With an increased online presence, many Churches now have access to millions of followers all over the world.
The situation has also created the opportunity for followers to pick and choose the Church to attend in cyberspace easily. For a long time, several Churches analyzed the state of the Church using attendance and active membership. Years back, I would observe out of curiosity, ushers walking down aisles with manual counters, recording attendance in every service.
These figures, more often than not, were utilized in the analysis of the flow of tithes and offerings. Oftentimes, it was considered a good measure of the health of the Church. With the global lockdown, there has been a shift and ‘weaknesses’ that were otherwise covered have been exposed. Church leaders, as a result, are having sleepless nights fashioning ways to retain or increase membership in a COVID-19 era.
With all that is going on, how do you measure the health of the Church?
- An excellent place to start will be to revisit the mission, vision, and objectives of the Church and how this baseline aligns with the findings of the tools outlined below. It will also be useful to take into cognizance that as the body of Christ, measurements should encompass qualitative and quantitative indicators since the primary purpose of the Church is to reach out to people and win souls.
- Church Attendance: How is the attendance of programs shaping out during the pandemic considering the fact that most programs are online? What tools are you using to capture existing members vis-a-vis unique guests/visitors?
- Level of generosity. The extent of giving financially is one of the more traditional ways of measuring Church health. Churches need funds for operations. Like most entities, they have budgets that enable them to carry out annual plans. What is received in terms of generosity speaks to the satisfaction of members as it relates what is being offered by the Church.
- Carry out surveys from time to time: It is often advised that studies be carried out in at least 3–6 months intervals to ascertain opinions from the stakeholders, members, and non-members. What do outsiders or new members think of the way the Church is carrying on? Extend the survey to the immediate community. What is the impact of the Church on society? Is it viewed favorably? The Church is meant to add value to its host community.
- New visitors count: What’s the average number of visitors to each program? Are they captured in the database and followed up? How many within traveling distance return? A good percentage of visitors retained is a clear sign that the Church is functioning as it should.
- Attendance of prayer meetings or prayer related programs. Prayer is the most important activity required of Christians. We are to pray without ceasing. What number of members attend prayer meetings as a percentage of the total adult Church population? This number is usually a good measure of spiritual growth.
- The number of converts who give their lives to Christ. The numbers who give their lives to Christ over time is essential. Equally important is the number who go through discipleship, as this is the basis for the calling.
- The ratio of volunteers in relation to the number of Church members: Just as it is vital to have enough health providers per population density, it is also essential to heave enough volunteers to help steer the Church towards its mission. It’s good to consider the 20/80 percent principle in which it is expected that 20% will carry 80% of the workload as a guide.
- The relevance of small groups: Several Churches have small groups that meet regularly outside the Church. They are set up for easier member management and a more effective way to feel the pulse of individual members, since the senior leadership, especially in large Churches, are unable to be personal enough. What is the attendance of those meetings like and what issues do individuals face? Do members look forward to attending the gatherings?
- Overall leadership and administration. How many people are going into leadership positions and are experiencing personal growth? Christians are meant to grow spiritually through the learning and application of the Word. Are members moving up the rank into areas of responsibility? How do these numbers measure from time to time? This is a good indicator of how healthy the Church is.
- Children and young adults: What percentage of children and young adults grow to continue in the Church? Are they leaving when they attain independence or are they staying on pending when they make other life choices
- Reports on findings: Reports help make informed decisions. What tools are used to carry out these surveys and analyze the data generated? There are several options out there. ChurchPad has powerful tools for analysis that enables you to export reports in multiple formats like pdf, csv, etc.
In designing questionnaires for these tools of measurement, the Church’s outlook, location, size, and congregational makeup, among other unique characteristics, have to be taken into consideration.
The ultimate goal is to have a dispassionate view of the health of the Church so that appropriate steps and informed decisions can be made to strengthen it.