Do we “Measure what We Treasure” Online and at Church?

we measure what we treasure

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How do you know if what you’re doing is working?

  • For professional athletes, we look at their stats.
  • In business, bonuses are often tied to revenue or stock price.
  • In schools, children have grades and standardized tests.

It’s been said, “We measure what we treasure.” In other words, when something is really important to our organization, we look for ways to evaluate it numerically so we can determine if what we’re doing is working.

Can you guess the three most common measurements or metrics churches use?

You probably can – weekend attendance, giving and baptisms.

Einstein - not everything that counts can be counted

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On the other hand…

Perhaps part of the reason those are the “big 3” church metrics is because they’re the easiest to track. My experience is that spiritual issues are notoriously difficult measure. How do you measure someone’s relationship with God? What’s the metric for spiritual growth? For life transformation?

Albert Einstein once said, “Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.” (Tweet this)

So, the issue is not so cut-and-dry, is it? (Which makes it a good topic for discussion, but more on that later)

But what about church websites and church social media?

Most churches don’t track anything at all. What does that tell you about how much they treasure their website and social media? Not much, right?

Those churches that do track some measurements tend to look at online statistics. Things like:

  • Number of visitors to the website
  • Number of Twitter followers
  • Number of “Engaged Users” on the Facebook page

These are good metrics to track. They help a church evaluate its online efforts.

The bottom line, though, is…

Your church’s online efforts should help your church achieve its overall mission.

So, let’s start there. What is your church’s mission? What are its goals? What metrics does your church use to evaluate how its doing? If you don’t know, ask. If these things are not defined, I encourage you to sit down with your church leaders and define these things.

Once you know what the goals of your church are, then you can begin to evaluate how your website and social media is helping your church meet those goals.

For example, if one of your church’s goals is to reach people in your community, it’s important to find ways to measure that. Here are two excellent ways to do that:

1) Communication cards – Every weekend ask everyone (not just visitors) who attends a weekend service to complete a communication card. In addition to asking for contact info and prayer requests, the card should ask if the person is a visitor, and if so, how they heard about your church. (Give them options they can check: website, social media, phone book, invite from a friend, etc) From those cards, you can measure how many visitors you have every week and how many of them heard about your church from the website, social media, etc.

2) Congregational surveys – Once or twice a year ask your congregation to complete a survey that will help you evaluate your communication. Ask questions like:

  • If you started attending XYZ Church in the last year, how much did each of the following influence your decision to visit: invitation of a friend, website, social media, denominational affiliation (make it a table so they can rate each item from “no influence” to “strong influence”
  • How helpful is the church website in helping you to stay informed and connected to the people and events of our church?
  • How likely are you to share a link to our website with a friend? (This could help indicate whether your website is a valuable resource, an embarrassment, or somewhere in between)
  • To what extent does social media (Facebook, Twitter, other?) help you feel informed and connected to the people and events of our church?

A whole blog post or series of blog posts could be written on congregational communications surveys, but we’ll have to leave it at this…

How awesome would it be…

… if you could say, “This month we had 75 people visit our church. 50 of them said they heard about us through our website and 10 more said they heard about us because a friend on Facebook shared something we had posted on our church Facebook page!”

Or, “82% of visitors said our website strongly influenced them to visit the church.”

Or, “31% of our congregation indicated they feel better connected to the people and happenings of the church through social media.”

Is it hard work getting a church to complete communication cards every week? It sure is. Are you going to meet resistance from people who don’t think surveys are necessary? Absolutely! But I contend that the information garnered by these methods is tremendously valuable and well worth it!

We treasure what we measure

I mentioned earlier, “We measure what we treasure.” But an interesting thing happens when we begin to measure something – we begin to value it and focus on it more. Maybe it’s the competitive side of us. Maybe it’s a fear of failing. I don’t know. But once we start measuring something, there is a psychological incentive to improve on that number.

The point as it relates to online communication is, once you take the step of asking these questions on communications cards and surveys, you as a communicator and your communications team are going to be highly motivated and focused on doing the things that will help your church do great things that will result in great numbers.

Of course we always want to keep in the forefront of our minds it’s not about numbers but about loving God and loving people.

Discuss in Tonight’s Church Social Media Chat #ChSocM

Tonight, Tuesday, Oct 1, at 9 PM ET, I’ll be taking a turn at leading the church social media twitter chat #ChSocM. Join us as we discuss this topic of measuring and evaluating our online website and social media efforts.

But why wait, get the discussion going now…

  1. How are you measuring/evaluating your church’s website and social media efforts?
  2. Do you have any advice for church communicators who may be struggling in this area?
  3. What questions on this topic would you like me to ask #ChSocM participants in tonight’s chat?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

2 Responses to “Do we “Measure what We Treasure” Online and at Church?”

  1. Meredith Gould Oct 1, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Our conversations about measurement are always lively, so I'm looking forward to seeing what you generate during tonight's chat!