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Counting Noses (What is our Attendance?)

When looking to determine the health of our congregation, for years we looked at the Sunday morning attendance figure as the main indicator.  Several years ago some of our denominational leaders began suggesting that “counting noses” was perhaps not the best way to gauge the overall health of any congregation, and yet it remains a key factor when decisions (number of services, staff, etc.) need to be made.
 
Here at Five Forks Church, tracking attendance used to be fairly simple, as simple as counting noses.  Through the years, different members of our office staff have looked to record and provide an accurate number of those in attendance each week.  In addition to those attending In-Person, prior to COVID, there were a relatively small number of households (hovering around 20) that would watch a Sunday morning service online. 
 
So many things in our country changed with the onset of COVID; for businesses, for the entertainment industry,  and yes, for the church.  Here at Five Forks, a significant number of households (over 100 each week) are now watching the Sunday morning services online.  This makes it far more challenging to track attendance, due to the fact that while we know how many households are tuning in to watch the service live, we don’t know how many are in any given household.  In some cases it may be one person, in other cases, it could be a couple, or in some cases a large family.  We also know that there are numerous households that view the service later in the week, rather than on a Sunday morning. 
 
In spite of all that has changed, we are committed to keeping track of how many are attending “In-Person”, and how many households are viewing online.  We resumed holding In-Person services in February, however, the first two Sundays were greatly impacted by snow and ice.   Here then, are the weekly figures starting Sunday, February 21st:
 
8:00 In-Person:   66, 70, 65, 72, 80, 75, 121 (Easter), 87, 86.   As you can see, the attendance for this service has ranged from the mid-’60s to the mid-’80s.
 
8:00 Live Stream:  52, 48, 52, 44, 36, 46, 51, 49, 44.  This is an average of 47 households, and so perhaps over 100 individuals. 
 
9:45 In-Person:  178, 176, 193, 186, 201, 229 (Easter), 190, 198
 
9:45 Live Stream:  72, 73, 46, 56, 58, 62, 51, 68, 70.  This is an average of 62 households, and so again, perhaps over 100 individuals.
 
This past Sunday there were 284 individuals who attended a service In-Person.  In addition to this, there were 114 households watching live, and again, this does not take into account those who have watched or will watch the service at some other point during the week.  What is our attendance?  We estimate that we currently have between 500-600 either attending In-Person or watching online at some point during the week.  Thank you for being a part of our Church Family!