Data and sharing the gospel
Data is a wonderful tool that God has given us to use to His glory.
Even at an organization like Kingdom Workers, where our focus is on helping people spiritually and physically, data plays a key role. As the Sr. Director of Analytics & U.S. Programs at Kingdom Workers, I’d love to tell you a little bit about our perspective on data and how we use it to His glory.
First, a quick story to explain why it’s so important for organizations to collect data on the impact of their work.
Some people and organizations with a heart for helping others donate clothing to people in Africa. That sounds wonderful. That sounds generous. That sounds like a way to help those in need.
But without data collection, this is all we would know.
We wouldn’t be able to see if our gifts were truly helping or hurting.
Thankfully, someone collected data to see what impact these gifts were having. But the results might not be what you’d expect: Between 1981 and 2000, there was a 50% increase in unemployment in the African textile industry. Between 1992 and 2006, half a million workers in Nigeria lost their jobs due to influx of donated clothing*.
Sometimes our hearts are in the right place, but our actions cause more harm than good.
That is just one reason why we collect data at Kingdom Workers. We want to ensure that our work is helping others.
Part of the data collection process includes recording baseline data before we begin work in order to assess change over time.
Before we start a new program or work in a new location, we identify what we want the outcomes of our work to be. Do we want people in Indonesia to contract fewer waterborne diseases because they now have access to clean water? Do we want people to know that Jesus died on the cross for their sins? (The answer is always yes!)
After we have selected our outcomes, we then identify how we will gather data related to these outcomes. We might do interviews, surveys, or focus groups. Our goal in data collection is to make sure we are helping people, not hurting them. Our goal is to wisely use the time, talents, and resources God has given us.
The most important part of data collection is making changes based on what the data is showing you. With data, we’ve uncovered new ways of sharing the gospel and speaking Jesus. And we’ve added components to programs to better holistically care for a community’s needs.
Whenever we collect data, we talk about what actions we should take based on it. What should we keep doing? What should we stop doing? What should we further investigate to better understand what is going on?
Pak Jefry, a volunteer in Indonesia, gathers information about a broken water collection tank in a rural village.
Here are a few encouraging metrics we have derived from data collection:
- Before our Malawi disability program, 21% of caretakers of children with disabilities said that their child got invited to play by other children. Now, 79% of caretakers say that their child with disabilities gets invited to play with others.
- 81% of Apache Home DIY program participants noted that the home DIY workshops gave them an opportunity to build relationships with Christians in their community
- 71% of foster parents feel that our Foster Support program enables them to be better foster parents
- Over the course of 2 years, children with disabilities we assessed through our Malawi disability program have moved from 62% baptized to 77% baptized.
With metrics like these, we clearly see the positive impact we are making on people’s lives from a spiritual, physical, and relational perspective.
Ultimately, the Holy Spirit creates faith. God controls what happens in the world. We are simply His dearly loved people, created by Him to make disciples of all nations and to do good works to His glory. And data is just one of the many tools we use to help us do His work.
If you’d like to read more data insights from our programs, check out our 2020 Impact Report.
Mary Lindloff serves as our Sr. Director of Analytics and U.S. Programs. Prior to her work at Kingdom Workers, she served on the Kingdom Workers Board of Directors and worked in the for-profit sector using data and research to optimize marketing, human resource decisions, and more. Her love for God and her love for data make this position a great fit for her.
*Lupton, R. D. (2016). Chapter 3: Social Entrepreneurs. In Charity detox: What charity would look like if we cared about results (p. 56). New York, NY: Harper One.