Every Body Counts…

If I have learnt one thing from my time at CCIW it is the importance of every single bum on the pews at Sunday services. My minister and friend, Andrew Katay, has an unmatched zeal for counting, re-counting and re-re-counting the numbers of everybody at church. And I think I have now caught on…
On Sunday mornings I serve at St Albans Five Dock (part of the CCIW family), where on a good day we have 25 bums on pews at the 10am service, a great Sunday will see 30!
3510496239_3eb544934a_mWhen church is this small every body seriously counts. The jump from 25-30 doesn’t sound too great but the difference those 5 bodies bring to the service is significant. The music is better, the sermon feels less awkward and new comers look more comfortable.
This got me thinking of a recent Sunday spent in a church, at the other end of the spectrum, where there are around 400 people at their equivalent service.


But I was surprised to hear, when chatting with the Senior Pastor, that there are no checks in place to count the exact number of people at church. And in conversations I had with church members, a number of them spoke of it taking 6 months to hear of friends moving on from church. You might ask ‘well they cant have been too close can they?’ But that’s beside the point, every body at your church is a somebody with their own story. They are worth fighting for regardless of the size of your service. It really hit home to me that, even when your numbers are big, everybody counts.

If you’re at a bigger church I’d love to hear your thoughts on how (if?) you go about counting numbers at services and, how you ensure you know where your people are…
Thanks for reading.


9 Responses to “Every Body Counts…”

  1. I’m in a larger group of Churches (St Paul’s Carlingford) and our 7fifteen service has between roughly 150 people each week. We have a regular count by 2 persons during the service.
    In conjunction with that, we have a green response card, which is encouraged from up the front to be filled in by all attendees, regular or visiting with contact details, questions and/or comments. And we also have a welcoming team, who look for newcomers and try to sit next to them to strike up conversations before, during and after church.

    Then it’s just the usual Bible Study groups which accommodate 10-20ish people each week. We encourage people to join up so they can fellowship and get to know people in a more intimate environment.

  2. Stephengardner Says:

    Thanks Chong. Great to hear. I think there’s stacks of value in the ‘everybody take time to fill in a communication card’ time in the service.
    Do you know if the counters then mark a roll?

  3. Not too sure how the cards are processed from there, I believe that the staff go through them in their meetings and praying for any prayer points on them, disbursing those that have questions of sermons and responding accordingly. I’ll endeavour to find out.

    I also find value in just general love of fellow brothers and sisters in the congregation. I was encouraged that my friend was encouraged when I sent him an SMS after noticing he hadn’t been at church for a couple of weeks. May seem like a little thing, but it can be a big thing in other peoples eyes.

    • Stephengardner Says:

      Thanks mate. Valuable reminder too about the need for all of us to watch out for one another. I do suspect though that some leaders of large churches rely on others (e.g. Bible study leaders) to know who is at church, without having an accurate system established. I know of some bigger churches whose leadership team gathers to mark the roll (of about 200-250 ppl) with almost total accuracy. Thanks again for the thoughts.

  4. Steve,

    Great thoughts mate – I totally reckon every body counts! At the church I used to go to, the evening service had roughly 150 come. A mate of mine came up with a great idea that looks after the count, and the roll at the same time. I reckon it’s brilliant (though not without it’s flaws!):

    Basically, you maintain an excel spreadsheet with the member roll. Each week you print out the names onto sticky-labels and have them ready with the welcomers. When people arrive at the entrance of church, the welcomers give out their sticky name tags (much better than clip-on ones). But there’s heaps of blank ones for new people to write their names on, so everyone’s looked after. The welcomers also jot down newcomers names and details (if they want to give it) on a separate piece of paper for followup.

    Now the beauty of this is that at the end of the night you end up with 1) A list of new people to get in contact with and add to the membership roll if they so wish, and 2) left-over sticky-labels that weren’t taken by the members who weren’t at church.

    Awesome huh! You get a roll, head-count, newcomers looked after, and funky labels instead of dorky clip-on ones!! 🙂

    • Stephengardner Says:

      Thanks for the insight mate. That can work well and is super efficient. We used to use that system at an old church of mine that hit around 120. After a while though the system fell over–if welcomers didn’t show up then not everyone got their name tag, or people never bothered collecting their tag. I guess no system is fool proof.
      It’s good to hear it can, guess (like everything) it just needs the right people in the right job.
      But, I think there is nothing as effective as a leadership team taking the responsibility to count and then meet after the service to do the roll.

  5. You’re right mate – these things can always fall over! And I reckon keeping roll-counting on the boil in some way is super important in terms of caring for people! Nice thoughts mate. Giddy up to Monday’s podcast!

  6. Yes, everybody counts. But do we have to count them for them to count? David got in more than a little trouble for his census, we should recall.

  7. Stephengardner Says:

    Thanks for chipping in Andrew. My point is exactly what you are saying, yes, people count regardless of us marking a roll. It’s not in our counting that they find significance, each person represents someone adored by God. It is for that very reason that I think it’s a disaster when a church loses track of someone. Even if that church is large and growing, the leaders still need to be ruthless at caring for the individual–for me that means you’ve got to have a system of knowing exactly who is at church.
    Hmmm… David did get busted for doing something like this… But then again God had earlier commanded Moses to take a census of Israel. In fact it’s recorded in a book funnily enough called …. Numbers 😉

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