How Church Leaders Are Measuring Online Church Attendance
By: Diana Waks
In our new reality, the safest place to go seems to be online. While introverts may be rejoicing, the Church has felt knocked off balance as we scramble to establish the new normal for our congregations. It’s been said that Christians are an Easter people, but how can we gather to celebrate together when the safest (and most loving) thing we can do is stay apart?
As many of us are realizing, the answer is online church. While some churches have been streaming for a while and others are just transitioning their services to a digital space, there’s a question that has sprung to many pastor’s minds: how can we track attendance while folks are watching online?
Prior to Covid-19, we created an eBook on the State of the Online Church. Here’s some of the data on just how many folks were watching church online:
42% of churches saw their online attendance consisting of people living in a reasonable driving distance of their church
28% saw online attendance evenly mixed of local and non-local
17% saw attendance of people who live 1 hour away from their church
This means that there is a huge opportunity for local outreach and community building amongst your online platform. If you weren’t already considering church online as a way to further integrate and connect your community, now is the time to do so.
We spoke with a handful of church leaders and are glad to share their responses and some of our data below:
1. Using a multiplier
One church leader we spoke with has been streaming for years and uses a simple equation to track online viewers and translate them into church attenders: he uses a multiplier. He tracks the maximum concurrent views for each service - this is the highest amount of concurrent viewers in a given time frame - and then multiplies that number by 1.7 to account for multiple people in front of one screen. This is a simple way to quantify folks interacting with your online presence.
2. Track devices logged in
A straightforward way to measure online attendance is to track the number of devices logged into your streaming vehicle during the service. Tracking attendance this way eliminates guesswork or equations and is a clear path to having a final tally on your Sunday service.
3. Vanderbloemen’s Data
Here at Vanderbloemen, we conducted a survey of online pastors around the country to get their feedback on how they are measuring attendance in an online space. Here’s what they said:
72% of churches report online attendance weekly and separate from their physical attendance.
When asked how they measure online church attendance, 26% of respondents said “concurrent streamers at a given time,” which was the highest response to that individual question.
21% of respondents said “other” when asked how they measure online attendance, which was the second-highest response to that individual question.
For more stats from this survey, download our free State of the Online Church eBook.
We are all learning a new way to do church together in an online capacity, but it’s clear that you have options when you are looking into tracking attendance. The most important thing to remember when taking a headcount is to use the same method consistently so that your numbers reflect your reality. In this technological age, now is the time to focus on ramping up our connections and to ensure that members of our faith community, in-person and online, are drawn in.