The Changing Face of Church Metrics

I have been thinking about church metrics of late. We are starting some new faith communities (both virtual and in real time) and trying to figure out how to quantify them. As we all know, unless you only offer only one Sunday morning worship service each week, all churches count differently and all churches have “double-count.” We also all know the current metrics are designed to measure churches in 1977 and not 2017.

So what should we count? I have been in discussion with some of the most effective and innovative pastors in the country to see what they count and what they don’t count for worship attendance.

Here are my summations:

1) The gold standard for counting attendance is “aggregate attendance of all weekly services plus nursery and children (whose activities run concurrently).”

2) Many churches additionally count their Student Worship Service in the weekly attendance total.

3) Almost no churches count services held at nursing homes or other institutions in their attendance total.

4) Most churches count “Easter Week” services and Christmas Eve services in the worship total.

5) Almost no churches count people who watch posted sermons (only) on line in the total.

6) Some churches include “live worship” internet or Facebook Live attendees in the worship total. However, there seems to be no set formula.  A formula we like is 7% of Unique Viewers.

7) All churches with campuses count campus attendance in the weekly worship total.

8) All churches count mid-week services in the total.

9) The largest and fastest growing churches are the most liberal with their counts.

10) By creating more faith communities on more days and in more places and utilizing the power of the internet, churches are counting more and more things in the worship total column.

And they probably should.

At the end of the day, churches will count what they value and fund what they count. Developing some standardized metrics would serve us all well. If this blog gets some discussion started…well that should count for something.


-Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois

Published by Rev. Shane L. Bishop

Senior Pastor of Christ Church, Fairview Heights, IL since 1997. I am an orthodox Christian but I am not in a bad mood about it.

One thought on “The Changing Face of Church Metrics

  1. I wonder if we need to think about positive encounters not just eyeballs. Maybe develop a research process now used by many top organizations that replaces the old ways of surveys and shoppers with personal interviews with a few selected users. It is called “anthropological ethnographic research” and we use it to develop new products.

    We chose 12 families and followed them for a year with surveys and in home discussions. It is much more accurate and cheaper than traditional research and it reveals deeply held ideas. Attendance means little to real issues.
    Research from an area can be applied to general audiences and churches.

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