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Bending Technology to Your Advantage

The Visual Display Over Everyone

Are measuring tools important? Well, it’s a Sunday and the congregation is waiting patiently for you to begin. You stand from your chair and move towards the podium. Your eyes begin adjusting to the faces in the congregation. Some you know, others you have never seen before. What if you began seeing visual displays appearing above heads of each member? Each visual display gave a meter reading of their spiritual growth. Some might have a meter reading that shows ninety percent. While others might have a reading under twenty. Would your message change by knowing this information? Would you agree that this information would give you great insights into your members’ behaviors? Think about how you can begin structuring or restructuring your plans and the execution of those plans. Think about the systems you can implement to meet the needs of those members who are spiritually mature and those needing extra help.

Member Measurement

What do these meter readings actually provide? Yes, they give insights, but there is something far greater: the ability to measure. Over the weeks, months and years you will have a better understanding of your members’ growth. So if you ask one of them, “How are you doing?” They might reply, “Great.” Even though they are being polite, their member measurement might give a different reading.

Measurement gives you an actual picture of where someone is based on their growth. It is like taking your members out to run a mile. Some will finish under 7 minutes, others under 6 and others even under 5 minutes. These members are ready to take on the next intensive exercise. Others will barely finish the mile and some might even flat out refuse to run. In this case time is the measurement. We can conclude that the ones with the lowest time are faster runners. By pinpointing members’ growth areas you can effectively assist in moving them closer to spiritual maturity, or in other words discipleship.

Available Measuring Tools

If the visual display was actually available think of all you can accomplish. Accuracy in measurement, accuracy in growth, accuracy in discipleship. This type of information gathering is already available and it has been for quite some time. Not the floating visual display that emerges over a member’s head, but the actual measurement tools. Using a few available tools together will yield the same results. A little bit of machine learning, plus device ID, plus GPS, plus an app/website, plus a cool little sales team will make this entire process happen. What’s so great about this process is most churches have members with tech and software programming backgrounds. So it is almost as easy as flipping a switch. Well, flipping a switch very slowly over three months.

The Sales Team

To start this process, a friendly sales team will get members involved quickly and easily. I use the word “sales” because sales individuals know how to focus on the interests of others and align those interests with the benefits that come with a new service. These “sales” individuals are not really sales professionals per se, but understand the fundamental ideas of why individuals make decisions. Most importantly they know how to listen and handle rejection. Anytime there is a new process there will always be some amount of rejection. How to handle them is the key. So what are they selling? They can’t say measurement tools, because that sounds boring and unattractive. Members’ minds will begin to turn off as the words are spoken. They can sell a process that will help the members establish powerful relationships, save time, become really healthy and increase resources. Anyone will take notice when this language is used. Primarily due to their own schema of knowledge. By building upon what a member already understands, learning a spiritual process becomes easier.

The Digital Member

The rest of the process is all technical, but doable. A website and mobile app will gather information about each member’s life. Sort of like an eHarmony for learning (if you are familiar with that website). Questions will include everything from their current spiritual growth to their financial happiness. The goal is to grasp a good picture of the member’s lifestyle. This creates their own digital schema and is the starting point. Based on questions answered the software customizes the member’s experience by tailoring questions and information to benefit them. This is where the machine learning kicks in. Over time the software learns the member better, offering better questions and better information. The GPS and device ID help by incorporating the real life and online locations that the member visits. What this means is, where an individual goes online and in person can help understand the member’s behavior. Google is doing this already and all the other search engines. Where a user navigates online Google presents ads based on the user’s search results. Go to a restaurant or grocery store and Google might ask you a question about your experience.

Members Are Primed and Ready for Measuring Tools

What’s interesting about this proposed idea is most of your members (60 and younger) are probably more conditioned to interacting online and through mobile devices than anywhere else. From sharing financial information through online purchases to discussing their day on social media. You have a congregation that already understands this type of engagement. Working with what your members already know, understand and currently use will yield a higher percentage of success as you measure. The bottom line is that members do want to grow. They want high standards and are willing to do what’s necessary to achieve them. The strategy is how to get them from point A to point B. This is done through measurement. Putting in place a process like this only takes effort. Once you take the first step the rest is quite doable. There are individuals like myself that want to help. Having stronger believers is a benefit for us all.

Next Steps

  1. Ask your congregation a few questions to see if an online measurement process is beneficial. Here are some sample questions. You can use a hard copy or mobile app. You can also use email and phone calls.
    1. Are you using one of the following to search for information?______
      1. Desktop
      2. Mobile device
      3. Both
      4. Neither
    2. What types of sites do you visit? ______
      1. News
      2. Social
      3. Learning
      4. Business
      5. Entertainment
      6. Other
    3. How do you usually get your learning information? ______
      1. From a book
      2. From a class instructor
      3. Online
    4. When do you set time aside to learn? ______
      1. Daily
      2. Twice a Week
      3. Weekly
      4. Twice a Month
      5. Monthly
    5. What usually motivates you to learn? ______
      1. Financial benefit
      2. Advancement at work
      3. Personal growth
      4. Family growth
      5. Other
    6. What areas in your life would you like to strengthen? ______
      1. Health
      2. Spiritual
      3. Financial
      4. Emotional
      5. Professional
  2. Identify a small group (20 to 100) to begin working with right away. The survey above will give you their pain points.
    1. You can create learning content based on this initial data.
    2. Integrate quizzes into each learning lesson. This will give you the needed data to measure.
    3. Create accountability partners. This will increase the likelihood of members staying on task.
    4. Have a few scheduled open book quizzes. These types of assessments will help members understand key information to remember.
    5. When all the learning content is complete, end with an activity, event or race. Whatever is selected, the members should have the ability to use the knowledge learned.
  3. To measure a large number of members over a long period it is best to switch to software. If you have IT professionals or software programmers on staff they can manage the entire process.

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Brian Southers

About Brian Southers

Brian Southers is about developing and implementing strategies that provide social change. Tackle problems from a human perspective.

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