August 14, 2019

Increasing Church Engagement – Episode 106 | The Unstuck Church Podcast

Ep. 106

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How to Define Engagement & Know When You’re Hitting the Mark

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If church engagement numbers are high, can we just ignore attendance? It’s a question I hear from time to time when we’re serving churches at The Unstuck Group. I have a strong opinion on that. But you’ll have to listen to this episode to hear it 🙂

Engagement is a buzzword we hear church leaders discussing across the country. What does it really mean and how do you know if you’re hitting a mark?

Truth be told, we find many pastors are confused about engagement. How do we increase it? Why do people show up, come back, plugin or leave?

Recently, we released our Church Engagement Report 2019, and then we followed that up with a webinar on church engagement. It was the highest engagement we’d ever had on a webinar. So, we thought it might be a good idea to share that conversation with our podcast listeners.

Amy and Sean joined me, and in this episode, we’re sharing that conversation with you.

In this episode, we covered:

  • 2 types of engagement every church should monitor if they want to see healthy growth
  • How churches confuse a front-door problem with a back-door problem, how the engagement metrics can reveal it to you, and what to do about it
  • How you can measure movement on your discipleship path
  • What a good volunteer engagement number looks like in healthy, growing churches, and why a number too high can actually indicate a problem
  • The role of digital engagement in your ministry strategy, and what the data shows us about how it corresponds with church growth and decline
What does church engagement really mean and how do you know if you're hitting the mark? NEW on the #unstuckchurch #podcast [episode 106] Click to Tweet Why do people show up, come back, plug in or leave? I liked what @tonymorganlive shared about #churchengagement in [episode 106] of the #unstuckchurch #podcast Share on X

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Sean: 00:02 Welcome to the Unstuck Church podcast where each week we’re exploring what it means to be an unstuck church. Engagement: it’s the buzz word we hear church leaders discussing across the country. What does it really mean and how do you know if you’re hitting their mark? Truth be told, we find many pastors are confused about engagement. How do we increase it? Why do people show up, come back, plugin or leave? Recently, Tony and Amy and I hosted a Webinar for church leaders on the topic of engagement, and today we’re sharing that conversation with you on the podcast. Make sure before you listen to subscribe to get the show notes in your inbox. Each week you’ll get one email with the leader conversation guide, all of the resources we mentioned and bonus resources to support the content. You can sign up by going to forward/podcast. Now, here’s the conversation from our webinar and engagement in the church with Tony, Amy, and myself. Tony starts us off with an overview of the two types of engagement we’re talking about.

Tony: 00:59 We’re going to hit two types of engagement that churches should be looking at, but the first type of engagement that I want you to think about, and honestly as I’m hearing buzz around engagement in churches today, this is really a neglected form of engagement that we need to reprioritize. And what I’m talking about is our engagement with someone before they become a first-time guest at our church. Now, we’re encouraged to encouraging churches to think about this in two different ways. First of all, the priority ought to be helping us in the church. Those of us that are already engaged in our churches, to recognize the importance of developing relationships with other people, people that are in our lives that God has in our lives there, their friends, their family members, their coworkers, they’re folks that we rub shoulders within our social activities, hang out with at the ball fields, whatever that looks like,

Tony: 01:59 God has people in our lives that may not have a relationship with Jesus yet. And so the first part about increasing that this type of engagement just does encourage people to begin to develop relationships with people in their lives. And this may sound a little bit like I can’t believe we have to, as church leaders teach people how to engage relationships. But I think, uh, this is part of the nature of the culture that we live in today. People are more isolated. I think social media has helped us be engaged socially, digitally. But in some ways it has also, I think created challenges for us in our physical worlds to develop relationships with people. And I actually think people in our churches need some coaching on how to do this. And one of the models that I’ve most appreciated through the years actually comes from the church that Sean worked with at Community Church.

