By Kenny Jahng
Can you report on the health of your church at any given milestone throughout the year? Effective leaders keep their finger on the pulse of their community, and data gives the read.
In the current environment, it can be hard to get a sense of our overall church health climate. Very few churches have gone to a back-to-normal church scenario, which makes church health difficult to assess.
The good news is there are five key metrics within easy reach that will help you assess the state of your church’s health.
How many giving units are you averaging? What’s the change since the pandemic started? If you see a drop, don’t get nervous. It might signal a pastoral care issue, or at least a reason to reach out and connect.
Most churches have not stopped caring for neighbors through various ministry outlets but have actually accelerated these activities. Remind your congregants how their offerings are helping to build the kingdom and care for their local community.
Also, make sure your online giving options are easy to find, easy to use, and easy to remember. Data from Nonprofit Source shows that 60% of churchgoers are willing to give digitally, and churches who offer an online giving option increase overall donations by 32%.1
If you see giving as a spiritual discipline, you can learn a lot from changes in giving behavior.
2. Attendance or groups participation
Getting a solid number on attendance can be difficult with a hybrid approach of in-person and online services, and yet attendance speaks volumes.
Out of Barna’s State of the Church research, two interesting statistics jumped out at me:
- One in three practicing Christians is still attending the church they attended pre-COVID and doing so exclusively
- Very few (14%) have made a church switch amid the pandemic. The research shows that it’s more likely that followers have simply stopped attending, which represents 32% of practicing Christians.2
By and large, your congregants aren’t out searching for a better fit; they just need us to be more creative about connecting. Crossing paths on a Sunday morning cannot be the vehicle upon which we depend anymore.
It’s time to get innovative about offering studies, programming, small groups, and specialized ministries—however, you can make it happen safely in your region.
3. Professions of faith
At the end of the day, isn’t this why we do what we do? Though “counting” these personal decisions isn’t the only thing we should be focused on, it can give us something to celebrate and gather around. And when there is no “count” over a period of time, it might mean something is not working with your assimilation and growth process for new attendees and members.
Also, remember, a new believer’s excitement is infectious and can revitalize a faith community. And yet if we aren’t hearing salvation stories from our attendees, we have to go deeper and discover why conversions aren’t happening more regularly.
A healthy church should produce fruit on a consistent basis.
How eager are your congregants to invest their personal time to serve? If you have trouble retaining volunteers, this can signal a leadership development issue. Whether you have a robust or scarce army of volunteers, it reveals how invested they are in the mission—the “why.”
Volunteering is one metric for measuring how people are putting their faith into action.
5. What your people tell you directly
With surveys, you can learn about behavior on gatherings, building usage, and giving, or make inquires about staffing, ministry priorities, and spiritual health of congregants.
Your congregation will feel supported when you’re inquiring and following up about their health—spiritual, physical, relational, emotional, and financial.
Barna Groups recently partnered with Gloo to create the ChurchPulse Weekly Crisis Toolkit, a free metric collection resource for pastors. It’s a great way to customize surveys and gather data of your choosing.3
Sometimes it’s best to just ask!
Once you’ve built a process to check on the vital signs of your church, you will find it easier to lead confidently and creatively during this unpredictable season—one step at a time.
Kenny Jahng is the founder and CEO of Big Click Syndicate, a strategic content marketing agency that helps nonprofits, cause-driven, and faith-based ministries build and engage their core audiences through digital best practices.