Touching Lives

Easily gathered metrics like Sunday attendance are useful but deceptive.

Your goal isn’t just to count “fannies in the pew,” as an irreverent pastor in New York City puts it. You want to measure reach and impact. Sunday is only one venue of many.

For example, your church newsletter should reach both members and non-members. If it’s well done and readable, you can communicate with people you might never see on Sunday but who might come to weekday events or give financial support to a mission.

Your Web site can reach far beyond regular Sunday attendees. A good e-mail marketing campaign can drive people of all kinds to your Web site, where they can listen to a sermon, read a lecture, or join a discussion.

Weekday events can create constituencies whom you never see on Sunday. The Wednesday supper becomes “their” church. The Thursday feeding ministry becomes their “community.”

One challenge is to imagine your reach as extending beyond Sunday worship. The other is to measure it.

You can get statistics on how many recipients actually open your e-mail newsletter. You can discern how many people visit your Web site, how many go to each potentially impacting section, like sermon files. You can assign counters to each weekday activity.

Once you add these metrics to the Sunday worship numbers, you begin to get a measure of your impact. After all, touching lives is more important than just filling the pews on Sunday.


Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant, and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the publisher of On a Journey, and the founder of the Church Wellness Project.