So now that we’ve turned the calendar to another year, and we are already preparing our “End of Year” reports for the Annual Conference, what do the numbers say about where we’ve been? And, as is often the case, it depends. There is always more than one way to look at things and our church is no exception but, at the same time, I think that there are some useful numbers worth examining.
Let’s begin with the number that everyone probably asks about first, attendance. In 2018 we reported an average worship attendance of 71 in our Charge Conference report. This year, in June, we reported that number as 78, and by the end of 2019 our average was almost 80 (technically 79.82). Obviously, that’s a significant improvement but we all know that a church “our size” should, and could, have far more than that on an average week. Still, we should all be pleased that we’re moving in the right direction. What’s more, I hope that I’m not the only one who has noticed that we’re beginning to see more visitors, more repeat visitors, and a few more children and all those things are good signs.
But so far, none of those increases that we’ve seen in worship have found their way to Sunday School. Attendance in our Sunday morning classes was 37 in 2017, 39 in 2018, and almost 39 (actually, 38.94) in 2019. Even so, that isn’t bad news. Considering the number of members that we’ve lost in the last three years, holding steady is a solid accomplishment. Moreover, thirty-nine people in Sunday school and eighty in worship, means that 48 percent of our regular attenders are coming to Sunday school every week. And whether you know it or not, that is a huge percentage that any church would be proud of.
Our social media presence is also, however slowly, increasing as well. In January of 2019 our church Facebook page had 199 followers and by January of this year that number had risen to 219. And, although even while 219 “likes” in the social media world is still tiny, a ten percent increase is still good news. And during that same time period, the number of people who subscribe to our Sunday sermons increased from 206 to 333. Of course, just because people subscribe doesn’t mean that they read those messages, and although it’s harder to put specific numbers to online readership, the number of readers has increased substantially as well. Even more difficult, is trying to understand how any of that contributes to attendance or ministry at our physical location in the real world, but in a era when most people visit your webpage before they visit your church, having a healthy online presence is good news.
And, of course, we have many more programs, mission, and volunteer opportunities going on year-round that are even more difficult to count or number. Our Thanksgiving dinner partnership delivered more than 1100 turkey dinners on Thanksgiving morning, we had a very successful burger event during Carnation Days in the Park, our church donated far in excess of our pledge to Habitat for Humanity for last year’s Apostle Build and in the process our volunteers had a highly visible presence at last summer’s weekly concerts by the caboose downtown. Our scouting program is healthy, growing, and continues to produce Eagle scouts and train the leaders of tomorrow. But more than that, we now have two scout troops because this year Troop 50 has become Troops 50 as they formed a new all-female Troop 50, for girls and young women, alongside of the existing all-male Troop 50.
There are many more stories that could be told, but it seemed as if this was a year in which we were constantly hearing good news. While we may not yet be where we would like to be, or perhaps moving as quickly as we might like, we are moving in the right direction. The numbers affirm what many of us have suspected. Christ Church is moving in the right direction and I want to thank all of you for all the hard work, in a hundred different places, and in dozens of events, and in countless hours of effort on the part of… well, practically everyone. I want you to know that you are making a difference.
I’m looking forward to what this new year will bring, and I hope you are too.
To see “2019 – By the Numbers (Part 2)” a review of my social media presence in 2019, click here.
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