Tony: 03:00 Dave Ferguson, the pastor there has talked about the blessed model. It’s the five letters – B, l, E, S, S. – and they’re used to prompt us to think about these five ways that we begin to develop relationships with people. We begin with prayer. We, we listen to their stories, we eat with them, which is one way. We just socialize. We hang out with people, we really serve them. We listened to their stories and we serve them where we can. And then we share our story about what Jesus is doing in our lives. And the great thing about that model is it makes it really practical, real hands-on how we can begin to develop relationships with people. And it ends with us sharing our story. We don’t have to, we don’t need to know a specific road map of Bible passages and so on to share our faith.

Tony: 03:52 We can just share what Jesus has done in our lives. And that’s a really effective way to begin to engage with people in their lives before they may even become guests at our churches. But the second way that we need to be focusing on engagement before someone is a guest is with our content strategy as well. In other words, we need to be aware of the questions that people are asking before they even come to our churches before they even consider a relationship with Jesus. And so as you know, Sean, we, we have this thorough process at the unstuck group where we help churches define their mission field and to get really focused on who within that mission field the church is trying to reach. And then specifically we begin to prioritize what are the key questions that those people are asking. And when churches have that type of focus, it really does create an opportunity to develop a content strategy to try to address those specific questions. And so these are, these are a couple of ways that we get at that very first type of engagement, which is engaging people because before they become guests at our church.

Sean: 05:08 Yeah, that’s really good. So Amy, if those people come and visit our church for the very first time, what about those second and third-time guests? What should churches be measuring when it comes to getting those guests to return?

Amy: 05:21 Yeah. Well, let me just take a step back. Of course, if you think about it, returning guests really helps you measure the effectiveness of your weekend experience because a first time guest came for whatever reason, gave you an hour of their time to see if the church was a fit and then if that connected with them, um, if it helped them, then their assessing was that investment in my time and energy worth that? And if the answer’s yes, they’re going to come back. So, of course, you want to be tracking that and you know, and we do secret shoppers at the churches. There’s a lot of things that we track. But the bottom line question we always ask ourselves is, would I come back to this church and would I bring a friend? And we know, we only say yes to all the churches.

Amy: 06:05 We’ve served only about 25% of the time. And for me, that indicates that a lot of our churches have front door issues with retaining guests. So I think the big question is how do you get at that data? Because if people don’t come back, they don’t tell you that they were even here the first time. They just don’t come back. And I want you to reference an idea, Sean, that we just recorded on the podcast the other day and that is, um, when people come to your church, even when I secret shop, they are kind of afraid to become known. And on that podcast that’s coming out, you talked about a lot of digital strategies to help guests identify that they maybe want some more information, but instead of sending them to a person or sending them to a booth where they don’t know what you’re going to ask of them or what they’re committing to, you suggested, Sean, that we actually give them a text option just to kind of say hello.

Amy: 06:58 You know, I was here and to engage with them digitally first so that in a sense, the guest is in control of what’s happening next. And you had suggested that we should send them a text that invites them to stop back when they come back at a booth or at an information desk or to meet someone, but we’re really clearly outlining what that experience will be like and what we’re actually going to ask of them or tell them. And that strategy, putting both of those pieces together, I think sounds like a very effective way to begin to measure. Did somebody come back on that weekend? It’s something that you can track. So, that’s one idea for how to track second and third-time guests.

Sean: 07:41 So Tony, just transitioning back to you, is there another type of engagement that you really feel like churches must be measuring?

Tony: 07:48 Yes, I do. So the second type of engagement, actually this is the type of engagement we hear more commonly churches talking about is the engagement that happens after someone attends a service. In other words, we’re trying to engage them again in relationships. But this time in relationships, either through smaller groups, small groups, home groups, Bible studies, or through serving opportunities. And again, our data shows that when this happens, churches are healthier, they end up reaching more people for Jesus and attendance actually grows as well, particularly when it comes to group participation. And then that just getting a certain level of volunteer engagement as well. So the common question then we hear from churches is, okay, if that’s a priority, how do we measure that? Because churches have done a good job through the years of, of tracking and measuring attendance on Sunday morning or attendance in event giving, things like that.

