Thursday, September 3, 2015

I Count.....and You Should Too!

Another one of my awkward confessions is that I do count attendance and keep a record of it for all collegiate events for which I'm responsible. It is somewhat fashionable and even considered spiritual not to count. "It's not about nickels and's about people." some say.

First, I have always felt I needed to be able to give some accountability to those who paid my salary. The size of the crowd does not determine the success or failure of the event. Some of the most impactful or serious events will have smaller crowds. A witnessing seminar will never have as many as a session on love, sex, and dating. But, you need both.

A second value I have found to counting and keeping records is that it helped me to see and anticipate the rhythm of the semester. Let me explain. For our weekly events, I kept a chart which showed how many for Week 1, Week 2, etc. And, I could compare the same week to previous years on that same week. I learned that there are certain weeks in the semester when attendance is matter what the Bible study or talk is or what's happening. It just has to do with the rhythm of the semester. Seeing and knowing those trends helped me in planning, evaluation and most of all, my own personal mental health.

But, here is the overwhelming reason you need to be counting. With the money crunch these days and the move in many areas to cut back on College Ministry, we must be able to make the case for the value and effectiveness of our it or not the number of students showing up is a significant factor in that. I attend a church with a long and storied history of College Ministry. We have people who have come through our church serving as foreign missionaries, etc. For a variety of reasons, the last two or three years our College Ministry has not been nearly as large at it used to be. When we recently lost our College Minister, some said, "Do we need a full time College Minister?" They weren't being negative and opposed to College Ministry. They just were thinking about and weighing hard choices.

Let me take it a step further. Do you know how many different students have attended your events in a week? When you say, "We had 75 at worship, 50 at Lunch or Sunday School and 30 at our Freshmen event.". Is that the same 75 students who attended different things and times or is that 125 different students? I would suggest even if it is not done weekly, that you should use sign-in sheets and make a list of the different students who attended. The
number of different students being impacted may be very different than your attendance number. I would even go as far as to say it should be.

Can you say how many different students attended your events last week? Can you say how many different students attended your events in a semester? That gives a more accurate picture of your ministry.

Whether we like it or not, we all have to be able to give an accounting of our ministry. Numbers is ONE of the ways we do it. But, make sure you are giving an accurate picture. It is wrong to lie about your numbers....and
there are those that do that. Another thing I have learned is, students don't do well counting attendance. Someone has said, "Every number represents a person." I've always wanted to reach as many "persons" as possible.

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