I recently heard Carey Nieuwhof say on a podcast with David Kinnaman of the Barna group,
“It is one thing to work hard, but hard work with half the reward is super challenging.”
He was referring to how hard church staffs are working these days, and yet, in-person attendance has still not returned to pre-Covid numbers. Churches typically mostly measure success by in-person worship attendance so the low numbers can be discouraging.
The question moving into 2022 is,
“How are local churches going to measure success since people are clearly not coming back the way we anticipated?”
We have only been able to measure success in two ways over the years.
Giving is private and confidential, so it is not publicly seen. So the only thing left is in person worship attendance. Right? With the last 20 months of worship attendance not increasing at the rate that people thought it has left many leaders deflated and not knowing what the right next step is for their church.
On the same podcast mentioned above, Kinnaman talked about pastors he knows that are doing well. Those pastors are now resetting the baseline and no longer spending time talking about pre-Covid and post-Covid. They are only talking about where they are currently and beginning to move forward from there.
It is that train of thought that has me moving towards the idea that churches need to re-evaluate how they measure success.
Here’s how I believe churches should measure success moving into 2022 (and beyond) and in this order:
Engagement. Engagement should be #1 on the list? Yes, engagement. Engagement in mission will be the new #1 benchmark of measuring success for the local church. The faster churches make this shift the quicker they will begin to see life change in the people of their church and in their community (and that’s what it is all about, right?)
How many of your people are involved in something other than worship?
How many people are engaged in activities that impact people outside the walls of your church?
What opportunities are we giving people to engage outside the walls of our church?
Giving. Absolutely yes.
It is one of the few tangible manifestations of people who feel connected to your church and that your church is making an impact on their lives and others.
Analyzing giving data has never been more important for the local church.
If you would like a free giving analysis for your church please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Worship attendance. It absolutely still matters but not just in person worship; online worshippers count too.
However, it is no longer the #1 benchmark for success for churches.
Yes, but stop comparing today’s attendance to February 2020. Compare this Sunday’s attendance to last Sunday’s and then to the week before that.
This is not going to be an easy shift. We don’t know how to “do church” any other way. We don’t know how to measure success any other way. The question for me is do you believe “the way we have always done it” is going to continue to work moving into 2022 and beyond or do we have to shift how “we have always done things”?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.