By Dan Kennedy, Kumveka Executive Director. He’s helped dozens of ministries use research to make better decisions. This post is the first in a three-part series. Read Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

When in the market for a new car, very few of us simply pop into the nearest dealer, pick out the first vehicle we find, and buy it on the spot.

For most of us, a purchase like this requires investment before we ever step foot on a car lot. After all, this is a decision that affects our everyday activities. So we figure out a budget. We look at ratings and reviews. We ask our spouse for input on what he or she would like. We might make lists of features we’re interested in or colors we like. Then we’ll test drive different models, perhaps get an opinion from a trusted mechanic.

Simply put, we research.

As ministry leaders, we make decisions that not only affect the bottom line, but also impact the people we serve and those we work alongside. Should research influence these decisions? Absolutely! Research is one of the most underutilized best practices in the ministry space.

Starting with this post and over the course of two more, we’re going to take a closer look at the what, the why, and the how of research. Ready?

First, let’s start with a definition:

Research is an intentional, objective tool that increases empathy and reduces risk.

Research can help your ministry

  • Understand your audience’s needs

  • Make ideas better

  • Build new products

  • Celebrate progress

  • Improve communication

  • Identify opportunities

Effective research has 3 key elements

A focused learning agenda - Your blueprint—a specific outline of what you want to learn.

Clear methodology - How will you achieve your learning agenda. This could be a simple as an online survey to as in-depth as focus groups and one-on-one interviews.

Unbiased analysis and reporting - A report of what you’ve learned that includes recommendations and possible next steps.

Next week, look for a post on how research makes a difference for your ministry.

I’ll be covering much more about this topic during my workshop, How Research Changes Everything, at Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes 2019 conference in April. This gathering is a great opportunity to learn ministry best practices and connect with other leaders. Learn more and register today.

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