decisions that has nothing to do with if it's going to be popular it's because it's something that people need. But it's true we we do want to gather and understand data statistics measurements has this you know if if the honest truth is that giving continues to decline and that's the statistics as the data we have we need to ask why? Why are people not giving as much this year as they did last year? If we see like all the sudden you had like a hundred baptisms come out of nowhere people requesting to be baptized will like what is that tied to? Is that because we gave better teaching on that week we start to see that the numbers have meaning when they're in their context. Just as we talked yesterday on the podcast about annual reports as I am reminding myself year after year when I work on things like that the more regularly you can keep track of data the easier it is at the end of the year to look back and see what was working what's not and if it's for an annual report the easier it is to gather that information and statistics for that report. It's really hard at the end of the year to scramble and try and figure it all out. How many people were at that thing we did eight months ago? It's so hard to know but if we keep good data and numbers week to week or month by month about the things we want to measure then it's gonna be a lot easier at the end of the year to have a good view of how the year went as a whole.

James: So the encouragement is is that even if you are a small church and maybe your pastors or leads aren't doing what our church does that you're involved with Jo maybe you yourself could be just doing that and start keeping track of some of those numbers. Just put it on an Excel sheet or a numbers page or something in Google Sheets just the idea of starting to track maybe some attendance at events or maybe a start to track even just attendance at church just things that you can start using to help inform your decisions on what you're doing.

Joanna: And more than that if you would like to get more budget money for your department or you're trying to show that your job maybe needs to hire some more help or things like that. If you had good statistics and records that you kept for the year you can go to your boss or to your board or whoever it is with real data of what the impact is of that area of ministry and hopefully they'll back that up with with the funding you need to do it.