For most of my ministry career, I made leadership decisions based on my feelings. I would rely on how I “felt” the church or department was doing.
If I felt like we were growing, I was happy and wouldn’t change much.
However, if I felt like something was lagging and not growing, I would rush in and make changes without checking the facts.
Sometimes I was right, sometimes I was not, and I damaged the trust of my team in me as their leader.
The truth is, facts are our friends. Facts help us see trouble coming, often before we sense it. Facts also give us permission to make changes or find solutions in the weak areas of our ministries.
I was afraid of the facts. I wouldn’t have admitted that out loud, but it was true. I was insecure and I felt that the facts would only drive my feelings of inferiority, inadequacy, and insecurity deeper.
In my insecurity, I would say spiritual things like, “I’m more concerned with quality than quantity right now,” or “We’re focusing on maturity and spiritual growth more than numerical growth, because after all, anything healthy grows, right?”
I’d justify not measuring things with thoughts like, “It’s not all about the numbers,” and “Numbers don’t matter that much.”
These statements made me feel better until someone reminded me that numbers mattered to God. After all, there is an entire book in the Bible called Numbers. Numbers seemed to matter to Jesus as well. How else would we know that he fed the 5,000 in his audience that day? Someone took the time to count the crowd.
I have since learned to embrace facts as my friends. Yes, they are sometimes hard on the ego, but the truth is, you cannot manage what you do not measure.
You cannot manage what you do not measure.
Now our team tries to measure everything. We haven’t thrown our feelings away and we haven’t abandoned sensing God’s lead in the church, we just make sure we have the facts to back up our feelings.
We have studied many other churches, and in particular, what they measure and why. Through those studies, we have narrowed down seven vital metrics we must maintain to see our churches grow.
Here are seven important metrics of a healthy growing church:
No. 1 Attendance.
We aim to have a minimum increase of 7% in annual attendance. Anything less than a 7% increase at any of our campuses is concerning and will result in further investigation and changes if necessary.
Increase of 7% in annual attendance
No. 2 Small-Group Participation.
For a church to remain healthy, it must have a minimum of 10% participation of its adult attendees in a small group.
Minimum of 10% participation
No. 3 Volunteer Participation.
For a church to effectively minister to its people, it must have at least one volunteer for every seven people in attendance.
At least one volunteer for every seven people in attendance
No. 4 Giving.
For a church to maintain a healthy budget for growth and increase, it must maintain an average of at least $20 given per week, per attendee. This number includes $20 for every man, woman, and child in attendance.
$20 given per week, per attendee
No. 5 Retention and Assimilation.
We’ve discovered that Hillsong Church was right when they taught you must have at least 50% of your newcomers engage for a second time.
What that means for us is that we must effectively gather contact information from our first-time attendees and send them a welcome email or text within 24 hours of the service they attended. If they respond, it is considered a second engagement.
If we maintain a minimum of a 50% second engagement rate, statistics show that we will grow a minimum of 7% in attendance each year.
50% second engagement
No. 6 Salvations.
For our church to continue to reach the unchurched and grow beyond just transfer growth, we have determined that we need to maintain an average number of salvations per year of 55% of our average weekly attendance.
For example, if we have a campus that averages 100 people in weekly attendance, we would aim to have a minimum of 55 salvations in that campus over the course of a year.
55% of our average weekly attendance.
No. 7 Invite.
Inviting is the keystone habit of a healthy growing church. Without the members inviting, a church won’t grow.
We survey our congregation annually, asking them how many unchurched people they have invited in the past 12 months.
We have discovered that if we can maintain a minimum of 75% of our current attendees inviting at least one person per year, we can maintain our target of 7% growth per year.
75% of our current attendees inviting at least one person per year
For eight practical steps to spurring your attendees to invite the unchurched to your church, listen to my conversation with Rich Birch (GoCast Ep. 007)
Of course, we measure a lot more things than just these seven in our church, but we have found that these are the core seven metrics of a healthy growing church.