We live in a world driven by statistics, numbers, and ratings, and churches are no exception; there’s pressure to track and account for many church metrics.
But are you measuring church metrics that actually represent growth and health?
We all know that weekend attendance and giving are vital, but they don’t paint the whole picture. And with the rise of online church, tracking church metrics has become more complicated than ever.
When deciding what numbers to track, we’ve broken it down into four major categories. These metrics follow people’s path from discovering your church for the first time to becoming lifelong disciples. So let’s dive into these four categories of church metrics that matter.
It all starts with reaching new people. There are many people out there who have never set foot in a church or heard the gospel. According to Barna research, one-third of all adults remain “unchurched”.
If we don’t hold ourselves accountable for reaching new people, we have a tendency to become internally focused or rely on transfer growth from other churches or people new to the area.
Online church and digital platforms provide a tremendous opportunity to reach people who may be cautious about attending a church in person. Unfortunately, they can also be more slippery to track from a church metrics standpoint.
Online engagement metrics can be deceiving. If it’s just your staff and key volunteers liking and commenting on all your social media posts, that may look good at first glance but does not mean that you’re reaching new people outside your circle.
Instead, who is actually watching at least 50% of a video, or who is a first-time viewer? How can you make it a point to reach brand new people not affiliated with the church?
Metrics to track new engagements:
- First-time guests (indicating first-time on a welcome card or form)
- Number of unchurched people you’re reaching (ask about frequency of previous church attendance on a connection card or in a new believer class)
- Online engagements (unique video views, new followers, new online accounts created)
Metrics for the next phase involve moving people from watchers or casual attenders to connected church members. This starts with them taking an action step.
If you’re not careful, you can end up tracking the same people cycling through every ministry. Measuring the number of new connections allows you to see if your church is actually growing or just shuffling the same people around.
Metrics to track new connections:
- Connection card completion
- Email or text opt-in
- Attendance at your church’s new member class or event
- Small group registration
- Participation in a serve project or team
The first step of connection is only the beginning; follow-up is vital.
The goal is for every ministry in your church to be a pathway that leads people closer to Christ. And as they get more involved, you want to make sure they’re connecting with other believers and actively being discipled.
The metrics in this phase should indicate how deeply rooted people are.
It may look like you have lots of people in small groups, but are they the same people attending multiple groups? Or people who sign up for groups but never attend? Attendance shows who is actually engaged.
In this phase, tracking significant life moments via pastoral care and accounting for people truly “doing life together” is key.
Metrics to track discipleship
- Group attendance
- Pastoral care – babies dedications, marriages, funerals (this paints a picture of how you’re walking with people through life)
Once people are connected and planted, do they continue to grow and bear fruit? Or do they shrivel up or become a transplant?
You don’t want that to happen! You want to avoid the plague of the “revolving door” that some churches struggle with. This means you’re not just helping people get involved in activities, but you’re genuinely helping them grow spiritually.
In many churches, people can go from being a first-time guest to a leader in a short period. That’s not always a bad thing.
But when leaders are fast-tracked and not given room to grow or surrounded with proper support, they can experience burnout or have bad experiences that make them bitter on the church.
Metrics to track spiritual growth in your church
- Number of leaders
- Personal health (mental, emotional, spiritual)
Although giving is a vital metric churches are interested in (for good reason), people usually don’t give their first time visiting a church. Regular giving comes with time.
Consistent volunteering is also a sign of maturity. It shows that people have moved beyond themselves to think about others and understand the importance of serving the church family and greater community.
When you have a solid leadership pipeline process, your church’s total number of leaders is also a sign of health and spiritual growth. (But this has to be more than just giving people the title of leadership.)
Burnout and moral failure among pastors and high-level leaders are unfortunately common. If this can happen at the highest level, we need to ensure mental, emotional, and spiritual health checkpoints are available for everyone in the church.
Although this is more challenging to measure than dollars given or weekend attendance, one option is periodically surveying your congregation or leadership group. Or tracking the number of people completing specific courses or groups related to personal health.
The time for measuring the 3Bs: budget, buildings, and butts in seats is over. Now, we need a more holistic view of church health. The metrics we track signify the values most important to us.
What metrics would you add to this list?