Are You Tracking The Right Numbers

Courtesy of Dreamstime

Let’s be honest, every time your attendance is higher than normal, you feel good.  When it’s lower than normal you feel…well, like a failure.  I’m the same way, the size of our attendance on a weekly basis greatly affects my mood.  Numbers are important, your attendance is important; yet, there is a debate that numbers aren’t everything.  And I agree it isn’t always about numbers; however, they do play an important role in the health.
The problem is that we get fixated on only one set of numerical data and ignore the other ways that numbers affect the health of our ministry.  Too often we look at the number of attendees instead of the status of the ratios.  For example:

  • 1:8 – This ratio symbolizes the ideal adult to teen ratio in our weekly large group ministry program.  The reason we’ve picked this ratio is because we feel it allows us to host games, activities and a worship environment where teens are free to interact with one another; yet, feel welcomed, cared for and loved.  Granted the teens may not form deep relationships with the adults; however, it’s enough to make sure they feel connected and welcomed.
  • 1:5 – This ratio symbolizes our ideal small group.  Our ideal small group size is about 8-10 teens; therefore, we need about 2 adults per group.  We believe with this ratio adults can carry on a healthy dialogue and encourage teens to go deep in conversation, scripture and prayer.  By pairing the adults they have someone they can rely on to help them with group dynamics.  The goal of this ratio is small community.
  • 1:2 – This ratio symbolizes our mentoring program for our confirmation preparation.  Confirmation preparation is a time when we help teens take that final step before we send them to “Go and make disciples.” We want to make sure they are matched up with an adult who is going to meet with them one on one.  To make sure the adult can give that teen that type of attention, we make sure they aren’t matched up with more than two teens.  The goal is apprenticeship.  

These are our ratios, doesn’t mean they are yours.  To figure out the right ratio for the right programs you need to ask yourself:

How many teens can one adult handle in each ministry situation?”

Once you figure that out you need to fill the ratio, so how does that happen:

  • Make Your Ratio A Goal – Let people know your ideal ratios and set a vision to meet them. (To know how to recruit ministers check out this article)
  • Be Persistent – Understand that in order to meet your ideal ratio you’ll have to be flexible at first; however, tighten the ratio every time you see growth. Don’t get too comfortable.
  • Tweak It – Once you meet the ratio understand that it may need to change down the line.  As the culture around you changes you may need to adjust how your ratios look.

It not just about your numbers, it’s about how they grow and how you use them that will determine the health of your ministry.  Having an ideal ratio is another way of setting specific goals, that will help you achieve your vision.

Do you think numbers are important?  Why?