2. Traditional church metrics are only accurate for larger crowds
In a church of 75 (the US average) the presence or absence of two or three families changes the percentages so drastically that you'd go crazy trying to use those numbers to determine anything of value.
Statisticians know this. That's why they require a certain number of people for a poll to be considered valid. Crowds tend to behave according to patterns. The larger the crowd, the more accurate and predictive the numbers become.
In larger churches, it might make sense to track growth on a chart, compare numerical percentages and use those metrics as one determiner of how well ministry is being done. But the smaller the sample, the less valuable the statistics are. The smaller the church … well, you can fill in the rest.
Small churches need different metrics than large churches. The problem is, I don't know if anyone has designed metrics that assess the unique characteristics of small churches.
Different Sizes Need to Use Different Metrics
Keeping track of how many people attend small groups in a church over 1,000 might be an accurate tool in helping to determine the fellowship health of that church. But small group numbers are virtually meaningless in most small churches. Many small churches are a small group of their own.
Small church discipleship is different, too. It's often done through one-on-one mentoring rather than in classes where you can take attendance. Sometimes discipleship is done by a staff member or in a class. But it's often done by a mature church member without being officially assigned as such by the church leadership - it's called having friends. What kind of metrics would you use to measure that?
Which brings me back to where this post started. Small church pastors aren't ignoring the numbers. But we haven't been given accurate tools to help us gather and asses the right numbers. Because no one really knows what numbers actually matter in assessing small church health.
My friend, Dave Jacobs, proposed a starter idea for measuring small church health in a post, FINALLY! A Way to Measure Church Health That Makes Sense. His idea? Percentages. I think that's a great starting point.
But it's only a starting point. So I end this post with a request.