Tony: 08:51 But it is, it’s much more challenging to measure group participation, serving engagement. And so rather than trying to do that on a weekly basis, like we measure attendance on Sunday Mornings, I’ve encouraged churches, let’s just look at it on a quarterly basis. Let’s just survey our team leaders, our volunteer leaders and our group leaders on a quarterly basis to find out who, who really are engaged in these different environments. And at least on a quarterly basis, we can then monitor what the trends look like for engagement. It’s really not as important here for us to know every week who’s participating. We’re more concerned about whether or not that relational connection is happening in the long-term. And so it really helps us then to at least look on a quarterly basis on where people are actually engaged. And that’s the other coaching I would give here is let’s actually measure engagement, not signups.

Tony: 09:51 And so I’ve seen some churches highlight huge numbers of participation in groups, but in reality it’s just the number of people that signed up at the very beginning of a semester of group participation saying that they wanted to be in groups, but it doesn’t measure whether or not they actually showed up for group and if they’re still connected into a group. And so here, for real for it to truly be a measure of engagement, we need to look at how many people are showing up and actually participating and developing the relationships that those ministry environments are intended to address.

Sean: 10:29 Yeah, that’s excellent. Okay, so let’s dive of just a little deeper and talk about some specific benchmarks when it comes to engagement. We love data here at the unstuck group and we love it so much, we actually recently released a survey of a lot of different churches that we connected with on specifically their church engagement. So, Tony, I know a few of the results that we saw really underscore the importance of reaching more first time guests like we were just discussing a minute ago, but what are some of the specific front door benchmarks that we saw?

Tony: 11:00 So let me back up for a second and share. We’ve shared this math before, but it’s always surprising to folks when they hear this for the very first time. The reason why we talk about the need for first-time guests so much is that whether you realize it or not, there is a natural transition that’s happening in every church. In fact, on average, we find that 15% of churches, people in your churches that were connected over the last 12 months and the next 12 months won’t be a part of your church. And what that means is, if we want to experience growth in our churches, growth in the number of people we’re reaching and growth and attendance, then we constantly have to be focused on reaching first-time guests. And what we’re seeing is that if you do have a great experience for first time guests, a great worship experience, great guest services, great followup, great connection, um, you’re likely going to retain 20% of your first time guests that will eventually connect and be fully engaged in your church.

Tony: 12:09 And so it really does, it takes a lot of first-time guests not only to see growth but to make up for the people that are transitioning away from your church for whatever reason. So, all that then leading into some key stats that we found in the research we completed a few months ago. First of all, this one may be shocking to you, let me make sure I read it to get it correct: 74% of growing churches had increases in first-time guests compared to only 23% of declining churches. And so here specifically increasing first-time guests, what we’re seeing is there’s a significant difference then between growing and declining churches. Here’s another, this one shocked me, and it’s probably going to surprise you as well. The average person attends services more frequently in declining churches than growing churches. And so, and by the way, if you average the two, it’s about two and a half weeks per month is what we’re seeing.

Tony: 13:15 When we looked at the research from all the churches that were a part of this research, but what was shocking to me is that there’s actually higher frequency and growing churches are, I’m sorry, higher frequency in declining churches. I’m confusing myself with the math right now than growing churches and Sean, I have a couple of theories on why this might be the case. I do think that streaming live streaming services may reduce the frequency of people participating, especially if that live experience through the stream has done very well. But my suspicion is, and actually, some of the other data we’re going to talk about later suggests this as well, that when you live stream it increases the number of first-time guests and it increases attendance overall is what we’re seeing in the data.

Tony: 14:11 So that’s one theory why I think that frequency number is really opposite of what you would expect. Secondly, when it comes to frequency, we do see the data again shows us that serving really matters when it comes to frequency. That should be no surprise to any of us. We want people to volunteer not only because it’s part of our discipleship strategy, it’s part of our spiritual formation process, but as people engage in serving, they’re more likely to show up on a more frequent basis as well. And so it’s just, it’s interesting to look at what some of the data’s telling us when it comes to not only time guests and attendance growth, but the frequency of participation in our services as well.

