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Though some disagree, the analysis of attendance numbers is very important to your church.  Numbers represent changed lives.  And what could possibly be more important in ministry than changed lives?
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But if you’re only looking at mass attendance numbers, you may be missing something.  Mass attendance only tells you the total number people that were in your services on a given weekend.  What it doesn’t show you is how regularly individuals are attending your services.  It is quite possible for you to have an average weekly attendance of 1,500 people that is really comprised of 2,500 individuals, most of which attend only 2 weeks a month, on average.  Is this type of situation a problem?  Well the more irregular your congregation is in attendance, the more difficult it is to cast vision, generate momentum, involve attenders, create consistent communication, etc.  And more importantly, if your weekend service provides the primary presentation of biblical truth to your church, attendance regularity is a very important issue.
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It is possible that your congregation is full of very committed attenders (ideal).  It is also very possible that you have a large number of casual attenders.  But how will you ever know?  How do you measure attendance regularity in your church?  How do you find out exactly how often the individuals who call your church “home” actually attend your services?  Can you set-up a table at the front door and force everyone to sign in?  Of course not!  Nobody would come back!
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However, there is an area of your ministry that already forces individual families to tell you when and how often they attend your services.
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Every week, families with newborns, toddlers, and elementary-aged children voluntarily check their child into your Children’s Ministry.  (And if your Student Ministry meets simultaneously, it probably acts similarly.)  They don’t realize, but parents are not just letting you know when their child is present, parents are letting you know when they are present!  Those kids aren’t walking themselves to church.  Children represent families! And with this recognition, you can track the attendance regularity of a large portion of your congregation!
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So how do you practically analyze this Children’s Ministry attendance data to track attendance regularity in your church?  There are probably a hundred different ways, but here is how I would suggest you begin…
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1.  At the end of every month, get the list of weekly child check-ins from your Children’s Ministry.  (Hopefully it is maintained in a database that you can export into a spreadsheet.  If your Student Ministry meets simultaneously, you can merge their lists.)
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2.  Delete extra siblings to create a list that contains only one child from each family.  From this point on, don’t consider yourself to be analyzing child attendance, but instead to be analyzing family attendance. Remember, children represent families.
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3.  Calculate the number of Sundays each child attended that month.  This is very easy with a =CountIf formula in Excel.
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4.  Analyze the data.  What percentage of families attended only one Sunday that month?  Twice?  Three or four times?  (=CountIf is useful here as well.  Use percentages rather than raw numbers.)
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5.  Continue doing this every month, graphing trends and calculating monthly averages.  Are you satisfied with the attendance regularity of your congregation’s families?  If not, begin to investigate the causes of their attendance patterns.
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Capturing this family-specific data will allow you to see the regularity with which individuals actually attend your weekend services, which is just as important as mass attendance.  Sure, it’s not perfect; not every family-type is included, only those with children.  And you cannot assume that the attendance patterns of one family-type perfectly represent your entire congregation.  However, measuring attendance regularity with this data will help you develop a clearer picture that your mass attendance records simply cannot provide.  It doesn’t show an absolutely complete picture, but it provide many details you are not currently seeing!
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If you would like to personally discuss this type of data capturing as it more specifically pertains to your organization, I would love to connect with you!
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Also, if your church is using any other methods to break-down your attendance data, I would love to hear about them!
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