Church leaders around the world pursue various methods to measure church growth. In a world where technology dictates the future development of businesses and organizations, churches face the threat of declining member attendance.
According to Carey Nieuwhof, Pastor of Connexus Church , near Toronto, Canada, attendance is not the final goal, but is a sign of deeper-rooted issues that must be addressed. Nieuwhof, a well known author and speaker across Canada and North America, discusses the importance of church leaders understanding why a church is not growing, before it can move forward.
In his article, “10 Reasons Even Committed Church Attenders Are Attending Church Less Often,” he warns leaders why members attend less frequently, including higher focus on kids’ activities, blended and single parent families, more travel, cultural disappearance of guilt, failure to see a direct benefit, and a greater online presence.
In a society driven by instantaneous gratification, the expectations and needs of church-goers have shifted. People no longer have to attend a church service each week to hear sermons. They can search the internet for churches with online streaming and podcasts, or simply watch a service on television.
As churches explore the level of congregational growth, leaders should gather statistics regarding church demographics, such as gender, marital status, types of families served (traditional or blended), and age groups. This information serves as the basis for developing programs that tailor to the needs of specifics groups within a specific church. Monitoring website activity to determine who is viewing the church’s website, and the behaviors of those users can also serve as a strategy to improve church growth.
Not only do church leaders need to be aware of why attendance levels rise or drop, but they must also be willing to change their current way of conducting business. In an article published by Ministry Today, “8 Reasons Why Churches Never Break Down Attendance Barriers,” the focus centers around micromanagement, a lack of true leaders, and strategy.
Dr. Timothy Faber, Senior Pastor of East Tipp Baptist Church in Lafayette, Indiana shares in his article, “5 Ways to Measure Your Church’s Growth,” that there is more to growth than numbers. He compares measuring church growth to utilizing different gauges on a car. If a driver does not pay attention to oil levels, gas gauge, or coolant levels, he may not make it to his destination safely. According to Faber, when churches monitor spiritual growth, leadership development, missions and ministry, stewardship, and administration, the numbers will inevitably reach growth goals.
In addition to utilizing the less tangible methods of measuring church growth, leaders should develop strategies to improve volunteer participation. Connecting people with their calling allows churches to invest in members and attendees, therefore, increasing its overall effectiveness and engagement in the community.