10 “Different Numbers” That Really Matter

Being loyal to a denomination, I’m no stranger to filling out forms and reporting stats. There are good reasons for this accountability, and we at 12Stone® Church are good team players in the Wesleyan Church. We report all numbers requested. I’m not saying it’s fun, but it’s a healthy practice.

We also keep a demographic spreadsheet of more numbers than you could imagine, from attendance to car counts. Again, these stats are kept for good and practical reasons. They help us in everything from decision-making to setting budgets. But I’ve been thinking about the things we care about, things that are more difficult if not near impossible to track, and started making a list.

I’m not sure how well we track all of them. Some we are good at, others we might need to improve. We do chase stories of life change, and that is a great practice, but I think there may be more to learn about strengthening a local church ministry by knowing some of these “other numbers.”

How about you, how close of a pulse do you have to these ten in your church?

1. Serving the poor 

Jesus speaks much about caring for those in need and those who are poor among us. A mark of a strong and healthy church is how it cares for people who may never attend and can do nothing for the church. Your church, and the one I serve, can’t help everyone, but I believe there are certain ones in need that God intends for us to serve.

2. Visitors that don’t look like you

When I travel to churches I’m amazed at how similar everyone looks. That’s not bad, I fully understand natural connections, culture, and how people invite friends. All good. But recently I sat by a twenty-something with some cool looking tats, a full sleeve, piercings and carried a well worn bible. He worshipped with passion and was warm and genuine when we said hi. He looked the opposite of me, (and way cooler). I couldn’t help but think that was a good thing and that God smiled.

3. Next Gen called to ministry

I will admit a personal passion and bias for this one. It seems to me that for nearly twenty years or more, we are losing ground on young “sharpies” being called to full time ministry nation wide. The church today is not attracting them enough for God to get a chance to capture their hearts. Yes, I know that God can call young leaders any way He wants, but He often uses the local church. The future of the church depends on the “best and brightest” being called and committed to vocational ministry. That’s one of the reasons we are so fired-up about our two-year post college residency training program for ministry students.

4. Restored marriages

Divorce is rampant. I think the accepted norm is that 50% of all marriages will end in divorce. We can’t settle for that as acceptable. Each time the ministry of your church helps to prevent a divorce that is a huge Kingdom win! That really matters! From pre-marital training, to biblical teaching, to workshops and referrals to professional therapists, all your efforts for strong marriages are worth it!

5. New Christians / Baptisms

This may be the most common number on this list, but I couldn’t write this article and not include it. Salvation is at the core of the Great Commission. A redeemed life is at the very epicenter of what we do! Each baptism represents an amazing story. I’m confident you feel the same about reaching people, and I want to encourage you to stay fired-up about seeing people come to Christ.

6. Addictions broken and Fear conquered

This may not be as common as divorce in our culture, but it’s more prevalent than I would have imagined, and far more so than twenty to twenty-five years ago. I won’t attempt to list addictions, the list is long, and we all understand fear. The point is that the freedom that comes from an individual breaking through and living out of bondage is incredibly powerful. Your church may not be equipped to deal with these complex issues, but there are organizations in your community you can partner with in order to help make a difference, even for a few.

7. First time tithers

When it comes to Christian maturity, the returning of a tithe from one’s income is often the last thing to happen in a Christian’s life. And for many, it never happens. It’s not about the money. Yes, your church needs money to operate, but it’s really about a surrendered life that chooses to trust God. Few things are more powerful than when someone realizes that they may be in charge but they are not in control. Be bold in your teaching about trusting God with finances!

8. New Leaders and Volunteers

Next to the favor of God, everything rises and falls on leadership. My personal belief is that it’s nearly impossible to over invest in leadership development. Leaders raise up volunteers and volunteers make ministry possible. Recruiting, inspiring, encouraging, training and empowering your volunteers is essential and your leaders will help you do that!

9. Hours devoted to prayer

I don’t really think we should count how many hours we pray, but I can’t help wonder what the correlation might actually be when you compare hours in prayer to the health and life change impact of a local church. I don’t think God is keeping score, but I do think He cares about what our heart treasures and how we chase after Him. Candidly, I believe prayer makes a huge difference, in fact, I think it is the true difference maker for any local church.

10. Kids treated with respect 

Jesus had some very clear thoughts about how we are to treat the children. How strong is your children’s ministry? Do you put as much effort toward the kids as you do the adults in “big church”? It’s not a competition, but doing your best in children’s ministry really matters. If your children’s ministry needs a lot of work, don’t stress over it, but commit to improving it a little bit at a time and you’ll be surprised at what can be accomplished in 6 to 9 months!

