If you are looking for the best church statistics and church budget data, you’ve come to the right place. As we’ve expanded our work over the years to guide and support whole church initiatives, we’ve identified seven different norms that are useful, when it comes to comparing your church numbers with numbers from other churches:
As you look at these church statistics in a comparative light, remember that this data represents an average of hundreds of churches from all across the country. There are many factors that influence why your church looks the way it does and why your numbers may vary. Some of the most common variables are cost of living, complexity of programming, number of programs, number of monthly and yearly events, and church culture.
ATTENDANCE: How We Count
In terms of attendance, we measure weekend worship attendance as an average. Though your church may have more (or fewer) members on the rolls, the number we use is the average worship attendance over the course of a year. We don’t measure by the number of names in your directory.
When it comes to financial resources, we are seeing churches invest on average of $1,400 per attendee per year. This includes staff salaries and benefits, as well as the yearly program budget. So, as an example, if a church averages 100 attendees in worship every week, this norm would inform the church ministry budget be at least $140,000 to support maintaining that level of engagement.
In terms of people resources, we’ve found that most churches have the equivalent of 1 full-time staff member (40 hours per week) for every 75 people in average total worship attendance. It’s important to keep in mind that churches in an active growth season are typically staffed in the range of 1 full-time equivalent (FTE) for every 86-100 worship attendees. This is usually because churches that are growing are engaging more lay people in the leadership of the church, rather than paying staff members to do most of the work.
As you consider your entire budget, inclusive of all the financial needs of your church, what we’ve learned is that 45-55% tends to support the staff of the church. This percentage includes salaries, benefits, and continuing education. These church statistics also include all staff positions, regardless of title, role, or job type (full-time, part-time, contract, or salary.)
When it comes to volunteers, we’ve discovered 45% of the weekend worship attendees (adults and students, but not children) are serving regularly in a volunteer role. Typically, this number correlates with the amount spent on staffing; the more paid staff a church has, the lower the volunteer percentage becomes, as more of the work is accomplished by paid workers. We define ‘active volunteers’ to include all people who serve at least once a month in any role. This is a count of how many individual people are serving, not how many volunteer roles are in the church. If 10 people hold 20 volunteer roles, there are 10 volunteers in your church.
For the average church, between 10-30% of first-time visitors have the potential to become consistent attendees. This means that, church statistics wise, for every 10 new people who enter your church doors, most likely you’ll only see one, two, or three again. Conversely, if a church sets a goal to grow by 100 people in a single year, that church will need to see at least 300 first-time guests in that year. Also impacting this conversion rate is the effectiveness of your hospitality and guest follow-up systems.
Involvement in Groups
While data for what’s normal for churches in group involvement is hard to quantify, there are a few targets worth noting. It’s been observed that healthy churches have at least 40-50% of their adult attendance in some form of small groups; great churches have upwards of 80% small group participation. For this measure, we’re defining any groups that serve as some kind of ‘micro community’. That includes groups like a men’s Bible study, a young adult Sunday school class, and discipleship huddles.
A church’s ministry is also impacted by the physical layout of its campus and the benefits (or constraints) therein. Two specific features of facilities are particularly noteworthy when churches are looking to see growth: parking spaces and seating capacity.
- Parking Spaces: Most churches need one parking space for every 1.66 attendees (or 3 spaces for every 5 people). If you count your current number of parking spaces then multiply that by 1.66, you’ll find the maximum number of people who can attend a single service in your church. Of course, this number may be very different in certain contexts where walking or public transportation options are more readily accessed.
- Seating Capacity: Most church services will simply stop growing once the worship center is 80% full on a regular basis. While something may be done to push the attendance higher for a season, it will likely settle back around 80%.
One way to continue to add capacity in both parking and seating is to add additional worship services prior to making any physical changes to the campus. As a church adds services, it’s also important to keep in mind that a 2nd service will typically reach 80% of the amount of the first service and a third service will typically reach 60% of the first service.
First: Consider + Converse
As you consider this information, look for the places where your church differs from the national average and invite your church leaders into a conversation about those variations. Here are some questions you might want to ask:
- Why do we vary?
- Is there more than one reason?
- Do we want to change?
- If so, do we feel equipped to change?
- What specific steps do we need to take?
- And who will be responsible for those steps?
- Do we need help?
- What kind of help do we need?
Second: Connect with Ministry Architects.
If you’ve seen something you would like to talk more about or if you have questions about moving your church from where you are to where you want to be, we’d love to know! Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our consultants will contact you.