Pay Attention to These Six Ministry Numbers

I have a (healthy) obsession with ministry numbers.  Numbers are not everything in ministry, but I believe the right numbers are important.  Never forget that numbers represent people and people matter to God, so they should matter to you.

There are many different numbers a church could analyze.  Not all numbers are created equal.  My experience partnering with churches to clarify their vision and focus their ministry tells me that there are some numbers that are vitally important to track.

1.     Weekly Worship Attendance
Many mainline denominational churches focus on the total number of members in their database as a measurement of church size or growth.  I believe that this is not an adequate measure of your ministry. Membership today is not what it used to be in decades past.  The whole idea of membership is foreign to many people and it is not a good indicator of someone's involvement in your ministry.  If you are honest, there is a good percentage of your membership database that should be "cleaned up" and taken off your roles.  While not a perfect measurement of your ministry size or reach, I find that weekly worship attendance is a key number to keep track of.  At the least, it gives you a good idea of those who are active or marginally active in your ministry.  

You should figure weekly worship attendance in the following way:
Sunday Worship Attendance + Sunday Children's Ministry Attendance + Special services (midweek, Christmas services, other worship services) divided by the numbers of weeks in your ministry year (likely 52) = Your Weekly Worship Attendance.  

Be sure to throw out any outliers that would significantly impact your numbers.  Example: My home church worships around 1,000 a week, except when it snowed an inch in the midwest and everyone freaked out and around 400 hearty souls came to church on a Sunday a few months ago.  If you were only to keep track of one ministry number, it should be your weekly worship attendance.  But, you should keep track of a few more.

2.     The number of people taking a Next Step 
Defining what steps people should take in your ministry is important work - it is some of the most rewarding work that I do with churches.  Whatever your next step expectation for people is, it should be important and if it is important, you should keep track of it.  If the next step for someone who attends worship at your church is to join a small group or Bible study, then count the number of people who are taking that step.  If your next step for someone who has been around for a year is for them to give a percentage of their income, then count the number of people who commit to percentage giving.  Keeping track of those taking their next step is key to encouraging individual spiritual growth and measuring your church's effectiveness in maturing disciples.

3.   The number of people who give
Martin Luther once said, “There are three conversions a person needs to experience: The conversion of the head, the conversion of the heart, and the conversion of the pocketbook.”  I believe generous giving is an important part of discipleship and your ministry should be teaching and encouraging people to give not because your church budget needs it but because giving is an important part of discipleship. However you measure who is giving is fine, just count the number of people doing it.  I suggest keeping track of the number of people who give something, the number who have committed to percentage giving, and the number who have pledged to tithe.

4.  The number of first-time guests
If current worship trends continue, you will need 4 first-time guests each week for every 100 attendees to maintain your current size over the next 5 to 10 years.  Want to grow?  You will need more.      The number of visitors will also give you an idea of how your community sees and values your church.

5.  The percentage of guests who stick around
Average churches see around 10 percent of their first-time guests become regular attendees.  Fast-growing churches see around 30 percent.  Keep track of your number.

6.  The number of engagements on social media
This is a new number for most churches, but a number that is increasingly important to track.  Social media can be used to effectively draw people to your community and inform/invite them to events.  For people that are already part of your ministry, their level of engagement on social media can tell you about their actual engagement in your ministry.  Most of the major social media sites/apps have analytics built in or a third party app that can do the same.  I don't believe there is a magic number of social media engagements to strive toward.  I do believe that growth and a general month to month or year to year growth curve are important.

What numbers does your church keep track of?  Let me know!

Bryan Blackford