What you measure matters.
Unfortunately, your church could be measuring the wrong things and missing the opportunity to grow.
You can improve the health of your church by simply measuring the right things.
I have conducted 100 on-site consults with churches across 4 different nations in the last 5 years and I am consistently surprised by what I find in churches.
One of my surprises has been what churches measure and more importantly what churches don’t measure.
I’ve found 5 vital metrics that unhealthy churches rarely measure.
Smart churches utilise these 5 key metrics to improve the health of their church yet avoid being driven by them.
Once you begin to measure these elements you can also begin to manage them and thus improve the health of your church
1. Baptisms as a ratio of attendance
Baptisms are a concrete number that helps ascertain the health of a church.
How many baptisms is considered healthy?
Church consultant Tony Morgan considers that a healthy range is 7% – 9% of your church’s average Sunday attendance.
For instance, if your average attendance is 200 then 14 – 18 people being baptised is an indicator of health.
If you have a healthy number of people being baptised, then it indicates that evangelism and discipleship is happening in that church.
In one consult with a small church I discovered that no one had been baptised in the previous year. When I asked their leadership team to list the potential candidates they tallied up over 15 people.
What was going wrong? They had lost focus on making disciples and neglected to baptise anyone.
Healthy churches measure baptisms at least 3 times a year because baptism is a key indicator in the discipleship journey and must be considered a primary number in assessing the health of a church.
2. Visitor flow
One of my more shocking discoveries since consulting with churches has been the number of churches who do not count their visitors.
When churches don’t count visitors, it indicates to me an unhealthy lack of attention on outsiders.
This appalling lack of hospitality generally starts at the church’s website, extends to the car park and culminates in the general neglect of visitors’ needs when they attend the church.
This lack of focus impedes church growth because without visitors you will never grow.
In small churches counting visitors is easy as they are instantly noticed and should be a primary focus of the pastor.
In medium size churches, you need to be more intentional in counting visitors and connecting them to people in your church. This requires a guest lounge and volunteers who are focussed on engaging with your visitors.
In large churches, it is well-nigh impossible to count all the visitors however you can count those with whom you connect so having a process for connection is essential.
3. Church average age compared to community
Ask a pastor the average age of his congregation and they will generally give you a blank stare and mumble a guess.
It’s a simple exercise to discover the average age of your church.
If you have the info in your church database, then it’s super easy.
If not, then here’s a simple process. Every Sunday for 3 Sundays just ask everyone (children and youth included) to write their age on a piece of paper. Average out the results and you’ll have a solid estimate of the average age of your church.
Now compare that with the average age of the community in the surrounding suburbs.
Is your church much older? This is a red alert wakeup call that indicates ill health as you are in danger of missing an entire generation.
Is your church markedly younger? This probably indicates you have a fruitful decade awaiting you as those children and youth move to the next stage of life. However, it may indicate you are missing out on boomers who are often time rich and looking to achieve significant things in the second half of their life.
4. Percentage of adults serving
A few years ago, I was chatting to a small groups pastor in an Australian mega church. He told me that 93% of new people in their church leave within 12 months if they do not begin serving or join a small group.
I’m sure this ratio is lower in smaller churches but nonetheless it indicates the central importance of connecting people into relationships as soon as possible.
How should you measure serving?
When I consult with churches I measure the percentage of people over 18 who are serving. Now serving may range from leading a small group to greeting new people to volunteering for the annual women’s conference.
In small churches this percentage should be over 80%.
In medium size churches pastors should aim to have this number above 65%.
In larger churches this ratio will drop due to several factors.
How does this affect health?
When people serve their relationship circle grows and this not only cements them into the church it improves the health of the church because they feel a deeper connection to the life and purpose of the church.
They also grow their skill set and in turn their confidence which again improves the general well being of the church.
5. Secondary giving levels
I think the most accurately measured numbers in churches is the numbers associated with finance.
Church comply with local accounting regulations, have their books audited and generally have well established policies and procedures.
However, a rarely measured number is the percentage of secondary giving programs.
Let me explain.
If a church receives $200,000 in its general Sunday tithe giving over a 12-month period, then how much can it expect to receive in other giving programs e.g. building or missions?
I believe churches can regularly expect to receive 30% – 50% of their tithe in secondary giving programs like building or missions’ giving programs.
Churches may run these secondary giving programs but too rarely analyse their expectations or consider how to increase this percentage.
I’ve helped many churches increase their income by measuring their current reality and coaching them into strategic methods for increase.
These 5 metrics will help your church focus on essential numbers that in time will help you improve the health of your church.