Most churches measure average worship attendance each year. Offerings, too.
Easter Sunday…for most the largest Sunday attendance of the year…gives a decided boost to the average.
And the Sunday after Easter? For most it’s one of the lowest. An average attendance blow and a discouragement to the leaders who count.
Most of us, no matter our role in life, measure something. Some of us measure regrets of misplaced priorities or wished for “do overs.” (Oftentimes what we do “next” in life or leadership has larger impact, and takes more courage, than we allow ourselves to imagine.)
Worship attendance is often a “lagging indicator” of other things happening inside and outside a congregation.
Not many churches see worship attendance increase from one year to the next these days.
Several major external forces make it difficult for most churches:
- The American culture no longer supports going to church. It continues to pile on reason after reason for people not to participate.
- The “regulars” in worship are more likely to worship 2 Sundays a month than 4 Sundays a month these days.
- Emerging adults in large part have a bad taste in their mouth toward the church they think they know. And the church for its part does little to change that assessment.
What churches count usually reflects what they value.
So, if you and your leaders were to sit down next month, before the summer attendance slump, and ask what else you should measure that might reflect a “leading indicator” for the health and mission focus of your ministry, what would you look for?
You can start with these ideas:
- How many people are being trained to disciple or mentor others to be the shepherd/missionaries where they live, work and play? (That’s a “game changing” leading indicator!)
- How can we measure the growth and change in the people who are connected to our congregation?
- How could we measure the impact our congregation has on an aspect of the community around us or the congregations around us we count as partners?
For many of us leaders, we’re left feeling helpless and victims of trends beyond our control rather than investing in ourselves for a new season of increased fruitfulness and leadership.
Rev. Dr. Jock Ficken