I have conducted over 90 on-site consults with churches across four different nations in the last five 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 five vital metrics that smart churches measure.
Smart churches use these five 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 are considered healthy?
Church consultant Tony Morgan suggests that a healthy range is 7 to 9 percent of your church’s average Sunday attendance.
For instance, if your average attendance is 200, then 14–18 people being baptized per year is an indicator of health.
If you have a healthy number of people being baptized, then it indicates that evangelism and discipleship are happening in your church.
In one consult with a small church, I discovered that no one had been baptized 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 baptize anyone.
Healthy churches measure baptisms at least three 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. 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 information in your church database, then it’s super easy.
If not, then here’s a simple process. Every Sunday for three 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 wake-up 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 oftentimes rich and looking to achieve significant things in the second half of their life.
3. Percentage of adults serving
A few years ago, I was chatting to a small groups pastor in an Australian megachurch. He told me that 93 percent 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 percent.
In medium-size churches, pastors should aim to have this number above 65 percent.
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 but 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.
4. Visitor flow
One of my more shocking discoveries since consulting with churches has been the number of churches that 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 parking 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-sized 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 focused 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.
5. Secondary giving levels
I think the most accurately measured numbers in churches are the numbers associated with finance.
Churches 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 to 50 percent of their tithe in secondary giving programs, like building or missions.
Churches may run these secondary giving programs but too rarely analyze 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 five metrics will help your church focus on essential numbers that in time will help you improve the health of your church.
This article originally appeared here.