Where Church Metrics Fail (to tell the whole story)
We just finished filling out denominational reports for 2014. As I looked through the statistical categories, it strengthened my conviction that in a new world, we need new ways to count. On one hand, Professions of Faith and Baptisms are awesome thing to count but other categories are a bit more challenging. We all know that membership is a suspect statistic due to the vast number of inactives on all of our rolls and we all know that churches count worship attendance differently but that is not really what I am talking about.
Our current metrics fail to tell the complete story of churches and the impact they make. For example, Christ Church has about 1,300 people each week engage sermons on line, There is no current way to count that. We have hundreds of people come into the building each week for non-worship ministries ranging from Upward Basketball to music lessons (equipping the next generation of musicians). We have no way to count that. We have weddings and funerals and community events in the church in which the Gospel is proclaimed, hundreds attend and guess what? We have no way to count that. We touch dozens and even hundreds of lives each week in ministries that happen outside the church ranging from serving the homeless to evangelism trips to work event. Again, no way to count that.
I think some work around developing new metrics around the work of the church that moves us beyond worship, new members, baptisms, Christian education and dollars in the plate would serve us well. It would help churches see that they are making impact in ways we don’t currently validate with statistical categories. Worship is essential to the life of a church but it isn’t all we are doing.
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop, a Distinguished Evangelist in the United Methodist Church, is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairiview Heights, Illinois.