Sean: 14:58 Just staying along the same lines of serving, Amy, I found that the data on volunteers was another surprising metric in the survey. Moderate volunteer engagement is actually a sign of growth. 34% of declining churches indicated that they were more, they had more than half of their intent attendees volunteering once per month, but only 19% of growing churches had that high level of engagement. What do you make of that?

Amy: 15:25 Yeah, well it seems probably a little bit counterintuitive. I see this all the time when I’m on the road with churches and it goes back, Tony, to what you always said. There’s no one metric that tells the overall story of the health of a church. This is another one that just kind of fits into that picture. So when you have a lot of first-time guests, when you think about a healthy growing church, we just kind of made the case that you’ve got a good front door, you’ve got people coming in and if you think about it, what do new people not do? They’re not in a group yet. They don’t serve yet, they’re probably not giving yet. And so if you have a healthy front door that’s actually going to bring your serving percentage down. So if your church is growing and your engagement numbers and serving as low, that actually is probably a good thing.

Amy: 16:13 It’s actually telling you you’ve got a healthy front door. Because churches that are seeing, you know, upwards of 40-50% of their people engaged in serving, often those are the churches where I see they’re actually a little bit stuck because they’ve got a very devout base. They’ve got regular attenders who have been coming for years and they’re plugged in and they’re serving. So why we want to celebrate 70% of our people are serving, it might actually indicate well, but you don’t have any of those new folks who are actually offsetting that overall percentage. Tony, how’d I do there with the math? Was that good?

Tony: 16:47 I’m, I’m pretty impressed Amy. I’ve seen you. You can make a mean spreadsheet, so I trust that you got it right.

Sean: 16:57 All right. So Tony here’s one that may be a hot button topic for some of the churches that are tuned in today. Almost half of the churches surveyed didn’t have Sunday school at all, but the small group engagement numbers really stood out well. How do you interpret the data on Sunday school and small?

Tony: 17:15 Yeah, so this was fascinating. Again, let me make sure I get the stats correct for you. Small group participation increased in 74% of growing churches and only 33% of declining churches. And the connection there was more of those declining churches had Sunday school. So, you know, we can go back and forth with the value of Sunday school. I’ve seen churches do it well, especially when it’s not just about the teaching, but they’re actually helping people in Sunday school format still develop that go beyond Sunday morning, but what the data seems to be pointing to, and it’s pretty obvious, is that small group participation is really key in growing churches and really helps with this topic of engagement. And if engagement really is about relational connection, both in the engagement before someone becomes a guest and then after they’ve attended our service engagement is really about relationships.

Tony: 18:18 If that’s the key, then it appears that small group participation is a better way of creating that relational connection than even the Sunday school model is concerned. So, the obvious question then is, Tony, have you seen any best practices when it comes to small group participation and engagement? And I have some thoughts on that. Shawn. You’re ready for that? I’m not surprised. One thing that I’m observing, one strategy I’m observing is it factually easier for churches to launch brand new groups than it is for churches to add new people to existing groups. And because of that, where we’re seeing high levels of small group participation, churches get really intentional about at least twice a year, probably at the beginning of the school year. And then also right after the holidays of offering brand new group opportunities for anybody in the church.

Tony: 19:22 Now there’s no doubt about it. That strategy really puts the de band on raising up small group leaders, and so you, small group pastors and directors out there, you have your work cut out for you. But there does seem to be a higher level of engagement in those churches that are offering new group opportunities on a regular basis. Secondly, we’re seeing high levels of small group participation when the group curriculum is actually designed to extend the conversation from the Sunday message that’s being taught every week. So, when groups know that we’re going to be talking and studying scripture based on the message from the previous Sunday, there also seems to be a higher level of engagement in small groups. And by the way, I think that nature is going to help participation and a higher level of frequency with engagement in your attendance on Sunday morning as well.

