By Tim Lubinus
If you are a pastor, you’ve likely been asked about your Sunday attendance number. You may have a number in mind, but are reluctant to acknowledge that a number can adequately summarize your church. You may have some people in mind who only attend out of obligation, artificially inflating the number. You may think of that great group of families who, because of having to move away because of employment, are now impacting another city. Unfortunately, you can’t now count them in your Sunday attendance.
In a similar way, the main question directed toward me when sizing up the BCI is, “How many churches affiliate with the BCI?” In the 80’s when I was in college the number of BCI churches was just under 100. Now it is just over that. I want to suggest that the number of affiliating churches isn’t the only measure of progress.
I would like to add the number of weekly worshippers to our report card. As I mentioned in the illustration of the church above, an attendance number isn’t a foolproof way to measure progress, but let’s include it along with the number of churches as a key indicator of our progress.
From our smallest to our largest churches, we have a wide deviation in attendance. Simply reporting the number of churches may hide that actual progress in reaching our state for Christ. For example, ten churches of twenty may not be more desirable than two churches of one hundred. If we still have around 100 churches in ten years, I’ll be disappointed. However, I’ll be encouraged if our attendance goes from eleven thousand to twenty thousand regardless. It matters little whether the twenty thousand are in 100 churches or 200 churches.
I think we should emphasize the tracking of the number of worshippers as well as number of churches in the BCI. We all know that these kinds of statistics are only rough summaries of what is really going on. In the end, only God knows the true number of disciples in our churches.
Have an opinion on this? Write me at TLubinus@bciowa.org.