Last week the bridge Presbyterian Church had over sixty people in worship. That’s not bad for only the sixth Sunday of worship…during our ‘soft-launch’ period…during the middle of summer…during a time when the community doesn’t know we exist. That said, over sixty people in Sunday worship is something the leadership team got excited about at our weekly team meeting. And rightly so! Sixty is better than 30 and way better than 20 in worship; numbers which would probably keep me up at night!
Once the number was shared, questions popped up from every corner of the room. “Will we be a rapidly growing church?” “What will happen after we have our ‘official’ worship launch?” “Should we start thinking about two services?” Each question was necessary and authentic.
The larger question I wrestle with is this: How important are numbers in church planting? How closely should we be tracking metrics like number of visitors; Sunday collection; conversations and new members?
One one hand, I am called to plant a faithful, self-sustaining new church in Leland, NC. In order to gauge our progress toward being self-sustaining metrics like Sunday giving, new visitors and members are important. So I can’t ignore these metrics, brushing them off under the guise of: “Jesus never counted heads or took up a collection.”
Yet, I realize I live in a culture preoccupied with success and numbers seem to be the choice most folks pick to assess the ‘success’ of our new church. Not unlike my experience at the previous new church I launched, the majority of interested followers seemed fixated on the same question. When asking about the progress of the bridge, over 90% of the people ask me: “So, how many members do you have?”
What do you think numerical metrics reveal about new churches? How important are metrics to leaders of new churches? Are there more helpful…dare I say more faithful metrics leaders should focus energy on? I have some hunches about how I would answer these questions, but I’d be THRILLED if some folks reading this blog or on Facebook would chime in with reflections.
Things are going well at the bridge Presbyterian Church. We had over sixty in worship last Sunday. I say that with a certain degree of reservation believing that numbers only say so much about a new church and I’m convinced there is no number able to quantify a life transformed by the gospel.
What say you?