What Net Promoter Score Means to Church Communications

finger pointing at paper with graph

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a popular method of gauging success. Many companies use it to determine how good their company and products are. It is based on one very important question we need to answer. Would you recommend this to a friend or colleague? In this article, I delve into this statistic, as well as why it may or may not be right for your church.

What is NPS?

NPS was introduced back in 2003 by Fred Reichheld. His company conducted research on growth. The most important indicator was the answer to that question. Would you recommend this to someone else? Customers that give you a 6 or below are Detractors. A score of 7 or 8 is called Passive. A 9 or 10 are Promoters. Then subtract the percentage of Detractors from the Promoters. That is your NPS.

Over the years it has evolved from a simple question to a system of business improvement. Now that we understand the question, let us dig into how we can get answers.

How to Gather NPS

There are two popular methods of gathering NPS. Unfortunately, both will seem somewhat intrusive. No matter how you do it, you have to “bother” your customers. Your customers need to rank, on a scale of 1 to 10, on how likely they are to recommend your church to a friend or colleague. You can gather that via a pop-up on your website. Often these are triggered when users arrive, or when you think they will leave. For a more accurate response, ask existing users of your email list.

A third option is to ask church members in person. Ask members at the end of a service. Ask if they would recommend any of your digital ministries. The benefit to this might be follow-on conversations about what digital ministries you offer.

The Benefits of NPS

Obviously, knowing if people would recommend your church is a great indicator. It tells you there are detractors in your congregation. Or at least you know they have friends that might benefit from your ministries. Plus this is one question that most clearly shows the perception of your church.

The Shortcomings of NPS

Yes, this most important question seems like the only one you need to answer. Yet, it is not the only measurement you should have. Here are a few examples of NPS’ shortcomings.


NPS focuses on your church and not your end user. You are not asking how to make anything better. Nor are you focusing on the quality of your product, just the marketing of it. Thus it should not be your only metric.

The Question

Plus, there are many situations, especially with religion, where the NPS question is tricky. You may not have many Christian friends. Or all your friends are engaged with a local church. Or admitting you are a Christian could mean risking your social status or even your life. Regardless, there are many cases where recommending a church is not very practical. They are not a detractor for your brand. They simply cannot help you in this way.

Saying vs. Doing

There is often a very big difference between what someone says and what they do. We as Christians often fall into this trap. How often have we said “I’ll be praying for you”, and then never actually did it? Saying we want to do something does not mean we will do it. Thus this score does not measure if people will actually promote your church. As with the previous point, they may say they want to, but in reality, cannot.

Action Item

If you have not already done so, consider asking visitors the net promoter score question. Ask both your digital and physical audiences. After you gather results for a week or two, calculate your church’s NPS. But do not panic if you have a low score (30-60%). This is about continual improvement. Next year your NPS should have increased a few points. Yet as I pointed out, use other metrics to find exactly what your problems are. Your NPS says you need to change. Your other indicators tell you what should change. Finally, do not neglect prayerful counsel with your church leadership. They influence a great many aspects of your church’s experience. Share your findings and work together to create something that will stand the test of time.

For more information about Net Promoter Score, check out the Net Promoter System website.

Photo courtesy of Lukas

Author: Stephen Morrissey

I have been making websites since 1996, and using social media since 2006. My current profession is designing user experiences for corporate software, websites, and mobile applications. I started sharing my knowledge with the world in 2011, about a year after a revival in my faith.