I often talk with church staff and pastors about the discipline of taking attendance and why it matters. Neither, "because we've always done it that way", nor "we've never done it before" are persuasive arguments.
Whether a church is generations old or just launching, here is a list of 8 ways taking attendance can help you manage the organization. But I want to dig a little deeper into 4 ways taking attendance helps you make disciples.
8 Ways taking attendance helps you manage the organization.
- Discover capacity of facilities including parking.
- Discover needs for facilities including parking.
- Anticipate bottlenecks and crowd flow.
- Discover needs for hospitality volunteers.
- Discover needs for children's volunteers to match teacher/student ratios.
- Discover needs and usage of educational spaces.
- Maintain integrity of service to families.
- Evaluate growth of ministry organizational structures.
4 Ways taking attendance helps you make disciples.
- Search for the lost. Bring back the strays. Ezekial 34:16 Luke 15. Remember the shepherd in Luke 15? He didn't count to brag. He counted to care. He wasn't responsible for 99 sheep, but 100 and counted to know if one or more were lost or missing. I talked with a guy the other day who was contacted by a church he hadn't attended for 5 years about serving as a deacon. We laugh, but it happens all the time. Fortunately, he found a place. Many don't.
- Shepherd people's hearts. Matthew 6:21. (For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.) Taking attendance allows you to track where people invest their most valued treasures: their time, kids and money. If you don't have a metric for these, you can't really tell what is most important to people, nor can you shepherd them on to further commitment to Christ.
- Find leadership. 2 Timothy 2:2. (And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.) Tracking what people commit to is helpful, but actual attendance percentage shows you their faithfulness to their commitments. So, trust Luke 16:10 (Whoever is faithful in little, will also be faithful in much) to recognize potential teachers and leaders who can be trusted with more responsibility.
- Evaluate relationships / group health. Hebrews 10:24 (And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching.) Trust gets to the heart of the One Anothers in scripture. Do people in this group trust each other to love, care for, admonish and encourage them? Trust is foundational to the health of every group or team. Consistency is one of just a few components that goes into building trust. By looking at the consistency of a group (average attendance per enrollment), you can get an idea of the comparative relational environment of a group.
The organizational reasons for taking attendance are important to provide an excellent worship and education environment. But, being a discipleship guy at heart, the disciple-making reasons for taking attendance are just as (maybe more) compelling. If you have time, join me for my small group class to learn more about how we help you track things like consistency.
What issues are you having with church metrics?