It’s clear that going forward, churches won’t be able to accurately measure the growth and size of their church simply by counting the number of seats filled during Sunday service.
Since understanding these trends will be critical for ministry leaders to understand moving forward, we recently conducted research with some of our client churches to learn what has changed for them over the past few years.
Here are the biggest takeaways and most critical conclusions from our research.
Digital is here to stay.
Churches that refuse to continue (and accelerate) their online offerings will quickly find themselves irrelevant in the years to come. This change had been coming for years, and many of the churches accustomed to online offerings simply flipped a switch and went fully digital. The pandemic forced churches to adapt to this change much quicker than they ordinarily would have.
Digital will be counted, but it will be a count of the “front porch.”
Digital attendance (and counting it) is still finding its way, but it is clearly the new front porch to the houses of the local church. Much like shopping online before visiting a store, the pandemic has created a new reality where people are far more likely to attend online worship first, before ever entering the building.
Smart church leaders are realizing that and finding new ways to track the trendlines of their online effectiveness. And unlike the days before the pandemic, this applies to churches of all sizes, not just the bigger congregations who are already multisite.
So, what can you actually use to measure growth?
Measure frequency of attendance
Whether through old school methods like attendance pads or newer software like geotagging, find a way to figure out how often your families are actually coming to church.
Come up with a system to honor those members who are particularly involved for their faithfulness in worship.
Measure the high holy days
Measuring holiday attendance doesn’t necessarily give an accurate read of regular attendees, but measuring your biggest days can give you a fair reading of how many people are actually part of your church family.
Measure attendance, but celebrate volunteer growth
If your volunteer numbers are going up, it’s almost a given that all of the other metrics will follow suit. As the race to increase engagement in churches heats up, this might be one of the best new metrics churches put on their dashboard.
New metrics for Life Change
What if you continued to count attendance, but mentoring one on one, or Life on Life discipleship, become your new gold standard? If this goal is met, all others might just take care of themselves.
Measure the money, but differently
Now that people are more accustomed to giving electronically, the growth of the number of donors (not necessarily the amount given) could become one of the hallmarks of measuring congregational growth and health.
Virtual is here to stay, but it won’t replace in-person attendance
The first malediction in the Bible is clear: “It is not good that man be left alone.” God does not want us alone in worship, and we just aren’t wired for it.
Big churches are about to get much bigger, but normal, local churches will matter more than ever to their communities. At the end of the day, the new metrics are a lot like the old ones. The new skills needed for leading a church will be much like the old school ones.
And your ability to relate to, communicate with, and pastor your people, in person and in a live relationship, will make all of the difference in a world that is tired of being quarantined and is really looking forward to being together again.
This article is courtesy of Vanderbloemen, a premier church staffing and Christian executive search firm, www.vanderbloemen.com.