Tony: 20:22 And then finally here, I would suggest, we’ve actually done quite a bit of work through the years and providing some small group resources, but none better than Chris Surratt. Chris is on our team, used to be with Seacoast Church in South Carolina. He has written a couple of books on small group participation, uh, both for leaders and just generally for small groups in churches. And then we’ve done a couple of podcasts with Chris as well. And so I would encourage you to go back, listen to this podcast, read his books, a lot of great information for you if you want to engage and take the next step when it comes to your small group strategy in your churches.

Sean: 21:07 All right, so my bet is that there are a lot of people who are tuned in today who are really curious about digital engagement specifically all that stuff that happens online right now. It’s, it seems to be kind of the most mysterious element of engagement for pastors. So, let’s get into that for a little bit. Tony, I know that you have some passion around this topic in particular. Why do you think churches need a content strategy?

Tony: 21:32 Yeah. There’s no doubt about it. And it’s because I think our digital presence, it really is the new front door for our churches. And I can’t imagine in today’s culture, anybody visiting our churches before they first visit our websites, visit our Facebook pages and engage with what’s happening online. I know I do that in my life. If I’m going to experience something for the very first time. Major League ballparks are my hobby and my son and I are finally going to get to go to the city field and New York to see the Mets play for the very first time. But we’re not just showing up blind, I’ve been all over the website to figure out where the seats that I’m going to get, what time of day should we arrive before the ball game, where should I park? Things like that.

Tony: 22:22 I mean I’ve been all over the website before we visit the city field for the very first time and in today’s culture, that’s just commonplace. That’s where it’s happening. And beyond just preparing for a visit. Of course, we’re also learning that it is, this content strategy that prepares us to really engage with the people we want to eventually visit our churches and be a part of one of our services actually be in our building and worship with us on Sunday morning. And so it really isn’t essential that we think about not just streaming our services though you should be doing that, but looking at how are we creating content, again, referring back to what I talked about earlier, is going to help us engage the people in our mission field that we’re trying to reach as a church and really answering the questions that they’re asking. And Sean, you know, you’ve seen this, we’re seeing churches use blogging, video, podcasting, obviously social media. I mean they’re, they’re trying to do everything they can to create a digital strategy to engage people. And the great thing about that type of engagement, it’s easily measurable. There are all kinds of tools for us to know whether or not people are engaging with our content strategy. As a matter of fact, Sean, you shared some good news this morning about our engagement. What was that was something related to engagement.

Sean: 23:53 Well, we said we set a new record for a single day for first-day episode downloads on our podcast last week. So that’s thanks to everybody out there who’s engaging with our podcast.

Tony: 24:04 That’s good. Yeah. But anyways, many times now before anybody would actually work with us when it comes to consulting with churches, they’re engaging with our content. So I mean, we’re not, we’re not sharing with you a strategy that we’re not seeing that’s actually working for our ministry as well.

Sean: 24:22 Yeah, absolutely. Amy, along the lines of digital engagement. One other thing that stood out to me was the difference in social media engagement between growing and declining churches. Facebook is increasing for both growing and declining churches, but Instagram is really where the big separation was that we saw. 44% of declining churches said that they’re using Instagram, but 72%, well, three out of four growing churches are using Instagram. What do you think about that?

Amy: 24:49 Well first, I just want to send some Kudos out thereto whether you’re growing or declining. I’m glad that our churches are trying some new things and they’re getting out there and using it and you know, social media, it doesn’t surprise me growing churches are using Instagram may be more successfully, and I’ll talk about that in a minute, but you know, that’s where the younger people are. I think if we think about Facebook versus Instagram, of course, the younger folks are going to be more on Instagram and looking around at it. But before I go to Instagram, you know, Facebook is not passe. I think what you said is that both declining and uh, we’re, we’re seeing good results in both areas, right? Declining and growing churches using Facebook. It’s still out there. People are still using it. It’s just important to know what Facebook is good at.

