Imagine that you’re trying to see how many adults you have present in small groups each week.
Imagine that you’re trying to see how many children you had on campus one Sunday and in which rooms.
Now imagine that data is stored in multiple places, accessible by different people.
Group leader, do you have your attendance?
Oh yes, I keep a detailed spreadsheet on my computer at home.
No, I never take attendance, but I remember who was there.
Yes here it is (scrawled on a napkin, complete with coffee stains, pulled from the bottom of a purse).
Now imagine that you can log onto your church management software and get that information within a few minutes. Maybe seconds.
And yet, I hear from churches every day that one of their top issues is: we don’t know where people are. I talk to other database administrators who say that they know a total number of ‘butts in seats’ on Sunday, but have no real attendance on individual people. They don’t know who is connected – or where.
As a process person, who is constantly reminded that we need to think about “people over process,” I want to share with you why attendance is much more than “part of the process.”
I’ll make a bold statement: I don’t believe that anyone either accepted or denied Jesus based on whether the church had accurate attendance records.
That’s a bold statement coming from a process person and one that hurts me to admit. Even with that being said, I absolutely believe that taking attendance is important.
I’m not going to over-spiritualize this. This is not a theological discussion. I leave those to people who are much more qualified.
But there are some basic reasons why attendance – accuracy and accessibility – is important.
We’re called to be good stewards of the resources God has given us.
That means physical resources. Church leaders need to know who is present, and which rooms. If one class is outgrowing their room and another class consistently has low attendance, it might be time to move some people.
It also means financial resources. A particular class may need more curriculum materials. Knowing actual attendance figures will help leaders to know how much that class needs.
Often, these decisions need to be made quickly. Having all attendance figures quickly accessible in one place, helps save time when making important decisions regarding resources.
Church leaders care about people.
I hope – that like our family – you’re blessed with a Pastor who gives a fantastic message each week. There is more to church than the Sunday sermon. There’s these things: fellowship, service, spiritual growth.
Those things happen best in the context of small groups or ministry teams.
Most Pastors I talk to do care about these things. Yet, taking individual attendance on a Sunday church service can be a daunting – or impossible – task as a church grows.
Knowing that people are connected in a small group, is important to most Pastors.
The next time your small group leader takes attendance, remember this is a not the church trying to be “big brother.”
If you’re a small group leader, the next time you’re asked to submit attendance through the church management software, this is not the powers that be trying to make your life more difficult.
Think of the software as a central communications tool. It’s a tool that will empower church leaders to make important decisions based on accurate information, accessible to them when they need it, and will help them better care for everyone in the church.