Over the past 8 months or so, a group of us have been considering the need to find new ways of identifying church growth or decline, as well as other changes in congregations.
In talking with churches in transition, we have found gaps in some of the typical ways that we gather church metrics. As we are enter the CRC Yearbook season of gathering statistics and numbers, it seems like an appropriate time to ask some of the questions below:
- How do congregations reflect the once-a-month attending member?
- How does that same congregation reflect the non-member, person, or family who has been in regular attendance for the last 3 years?
- How do congregations reflect the recent and remarkable increase in commitment among the baby boomers?
- What are the best metrics?
Unfortunately numbers do not always add up or reflect the effectiveness of a congregation’s ministry.
In Doing the Math of Mission, Gil Rendle tackles these issues by describing new tools for using metrics in ministry. For example, he suggests “measuring” rather than “counting” and tying these measures to the articulated objectives of the ministry—such as goals in leadership development, faith formation, or community engagement.
One pastor noted that there are other metrics that are nearly impossible to give any quantitative measurement in terms of an entire congregation (such as growth in compassion or stirrings of a call to service). Yet, he did raise some other metrics that might be thought-provoking, such as:
- How many first time visitors did we have in the past month, quarter, or year?
- What percentage of the church participates in short-term missions each year?
- How many Elders/Leaders are clear on their Biblical function or role?
From where I sit, I see value in starting a CRC wide conversation about the topic of metrics and ministry. Let’s start that conversation right here, and right now.
What are your thoughts on the “traditional” counting tools for churches? What goals or metrics might be more helpful or accurate in reflecting your congregation?
Please post your thoughts or reactions in the comments below!