Jesus met people where they were. He met the woman at the well in the midday heat because that was when she was available (Jn. 4:7-26). He met Nicodemus in the cover of darkness because that was when he was available (Jn. 3:1-21). Unfortunately, the church has not followed suit and have instead adopted a hunker and bunker attitude: build a moral safe zone for those who choose to come in, and those who do not choose to come in are left to their own demise (Sweet, 2009). This is a tragedy, because despite the mountains of data available to ministry leaders, a large majority of evangelism, community outreach, and engagement with the outside world is done with blinders on. This is, in large part, due to the fear that analytics is a suppression to the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Robbins and Jack, 2006). On the contrary, the use of analytics opens doors of opportunity to meet people where they are available, just as Jesus did.
A growing portion of the population live with an online presence where numerous data points can be collected (Egere, 2015). Organizations effectively market using these data points by customizing a market strategy specifically for an individual: for instance, they create a customer-friendly image of products and services in ideal conditions and deliver it to the individual at an ideal time (Egere, 2015). This increases the chances the individual will purchase the good or service. In a similar fashion, effective evangelism requires a mission-based marketing approach (Babin & Zukowski, 2002) that goes beyond offering to pray during a difficult time, or visiting when in the hospital. Though these are both vitally important, there must be more intentional touch points that can be identified through the use of analytics developed strategies.
Babin, P., & Zukowski, A. A. (2002). The gospel in cyberspace: nurturing faith in the internet age. Chicago: Loyola Press.
Egere, I. K. (2015). Social media and mission-based marketing approach for new evangelization in the digital age. AFER, 57(3-4), 186–205.
Robbins, P., & Jack, A. I. (2006). The Phenomenal Stance. Philosophical Studies, 127(1), 59–85. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-005-1730-x
Sweet, L. (2009). Soultsunami: Sink or Swim in New Millennium Culture. Zondervan.