One book I have referred to over the last 20 years is a book entitled Church Growth Ratio Book by Win Arn. In this little book we discover that numbers and their corresponding ratios are very significant beyond the old "nickles and noses" measurements we hear so much about.
Arn writes, "Ratios are useful guides for congregations regardless of church size, for ratios are constant. The actual numbers will vary from church to church, but reaching and/or maintaining these ratios provide a consistent guideline for a church to measure itself. Ratios help establish goals. Ratios help measure effectiveness. Ratios provide a compass to chart direction. Ratios provide solid reference in an ever changing world."
I would add that ratios help not only look at the organizational issues such as leadership, staffing and administration but they also help identify some of the organic issues such as giving, evangelism and service.
Here are a few ratios I have found helpful over the years:
- Staff Ratio: 1:150 - A church should have one full-time pastoral staff member for every 150 adults (over 18 years) in worship. This does not include secretarial or custodial staff. We live in an era were churches are way over staffed. Being overstaffed decreases a church's ability to do focused outreach and evangelism effectively. A myth many leaders are embracing is that staff grow churches. Staff usually complicates growth and at best sustains growth. Resources spent on focus outreach and evangelism are the best investment for the growth of a local church.
- Visitor Ratio: 5:100 - At least 5 of every 100 persons in a Sunday Worship Service should be visitors from the church's ministry area. Do you track your visitors? Remember these are not out of town guests but people from your ministry area.
- Evangelism Training Ratio: 1:3 - One of every three adults should receive evangelism training at least once a year. When is the last time you took 1/3 of your church through some type of evangelism training process?
- Leadership Ratio: 1:5 - One of every five elders or board members should have joined the church within the last two years. This ratio reveals that you either have a leadership development process that is working effectively or ineffectively.
This book is full of great information to help your church navigate its health issues and to keep you great commission focused. It was the best $5.00 I ever spent!
How are you measuring the quantitative and qualitative health of your ministry? We at Converge MidAmerica would love to help serve you.