CVI Analytic Indicators as Check Engine Light

Part 5  in a series on MapDash analytics

By Ken Howard

After the last blog post in our series on MapDash Analytics, some of you asked, “What is the most appropriate way for me to consider what the indicators of the Congregational Vitality Index (CVI) are trying to tell me?”

I find that the best analogy to the Green-Yellow-Red ratings of the indicators that make Congregational Vitality Index (as well as the factors that make up those indicators) is that they are “warning lights,” like the “check engine” light on your car’s dashboard:

  • If it’s green, keep on driving – but keep up your scheduled maintenance
  • If it’s yellow, attention required – make an appointment to have it checked
  • If it’s red, urgent attention required – stop the car right now and have it towed to the dealer.

Sampling the Warning Signs

For example, our new CVI Stewardship indicator samples and analyses four factors as warning signs over a 5-year period. These indicators are: 

  • Regular Giving per Household (warn if falling) 
  • Regular Giving as a Percent of Operating Income (warn if falling)
  • Net Operating Income (warn if falling)
  • Normal Operating Income (warn if negative)

Scoring the Warning Signs

Under this model, scoring the Stewardship indicator based on warning signs is fairly simple:

  • No Warning Signs = Green = Doing Good 
  • Any Warning Signs = Yellow = Needs Attention (go by the dealer soon)
  • All Warning Signs = Red = Urgent Attention Needed (get your car to the dealer NOW)

Warning Lights and False Positives:

In the warning light analogy, avoiding a false positive is much more important than avoiding a false negative. If an incorrect yellow indicator light incorrectly sends you in for an engine check, all you lose is a little time and a few bucks to reset the onboard computer (maybe they even top up your oil while you’re there). But if an incorrect green indicator light gives you false assurance that causes you to keep driving when you’re actually running very low on oil, you’ve lost your engine and are out a lot of money.

Garbage In – Garbage Out: Getting Things in the Right Boxes

What may be obvious by now is that the quality of the analytics is only as good as the qualities of the data. So one of the things we will be doing when collecting financial information for the Stewardship indicator is providing a data collection spreadsheet that clearly indicates which data goes in each box, along with instructions that define what constitutes Operating Income and Expenses vs. Non-Operating Income and Expenses. 

More questions about MapDash Analytics? Keep those cards and letters (emails, actually) coming. Your questions and feedback help us “sharpen the saw.”

FaithX is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and Ken’s faith-based consulting practice at FaithX is done under an extension of ministry from the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

Want to learn more about missional opportunities
in your congregation’s neighborhood?
Click here for a free Neighborhood Missional Intelligence Report

Want to learn how your judicatory can identify
emerging missional opportunities within its boundaries?
Click here to schedule a free demo of MapDash for Faith Communities and Strategic Missional Planning