An even more granular number to look at is the inflow of volunteers that serve on a regular basis. If you are not seeing a consistent increase in the number of people volunteering, it is clear something is happening to stunt engagement and the future health of your church.
If your volunteer influx reaches zero, you have a pipeline problem that you will not necessarily feel the pain of today but certainly will in six months to a year. In fact, by the time you feel that zero new volunteers are serving, it’s too late, and you’ve already entered into a volunteer engagement crisis that is difficult to recover from.
Ask yourself this question: How many first-time volunteers have we had in the past, how many do we have today, and is that number growing? If you’re averaging one new first-time volunteer every weekend, the question becomes how can you increase that percentage in the coming year? The trajectory of this number is more important than the absolute number.
Are people responding to what’s happening in the life of your church? Is there tangible evidence that the ministry is making a difference in people’s lives? Are people taking steps closer to Jesus? Where in the life of your church can you see new spiritual development? Are people signing up for your new believers’ class? What are the baptism numbers this year?
Finding a way to track next-steps indicators is an important way to examine the softer side of our ministry. Again, if these numbers atrophy, it’s an indicator that we need to change and adjust what we’re doing. We won’t feel the pain right away, but a year or two down the road our ministry will stall and begin to recede.
Gallons of Coffee Drank
This one’s a little bit tongue-in-cheek, but I do think there’s something important about trying to quantify and track community that’s taking place at your church. I know for us, offering coffee after our services provides a quantifiable number that shows how many people slowed down to talk to each other on a Sunday morning. If people aren’t taking the time to interact with one another, it indicates that we have a larger community problem.
While I understand that gathering in small groups develops a greater sense of community than a Sunday morning gathering, we don’t want our Sunday mornings to feel like a show. We don’t want people to arrive and feel so rushed to leave that they can’t slow down, grab a coffee and talk with members of their church family. So, while gallons of coffee drank may seem like a funny metric to keep an eye on, the question I would have for you is what are some other ways that you could quantify community happening within your church on a Sunday morning?
Kids to Adults Ratio
Looking at the broader impact of your church, we need to consider how we’re reaching the next generation. Churches that are impacting their community are obsessed with reaching the next generation. They spend a lot of time, effort and energy on reaching young people and getting them connected to the church. They spend resources to ensure these ministries are led and funded well and that should translate into regular interactions with the kids.
I’ve spoken with a number of church leaders whose churches are in the final gasps of death, and one commonality between all those conversations is an expressed sadness over the fact that there are no kids left in the church, that the Sunday school or kids’ ministry is sitting empty. Keeping a close eye on this ratio over time will give you a sense of the long-term trajectory of your church.
Tony Morgan states that 20 percent of your community needs to be reflected in your kids’ ministry. I’ve seen these numbers grow as high as 30 percent, or even close to 40 percent in some churches, which (to me) represents a healthy future. It says that this church is attracting young families and people who are in some of the most important decision-making times of their lives. In fact, 50 percent of all people who make decisions for Christ do so before the age of 13; as such, our churches need to think clearly about how we’re reaching and affecting the next generation.
What are some other numbers you’re tracking?
Looking just at “nickels and noses” gives you a flat indication of what’s happening in the life of your church. Taking a step back and looking at these other indicators gives you a fuller picture of what’s happening in the life of your church. It’s the difference between a black and white picture and a 3-D image.
What other metrics are you tracking in your church? How are you getting these metrics in front of people? What ways should you be presenting these numbers so that they tell the story about what God is doing in the life of your church? Every number has a name, every name has a story, and every story matters to God. Tracking numbers is ultimately about getting a clear picture of what God is doing in the life of people in our community.
This article originally appeared here.