Understanding the People Within Your Reach

October 4th, 2013

About a year ago, many of us were feeling battered by the national election. Remember the robo-calls? The constant TV ads? The reams of paper stuck in your storm door and mailbox? The steady ping of emails hitting your inbox, one right after the other? That’s partisan politics. But there’s a lesson in it, and I saw the lesson at 1:00 a.m. on the eve of the election.

My husband and I volunteered for a statewide candidate, and we signed up for the late shift that night. Our task was to hang  flyers on voters’ doorknobs—but not just any voters’ doorknobs. These voters were selected according to incredibly specific criteria, and the flyers were designed to speak very pointedly to those particular people, at that particular time.

That campaign organization, and many others, collected demographic and lifestyle data about voters. They sorted and sifted and studied that data,  filtering it down to the point of nearly intimate understanding. On some long city blocks, I would hang a  flyer on only one door—as instructed by the detailed campaign spreadsheet serving as my map that night. Only one door out of many, because the campaign staff understood the people who lived there, and they knew how to reach them with just the right message to get them into the voting booth. The Obama campaign used similar techniques, and many say it won the election. They called the data “granular.” The planning and insight was astonishing.

What if you could develop the same level of understanding about the people within your church’s reach? You may think you understand the people in your community, but what do you know beyond the basic demographics of age, race, income bracket, and residential housing type? In this issue, you will learn how this kind of outwardly focused, missional understanding can transform your ministry, your congregation, and—most importantly—all those “others” within you reach.

This issue of Circuit Rider also introduces some changes to format and content. Let us know what you think!

About the Author

Constance E. Stella

Constance Stella serves as Senior Editor at Abingdon Press, where she develops Leadership resources for the Church read more…
comments powered by Disqus