3 Crucial Considerations for Measuring Online Service Attendance

How can we gather to celebrate together when the safest (and most loving) thing we can do is stay apart? (Photo by Hans Vivek on Unsplash)

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 an online-church experience. 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 pastors' minds: how can we track attendance while folks are watching online?

Before COVID-19, we released the e-book, The State of the Online Church. Here's some of the data on just how many folks were watching church online:

  • 42 percent of churches saw their online attendance consisting of people living in a reasonable driving distance of their church.
  • 28 percent saw online attendance evenly mixed of local and non-local.
  • 17 percent saw attendance of people who live one-hour away from their church.

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This means that there is a massive opportunity for local outreach and community building amongst your online platform. If you weren't already considering church online 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. Use 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 number of concurrent viewers in a given time frame — and then multiplies that number by 1.7 to account for multiple people in front of the same 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 in to 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.

  1. 3. Vanderbloemen's data. Here at Vanderbloemen, we surveyed online pastors around the country to get their feedback on how they measure attendance in an online Here's what they said:
  • 72 percent of churches report online attendance weekly and separate from their physical attendance.
  • When asked how they measure online church attendance, 26 percent of respondents said, "concurrent streamers at a given time," which was the highest response to that question.
  • 21 percent of respondents said "other" when asked how they measure online attendance, which was the second-highest response to that question.

For more stats from this survey, download our free State of the Online Church e-book.

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 to ensure that members of our faith community, in-person and online, are drawn in.

Diana Waks is the Research Manager at Vanderbloemen. Founded by William Vanderbloemen, Vanderbloemen serves teams with a greater purpose by aligning their people solutions for growth: hiring, compensation, succession and culture. Through its retained executive search and consulting services, Vanderbloemen serves churches, schools, nonprofits, family offices, and Christian businesses in all parts of the United States and internationally. William Vanderbloemen's newest book, Next: Pastoral Succession That Works, is coming to booksellers everywhere April 21.

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