Published Jan 31, 2023
Count the Cost has been an invaluable tool to help ensure The View Church’s ability to rebound from the COVID pandemic. The pandemic drastically changed church attendance and member engagement. We faced the greatest challenge to the health of our congregation in our 26-year history. This caused great fear and trepidation. The staff created a “war room,” and we met over two days to strategize on how to ensure that we remained a vibrant organism despite the drastic change in our operating environment. We used Count the Cost as our performance monitoring tool. We evaluated a plethora of scenarios in an attempt to best understand the impact of the pandemic and our ability to operate through it and rebound from it. Most importantly, we planned for decline in both engagement and revenue. However, rather than shrinking during COVID, The View Church grew. When recently analyzing the why and the how, we attributed our ability to monitor and track engagement as the key to ensuring our continued vibrancy. Approximately three years ago, we employed the tracking/monitoring tools that are the cornerstone of Count the Cost. Even when we pivoted from in-person gatherings to virtual meetings, Count the Cost provided a framework to aid in assessing the pandemic impact on critical areas of ministry.
The monthly check-in calls are a fundamental and key component of Count the Cost. My consultant, Dr. Ralph Neighbour, consulted with me on a monthly basis. While numbers are important, the one-on-one consulting was most valuable because it provided a “safe” haven to discuss thorny ministry issues. It provided a venue to challenge the data as a pathway to greater understanding, and it facilitated the development of tactics more specifically and broad strategies to address critical ministry issues. Monitoring church growth is only as effective as a church’s ability to take action. Data without action becomes meaningless information. Additionally, all growth is not healthy growth. However, Count the Cost provides a framework to better understand financial performance, attendance patterns, and member engagement with an eye toward using these performance indicators as a vehicle to drive strategy. Frankly, I’ve found Count the Cost to be a “How-to guide.” When used, it provides a pathway to address challenges, strengthen operational deficiencies, and remedies to address systemic issues that, if not confronted, will compromise the overall effectiveness of The View Church. Count the Cost has helped me better understand the importance of data. The importance of tracking attendance, member engagement, and financial performance to drive ministry effectiveness. It also forced me to face realities that could not be easily explained away.
The church landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. Even committed church members do not attend church services every week. And, the most faithful are not serving or giving in the same way. While there are a plethora of reasons for this dilemma, Count the Cost enabled The View Church to be ahead of the curve. During the pandemic, we grew; we did not shrink. Most recently, in 2022:
- We received 159 new members,
- We had 15 baptisms, and
- There were 11 decisions for Christ.
- Our congregation surpassed the 2000 mark for the first time in history.
- The Student Discipleship Ministry had dwindled to less than 10 children. We now are averaging 80+ each week.
- Over 100 persons are in bible study each week, and
- We have over 200 families actively participating in Life Groups (our home-based small groups).
- Our total income increased by 20% since using Count the Cost.
As our church continues to grow, we quickly discovered the value and necessity of using the Count the Cost tracking tools because they helped us forecast human resources needs in critical ministry areas. Without it, we would have experienced gaps in our service delivery which could have overtime negatively impacted our growth trajectory.
There are no silver bullets. Each church is a unique organism with its own DNA. While I reject a one-size-fits-all approach to church growth and monitoring, I have found that Count the Cost has universal application no matter the ministry setting. Its tools and the framework provided are not based on size because data is data. Its forecasting tools are valuable to a pastor and his team, no matter the church size. Count the Cost has been an invaluable resource to The View Church, and I encourage all pastors to consider using it.
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