Back in the days when I was involved in Toastmasters, I used to carry a “pocket speech” with me to every meeting. A pocket speech was a pre-prepared three- to five-minute speech that I could present just in case the scheduled speaker didn’t show up. Every member of our club was encouraged to have a pocket speech.
Today I recommend that pastors carry around their “pocket numbers.” This list is more important than almost any speech you could prepare (your personal testimony being the most important speech you should be ready to present). These pocket numbers are simply a collection of some not-so-random congregational statistics that pastors should be tracking so that they are always very aware of the health and vitality of their congregations.
- Average worship attendance in the last 12 months
- Average number of first-time visitors each week
- Average number of first-time visitors who match the target audience each week
- Average number of first-time visitors who return
- Average number of first-time visitors who match the target audience who return
- Number of adult (conversion) baptisms in the last 12 months
- Percent of adults involved in a small group
- Percent of adults involved in church-sponsored, off-site missions
- Average per capita giving in the last 12 months
Question: What numbers would you add to your Pocket Number List? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below.
% of attendees who are disciples (according to agreed upon definition) and % who are disciple makers .
Good addition. Thanks!
Number of days since someone came to the altar to pray for someone else.
In many traditions this would be a good indicator. Thanks!
Persons served in mission and ministry during the last year
As a parish consultant for the past 15 years and the author of eight books, I do not recommend using the average pledge. This number is usually distorted by a small number of high pledges at the top, and by excluding non-donors at the bottom. Plus, does God call us to be average? The median pledge, half above, half below, is a much more accurate indicator of congregational giving.
Where did you see anything about measuring pledges? Per Capita giving is giving per person and is figured by dividing total plate offerings by the average worship attendance. It is a anonymous number that is only helpful in measuring year-to-year (or period-to-period) giving and not a comparison with other churches in other contexts. In a growing church the number is a base indication of increasing discipleship (or not). In a declining church it is an indicator of the level of discipleship of those leaving (if the per capita giving spikes with losses, the indication is that the less-committed are the ones leaving … if the per capita drops with losses it’s an indication that the best discipled and committed persons are leaving). Of course, if the pastor has access to giving records (as he or she should have) then the per capita number is only a “hint” – the best indicators would be the actual giving records).
In analyzing the church giving patterns, we usually consider placing the giving into cells for mode distribution analysis is more illuminating than the average or the medium.
% of adults in a small group.
To jump in ’cause we had a discussion with one of our finance officers this AM. The idea of listing the number of “family” units that give in various ranges? For transparency, giving relative giving without revealing individual giving, etc. What do you think on that?
I’m not sure knowing the who’s giving is necessarily a good “pocket” number, but yes … that’s a good number to keep track of.