Special thanks to Andy Hopper with the Hillsong Leadership Network for this blog post.
When you think of the characteristics and skill set of a pastoral leader, what type of person do you imagine? Perhaps compassionate, kind, patient, loving, generous, relational…
It’s easy to have a concept of Jesus as a softly spoken, counselor type figure, but this one-dimensional view of Jesus excludes a key characteristic of an effective pastoral leader.
Jesus said in John 10:14, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”
He also said in Matthew 18:12, “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the 99 others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?”
As shepherds of God’s flock we receive a responsibility to take care of His sheep, and that means knowing the state of our flock. How many are there? Is anyone missing? Does anyone need extra attention?
Here are 15 reasons why at Hillsong Church we value counting our flock.
15 Reasons Hillsong Tracks Church Data
1) Individual people count.
We count people, because people count, and if each one is precious to God, then each one is precious to us. Why would God entrust our ministry with more people if we aren’t taking care of the ones he’s already sent us?
2) Counting sets a goal for your team.
The easiest goals to measure are quantifiable. You can identify where you are now, where you want to be, and how to break it down to get there. Set goals that inspire people.
3) Counting creates team ownership.
When you break down a big vision into smaller goals, it makes it easier for your team to jump on board with the plan knowing there’s a correlation between their actions and results.
4) Know that your hard work is actually bearing fruit.
When you start to measure your progress towards a goal, it allows you to celebrate the wins within the bigger vision. If you never know what’s a win, then it’s hard to keep going for the long-haul.
5) It paints a picture of areas that you are not directly involved in.
As soon as you have more than one service, location, small group or ministry, it means that a leader cannot see and experience for themselves everything that is happening in church life. Stories and anecdotes play a part, but statistics provide a well-rounded view of everything that’s happening in programs you can’t physically attend yourself.
6) It provides facts not guesswork.
You don’t want to make key decisions off second-hand stories or well-meaning guesses. When allocating resources and directing people, it is most helpful to have accurate facts available.
7) Numbers are objective not emotional.
Often times we can be moved by stories or by the person we know telling them, clouding our judgment on the effectiveness and fruitfulness of a ministry area.
8) It challenges you to improve ineffective areas.
You can only intentionally seek to improve the areas you know are falling behind. Often times the first areas you stop measuring are the ones where you’re too scared to know the results. That’s a surefire sign you not only need to keep counting, but start brainstorming new ideas.
9) It identifies leaders who are doing well.
It’s tempting to promote leaders with the most charisma, best communication skills, or strongest personal relationship. However, counting reveals which teams and leaders from across the board are the most fruitful.
10) It reveals patterns and trends.
A key benefit of accurately tracking statistics consistently over years is being able to track the patterns and trends. So perhaps attendance drops significantly at a certain time of year, but if you know the same thing happens every year, it’s not a reason to panic, but rather a time to get creative about bucking the trend next time.
11) It supports educated decision-making.
Facts about the reality of a ministry, combined with trends over time give enough data to help you make the tough decisions with confidence when necessary.
12) Counting makes you aware of early warning signs.
If you do notice a downward trend, then consistent counting allows you enough time to realize, try ideas and make a change before something is beyond restoration and hurts a lot of people.
13) It provides accountability within a congregation, board, and elders.
Counting not only keeps a team accountable to a leader, but also keeps the leader accountable to the congregation, board, and elders themselves for the health of the church.
14) Counting creates lessons to share with other churches.
As Hillsong Church has valued measuring statistics for many years, it means the insights we have learned from the process—what has worked and what has not worked—can now be passed on to other churches on the same journey. We are stronger together, and the insights from your church will make the whole Body stronger.
15) The Bible is full of numbers.
In fact there’s a whole book called Numbers! God is not scared of numbers and neither should we be. Through the Gospels and Acts we read about the numbers involved in Jesus’s ministry, discipleship team, and the expansion of the early Church. Don’t write off counting numbers as unspiritual, but appreciate that they can actually help us all to be the best pastoral leaders we can be.
New: Hillsong Health Report
For an easy way to start tracking your church data, download the free Church Metrics App. Church Metrics was built specifically for churches by Life.Church, and we love giving it away for free to more than 60,000 churches around the world.
Today, we couldn’t be more excited to partner with Hillsong Church to provide a brand-new feature: the Hillsong Health Report.
The Hillsong Health Report displays your church data using five gauges—easy-to-read visuals that allow you to quickly see if you are winning in five specific areas. Each gauge features a color code to show the status of your health in that specific area. This methodology has been tested and refined at Hillsong campuses of all sizes over the last twenty years, and now it’s being shared with churches everywhere through Church Metrics.
And now, because of the generosity of Hillsong, the Hillsong Health Report is available to every church for free.
Get Even More from Hillsong Church
In addition to partnering with us on the new feature in Church Metrics, the Hillsong Leadership Network is also a partner on the Open Network. You can browse over a dozen free training sessions from Hillsong Church leadership, covering topics like: “Church Branding”, “Sermon Preparation”, “Ministering to Millennials”, and more free on the Open Network.
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