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A pastor I once knew loved to say about church attendance that “we count people, because people count.” It’s a clever turn of phrase, but it’s only partially true - slapping a number on someone isn’t particularly humanizing (the musical Les Miserables has something to say about that). The truth is there are different ways of counting people, and some of them give far more value to each person’s uniqueness.

Imagine that your church’s different “counting” tools - from attendance, to giving, "... for a pastor to get a sense of a congregants commitment level, they would have to get a list of every roster from every ministry." to small group involvement, etc. - are a television. Are your tools like the TV you had as a kid, with the bunny ears antenna that had to be adjusted every five seconds? Sometimes your bunny ears antenna brought in a decent picture, but often it faded in and out, creating a picture so blurry you weren’t positive if you were watching football or soccer. It was inconsistent and unhelpful. Or do you have measurement tools that are like the TV you have (or want to have!) now: crisp, 4k HD, where you can see every blade of grass from your recliner? These tools are precise, clear, and help you see what you wouldn’t otherwise.

Many pastors inherited or stumbled in to their management tools. Maybe you’ve been so busy putting out the million daily fires of your job, you haven’t had time to consider whether your “counting” people with bunny ears, or in high def. If that’s you, here’s a few thoughts on the difference between “blurry” and “HD” church management systems:

Attendance

Most churches measure attendance, but so do sporting events. Again, counting people doesn’t mean those people truly count. But what if we counted people in HD? With an HD measurement tool you would know the date each person first filled out a guest card, and could follow up with them at regular intervals (for instance, a “how has your experience been” email at one month, or a “it’s your anniversary with us!” card at a year). You could integrate their family’s attendance as well, seeing if they have kids they bring with them, and creating systems that interacted with them both as individuals and a family.

Involvement

The way you track an individual’s involvement in your church’s ministries, small groups, leadership opportunities, and events helps you sense how engaged they are. Unfortunately, the way some churches measure this is blurry, with each ministry having its own roster siloed from every other ministry. For a pastor to get a sense of a congregants commitment level, they would have to get a list of every roster from every ministry.

"The way you track an individual’s involvement in your church’s ministries, small groups, leadership opportunities, and events helps you sense how engaged they are..."

An HD management system puts all this information in one place. Every ministry uses integrated software that allows you to see every commitment a member has made to a ministry. This way you can see how involved someone is, whether they are overcommitted or a prime candidate to step in to a ministry, and how effectively your church is moving them toward a fuller commitment. Speaking of which …

Discipleship

A blurry discipleship measurement tool takes small group attendance, giving, and serving and turns them into the end-all-be-all of spiritual growth; however, we all know discipleship is more than these three categories. If making disciples is our primary goal, how do we reimagine a measurement tool that is in HD? Our next post will be all about this topic, but here’s a short teaser: we need to create a pathway of discipleship that combines an intentional measurement systems with the unique journey of each person.

For our full article on this topic click here

So how would you rate your church’s tools? Are you using bunny ears, or do you have a stunningly lifelike 4k image of your people? Where is one area your church can improve, and what would it take to get there?

Because, as we all know people count, so how we count matters.

There's always a next step:

People are at the heart of your ministry, and knowing where they are in their journey is key to guiding them to deeper engagement. Check out our redesigned people profiles, they make it easier than ever to get a view of the people in your church.