So there you have it –a list of ten different numbers. How would you evaluate your ministry with these ten? Are there one or two that you want to focus on? What would you take off this list? What would you add?

The Pastor’s Coach is written by Dr. Dan Reiland, and is available via a free email subscription. You can subscribe by clicking here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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Leaders Count People Because People Count

Fifty years ago, many churches had signs posted within the building showing weekly numbers on them: worship service attendance, Sunday School attendance, offering total, and even how many people brought their Bibles. We live in a different age now.

Today, some frown upon “counting.” But I actually think it’s worth doing – and doing better than we’ve ever done before.

There’s an old but true cliché: We count people because people count. We count because we care about the souls of each person we count. We count because we want to be effective in what we are doing.

Among our churches, we need to ask if we are reaching people. We need to ask if we are discipling people. Are we reaching our goals or are we falling short? These are important questions to ask and important things to count.

My contention is that we need to keep a scorecard. The challenge is in deciding what we are going to measure and how are we going to measure it. I’m convinced that the things we’ve been counting for years on those church attendance boards are helpful to count – but they’re not all we should count.

The two I believe we must count include those core ones that most churches are already counting: conversions and baptisms. But there are other areas that matter as well. They matter deeply to me, too.

Namely, we need to find out how to count transformation. Are people being transformed and becoming agents of God’s mission? Are they sharing Christ with their neighbors? Getting converts is great, but are they learning to live and grow as believers and are they sharing Christ with others? We must begin tracking discipleship and missional living.

I talk about measuring these things in Transformational Church, the book I coauthored with Thom Rainer. We have to consider things like:

  • What percentage of people in the church are serving?
  • How many are serving inside and outside the church?
  • How many are in small groups?
  • How many are being trained into leadership in groups and in the church?

Here’s a key: Some of these things are self-reported in groups. That’s a very helpful way to keep up with how God is using your people, and it takes minimal effort to keep track of it. It trains your people to be observant and proactive about those around them – those they are called to disciple and train.

So yes, we should count, but we need to count the right things. Sunday by Sunday, pastors and church leaders should get a report on, for instance, the percentage of people who were in small groups, the number of people who are on mission and ministry – and so on.

Metrics can help us know where we are and where we need to change. We need to be careful not to be slavishly driven by numbers, but to use them as a tool. And to that end, check out Transformational Discipleship Assessment for maturity issues and also the Transformational Church Assessment Tool. These are helpful tools for counting well, using the best measurables, and bringing health and strength to individual Christians and your church as a whole.

Measure your church over long periods of time and notice the trends, but I suggest that you keep track of the short-term numbers, too. There needs to be a regular keeping of data so that we can see our progress week to week.

As we learn more and more about our churches, we need to shore up some of the areas we discover are weak. But don’t downplay your church’s strengths. If the strength of your church is vibrant worship, for example, go with it.

Doing metrics and counting numbers actually can bless our churches and the communities around them. Learn to love the numbers that can better help you love the people they represent.

> Read more from Ed.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
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9 Numbers That Indicate Healthy Church Growth

You are a lead pastor. You primarily occupy your time with casting vision, teaching Scripture, and leading your staff. But did you also know that you have a responsibility to play The Numbers Game?

If people matter to you, then numbers should too. Why? Because numbers are indicators that help leaders challenge or validate what they know to be true.

It’s more than measuring attendance and giving. It’s about leveraging every strategy, process, tool, and leadership position necessary to make sure no one falls through the cracks.

The Numbers Game—when properly measured and tracked—offers you valuable intelligence about the health and vitality of every facet of your church’s community-building efforts:

  1. Attendance. Tracking small group and event attendance is equally important, and it’s recommended that you track the faces who show up, not just the total numbers.
  2. Volunteers. By connecting volunteering to other factors like attendance, giving, serving, and leading, you’ll find those who volunteer tend to be more engaged overall.
  3. Missional Participation. Who is getting involved and who isn’t? Who has expressed a desire in missions but hasn’t participated?
  4. Online Activity. Where are people spending their time on your church’s website, and how are they using your site? This is vital to your overall Web strategy.
  5. Financial Giving. What does your church’s giving report tell you about growth? Watch for dramatic variances in giving over time. It is a sign of spiritual activity …or inactivity.
  6. Event Outcomes. It is necessary to connect every event to life change. What happened as a result of your investment of time, energy, and resources into an event.
  7. Assimilation. We typically push people through our one-hour new members class and then tell them to call us if they need us. How can we be sure no one falls through the cracks? How do our members behave differently than our attendees?
  8. Growth. Where is growth taking place? What age groups? What ministries? Why? This is important for future resource investment planning.
  9. Attrition. Why are people leaving your church? Speculation isn’t a good idea. We need to be asking and recording what we learn. While this might uncover painful experiences, it can lead to some very critical changes we might not have ever considered before.

