Data Mining: Data that Leads to Encounter

two Hands Touching a Heart

Updated records are phenomenal, but they’re only the first step. Data’s true value is in the lives it represents. It is the doorway leading to deeper engagement – knowing, loving, and serving your parishioners. God has a plan for your parish, which must be realized through your parishioners. Are you ready for the next step in the journey?

Data mining; looking for treasure

Data mining is the act of analyzing your records for new insights to inform current ministry and future plans.

As this insightful article from Ss. Peter and Paul in Hoboken, N.J., points out: to truly be of use, data must be analyzed, prayerfully leveraged for the insights it contains, and used to inform future planning. Your web-based ParishSOFT system contains a wealth of information. Data mining reveals the less evident, but perhaps more valuable, treasure! Through data mining, your records tell the story of where your parish is now and illuminate possibilities for your future.

Reach parishioners, maximize ParishSOFT tools

What areas of strength, commonality, or interest might provide an avenue to reach out to the larger community? Where are the holes that might prevent you from supporting parishioners and enhancing parish life? Consider sitting down as a staff or with the parish council and brainstorming how your data might enable the parish to better identify and reach parishioners in need.

This might include looking at participation, analyzing current demographics, sacrament history, and statistics. Any data points that you track in ParishSOFT can be reported out of the system – even across modules. If you want to compare the number of school-aged children with enrollment in faith formation programs, you can do it!

Even the simpler functionalities built into your ParishSOFT system are powerful tools for your parish.


Let’s say your parish is about to start a parish-wide initiative, such as Alpha, and needs to know what session times should be offered. Stay-at-home parents might be more likely to attend in the afternoon. Seniors may prefer mornings, but you also have a growing population of nurses whose schedules could be harder to accommodate, not to mention a large immigrant population that requires special consideration….

ParishSOFT Family Directory Family and Member List filters[2] let you search for and identify any number of possible demographic groups[3] and special needs! Email them directly from your ParishSOFT platform with tailored messaging, or export the list to use however you need. Reaching out to parishioners has never been so easy.

Family Directory Reports        

Not to be underestimated, Family Directory Reports, which include the ability to filter by date range, provide key insights into the needs of your parishioners. Have the number of funerals within the past year necessitated the start of a bereavement support group? How many couples married at the parish within the last few years continue to participate in parish life, or might they need an invitation?

Online Faith Formation Registration

If you want to encourage participation in formation programs, meeting people where they are means offering them more ways to sign up besides a paper form or calling the parish office. Your Religious Education program gives you the ability to accept online class registrations. Every time you present a faith formation opportunity, tell people that they can use My Own Church to register online for religious education, VBS, Bible study, or any other class you make available.

Don’t forget to provide direct links to My Own Church from your website and email communications. Not everyone will register online, but those who do will appreciate the efficiency, and your staff will have fewer registrations to enter manually.

Series finale coming soon

Parish staff have brainstormed and set goals. These goals define not only basic census data needed but, equally important, creative ideas on how to mine data to better know and understand parishioners, support parish ministries, and plan for the future. Next up is our Heartbeat of the Parish series finale: Part Four. The final article in our series will review practical data gathering and census follow-up tips to maximize parishioner connection.

Curious to know more about how ParishSOFT Family Directory and My Own Church can help you reach your parishioners? Sign up for a free demo, or call us at 866.930.4774 x 7!

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four

[1] Interested in learning more about Family Directory filtering options? You may appreciate this helpful online tutorial: Searching and Filtering for Reporting.

[2] Access the full list of family and member characteristics that can be searched (including registration status, gender, age, job type, and much, much more!) right from your ParishSOFT system. From Family Directory, select “Help” in the top right corner of your browser window. Type the word “filter” into the search field and click the “Go” button. The first three help topics: How to Filter Records, Descriptions of the Member List Advanced Filter Options, and Descriptions of the Family List Advanced Filter Options describe the available filtering options and give instructions on how to use this invaluable functionality, no special report-building skills needed!

[3] Family and Member Workgroups are an excellent way to organize families or members who share common traits, interests, or responsibilities.

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