How amazing is that? We went from around 10 percent of churches experiencing growth to 50 percent, and all it took was a global pandemic for us to accomplish it.
And good news, it’s not just the megachurches that are seeing growth, churches of all sizes are seeing this same growth. I mean you would almost believe that this is too good to be true.
Which is why I started asking questions. The main question being, how do they know their church is growing, because the pastors I’ve been having conversations with are at a loss as to how to even measure anything during this time.
So, I looked into the article who sent out this headline and learned that they were doing a survey in partnership with the Barna group and Gloo.
I had never heard of Gloo, but the Barna group has been around for a long time and I normally trust what they’re putting out. But the question still lingered, how were they measuring growth.
So, I went to their Facebook page and asked, and a young man told me to listen to a podcast that would go live that night and they would explain it. So I did, and they gave the statistic again, but never an explanation on how they actually measured growth.
I went back to the young man, and explained that I had heard the podcast but they never discussed how they came up with the number. So, he said a new blog would come out later that week that would explain in more detail. Make sure to read that.
That blog never addressed it either.
At this point, I was so frustrated that no one would just tell me how they asked the question, that I did what I should have done from the beginning, I signed up to take the survey myself.
Only to be given an error message before getting to the first question.
Not wanting to give up, I commented on the blog page hoping the author might give me a reply, but unfortunately he never did.
Normally I love the material this author puts out, but I just wish he would’ve done more to clarify his post and the survey he used.
For most of us, moving our services online is a new and unfamiliar experience. I don’t know a lot about other platforms, but if you happen to be using Facebook, the numbers they show you can be very misleading.
Let me give you an example. My church has two campuses, and before we went online we were averaging around 750 people in total weekend attendance.
For Easter, we went “Live” on Facebook at six different times. Here’s the main numbers Facebook shows me for just one of those service times.
People Who Saw It: 4,025
Number of Views: 2,300
If those are the only numbers I looked at, I would conclude my church was growing by over 300 percent. Why are we paying a mortgage? Let’s sell everything and move online forever, right?
But, hold on a second, I was watching that service and we never had more than 140 devices viewing at any one time. So, what gives?
Well, if you dig a little deeper into Facebook video insights I start getting some numbers I don’t like as much.
3 Second Views: 2,300
Average Watch Time: 1 minute and 27 seconds
Now, I can start to see that those first set of numbers don’t mean very much. You wouldn’t count a 3 second view as growth would you? It would almost be like counting every car that drives by your church during service as a guest.
I’m afraid that may be what some of us are doing.
And don’t get me wrong, I think taking our services online gives the opportunity for people to check out our churches and learn about Jesus, who may have never stepped foot in our churches before.
That’s a very good thing. I’m hoping and praying that some of those people decide to step through the doors of our churches when we’re able to gather again. Some probably will, many of them won’t. That’s just reality.
I’m also not naïve enough to think that everyone who has normally attended our church in the past, is watching our services online. Online works for some people, and for some it doesn’t. I’m sure there’s a percentage of our church people who are just enjoying sleeping in on Sundays. Again, let’s hope and pray they come back when we start gathering in person. Some will, some probably won’t. Again, that’s reality.
So, what about those numbers? What do we do with them?
Most of us would probably be better off just ignoring them. There’s more important things you could be doing.
For example, each week you could personally call every person who has attended your church in the past 6 months. Ask them how they’re doing, and how you can pray for them.
Doing things like that is going to be way more beneficial, than looking at some artificial number.
The people who come to your church when this is all over, are going to be the people you made a connection with, not the people who viewed a few seconds of your service while they were scrolling one morning.