Five reasons demographic data is important for building relationships

Posted by Boyd Pelley on 1/10/23 2:30 PM
Boyd Pelley
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demographicsLast week I shared that I'm tracking my food intake as well as my Bible reading in the new year.  After a week, as expected, I'm doing great on the Bible reading because that's a relationship I enjoy.  And, so far, I'm doing fine with food tracking and even lost a couple of pounds. That's leading to a goal I hope to achieve. 

Some of the most common data in church software is demographic information like age (birthdate), household role, gender, marital status, anniversary, school, education, languages spoken, ethnicity,  occupation, military service, skills, availability, spiritual gifts, ministry passion, address / zip code, phone number, and email.    

Why do you track this information?  If you're not using it to build relationships somehow, then why bother?  Tracking data for the sake of tracking data is not a worthy goal in itself.  Eventually, you'll stop putting any effort into it and your data will become sloppy and unkempt.  That's what always happens to me when I stop paying close attention to the food I eat.  

So, here are five reasons tracking demographic data is important for building relationships.  I hope they will help you think about tracking demographic data in a new way.   

Demographics help you know your congregation.  You probably have a feel for your congregation's ethnic diversity, majority marital status, gender make up, and average age just because you are part of the community.  Data can either confirm this gut feeling, giving you confidence in it, or challenge you to re-think your perceptions. 

Hint:  Export birthdates into Excel and use the average function to find the birthdate of your average church member.  A church whose average age is 27 has very different needs than a church whose average age is 67.

Demographics help you determine staff and leadership needs.  The real data on your congregation gives you a clearer picture of what their needs might be.  Meeting these needs is the shepherding responsibility of the church.  Recognizing a lack of certain demographics in the church compared to the community helps spot outreach needs for the church.  Both of these play a vital part in leadership and staffing priorities.  
Demographics help you get your message out.  Address, email, and phone number are all demographic data.  These are the channels you use for getting communication to people.  Communication that is vital to building relationships with them.  Some churches even collect data from people on their preferred method of communication.  Being able to provide state of the art level email and texting services inside the application itself is essential in today's environment.
Hint: Social media and church apps are great communication tools for those who are willing to come to these portals for your information.  Address, email, and phone numbers are communication tools that you use to go to people where they naturally reside.  They take a bit more effort, but their reach is greater.
Demographics help you connect people. Age, gender, and marital status are the most common attributes for connecting people.  But, in many churches geography is also an important part of connection.  Being able to map people within a certain distance of an address is helpful for creating small groups and can be used to help neighbors reach out and know each other.  This data can also be used to determine outreach potential.
Demographics help you identify potential pastoral needs.  When a newborn child is added to the database, the family needs to be included in communication for child dedication.  When a child reaches sixth grade, it's important to connect them to the youth ministry.  When they graduate from high school, they need to be handed off to a college or singles ministry.  When a couple is married and a new family is formed in the database, marriage mentoring would be incredibly helpful.  When they have their first child or become an empty-nester, there are new needs and opportunities for spiritual growth.
Most of us in ministry are aware of these demographic benchmarks and life change points.  But, we're just starting to have the software tools to capitalize on data that we already have.
Hint: Automated reports can be "programmed" to identify any of these life change points and then notify the appropriate leader or staff person with no admin assistance! They can even launch workflows to provide email, text, and web page content to provide important information and resources at just the right time.  

If you know these tools in Churchteams, let us know how you are using demographic data to build better relationships.  If not, let us know that too and we'll be glad to help you. 

But, most important, stop thinking about demographic data as just a goal to achieve with each member.  Begin thinking about it as the wellspring for building relationships and better discipleship.

Tags: Reports

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