How Should We Measure Church Success?

Church Success

Pre-pandemic, this was already a controversial topic for churches. But in an era where fewer people are choosing to attend physical church services, more pastors are asking the question: “What should success at my church look like?”

For many years, a large number of churches in the United States focused on one singular number – the number of weekly attendees. They asked the questions, “How many people do we have and how can we get more people in the doors?”

Our culture in America naturally celebrates “big.” It’s easy for us to approach church with the same mentality…that “bigger is better.”

We often equate the size of the church with the success of the church.

Or at least many of us did prior to the pandemic. Now, many churches are relying on digital services, or limiting the number of physical attendees in accordance with health and safety guidelines. The shift has caused many pastors to question their approach and what these changes means for the success and effectiveness of their church and ministry.

Numbers Aren’t Everything

The first thing to remember is that while numbers can be a helpful tool, they are not the only measure of success.

Did you know that even pre-pandemic, the average church had less than 100 in attendance? While there is something to be said for analyzing why a church isn’t growing, numbers definitely don’t paint the entire picture.

So as we move forward in an era of social distancing and pandemic uncertainty, how should we measure success in church?

Here are four things to consider as we re-evaluate the matrix we use to measure church growth.

1. Begin with Your Mission and Vision

What specific purpose has God given your church? Are you being faithful to that mission? What elements of your mission or vision remain true and what elements need to shift in this season?

2. Examine Your Growth Engines

These are usually the things your church does to either reach new people or that help your people grow spiritually. In what ways are you reaching new people? In what ways are you helping your members grow? Are your current methods effective in this season or do you need to try something different?

3. Measure Against Your Goals

What goals did you set for your church this year? As circumstances shifted, did you recalibrate those goals? If not, take some time to rethink your goals and adjust as needed. Then look at what practical action steps will move you closer to your goals. Are you taking these steps?

4. Think Big Picture


Ultimately how is your church doing at loving God and loving others? How are you doing at fulfilling the Great Commission? Our mandate to love God and others remains constant regardless of where or when or how we gather together.

Ultimately, there is no one right way to measure success in church. But my hope is that you find encouragement in knowing that small does not equal ineffective. The number of people physically coming into your building is not an accurate measure of spiritual health, growth or success, especially in these times.

Do you have a specific way that you measure success or maintain an analysis of your church activities? Have those measures shifted this year?

3 Ways to Maintain Ministry Momentum This Summer

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With summer just around the corner let’s face it, everything about church for the next few months will slow down.  With that in mind, as pastors there are a few things we can do to help maintain ministry momentum this summer.

1. Put on your marketing hat

I know that for most pastors, marketing and advertising is one of the last things you think about.  There’s also a good chance that many pastors are either scared of it, don’t know where to start or just blatantly don’t feel the need.

Whether we like it or not, we’re always marketing.  Everything we do in some ways takes on a form of marketing.

For this summer, you may need to use some old tricks from broadcasting or newspapers to tease the stories.  I’m not talking about fake news or click bait, but come up with some ways to gain excitement about what’s going to happen this summer.

Here’s an idea.

Instead of putting out a schedule of your summer sermon series, perhaps tease it out and create some ‘buzz’ around it.  News agencies do this all the time.

“You won’t believe what the Bible says about (insert shocking idea here).  Be sure to join us for worship in June to find out more”

There’s a very fine line between engaging and corny so be careful, but having some way to create intrigue around your summer messages will increase involvement and attendance.

2. Embrace Summer

One big way to deal with the summer slump is just to embrace it.

Know that it’s coming and take steps to prepare for it.  Your giving will probably be lower than normal.  Attendance is going to slow as well.  A great way to get through it is to embrace it and plan accordingly.

Talk about it with your team and key leaders.  Plan for it.

Look at your recurring subscriptions and bills.  Are there any that you can stop for the time being to conserve cash flow over the summer?  There’s a good chance your youth may be doing events throughout the summer so their budget will get hit more than others.  Be ready for that as the increased expenses there may be above the norm of what you experience each month.

Plan simple inexpensive events for your congregation.  Participate in community events, anything that keeps people involved and maintains ministry momentum.

Here’s an idea, if your community has a picnic or other festival, volunteer to host a water tent or cool down tent.  Just a place where people at the event can come and take a break.  It’s low cost and allows you to be a part of what’s already happening in your community.

3. Over-Communicate What’s going on

Summer schedules get crazy.  Use the tools at your disposal to communicate with your church body.

Try Facebook live from worship services.  Setup some FB Live broadcasts from your VBS or other events to let people see what they’re missing out on.

(it’s a whole different topic to make sure your events are actually fun!)

Use a social media challenge to encourage engagement.  Send out random posts for a scavenger hunt or just have a spur of the moment meeting for coffee or ice cream at the local place.  Whatever you can to do encourage engagement and communicate what’s happening throughout the summer will not be a bad investment.

Every church deals with summer and the slow down that comes.  These are just a few quick ideas meant to start you thinking about what’s coming.  Every church has their own identity and personality so embrace that and run with it.  Get your people involved and excited about what they can do to stay focused and reach the community.

What are some ideas you have to avoid the slump and maintain momentum for the summer?
Comment below and let’s keep the conversation going.