Why We Need to Ask More Numerical Questions about Our Church

I’m well aware that it’s easy to get focused on numbers when evaluating church growth. Too many church leaders report “butts in the seats” and “bucks in the plate” more than anything else—without really evaluating even those numbers. For example, we might report a significant attendance increase without pointing out that most of that growth came from transfer growth rather than conversion growth. 

On the other hand, numbers do matter. I do want to know if my church is reaching non-believers and making disciples—after all, Jesus told us to make disciples of all the world (Matt 28:18-20)—and checking numbers is one means to evaluate how we’re doing in that process. 

My concern in this post, though, is that we often ask only the attendance growth numbers without regard for other numbers that matter, too. It’s not that we give too much attention to numbers; it’s that we give too little attention to them. 

For example, here are a few other numbers I would also want to know: 

    • How many believers in my church daily practice the spiritual disciplines of Bible intake and prayer?
    • How many Christian couples pray together daily?
    • How many parents are intentionally discipling their children beyond bringing them to church?
    • How many believers can name non-believers (or even one) with whom they are intentionally developing a relationship, loving them and working toward sharing Christ with them?
    • How many church members have been trained to give their personal testimony?
    • What percentage of members have shared the gospel with someone in the past year?
    • How many members have, with the help of other believers, identified their spiritual gifts?
    • How many attendees are actively engaged in a small group in the church?
    • What percentage of our church members have served at least short-term on the mission field?
    • How many members have we sent out in the last five years to do church planting/pastoring/missionary service either in North America or around the world?
    • How many members are actively working on scripture memorization?
    • What percentage of members are involved in a mentor/mentee relationship with another believer?
    • How many members would say, “If I’m honest, I have never truly been discipled”?

I realize this list is not exhaustive, but I trust you get my point. What other numbers would you add to this list as you evaluate your church? What numbers in this list had you not considered?

Posted on August 15, 2023

Dr. Chuck Lawless is a leading expert in spiritual consultation, discipleship and mentoring. As a former pastor, he understands the challenges ministry presents and works with Church Answers to provide advice and counsel for church leaders.
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  • Henry Van Weeren says on

    This is a great additional list. Thank you!

  • The list is good, but I think it would be helpful to have some definitions or at least some guidelines associated with the questions. For instance what does it mean to , “share the gospel”? Not too far from the reply I offer when asked if I “preach the gospel” – do you mean the actual words of the gospel? Or do you mean the message of the gospel: that God loves us and wants to be in a relationship with us. The message of the gospel, especially tempered through the stories of the characters found in the entirety of the bible – from Hebrew Scripture through the New Testament, is important for people to hear. Not that Hebrew Scripture is the end, rather it describes the human condition which Jesus came to redeem.

    The 4th point is one of the most critical things believers can do. A “bumper sticker” that sums that up is: make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ. Without the first two the likelihood the third will have the desired effect goes down.