Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Question of the Day

Note: I'm bumping this up top today -- I really want to know what you think.

What makes a church congregation "healthy"? How does one quantify it?

More: I'm doing an analysis of our conference; I've got bunches of statistics for the last 7 or 8 years. These are the things I can look for. I would appreciate more suggestions.

1) I have the growth rates for each county. I also have a) membership gain b) attendance gain. I am going to either add or subtract the difference (the delta) of the growth rate for the county from these -- this will "normalize" the growth of the church. For instance, if a church's attendance appears to be dropping 10% per year, you might assume that the church is at risk. But if the county is dropping at 10% as well, then they really are at steady-state. If the county is dropping 15%, then this church really is doing quite well.

2) I have the "average age" of people in each county. It really does vary all over the place. If there is a church with just a handful of prep members and /or constitutory members and they are in a "young county," then they might be at risk. If on the other hand they are in a county that is aging, then they probably are OK.

3) I have a figure for "giving." I can divide this by membership and get a count per head. I can look at the figures for average income and figure out how this congregation is doing compared to the income of the county. (What will I use for the "norm"? The average giving? The mean, the median?)

4) Membership to attendance ratio. I know that people just don't do church like they did in the 1950's. In the 50's, people went 36 to48 Sundays per year. Now I think our largest group attends 24 to 36 per year (lots of reasons for this.) Can I legitimately normalize for this?

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