This weekend, Awaken Church turns seven years old! One thing we do every year for Awaken’s birthday (among many other things) is compile a list of numbers and stats. We count all kinds of things: attendance, people serving, faith decisions, live-stream views, website hits, prayer requests, and so much more. I may share some of the actual stats in a future blog post, but before we see the data, I wanted to discuss WHY.
Is it even right to count things and people? Do numbers even matter? If it’s not about how big your church is, then why count people?
Here are some thoughts on why we believe numbers matter so much…
Numbers give people a new perspective.
Some of the things we count and celebrate on a birthday weekend are just for fun. For instance, one year we totaled how many diapers had been changed. We don’t do that anymore – that’s too much crap to count. Although some are just fun, most of the numbers are great for vision. Numbers help people see things in an all new way. Since we have 2 venues that seat 100-110 each, sometimes it’s hard for people to understand when we tell them Awaken has 700-800 people on a weekend currently. Seeing the numbers helps us realize the scale of what we’re a part of.
Numbers help us prepare and leverage trends and habits.
One (free) tool we use a lot is Church Metrics. We use it to document and chart adult attendance, kids attendance, Awaken Groups attendance, faith decisions, baptisms, and more. When our team steps back and looks at trends over the years, we can be prepared so we can make the most out of upcoming events. When we look at the charts, we can tell the huge spikes on the chart are Easter and Awaken’s birthdays, so we’d better be ready for a crowd! We planned our most recent Easter experience based around the last 3 years of attendance. Since it has grown each year, and since Awaken had grown since last Easter, we knew about how many people we should be preparing for. We prayed for 1,000 people, and we had 1,060! Since we had hard numbers from the past few years, we could be more organized and efficient in our preparation. If we were just guessing, we couldn’t be nearly as prepared.
Numbers matter because every number is a person and every person has a story.
600+ faith decisions is not just a giant number for our church, it’s a monument. It’s a reminder that what we are doing is making a difference. Every week when someone makes a faith decision, we put it out on our social media so people can celebrate and pray for those people throughout the week. We also add those numbers to Church Metrics so we have a running total. It’s a pretty amazing thing to see that number continuing to climb.
Since Awaken exists to see people far from Christ awakened to new life in Christ, the number of faith decisions matters greatly. But we’re well aware that it’s far more than a number – it stands for real people with real stories of life change.
Numbers help us gauge success.
Although large numbers are not a sign of success in and of themselves, they’re a helpful gauge. Have you ever asked a few different people about the attendance of an event or concert? You probably got as many different answers as the amount of people you asked, and their answers may have varied by hundreds or even thousands. If someone thinks 500 more people showed up than actually did, their perception of the attendance will be skewed, and therefore, their ability (and even desire) to aim higher next time will be hindered.
All of that to say this: accurately counting (adults, students, kids, seats, volunteers, money, etc) helps to gauge response at a past event and how to improve and aim higher in the future.
Numbers matter to God. Throughout the Bible, He counts His people: 3,000 people baptized at Pentecost. 5,000 added to the early church. 4,000 people on a hillside… There’s even an entire book of the Bible dedicated to stats. It’s one of your favorite books, I’m sure: Numbers!
So, yes, numbers and statistics matter. No, you shouldn’t feel “less holy” for counting or “more holy” for not. Don’t let the numbers be your entire focus, but use them to stay organized, prepared, and leverage them for the future!