Retention is a numbers game—and one you don’t want to lose. It isn’t about keeping people from leaving by external means or manipulation. It’s better than that. Retention is about engaging people in community to create meaningful relationships and to ensure people stick.

For a detailed look at how to measure and improve each of these numbers in your church, check out our eBook, “The Numbers Game: 9 Measurements that Will Increase Your Church’s Retention Factor.”

How many of these numbers does your church measure as a way to monitor and improve your retention strategy and grow your church in a healthy way?

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Church Community Builder

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Adam B. Embry — 12/09/14 3:29 pm

Helpful metrics! Would you happen to know what the average number of website visits and average time spent on a church website would define a healthy church?

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— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

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Evaluating Effectiveness in Your Church Ministries

Winston Churchill was an amazing leader, diplomat, and politician. One of the most notable parts of his legacy, however, is his collection of inspiring, and often humorous, quotations.

For example, Lady Astor, the first woman Parliament member, told him at a weekend house party, “Winston, if I were married to you I’d put poison in your coffee.” He quickly replied, “Nancy, if I were married to you I’d drink it.”

One of my favorite Churchill quotations is, “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” Ironically, he may not have said it… but, regardless, I couldn’t agree more, especially when it comes to evaluating our effectiveness in ministry.

Do we need a scorecard?

Pastors and church leaders may be able to intricately explain their discipleship strategy in sixty seconds flat, but we need more information than just a description of what it is. The best question to ask is not, “What is your strategy?” but rather, “Is your strategy working?” This leads to the question of whether or not we need to have a “scorecard” in ministry.

Do we really need to count how many people came, raised their hands, or gave? I would say, “Yes,” with the caveat that such a scorecard isn’t everything. You can be a biblically faithful church, doing everything God tells you to do, and shrink, often due to external factors such as, for example, a surrounding community in decline.

Shrinking shouldn’t be our desire, however. We want to see God’s Kingdom grow and we want to do all we can to work with Him to make that happen. A scorecard can be an effective tool in that process.

What should be on our scorecard?

If we agree with Churchill and believe we should examine the results of our strategy, the question becomes exactly what will measure to determine our ministry effectiveness. Answering that question is perhaps the biggest challenge of all.

I think there is a two-fold answer to this question. There are certain data that are quantitative and easy to assess each week. These would include areas like conversions, attendance, baptisms, etc. They can be compiled on a dashboard of sorts, and can give a pastor a quick snapshot of overall church health. While these obviously matter in assessing the overall picture of a church, they are not the only things that matter.

In addition to this quick dashboard, we should also be measuring growth in areas like discipleship, missional living, and participating in a small community.

Having a lot of converts is great, but are they changed? Are they living as new believers, serving within and outside the church, and sharing with others about Christ? If not, then ultimately, we’re not completing the task. That’s why these more in-depth areas need to be on the scorecard as well.

How do we measure the subjective areas?

But if we want to evaluate these types of issues, how can we do that accurately? In the churches where I’ve been involved, we use a spiritual formation assessment tool. We have used such tools for “dashboard categories” (e.g., small group involvement, attendance, giving), this measures issues in much bigger categories (e.g., community involvement, serving within the church, personal devotions). Because it’s a regular measurement, each individual can quickly go in and see how he or she is doing compared to last year, and it can also roll up congregationally so that we can have an eye on the progress we’re making in every area of our church’s life.

The data is both self-reported, as be presented by various church leaders. For example, our small groups are encouraged to participate in a corporate mission project once a month. We ask our leaders to regularly communicate to us to let us know what’s going on with their ongoing ministry and mission. In this way, if we assess our congregation’s community involvement, for example, at 50 percent, we set a goal of 60 percent for the next year, and we actually have a way of tracking and assessing that goal.

There are several different tools you can use to lead your church through this type of assessment. At LifeWay Research, we have developed the Transformation Church Assessment Tool, which helps churches analyze how well they are doing in seven factors that research indicated were part of healthy churches. We also have the Transformational Discipleship Assessment, based on extensive research that discovered eight attributes that consistently show up in the life of maturing believers.

