Some senior pastors obsess over numbers and trends. Others want to focus on leading and preaching and leave the metrics to someone else.
Regardless of your style, if you’re the point leader of your church, you have a responsibility to know how things are going.
It’s not a personality issue; it’s a stewardship issue.
A good shepherd knows the condition of the flock and a good pastor knows the condition of the church.
Here are ten numbers senior pastors should look at on a regular basis.
#1 – Attendance. This is a logical place to start, but you should know how many people attend your church. Track each service, each kid’s classroom, and total attendance. Compare your attendance to the same weekend last year. And compare your attendance to your ten week average. Why ten weeks? It’s a long enough time to compensate for holidays but short enough to be a current view.
#2 – Giving. When you’re tracking giving, make sure to measure non-designated giving. In other words, track your building fund or youth camp payments separately. While these show up on the balance sheet, they aren’t necessarily tithes or offerings. Once again, it’s helpful to compare this number to the same time period a year ago as well as to your ten week average.
#3 – Giving per person. Take your total offering and divide it by your total attendance. That will give you the giving per person. Some churches choose to measure giving per adult or giving per family unit, but pick a measurement and stick to it. As your church grows in size, a simple math problem will tell you how much you should increase your budget.
#4 – Spending by Percentage. The third financial number you should look at on a regular basis is spending by percentage. It’s easy to look at the dollar amounts and lose track of the bigger picture. But healthy churches set target percentages for major categories like staff, facility, ministry and giving. Once you set those percentages, you can orient your budget to make it work. It’s painful at first, but when you know what percent of your budget you can spend on staff, you can know when it’s time to hire.
#5 – Seating Capacity. If you have two services, you need to look at how full each service is. If the maximum capacity of a children’s classroom is 25 people, you need to know how full it is each service. By keeping tabs on how full your rooms are at the different services, you can know when it’s time to start another service. Traditional thinking says when a room is 75% full, it’s time to start something new.
#6 – Small group involvement. Most churches measure the “big” numbers, but wise pastors also measure things like small group, missional community or discipleship class involvement. You may be able to attract a large crowd on the weekend, but more often than not, small group involvement is an indicator of the health of a church. Figure out a way to track participation and measure the number.
#7 – Percentage Serving. You can have a church full of people who attend on the weekend and who enjoy the friendship of small groups but who never contribute their time to the very organization that facilitates their spiritual growth. Looking at the percentage of people who serve is a good indicator that your church cares about other people.
#8 – Percentage Going. Rick Warren said the greatness of a church is measured not in her seating capacity but by her sending capacity. Whether you do short-term mission trips or provide local missions opportunities, you’ve got to track how many people are participating in “all things going.” Here’s a great post from J.D. Greear about the sending capacity of the church.
#9 – Social Influence. This metric didn’t exist a few years ago, but it’s an important measurement of a church’s influence. You should compute a formula that takes into consideration podcast downloads, Twitter followers, Facebook likes, shares and comments and look at that number each week. You could create a simple formula to factor in the unique social platforms used at your church and see if your influence is growing or waning. Here’s a good article from KISS Metrics about social media stats.
#10 – Staff performance. This number will be controversial, but I believe it’s something every senior pastor should look at. The people at your church don’t work there because they are nice people or good Christians (certainly, those are prerequisites). People who are paid to do a job at a church should perform those duties with excellence. And excellence shouldn’t be non-existing or moving target. I suggest a formal review process that results in a measurable score. Keep score!
Senior pastors should look at these numbers on a regular basis. You might find it helpful to have your team prepare a “Flash Report” – something that has all the numbers on one sheet. If you want to dive deeper, you can always look at additional data or run new reports. But your flash report should contain all of your important numbers and trends.
So What's Next?
Feel like your church should be growing, but it's not? From someone who used to be a pastor and church planter, I know it can be frustrating.
Ultimately, church growth is up to God. But are we doing everything we can to ensure our church is healthy? How do we overcome the barriers we feel are in front of us?
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