It happens at every church. The moment your senior pastor or supervisor asks you one of these questions:
- “How many students do we have coming to program?”
- “How many students attend on a weekly basis?”
- “How many students regularly attend?”
- “How many students are fully engaged?”
- “What are our numbers for high school?”
- “What are our current numbers for middle school?”
While many of these questions have a similar feel to them, they indeed are DIFFERENT questions. If your boss or senior pastor ask one of the above questions you might feel stuck or unfairly represented by answering that one question. Help them clarify their question by answering more questions that should be asked.
My high school ministry is most misrepresented by simply observing a weekly attendance report. If I were to answer the question, “How many high school students attended this week?” I would be forced to answer, “38 high school students attended this week.”
This would be a direct answer to the question but a misrepresentation to what is really going on with high school attendance. Yes, we had 38 students show up last week for program, but there is far more to this equation than that simple number.
I ask a series of questions to give the most accurate picture of our ministry. I’m being vulnerable here… we have a larger MS ministry (which is usually the case at most churches) but decided to give you the honest HS numbers we are currently working with. Please look past how big or small our group is and understand more clearly the questions I’m asking and how they fit together.
How many students attend weekly on average? 45
How many students serve & regularly attend?
- 34 students serve every Sunday
- 19 of 34 are regular attenders
- 15 of 34 have attended no more than 2 times
Therefore 76% of the high school students are actively serving every week as a leader or volunteer. 42% of the high school students are fully engaged, both serving on Sunday mornings, attending the high school program on Sunday evenings and their small group.
What does a fully engaged student look like? A student that is in a small group and serving.
I have always graded my ministry based upon how many of my students are fully engaged in a small group AND serving. This means they are committed to growing as the local church and being the church by living out and giving away what they are learning.
Most students after graduation will stay connected to the church not because of a program but because they know WHO they are connected to and WHAT they can contribute.
If you get nothing else out of this, please remember this – when talking about attendance, specific questions require specific answers. More answers clarify not just attendance but participation. Ask more questions.
How do you currently take/rate attendance? What other questions would be good questions to ask or reports to run?