We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Numbers matter.
And in your church, numbers matter because they represent the lives God has entrusted to you.
Every single heartbeat that God has led through your church doors matters. But, if you’re lucky and you’re helping to create a church community that encourages growth, it gets increasingly harder to know – really know – each and every person.
But that’s what we have to do if we want to retain each and every person that comes to us in faith. God doesn’t expect us to memorize everyone and everything about them – but we should leverage every discipleship tool available to us to count everyone we shepherd in His flock.
And implemented properly, your church management software can help you do just that. Because church leaders and pastors didn’t get into ministry to crunch numbers.
Sure, attendance and budgets are par for course so there is obviously the expectation to understand, use and appreciate those numbers to help you plan effectively, make decisions, and prioritize. But numbers, once properly measured and understood, can help you and your ministry team become more efficient and effective, leaving more time to focus on why we got into ministry in the first place – people.
And in our ebook, The Numbers Game, we discuss the nine different contributing components of retention that, when properly measured and tracked, can offer you invaluable insight into the health and vitality of your church’s community building efforts.
Tracking attendance may seem obvious, but there are many churches that don’t – and an accurate understanding of attendance gives an overview of how many people are involved, where they go while on campus, which ministries are growing, and which are in decline.
Volunteers are your front line, and many of these people will eventually make their way toward missional ministries – taking a direct role in expanding the church’s impact. Tracking their involvement and how well they serve will reveal a lot about the retention rate of your church.
3. Missional Participation.
Service projects are one-time service events like volunteering at a local homeless shelter. Ongoing ministries, on the other hand, are continuous, requiring a deeper commitment. And people who are involved in service projects are more likely to serve in ongoing ministry – but only if their participation is tracked to determine their individual interest level.
4. Online Activity.
Tracking your church’s digital presence highlights great opportunities to engage and retain your members. And the availability of analytics for your website makes it easy to monitor online activity and provide a friendly online gathering space to gain invaluable insight into your retention efforts.
5. Financial Giving.
People who are growing in their relationship with God are likely to give to support the ministry of your church. When people are in a growing relationship with God, they will want to give and serve. This is evidence people believe in the ministry of the church and will continue to support it.
6. Event Outcomes.
Events should work with and toward the mission of your church, and can offer a lot by way of insight if you track participation by individual. Encourage people to register for the event and then check in upon arrival. When you connect your events to retention through data analysis, you’ll have events that promote participation, retention, and your church’s mission.
Assimilation is the measure of how well we keep up with faces and names – and by analyzing assimilation, you’ll soon discover the differences between the behaviors of attendees and those of the active members who help to establish the culture of your church community. Tracking assimilation allows you to differentiate between attendees and active disciples.
Spiritual development is at the core of who we are and what we do in ministry. It can be measured – but not by numbers; people need to be known in order to track and measure their spiritual growth. You want to know how each individual moves from uninvolved to involved, from non-giver to giver, and from watching to serving to then focus on how to best provide a context and environment that fosters and nurtures their spiritual growth.
Attrition is the opposite of retention. If you know how many people you are retaining, you can ascertain your attrition rate. Often, we have to measure our failures to discover new, yet-untapped ministry opportunities. And when done properly, analysis of the attrition rate in your church can lead to new ministry opportunities that might otherwise have been missed.
If you commit to the process of tracking and leveraging your church’s numbers in your management software, your church can help mitigate its attrition due to frustration, stagnation, or – arguably worse – lack of attention.
It’s our job as church leaders to invest in our people at the individual level so our ministries can continue to expand, advance, and enhance the Kingdom. As pastors and church leaders, that is our calling – our people – and it’s why we got into ministry. We have to work our numbers so we can, in turn, make those numbers work for the greater good of the Kingdom.
Because ultimately, retaining church members is about stewardship, and we must assume the privilege of leading God’s people with great care if we want God to continue to bless and grow our ministries.