5 Ways to Measure Church Attendance

Church attendance is one of the most important metrics to pay attention to. But how do you get an accurate headcount without making it weird? You don’t want anyone to feel like they’re just a number, but you also want reliable data so you can see trends in church growth.

Here are five ways to measure church attendance:

1. Count the number of cars

Counting cars is a simple way to get a decent estimate of how many people show up on Sunday. This is especially easy if you have volunteers directing traffic in the parking lot. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, recreational trips in the U.S. (such as a drive to church) average 2.1 people per vehicle. After everyone shows up, count the number of cars in your parking lot and multiply it by 2.1.

2. Use a tally counter

You may remember these from your days of riding the school bus as a kid, but tally counters are an affordable way to count the number of people at your church without worrying about losing track. A mechanical tally counter is cheap, but an app is more discreet. Ideally, you’d use this in a way that people don’t notice (like with a greeter in the parking lot), so nobody feels like a number.

3. Make a seat map

Creating a map of the seats in your sanctuary lets you send someone to mark which seats are empty or full instead of counting people. Then you can count the empty seats later. Assuming you have fewer empty seats than people, this saves you a lot of counting. Plus, to anyone watching, it looks like you’re finding open seats for anyone who comes in late. (Which is a good thing for a growing church to do, anyway!)

4. Get automated people counters

Automated counters use cameras to measure foot traffic in strategic locations. If you set one of these up at the main entrance to your building or the door to your sanctuary, you don’t have to have anyone physically count people, and you’ll probably wind up with more reliable data. Some of these systems are pretty discreet, so depending on where you put it, people may not even notice it’s there.

5. Give every person a bulletin

If you print off 200 bulletins and hand out 127, it’s pretty safe to say you had at least 127 people in your service. Keep track of how many bulletins you print each weekend, then at the end of the service count how many you have left and subtract that from the number you printed. That’ll give you the number of people who attended. Not every person will take a bulletin, but you can always set one aside for every person who says they don’t want one. That way, you’ll still wind up with an accurate count.

Be encouraged

Attendance can be a pain to deal with in a growing church. When your church was small, it was easy to do a quick, inconspicuous headcount every Sunday. But as you grow, you lose the luxury of being able to eyeball attendance. And that’s a great problem to have!

But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Using one of these methods, you can start reliably measuring the growth God is giving you.

Happy counting!


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Jayson D. Bradley

Jayson D. Bradley is a writer and pastor in Bellingham, WA. He’s a regular contributor to Relevant Magazine, and his blog JaysonDBradley.com has been voted one of the 25 Christian blogs you should be reading.

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