Pre-Thanksgiving Humor: How to Count Church Attendance

We’re all familiar with the “preacher count” of attendance. At long last, Tall Skinny Kiwi has developed the means to adjust the figures to reality.

– 50% if its a Pentecostal worship service because they count the legs and forget to divide by two.

– 30% if its a Baptist church because they count members on the roll and not all of them are still living.

+ 10 if its a Vineyard service because those rugs on the floor were actually people!

+ 20% if it’s a fundamentalist church because they don’t count the people they didn’t want there.

– 30% if it’s an Anglican/Presbyterian/Methodist church because the number they gave you is from their huge Easter service.

+ 15% if it’s an ethnic/non-western service because all those people coming late missed the counting.

– 10% if its a megachurch because the worship team and welcome team got counted during all 5 services.

– 520% if its a Catholic church because they count the parish, not the church attendance.

+ 20% if it’s an emergent service because those having a smoke outside were not counted.

– 25 % if its a Reformed church service because they count the people who SHOULD have been there.

– 15% if it’s a house church because the neighborhood kids playing video games in the back room somehow managed to get counted with everyone else. So did the guy delivering pizza.

So … what’s the adjustment for a Church of Christ? (And surely there’s a punch line for Universalist/Unitarians)

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19 Responses

  1. Wouldn’t the CoC count as “fundamentalist?”

  2. Summer, Summer, Summer … “fundamentalist” is a term applied to denominations! The CoCcoC obviously isn’t fundamentalist!

  3. I believe the Universalists simply count everyone, that is, everyone in the whole town, or everyone that ever lived for that matter.

  4. 1 – that’s the total attendance. God was there. That’s all that matters. We’re not interested in numbers. We’re interested in souls.

  5. Jay,

    Love covers a multitude of sins. I trust and pray that the following will be received as coming from a loving person who has seen all of the below and more from loving, caring Christians far and wide.

    Dwayne Phillips

    How to Count church attendance:

    (0) Count every person you see, then adjust as follows:

    (1) add 10% to catch all those who arrived late (unless you count after communion, in that case forget this adjustment)

    (2) add 5% because we didn’t count those who we don’t want to attend

    (3) adjust for seasonal variations
    (a) no adjustments for January through May as this is part of the standard CofC church year, A.K.A. the school year.
    (b) add 5% for June through August as people are out of town for vacation. Also see NOTE 1
    (c) subtract 10% for September as this is the start of the standard CofC church year, A.K.A. the start of school.
    (d) no adjustments for October through December is also part of the standard CofC church year, A.K.A. the school year.

    (4) adjust for Holy Days
    (a) Easter
    (i) subtract 15% if you are in a rural area because people who moved away to the suburban areas will come back to visit you on Easter.
    (ii) add 15% if you are in a suburban area because many of your members have moved in from rural areas and have gone back to visit their home congregations.
    (iii) Also see NOTE 2.
    (b) Christmas
    (i) subtract 15% if you are in a rural area because people who moved away to the suburban areas will come back to visit you on Christmas.
    (ii) add 15% if you are in a suburban area because many of your members have moved in from rural areas and have gone back to visit their home congregations.
    (iii) Also see NOTE 3.
    (c) Mother’s Day
    (i) subtract 15% if you are in a rural area because people who moved away to the suburban areas will come back to visit you on Mother’s Day.
    (ii) add 15% if you are in a suburban area because many of your members have moved in from rural areas and have gone back to visit their mothers at their home congregations.
    (iii) Also see NOTE 4.

    (5) Congregational Adjustment:
    (a) Traditional or Legalist Congregations: Use items (1) through (4) in their entirety as they are from section 12, appendix B of the standard CofC Handbook of Doctrine. You may expand upon these items to increase the detail of the procedure so long as your expansion is an aid to counting and not an addition to counting.
    (b) Liberal or Progressive Congregations: Discard items (1) through (4) but do not discard the NOTES given below. Instead,
    (i) have one person in each section of the Worship Center count only using their finger tips
    (ii) round off to the nearest ten
    (iii) give this approximation to the servant leader in the back of the Worship Center
    (iv) have the servant leader round off to the nearest 100
    (c) Congregations that are neither (a) nor (b). Discard items (1) through (4) but do not discard the NOTES given below. Instead,
    (i) have the Deacon of Facilities stand in the back of the auditorium
    (ii) have said person look around, wiggle the pointer finger of the right hand, and move his lips
    (iii) record “About the same, maybe a little more.”