At the end of the day, a scorecard is just that. It’s a simple tool to help us best live out the mission that has been entrusted to us. Regardless of the results that are presented, we need to remember another Churchill quote, “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing great or small, large or petty—never give in . . .”

Our mission is too great to settle for anything less.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

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Beyond the One Dimensional Scorecard: Count Vertically AND Measure Horizontally

Disclaimer: I’m not a certified church growth expert. I’ve not written a book on growing churches, nor do I pastor a large church that’s had a ton of numerical growth. But in talking with a very good friend of mine I’ve thought through some ideas and wanted to share my thoughts on measuring growth.end of disclaimer

Previously, I’ve blogged about the Fellowbackgrangepoint Church model as a way of trying to describe what I’ve seen happening with churches. You might have your own church model that might look more like the Willoharvesttemple Church or the Friendshipcommunityofbible Church or any other mash-up of churches that your leadership has tried to emulate.

At the end of the day there’s a lot of ‘me too’ churches that are honest and sincere in their application of proven lessons. But the results are an overlay of formats that are missing the key ingredient: who God called your church to uniquely be.

There seem to be a couple of prevalent schools of thought floating around:

  1. Measure attendance, because each number is a life in need of Christ
  2. Measure discipleship growth, because life change matters most

Why is it either/or instead of both/and? If a church has 10 people that go very deep in studying Scripture and are a tight-knit fellowship of believers, but never reach people in need of Jesus, they’re ignoring the Great Commission (go and make disciples). Conversely, if a church has a huge front door with thousands coming in and nearly as large back door with thousands going out, why aren’t they discipling those people who are in and out?

So here’s the question I want to posit:

If we count involvement vertically (attendance) and measure growth horizontally (how many serving/changing lives), our metric system is holistically valid.

Obviously, measuring attendance is a lot easier than measuring changed lives. But isn’t that worth the effort? I think it is.

We have to be careful in implementing this process, as it would be very easy for a leader to stop counting and begin judging those who are growing and serving with personal life-change. Yet, with a solid leadership infrastructure and a commitment of group leaders, capturing both anecdotal as well as tangible data is very do-able. In the end, I don’t think we should look for a hard and fast number for the horizontal growth, but maybe more of a barometer that gives an honest and accurate sampling of the result.

Given the plethora of church management systems software packages available, I know first-hand that the right reporting tools exist. The question is, are we being trained to use them to capture both the vertical and the horizontal?

How about your church? Is this honestly what’s happening? Or do you find yourself in an either/or situation?

It’s time for a new scorecard – one that counts vertically AND measures horizontally.

 

How can you move from where you are to the genius of the and?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anthony Coppedge

Anthony Coppedge

On the team at Auxano. Lover of Jesus, my wife and my kids. Unapologetic Apple fanboy. Slightly addicted to MindMaps, but in a good way.

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Anthony Coppedge — 04/02/14 11:09 am

Deb, The concept of a barometer is key to measuring horizontally; a barometer has a number of where it is...but the point of a barometer is less about the current number and more focused on both the increase/decrease of that number and the rate of change. Is the air pressure increasing or decreasing - and how quickly is it doing that? Similarly, we're looking for ways to understand Life Change, which is a relationally-driven measurement; we want to know how people are doing spiritually (good - increase; not so good; decrease) and their rate of change (have they begun to disciple others). So, it's possible to look at anecdotal information from group leaders, volunteer team leaders, pastors, deacons, elders, etc. to provide insight into the spiritual growth and well-being of their congregation. From a reporting standpoint, the old axiom of "you only get out what you put in" holds true. Every major church management system has relatively simple ways of getting pertinent information into the system, associated with the person/family. And while this is helpful for reporting on individual situations, it's more helpful to use as a trend analysis tool for the general rate of change (like the barometer) congregation-wide. Nothing replaces actionable insight like relational connection. Capturing snapshots of that information and providing trend analysis over time is a starting point for providing church leadership with the information that helps guide resource allocation and staffing utilization. Does that make sense, Deb? - Anthony Coppedge

Deb Troxel — 10/18/13 2:54 pm

I'd love to hear what tools others have found effective for measuring horizontally. When my congregation faced that question we developed an assessment tool with personalized resource guidance. The tool sets out clearly articulated goals, provides measures for church leaders, and encourages personal growth in members. We've made the tool available for other congregations - you can learn more at lifemarksjourney.com.

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.