Amy: 25:36 And Facebook is good at sharing things from your church, stories from your church, messages from your church, funny other things that they put out there. That’s where people linger and it’s great for events so people can click on that and go find that. Instagram is not good for that. And I think that’s sometimes why churches aren’t seeing the benefit of being on Instagram. Instagram is great for the human side, right of the church. So it’s great for putting pictures out there. It’s, it’s not a place to promote things. Like we don’t go to Instagram so we can see what sales are going on at Home Depot, right? That’s not where we play. And I think churches are still getting some of that tangled. My friend Ken Meyer who is the founder and author of less chaos, less noise, just kind of said each social media outlet sort of has a job description and they’re not all the same. And so just encouraging churches if you’re using those strategies. Great. I’m glad that you’ve stepped into it. Obviously, churches that are growing are using those very well. I would just take a step back and think through how are you using them for what medium? You know, maybe pause, relaunch. But there, they’re very effective in, in reaching folks is for use them right.

Tony: 26:50 Yeah. If I may add too, I think another reason why we’re seeing Instagram being so effective is it reaches young adults. Unlike Facebook. I mean there are some young adults that are on Facebook, but I know my young adults as an example, they’re never on Facebook. It’s only Instagram or Twitter and so, and the Instagram, I think it’s just, it’s just a powerful platform because it pictures help tell a story, the story of what’s happening in our lives and for us today, the story of what’s happening in our churches as well.

Amy: 27:23 Yeah. I think if you think Instagram, think human side, think stories, think pictures, think visuals, don’t think Promo, don’t think those other paths and maybe what you’ve thought about with social media,

Sean: 27:35 Very good. You know the other thing I think we need to consider when we think of digital engagement within the church is our video content. Um, how we’re using video to engage people online and in many churches are, are using video, whether that’s through live stream or on-demand or YouTube or Vimeo or you know, whatever. Um, the data that we found in the survey was interesting. 85% of growing churches, uh, were using some sort of video digital strategy online compared to just 49% of declining churches. So, I love the fact that almost every single one of the growing churches that we encountered was using some sort of video strategy. The data that we looked at suggested that the video online, it might slightly reduce the frequency that people attend because they do have that option, you know, while they’re traveling or something or, or if they’re at home to just watch online that day.

Sean: 28:30 But it likely increases the total number of people who attend your church. So here’s what we’re seeing commonly with this video strategy is it really serves two purposes for churches. One, it keeps people who are a part of your true church who are regular attenders engaged when they can’t be there. Whether they’re traveling or sick or there’s just something happening that they can’t be there with you, and we didn’t have that 10 years ago, but they can stay engaged wherever they’re at. The second side of the video content is that it really is the front door to your church now, way before your physical front door. So people are getting online and watching a service, checking out your video content, getting a sense of who you are through video long before they step foot in your church. They’re actually making a decision to attend your church, whether or not how depending on how they respond to that video.

Sean: 29:22 So that video content strategy is incredibly important for churches. And I think it needs to be an increased focus for many churches. We need to do it well and we need to do it specifically in a way that’s designed to help people who aren’t part of our church yet engage for the first time. So transitioning just a little bit, if we’re going to do this engagement piece, we need to know somehow that we’re winning; We need to have some way to kind of gauge this. So before we get to the Q and A, Tony, what are a few ways that church leaders can know that they’re winning when it comes to just engagement as a whole?

Tony: 30:00 So actually for the sake of time, I want to, I want to just get straight to the point on this one, Sean. And if you don’t hear anything else in today’s webinar, I want you to hear this, that you should be tracking engagement, but please be making sure that you’re tracking both types of engagement, the engagement that happens before someone as a guest and the engagement after someone attends services for the very first time. And the reason why is this: if you have only one of those two types of engagement, your church is not going to be healthy. So, as an example, and Amy alluded to this earlier, we’ve seen churches that are off the charts when it comes to engagement, participating in serving teams, participating in groups or Sunday school or whatever the case might be. I mean, it’s almost like everybody in the church is connected in those types of opportunities.

