Numbers are important but don’t feel very spiritual, so we can sometimes miss their significance.
And assessing the health and growth of your church by numbers alone can be a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, knowing the key statistics in your church is vital; on the other hand, God is often still moving even when the numbers seem stuck. The key is to interpret them correctly.
Wisely interpreting the numbers begins with tracking the right numbers.
The common ones include stats such as:
- Salvation and baptism
- First-time guests
- Small group participation
Further, understanding the meaning of the key numbers in your church so you can lead more effectively requires context, consistent tracking, trends rather than a point-in-time, and strategic thinking over emotion.
And it’s easy to experience emotion over logic. For example, if attendance is down, that can be discouraging. Right? Of course, it can. And discouragement can cloud our thinking.
Discouraged thinking about key church stats can have a negative impact on otherwise good decision-making. Instead, it’s best to give yourself time to adjust your perspective by focusing on real stories of life change.
That doesn’t mean we should ignore reality, but being in a good state of mind is essential to make good decisions. It’s also smart to occasionally get some outside help in understanding the larger context of what your numbers mean and how to solve any related problems.
There is far more to this than one blog post can adequately address, but allow me to focus on a slightly different angle.
Sometimes God measures results differently than we do. That’s part of the art of integrating the natural and supernatural.
We know God has designed the church to grow. The book of Acts alone makes that clear. However, variations of the phrase “added to its number” is frequently repeated, and in some cases, scripture gives a specific number.
We also know from the parables of Jesus that even just one matters.
Truths like these inform our thinking, guide our direction and shape our decision-making.
So, what are some of the less common numbers?
Are there some potentially “different” numbers that truly matter?
They may not find their way onto a spreadsheet, but nonetheless, they are worthy of your attention.
10 “different” numbers deserving of your attention:
1) Serving the poor
Jesus speaks compassionately about caring for those in need and the poor among us. A trait of a strong and healthy church is how it cares not only for those who attend but those who may never attend and can do nothing for the church.
No individual church can help everyone, but I’m convinced there are specific people God intends for each of us to serve.
Each one matters.
2) Guests who don’t look like you
We know God is pleased by unity in the body of Christ and that there will be great diversity in Heaven.
But what does that look like here on earth? What should it look like? I don’t think there is one right answer, but it’s an important question.
We can’t force diversity in the body of Christ, but we can lead toward it.
Leading toward diversity can add to the already great complexity of leading a local church, but I believe this pleases God.
3) Next Gen called to ministry.
Candidly, my heart is burdened by the decreasing number of sharp young leaders who answer the call to full-time vocational ministry.
We can debate endlessly about the reasons why, but the better action is to pray and become fiercely intentional about creating spiritually vibrant environments that are conducive to teens and young adults seeking, sensing, and discerning a call to ministry.
Let’s never underestimate the power of just one. Just one sharp young adult called to full-time ministry can change thousands of lives for eternity.
4) Restored marriages
Divorce has become an accepted part of current culture. Thankfully, it’s not embraced as a good thing, but its commonness continues to increase.
My parents divorced when I was eight years old; I know the damage it does on several levels.
Any time your church takes part in supporting and strengthening good marriages and diving into the deep end of struggling marriages, you are potentially changing families for the better for generations to come..
5) Children are treated with respect.
Jesus had some very clear thoughts and values about how to treat children. As a result, children’s ministries may be one of the most important things a church can ever do.
I know there are so many priorities, and there is so much to do. This is not a guilt thing; it’s just a critical thought to consider.
Do you believe your children’s ministry needs improvement? Of course, you can’t remedy that overnight. But what are your first steps in the next thirty days?
6) Addictions broken
Addiction robs people of their emotional, spiritual, financial, and relational freedom, something at the core of what salvation in Christ brings. Freedom from sin. This is the great gift of God that the church makes known.
We are not always fully equipped to handle the depth of some addictions, but there are partners in our respective communities that can help us serve those who desperately want to break through what holds them in bondage.
We often see only the tip of the iceberg, such as anxieties, fears, poor decision-making, and emotions not matching the circumstance. However, prayerful discernment, qualified professionals, and spiritual support can genuinely bring life change through the power of Christ.
7) First-time tithers
As a growing Christian pursues the maturity of their faith, tithing their income is often one of the last commitments to be embraced. And for some, sadly, it never happens.
Tithing isn’t primarily about money, and certainly not guilt. God doesn’t need anyone’s money. It’s about trusting God and recognizing the source of our money. It’s about Kingdom stewardship.
It’s not a popular topic to talk about or teach, especially when the economy is unstable. But scripture doesn’t teach us to base our trust in God on the strength of the economy.
A new tither represents a maturing Christian who not only values your church’s vision but trusts God in such a way that they make their life decisions accordingly.
8) New leaders
Next to the favor of God, everything rises and falls on leadership.
The need for leadership always starts with a vision. When you have a vision big and bold enough that you can’t do it yourself, you need to raise up more and better leaders to realize that vision.
In fact, we must genuinely believe that our churches will never reach their God-given potential without more leaders and effective leaders. That realization is necessary for the motivation to continually develop leaders.
9) Time devoted to prayer
I’m not suggesting that we actually track hours in prayer. Still, I can’t help but wonder what the correlation might be if we compared the hours in heartfelt prayer to the spiritual outcomes, progress, life change, and overall health and growth of our churches.
This is not intended to create a legalistic formula. God is kind, and His grace is amazing. But we know that prayer is the most powerful force on earth.
The longer I lead, the more I see and sense that prayer is the front line of spiritual leadership.
10) New Christians and baptisms
I mentioned this statistic in the introduction. It’s not a different number, but I couldn’t leave it off the list.
Salvation and the maturing of Christians are the primary and, truly, the sole reason our churches exist.
I hope this post is encouraging and helpful.
- Which of these ten are you pursuing with passion?
- Which one or two might you need to strengthen?
This is for you and your team to discuss and pray about.
What have I left off this list that you could share with us in the comment section?