    NOTES:
    NOTE 1: Do not make this adjustment for congregations in economically depressed or rural areas as they don’t take vacations.
    NOTE 2: You may not have to make this adjustment if your congregation does not recognize the existence of “Easter.”
    NOTE 3: You may not have to make this adjustment if your congregation does not recognize the existence of “Christmas.”
    NOTE 4: All congregations must make this adjustment as we all recognize Mother’s Day as a Holy Day.

  6. It doesn’t matter how many attend a Uniterian\universalist church,

    In my experience in the c of C churches it doesn’t matter what formula you use, but do not use a calculator, there shall be no mechanical counting.

  7. “no mechanical counting”! LOL

  8. +/- 0% if it’s a Church of Christ as we are never wrong!

  9. You can only count the men because that is the approved example given to us in the feeding of the five thousand 🙂

  10. Attendance Calculation Formulas in the Churches of Christ
    Where: X= the actual attendance
    C= count
    P= Preacher(s)
    D= Deacon(s)
    E= Elders
    M= Members
    GPop= General population

    PC = X + X/2 if due for a raise PC = X + X2
    DC = X + X3 it’s just that much work
    EC = E + ?FEW – D
    MC = X – D – E +/- P
    GPop = Who?

    Posted by Jay Guin for Marvin Nichols

  11. As we are perfect in determining who is in and who is out, no adjustment is needed for attendance counts.

    However, certain adjustments are required when counting the number of congregations — because of the pace at which we split, any count must be multiplied by 2.

    Make that 4.

    No … now it’s 8.

    Oops. I meant 16 …

  12. freeinchrist —

    How could I have forgotten that the Regulative Principle applies to all aspects of life?!

    But you forgot that Jesus fed the 5,000 before Pentecost and hence reflects a Mosaic Dispensation law.

    I have searched out the Christian rule.

    (Acts 4:4) But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.

    This tells us not only that we ignore the women, we round to the thousands! Compare Acts 2:41 (“about 3,000”) and Rev 14:1 (144,000)(not that examples in Revelation are in any sense binding, of course).

    Even before the Law of Moses we read,

    (Exo 12:37) The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children.

    Remarkably, the rule is the same in the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian ages, not to mention heaven, making its authority beyond question!

    We have no example of smaller numbers being called “about zero thousand” and so we must logically conclude (taking into account literary and historical context) that the holy apostles rounded up.

    Therefore, all churches of Christ with less than 1,000 men should count “about 1,000 men.”

    All other methods damn as they are wholly without approved precedent, command, or inference.

  13. I think you hit the nail on the head Jay.

  14. freeinchrist,

    I’ve been thinking about this. There are about 13,000 congregations of the Lord’s church in the U.S. If we were to count these as the Lord commands us to count, our average Sunday morning attendance would be about 13,000,000 men!

    And they say we’re losing members … Looks like we’re growing to me!

    Add in women and children and the backsliders who aren’t in attendance, and we’d be over 40 million members.

    I’ve always said the old math is better is better than the new math!

    “Seek ye the old paths …”

  15. Jay;

    I have attempted to redefine church growth in terms of the the size of the members rather than the number in attendance. By using aggregate poundage as our measurement we will be able to provide growth of the congregation through an increase in the frequency and caloric count of the fellowship meals. There is, after all, more than one way to fill a pew.

    –Greg

  16. Well, Greg, I’m doing my part to grow the Lord’s church!

  17. Two notes on counting. My congregation of youth used a very loud click mechanical counter. After regular complaints about the distraction, it was operated in a sock.
    When at ACU, chapel attendance was recorded by photography. Black and white slides were taken at each arena openning. During a 2 year period the photographer did it with flair. He wore a black cape, flung open at each photo shoot.

  18. Larry,

    Is this the origin of “put a sock in it”?

  19. Sorry Jay, but we put a sock ON it.

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