(This is an excerpt from the middle of today’s post. To read the entire post from the beginning, click the Read More button at the bottom.)
There are two ways for churches to gather the information we need. Conversations or surveys. When we take surveys we get statistics. When we have conversations we hear stories.
Statistics and stories. They each give us very different kinds of information.
In recent years, it’s been typical to elevate the value of stats, while devaluing the role of stories. Stats are more accurate, we’re told. And that’s true – in certain circumstances.
Talk to any statistical analyst (you know, the one who lives down the block from you) and ask them how the value of statistics changes depending on the number of people surveyed (the sample size), and here’s what you’ll find.
When the sample size is large, statistics are accurate and valuable. When the sample size is small, statistics can be very inaccurate and misleading.
As a church grows larger, statistics matter more and stories can be misleading. When a church is smaller, stories matter more and statistics can be misleading.