The purpose of counting worship attendance is to help measure the strength, health and effectiveness of a local church. In the making of disciples for the transformation of the world, numbers have value. They are not the only measure, but it is one important metric and one the CTC pays close attention to. It is the basic number we use to qualify our market share in each community. The purpose of the following information is to help provide consistency across all the CTC churches, as well as a consistent measure for the local church to compare themselves to year-by-year. When worship attendance goes down, it is helpful to explore the reasons why, and when it goes up, it is helpful to celebrate.
We ask that, at the very least, local churches (1) remain consistent in what they do every week (2) provide the most honest assessment of the church’s strength, health, and effectiveness as possible, and (3) place these metrics on VitalSigns weekly.
Who Should You Count?
For your weekly attendance numbers, you should include those present at worship in-person, online worshipers, children's worship, youth worship, confirmation worship, shut-in worship (nursing home, assisted living, etc.) and even the CME worshipers (Christmas, Mother's Day and Easter/Holy Week).
The People Present
Count every single person physically present attending a worship service. This is any New Faith Community, any time of the week the service is held, anything that qualifies as worship (preaching, scripture reading, communion, creeds, worship songs, yes, we all know what worship is and isn’t). This includes counting adults, youth, children and even infants. This includes children in the nursery but not Sunday School. Include ushers, greeters, welcome people, coffee servers, choirs, praise teams – anyone participating in worship or serving in the worship experience. Even count the preacher!
Online Worshipers (and How to Count Them)
While this has been an important metric to track for more than a decade, it became vital (and almost mandatory) in March 2020 when the COVID pandemic lockdown hit the Central Texas Conference. Online worship attendance remains an important statistic even though we seem to be on the other side of the pandemic. But how do we accurately reflect those participating online?
REGISTRATION IS KEY
The most exact way to count the number of people worshiping online – via your website, video providers like YouTube or Vimeo and/or social media sites like Facebook - is by offering a quick and simple online registration process. The registration can be done by having an online form embedded on the webpage along with the video stream (don’t make it a link that takes them off the video page or they might not come back or won’t complete the registration at all). For folks worshipping via YouTube, Facebook or the like, simply ask them to add their names in the comments section.
Online registration should be a point of emphasis from the pulpit and on the webpage/social media site, and it folks should be reminded to register even if they are viewing a recording of the service later in the week. The key is registering their presence by name or family in a clear way. The act of registering is a key component of participating in the online worship experience with the church community.
You can also get a fairly accurate count by using the analytics provided by your web/social media site. For videos posted on your website, YouTube and/or Facebook (the most commonly used live streaming platforms), it is recommended that you use One-minute views as your benchmark. By eliminating the three- and 10-second views, you rule out those who randomly scrolled to your feed and then left. Those who were there for a minute or more, typically meant to be there.
For instructions on how to find those metrics, click here for YouTube
and here for Facebook
details. Contact your website provider for instructions on how to access those metrics. Other popular live stream providers include Zoom (simply count the number of folks on the Zoom meeting or webinar) and Vimeo
, which provides data via its analytics panel
Once You Have the Numbers, Do the Math
Because many people participate in online worship in groups – i.e. all family members watching on the same source – you need to do a little math and multiply the number of one-minute views by the appropriate multiplier to more accurately capture group viewing. If you know the family dynamic of your viewers, you should use a multiplier of 1.5 for households in which a couple are the typical participants and a 2.0 multiplier for families with one or more children who are likely participating. As such, the CTC recommends a standard 1.75 multiplier when figuring online attendance via analytics (Number of One-Minute Views X 1.75 = average weekly worship attendance).
Since you’ll want to make sure to capture the “on-demand” worshippers (those who watched a replay later in the week), you’ll want to grab your metrics later in the week. However, consistency is vital, so make sure to get the numbers as close to the same time on the same day each week. And, this is a MUCH easier process if it is done and recorded weekly than it’ll be if you wait until the end of the year and try to manage 52 weeks of this at once. Plus, a consistent, weekly analysis will help you quickly spot trends and be able to react to those.
The Central Texas Conference webmaster is at your disposal if you need extra assistance. Email email@example.com
if you need more information.
MEASURE, TRACK AND CONNECT WITH ENGAGERS
While views matter because people matter, the larger goal is engagement. In the physical world, your church counted the number of baptisms, professions of faith, small group participation, etc. All those metrics in some form or fashion are signs of engagement – a decision to take a deeper step-in faith and get involved in the mission and vision of the church. That can also happen online. Start monitoring some online engagement metrics, such as:
Decisions (POFs, etc.)
When someone engages with you by liking, commenting, sharing or subscribing, you have been given an opportunity to connect — welcome folks who ‘like’ the page, respond to comments, answer any questions asked, etc. To increase engagement, have a ‘Call to Action’ as you would at an in-person worship. Ask your followers to share your online worship or postings with their friends, etc.
While it can be overwhelming to track all of them, setting up a few key engagement metrics is important to seeing how well your online audience is engaged with your message and will help you track and gauge growth; adjusting and adapting when indicated or needed.
And finally, don’t go it alone! Ask for volunteers with good people skills and a willingness to work on connecting with the people who engage your online platforms to welcome folks who ‘like’ the page, respond to comments, etc. This is especially important for the future of your church.
Count children’s worship, Count youth worship, Count confirmation worship.
If your church has weekly children’s worship, weekly youth worship or an annual Confirmation worship, add this into your total weekend worship. If your Confirmation, youth, and children’s programs do not include worship, do not count.
Count Ash Wednesday, Holy Week, Easter Sunrise services, Easter Sunday (even the extra added services), Mother's Day, Christmas Eve Candlelight services (all of them if you have more than one) and Christmas Sunday.
Yes, it’s OK if people are counted twice that week, or if a music person is counted in more than one service, remember we are qualifying the health, strength and effectiveness of our church, seeking to do so with consistency within the local church and in comparison to other churches. Add the special services such as Christmas Eve or Holy week to the overall count for the week, meaning add CE and Holy Week into the weekend total. Remember, we are qualifying the health, strength and effectiveness of our church. This is not about numbers even though it is!
Count Nursing home, assisted living, etc. worship services if they include the elements of worship.
Add this into the following weekend worship numbers.
What if it snows, sleets, ices, floods, hails or a tornado hits the town.
Count, but don’t add into the years average worship attendance. If it ices one weekend, average 51 weeks leaving that one out. We want a clear indication of the health, strength and effectiveness of a Church.
Who not to count?
Don’t add 5% to the total to account for people in the bathroom or talking in the hallways.
Don’t count weekly fellowship dinners if they do not include the full worship qualification.
Don’t count Preschool worship.
If your church hosts a weekly preschool for children that the community enrolls their children in and pays for, and it has a worship experience connected with it, do not count as a church worship experience.
Don’t, don’t, don’t count funerals or weddings.