Quick — which metrics do you track within your church?
If you can answer that question easily, then we’ve got another one for you: What are they telling you?
The second question is probably the most important if you’re going to have a true picture of what’s happening in the spiritual lives of your members. Traditionally, churches have tracked things like attendance, giving, and membership. This ‘holy trinity’ of metrics is often where church leaders start and end their metrics tracking and conversations. But are those metrics the best ways to monitor your church’s health? How do you know? And what other metrics do you need to be watching to really know how your church is doing?
To know what numbers will really show you how your church and its members are growing, you’ve first got to determine what really matters to your church.
If it’s seeing people grow in their discipleship journey and become more like Jesus, then attendance and giving matter — but what really matters in those areas is the trends you’re seeing among groups and within individuals’ records. Have they been giving before? When did they make their first gift? Is their average gift size or giving regularity increasing? Asking and answering these questions will show you in a tangible way how an individual’s or group’s commitment to your ministry is increasing, and how their spiritual journey is progressing.
When it comes to attendance, consistent attendance by an individual or family definitely demonstrates commitment. But when you couple consistent attendance in worship with attending a service day in your neighborhood or volunteering in your youth ministry, you’ve got clear evidence of a person or family becoming more engaged in your ministries and growing in their faith journey.
You’ve got to keep an eye on how individuals’ and groups’ behaviors are trending over time, and watch for declines or abrupt changes that could indicate major changes in their circumstances
The same goes for any downward trends you’re seeing in attendance and giving. You’ve got to keep an eye on how individuals’ and groups’ behaviors are trending over time, and watch for declines or abrupt changes that could indicate major changes in their circumstances. A sudden drop in giving — or a full-on stop — could indicate a job loss or medical crisis, and represents a chance for the church family to rally around that person and their family. That’s the church in action, and you won’t get to experience it if you’re not paying attention to the trends in your metrics.
The ‘holy trinity’ of metrics most definitely has its place in helping you assess your church health. But watching what those metrics tell you over time is the most important — they’ll tell you whether people are really moving forward in their spiritual journeys or just spinning their wheels.
Are you watching the trends in your ‘holy trinity’ of metrics? What are they telling you?