Multiplication Center

Big Data and the Church: Helping churches do five things amazingly well

February 1, 2018

By Eric Swanson & Matt Engel

Every church that is thriving and multiplying has become really good at a critical five things. Every church that is plateaued or is slowly declining or dying has neglected has ceased to do one or more of these five things.

So what are these five things?


  • Attract people is simply making people aware that your church exists. (Even for churches that eschew the label “Attractional Church” still take missional actions they hope will attract people to their church.)
  • Get people is about getting people in the door for the first time—whether for a weekend service or a special event
  • Keep people is about our ability to get people back a second or third time. (People who attend a church just three times have a 60% propensity to make that church their home church). Keeping is about closing the back door
  • Grow disciples is about engaging people in your growth model whatever that might be. For many churches the critical growth decision is to be part of a small group
  • Multiply disciples is about your people inviting people and sharing their faith

These five verbs were the foundation of the church as Jesus lived out his ministry:

  • Attract—“Come and see” (John 1:39)
  • Get—“Follow me” (Matthew 4:19)
  • Keep—“Abide in me” (John 15:5)
  • Grow—“Learn from me” (Matthew 11:29)
  • Multiply “Go make disciples” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Each of these five things is critical to the viability and growth of every church. Take just one of them away and the church begins a death spiral. A church will die if it fails to attract people, get people, keep people, grow disciples or multiply disciples.

How big data can help

Data is information. Big data gives us information that demographics alone can’t provide. Big data, coupled with analytics and precision messaging, along with a little practice, allows us to send the right message to the right person at the right time on the right device to help them take the step that they want to take. Big data can help identify people in your city with the highest propensity to come to your weekend service or event (like a date night, marriage seminar, or man camp).

Big data can not only help your church attract and get people from your city but can also help you keep, grow and multiply people within your congregation because big data allows us to know better the condition of our flock (Proverbs 27:23).

For the past 12 months Leadership Network has been gathering over 20 large churches who have been experimenting with the power of big data, predictive analytics and precision messaging and we are seeing such positive, preliminary results that we feel propelled to go forward to help churches expand their kingdom ministry.

If you are interested in opening your next multisite campus, growing your congregation, developing leaders, and deploying a missional people we invite you into exploring how big data might help you do these things better. Its not a silver bullet…it will take hard work but may be the most productive action you take this year.

For more information, download our one-page summary on the Engagement Accelerator Experience:

To begin a conversation about how you can engage more people inside and outside your church using data, contact me using the form below:

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