10. Make up a random number. Don’t even worry if it is accurate. I have seen this happen too many times for it to even be a “funny”. I was once in a meeting that the preacher said had 5000 in attendance, but the venue didn’t seat more than 3000 and it couldn’t have been more than 1/2 full. There is a church not too far from us with 400 seats that claims 1000 people in attendance every Sunday service.
9. Find out what the other churches around you have, add 10-25% and claim that as your figure, never mind if the other churches are even accurate. If the largest church in town claims 5000, claim 6000. Easy one!
8. Make a rough guess. The problem with this is you always overestimate – and if you are from another church you always underestimate. There may be 1500 people in a service, the pastor will guess 2000. The visiting pastor will guess 1100. It’s human nature, whether we like it or not.
7. Count seats, whether someone is in them or not. If your church has a capacity of 1000, then you had 1000 people this Sunday if your hall looked reasonably full. Of course, there may be only 600 people there and the hall will look full (halls look full at 60% of capacity). But that figure sounds better. If you are on TV you can do even better – if there are 10 million people in England with SKY boxes and you are on Sky, then quote your audience as 10 million even though 98% of them would never go anywhere near any of the Christian channels.
6. Count everyone in each service. So, you have a week long crusade with 3-4 services a day. That’s maybe 20 services. So, you have 1000 people in each service… then surely that means you had 20000 people in your crusade? That’s how a lot of churches I know count their crusade attendance. They don’t explain that’s how they got their figure leaving you with the impression that there were 20000 people in EACH service. It’s not honest.
5. Count arms and legs. I am sure that is what some people must be doing!
4. Do a little creativity with numbers. If you have 70 people in your church, tell people it is between 5 and 600. You are not lying because 70 is between FIVE and SIX-HUNDRED! It’s more than 5! It’s less than 600! If people are misled it’s only because they were not listening properly.
3. Count the church roll or register. In Tree of Life, in the last six months over 100 children have been in a registered Tree of Life children’s meeting. Have we ever had 100 children in a service? No – the most we have ever had is 36 children in one service. Lots of churches will say they have a membership of 4000, but there are less than 1000 on any given Sunday. Some of those 4000 are deceased, some live in another nation, some are on the membership rolls of many many churches.
2. Count the highest service of the year and present that as normal. Yes, you got 250 at Easter with the guest footballer giving his testimony and handing out 30000 invites. But if you normally have 100, that’s not the figure you should be saying is the number of people at your church.
1. Actually, physically count the number of adults and children in each Sunday service. The actual number of physical human beings present in the particular meeting. Radical, I know – but it’s a figure you can work with. And it will provoke you to work harder!