Numbers – Why We Count in Church


There are many ways to measure church growth that have nothing or little to do with numbers. We want spiritual growth (how do you measure that). We want people to be more loving, more generous, and generally more Christlike (there is no yardstick to measure that one). Because of this outlook, some people protest any use of numbers in church life. I agree that there are many things that help us understand our effectiveness and these need to all be processed together when we look at what we are doing in the church. There is no doubt though that one of the the measures that must be included is a detailed accounting of the numbers. How many came? How much did they give? How many were saved?

You’ve probably heard the preacher story: Numbers are so important God made sure to name an entire book of the Bible after them. Numbers are important to those of us in the Christian community because every number represents a person – a child, a father, a wife, a grandparent, a soul for whom Jesus died. For this reason we count people, because people matter to God.

There are other reasons we count, and other things we count as well.

Numbers help us celebrate God’s work. By counting people we can see how many have come to worship, to hear the word of God preached and taught. We count how many are saved and celebrate God’s work of salvation. Numbers can give us some measure, not a full understanding certainly, of growth in discipleship. We count attendance and giving to get a feel for spiritual growth. We count how many are serving and going, how many are teaching and leading, and we get a better perspective on how many are growing in their faith. This is a celebration of God at work in our churches.

Numbers show us the need and the opportunity around us. We count how many are in the population around our church and we get a picture of the opportunities we have for growth. We count how many children are in the school and we see how many families need Jesus. In many ways, as we count the population, we understand the great need, and therefore the opportunities to grow.

Numbers can warn us of impending danger. When you make an accurate accounting of your church attendance, giving, serving, going, and more you can see trends that warn you of problems that need to be addressed within your church. Keeping good records allows you to accurately see trends without emotion or the bias of “rose colored glasses memory.” You can track whether your church is growing, plateaued, or declining.

  • 1 year of plateau or declining attendance – Be aware of it but know that churches go through seasons of growth and seasons of strengthening
  • 3 years of plateau or declining attendance – Take corrective action – Look inwardly and outwardly to gain an understanding of what is causing the decline and how to reverse the trend
  • 5 years or more of plateau or declining attendance – Take significant action – Deep dive into the changes that need to be made to turn around the current trend

Numbers are important. For these reasons you should track them and review the information on at least a yearly basis. Here are some of the basic numbers you should keep each week for your church:

  • Worship attendance
  • Small group (Sunday School) attendance
  • Giving
  • Public decisions made (salvation, church membership, recommitment, vocational surrender)
  • First time visitors – or visitors who completed a guest info card
  • Return visitors – may be harder to track in a larger church

Keeping a simple spreadsheet with this info will give you the ability to quickly calculate averages, create charts, and detect trends.

For help creating a record keeping system or diagnosing the accumulated information please contact our office or send Steve an email.

Leave a comment to let us know what other information you track to gauge the growth or health of your church.

Advertisements

Do you have “wrong-chitis”?

My grandson Jackson got a little sick last week. His mom took him to the doctor who told us he had a touch of bronchitis. He prescribed some medicine and they came home. Jackson was telling someone about going to the doctor and he told them he had “wrong-chitis,” but he had taken some medicine and now he has “right-chitis!”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just take a pill and everything wrong in our lives would become right? Now that would be a magic pill.

The reality we know is that to turn something wrong into something right takes more than a little medicine, we need a lot of hard work and the power of the Holy Spirit to make it right. And even then opposition may be so strong that the right struggles to come out on top.

Spiritual work is hard work. Satan is more than happy to let us go about being good neighbors and nice people as long as we don’t introduce Jesus. Once we decide to go about doing real spiritual work Satan will work overtime to stop it. So we need to pray and we need to trust the Lord. Endure hard times, persevere through the difficulties. The kingdom is worth it. The gospel is worth it. Remember this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “God will not have His work made manifest by cowards.”

Mission Central Podcast – Unity and Revival

Unity is more important than your pride and your agenda. Unity is more important than your tradition and your comfort. Unity is more important than your desire to avoid conflict. In summary, Unity is more important than you. So let’s work together to build unity and protect the unity of the church.

Mission Central Podcast

Here are some key points from this episode:

  • Every member of the church is responsible for the unity of the church.
  • Unity is directly related to evangelistic success.
  • When you decide the unity of the church is important, revival won’t be far behind.

“Mission Central” is available on iTunes, search podcasts for Mission Central.
You can subscribe to receive each new addition in your inbox.

Mission Central Podcast – Pray for the Spiritual Life of Your Church

If there was only one thing you could do for your church to help it, that one thing would be to pray for your church. Paul prayed for the church and he taught others to pray for the local church. Often we pray for one another’s physical health. We should spend more time praying for their spiritual health.

Mission Central Podcast

Here are the key points from this episode:

  • Pray for the spiritual life of the church, which means you pray for the spiritual life of the members
  • Let Christ be the dominating factor in your attitude and conduct
  • There are always processes that need to be fixed, but primarily address the spiritual life: do we seek God, do we listen to Him?
  • The parable of the two trees

“Mission Central” is available on iTunes, search podcasts for Mission Central.
You can subscribe to receive each new addition in your inbox.

Mission Central Podcast – Marvin & Meagan Schaefer

I’m excited about this special edition today. As many of you know recently I spent some time on mission in Europe and while in Germany I sat down with good friends Marvin and Meagan Schaefer. They work with OM International and serve in a local church near Frankfurt. I hope you enjoy hearing their heart for the world and for the church as they share their story.

Mission Central Podcast

“Mission Central” is available on iTunes, search podcasts for Mission Central.
You can subscribe to receive each new addition in your inbox.

Mission Central Podcast – But God…

Thoroughly depressed, it’s time to make a turnaround. Paul puts together the greatest 2 word phrase in the Bible when he begins verse 4 of chapter 2 with that wonderful phrase, “but God.” Because of His great love and unending mercy He has rescued us. His reckless love comes after us to save us.

Mission Central Podcast #025

Here are the key points from this episode:

  • “But God” makes all the difference.
  • God is rich in mercy and great love.
  • The cross is an expression of the riches of God’s grace.
  • God made us alive, raised us, seated us in the heavens, saved us by His grace, and reconciled us.

“Mission Central” is available on iTunes, search podcasts for Mission Central.
You can subscribe to receive each new addition in your inbox.

Mission Central Podcast – Spiritual Death is Universal

Yes, spiritual death is real and it is overwhelming. The bad news from Ephesians 2 continues. Without Christ we are dominated by Satan and on our own we run toward sin. Spiritual death is universal and we are doomed. Depressed yet? Just wait. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Mission Central Podcast #024

Here are the key points from this episode:

  • Satan dominates the spiritually dead.
  • Our own sinful nature is a result of the Fall and is our attempt to bypass God. We can’t blame everything on the devil.
  • Spiritual death is universal.
  • As an unredeemed sinner you do as you please. No one is dragged kicking and screaming into sin. These are your inclinations.

“Mission Central” is available on iTunes, search podcasts for Mission Central.
You can subscribe to receive each new addition in your inbox.