Tony: 30:58 And if you were to look at it, you would say engagement is high. And it is. But the challenge is it’s only one side of that equation. And because there’s very little engagement with people that aren’t yet part of the church, the church is in decline. The reverse is true as well. We’ve run into churches, not as frequently, but we’ve run into churches that really have a great strategy for developing relationships and trying to reach out to people outside the walls of the church and actually increasing that level of engagement. But then if you don’t have a great spiritual formation strategy, if there’s no a clear discipleship path, if you’re offering all types of programming and all of these events, new people of the church, they’re going to get stuck and they’re not going to be able to figure out what their next step needs to look like. So again, if you don’t hear anything else, if you want to determine whether or not you’re winning, when it comes to engagement, you need to measure both engagements before people are guests and then engagement after people start to connect with your church.

Sean: 32:07 Amy, what are healthy numbers that church leaders can use to benchmark, again?

Amy: 32:12 I think the best answer to that is just each quarter. You know, we put out our unstuck church report and that has data from hundreds of churches, all shapes, and sizes. And I think it’ll just give you a good idea of what other churches are measuring beyond just, you know, the typical attendance and giving. So there are several metrics in there that you could begin to check and even test against kind of what the averages are each quarter in that report. And Sean, correct me if I’m wrong, I think you subscribe to get that at but will you put that link up at the end of the Webinar?

Sean: 32:45 Yeah, absolutely. It’s

Amy: 32:49 But that’s a good place to start. An easy place to start.

Sean: 32:51 All right, so, Tony, here’s the big question. Last question that I have for you. If engagement numbers and the things that we talked about are high, can we just ignore attendance? What do we do with that?

Tony: 33:02 All right. So here’s the second thing that I want you to take away from this webinar. The answer to that specific question is no, you can’t ignore it then. Oh my goodness. We all, I hope we would all agree that hearing biblical teaching, participating in corporate worship, creating opportunities to engage with others, that’s critical to someone’s spiritual journey into spiritual formation. And so because of that, we can’t, we can’t just ignore attendance. We certainly want to see healthy churches, not only be winning when it comes to pre-guest engagement and then post connection engagement or churches, but we want churches to be winning when it comes to actually attend and participating in worship every week as well. And, you know, again, I, we’re constantly pointing people to the podcast I think in this conversation today, but we just had a great conversation with Jeff Brody.

Tony: 34:03 Jeff is the lead pastor at Connexus Church, up in Berry, Canada, Ontario. And, gosh, you need to go listen to that podcast because Jeff talked about the importance of these engagement conversations and how their church kind of shifted their strategy both pre-guest and then post-guest when it comes to reaching people outside the church and outside the faith and talked about how their strategy for really focusing on relationships with people outside the church then led to some strategies that the church implemented when people first connected with the church, which through the years not only have increased their first time guests, but also they’re seeing increases in attendance as well after several years of plateau. So I just want to encourage you as we’re having this conversation, I hope that this topic of engagement helps you think about yo ministry strategy a little bit differently. But I don’t want this to be an excuse. Okay. Now because we’re winning with engagement, it doesn’t matter what our attendance is. We still need to be focused on increasing our reach even on Sunday mornings.

Sean: 35:21 Well, thanks for joining us on this week’s podcast. If you haven’t yet, make sure you subscribe to get the show notes in your inbox so you can get access to the full report on engagement. Go to to subscribe. If you like what you’re hearing on this podcast, help us get the content out by subscribing, giving us a review and telling your friends at the unstuck group, we’re working every day with church leaders to help them build healthy churches by guiding them through specifically designed experiences that focus them on vision, strategy, and action. If that’s a need in your church, we should talk. You can start a conversation by going to Next week, we’re back with a brand new episode on social media for churches. We’ll see then.

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