How did your church fare in 2021 compared to others?

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Holiday greetings! ‘Tis the season. Last weekend we drove some of our grandkids around (“for hours,” the youngest one said) looking at Christmas displays. What a delightful time of year.

It’s also the time to reflect back on the year. How did your church fare in 2021? In the Heritage 21 Post-Quarantine Church Forum we were surprised, in a good way, at how optimistic many church leaders were about their churches. Most felt they had weathered the quarantine well. The biggest question church leaders were asking was about the long-term impact of Covid, which has accelerated trends that already existed before Covid.

The Unstuck Group (TheUnstuckGroup.com) recently published their 4th quarter report for 2021.The Unstuck Group does a good job reporting insights from churches around the country who complete their surveys. In 2021 they reviewed information from 194 churches. Here is what these churches were like:

·     Average weekly worship attendance: 506
·     Online service views: 2000+
·     Membership size: 100 to 7,500 people 
·     Average year started: 1963
·     From multiple denominational and non-denominational backgrounds

Here’s an infographic you can share with your church leaders with the top 5 findings from this report. How does your church compare?
Q4 2021 – Unstuck Church Report
Here are some ideas to help you interpret these findings:

Attendance. After more than 18 months since Covid first hit, whatever members have not already returned will probably never return—at least to your church. The new life habits people formed during Covid are going to stick around. If one of those changes was they quit coming to your church, it’s time to move on. Turn your focus to finding new people who might be interested in your church. That will likely be more fruitful.

Baptisms. We don’t know if the drop in baptisms is because churches have focused on retaining and recalling members, if people are less willing to consider church commitments, or other reasons. This is a good time to reflect on how your church shares Jesus with not-yet believers. Do you have a definite process that lets people consider the claims of Jesus and his lordship over their lives? If you don’t, consider the Alpha courseas an option.

Database. An active, useable database is a critical tool for helping your church grow. This database is not your church directory. A database is a connection and communication tool. If you want to grow, you should add at least 20% new people to your database each year. Then use your database to communicate with those people and guide them towards a committed life for Jesus.

Volunteers. Is 1.5 hours per week enough to sustain a life of vital discipleship? I doubt it. Yet for how many people in your church, is that little bit of time on Sunday morning the only time they are engaged with you? Volunteering as teachers, parking lot ushers, lawn care givers, and in many other ways raises the commitment level of your members and gives them opportunity to develop personal relationships with others that support and encourage faith.

Giving. I have been encouraged to hear from a number of churches that their giving has been good through 2021. What a blessing. But somewhere down the road the drop in attendance, if it does not pick back up, will catch up to us. As a friend of mine in the financial world once told me, “Church finances are simple, if you need more money, you either have to get more people giving or the giving people to give more.” Healthy church giving will pay attention to both those factors.

How does your church compare with other churches around the country? These five items are critical measures that you need to track every year. Regularly review these numbers in your leadership team and publish them at least yearly for your members. 

Holiday blessings,

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