Counting Correctly: Create the Right Scorecard for Churches

David Virtue david at
Fri Dec 12 13:30:05 EST 2014

Counting Correctly: Create the Right Scorecard for Churches
Church assessment matters, and counting certain numbers is a key part of

By Ed Stetzer
December 8, 2014

Fifty years ago, many churches had signs posted within the building
showing weekly numbers on them: worship service attendance, Sunday
School attendance, offering total, and even how many people brought
their Bibles. We live in a different age now.

Today, some frown upon "counting." But I actually think it's worth doing
-- and doing better than we've ever done before.

We count people because people count.

There's an old but true cliche: We count people because people count. We
count because we care about the souls of each person we count. We count
because we want to be effective in what we are doing.

Among our churches, we need to ask if we are reaching people. We need to
ask if we are discipling people. Are we reaching our goals or are we
falling short? These are important questions to ask and important things
to count.

My contention is that we need to keep a scorecard. The challenge is in
deciding what we are going to measure and how are we going to measure
it. I'm convinced that the things we've been counting for years on those
church attendance boards are helpful to count -- but they're not all we
should count.

The two I believe we must count include those core ones that most
churches are already counting: conversions and baptisms. But there are
other areas that matter as well. They matter deeply to me, too.

Namely, we need to find out how to count transformation. Are people
being transformed and becoming agents of God's mission? Are they sharing
Christ with their neighbors? Getting converts is great, but are they
learning to live and grow as believers and are they sharing Christ with
others? We must begin tracking discipleship and missional living.

Are people being transformed and becoming agents of God's mission?
I talk about measuring these things in Transformational Church, the book
I coauthored with Thom Rainer. We have to consider things like:

What percentage of people in the church are serving?
How many are serving inside and outside the church?
How many are in small groups?
How many are being trained into leadership in groups and in the church?
Here's a key: Some of these things are self-reported in groups. That's a
very helpful way to keep up with how God is using your people, and it
takes minimal effort to keep track of it. It trains your people to be
observant and proactive about those around them -- those they are called
to disciple and train.

So yes, we should count, but we need to count the right things. Sunday
by Sunday, pastors and church leaders should get a report on, for
instance, the percentage of people who were in small groups, the number
of people who are on mission and ministry -- and so on.

Metrics can help us know where we are and where we need to change. We
need to be careful not to be slavishly driven by numbers, but to use
them as a tool. And to that end, check out Transformational Discipleship
Assessment for maturity issues and also the Transformational Church
Assessment Tool. These are helpful tools for counting well, using the
best measurables, and bringing health and strength to individual
Christians and your church as a whole.

Measure your church over long periods of time and notice the trends, but
I suggest that you keep track of the short-term numbers, too. There
needs to be a regular keeping of data so that we can see our progress
week to week.

As we learn more and more about our churches, we need to shore up some
of the areas we discover are weak. But don't downplay your church's
strengths. If the strength of your church is vibrant worship, for
example, go with it.

Doing metrics and counting numbers actually can bless our churches and
the communities around them. Learn to love the numbers that can better
help you love the people they represent.

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