Why do we ‘count’?

stella at computerEver wondered why we do ‘the count’ every year?  I decided to look into it.  Here are my findings after a very brief research at the church office recently:

In the year 2000 a major review of how annual statistical information was to be collected from parishes was undertaken; and attendance measures were designed.

These are generally based on a four week count by parishes of their attendance levels at church worship in October.

There is no single period in the year when church attendance could be said to be ‘normal’ or even ‘average’ but October was accepted across the Church of England as the easiest and most comparable month in which to carry out this quantitative exercise.

Attendance figures are defined below and these are worked out from the returns from each week of ‘the count’

  • Average Sunday attendanceThe average number of attenders at Sunday services    typically over a four week period in October
  • Average weekly attendanceThe average number of attenders at church services  throughout the week typically over a four week period in October
  • Highest Sunday/weekly attendanceThe sum of the highest Sunday attendances  over a four week period in October
  • *Usual Sunday Attendance - the usual number of attenders at Sunday church services
  • Children & Young Peopleindividuals under 16 years of age
  • Communicantan individual who takes Holy Communion
  • Electoral RollThose who have their names on the electoral roll of the parish.

*Usual Sunday attendance is normally lower than average Sunday attendance and there are variations in how ‘Usual Sunday’ figures are estimated.                                            (What is a ‘usual Sunday’ anyway! Do we have them at St John’s?)

The information above is taken from ’2009 Church Statistics’.

So what about our church? 
If you want to know our average Sunday attendance then read the 2013 statistics for St John’s on pages 3-5 of our 2014 Annual Report which can be read online

These are compiled by our Church Wardens from ‘the count’ in October 2013.

So what about our Diocese? 
The Birmingham diocese covers an area of nearly 300 square miles, the diocese includes parishes in the West Midlands including Birmingham and parts of Solihull, Sandwell, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

There are 188 Church of England churches/worship centres in our diocese.  The average Sunday attendance is 14,000 from a population of 1.3 million.

Information has been taken from the ‘Diocesan Annual Report, 2013′.

So what about the church in England? 
On average 1.1 million people attended Church of England services of worship each week in 2011, slightly under 900,000 of these on Sundays.
Totals for the Church of England in 2011:

  • Average Weekly Attendance 1,091,500
  • Average Sunday Attendance 898,300
  • Usual Sunday Attendance 807,500

Results shown are from ‘Statistics for Mission, 2011′.

So what is the answer to the title of this blog: Why do we ‘count’?
Could there be a clue in the title of the document above: ‘Statistics for Mission, 2011′?.
To me it says it all, and
 there is a lot of work to be done!

Your views? I am sure there is lots more to say on this subject. If you have further insights or information please feel free to comment on this post.




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