Why Do Local Church Statistics Matter?

December 4, 2017 | | GNJ News

So a church gains or loses a few members from year to year… no big deal, right? But what if that church has doubled (or halved) in membership in the span of 40 years? Church statistics not only help answer the question of “How are we doing right now?” but also, “How are we doing in the long run?” A church’s leadership can review this data to interpret underlying meanings and help the congregation assess the story being told.

The Statistical Report is divided into 3 tables.

  • Collecting the information on members and their participation in the church
  • Collecting the information on how the church is spending money
  • Collecting information on the income the church is collecting

The information provided in Table 2 is what is used to calculate a church’s shared ministry assessment. If a church is not reporting expenses correctly, their shared ministry will not be accurate and once statistical reports are finalized, they cannot be changed.

GNJ Accounting Manager Danielle Andrews breaks it down.

“For example, if a church reports a new roof as a property and maintenance expense, their shared ministry assessment will be higher than it should be,” she said. “However, if they came to the Statistical Report Trainings mentioned in The GNJ Digest weekly e-newsletter, they might have realized that a new roof should be reported as a capital expense.”

Capital expenses are not included in the shared ministry formula, but property and maintenance expenses are. Therefore, reporting a new roof incorrectly could cause a church to pay a higher shared ministry amount then they would have if completed correctly.

In The United Methodist Church, the statistics are used by the general agencies for a variety of purposes:

  • The General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) uses them to help annual conferences, districts, and local churches plan how to more effectively minister within their own communities. Church statistics are combined with demographic data by the office of research to help local churches analyze where there are new opportunities for outreach.
  • The United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH) uses them to assist in planning resources and marketing. The statistics help to determine where resources are already being used and where there may be opportunities to provide new resources to local churches.
  • The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW) and the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) use the information to assist in monitoring and raising consciousness of gender and racial/ethnic inclusiveness in The United Methodist Church. Gender and Racial/Ethnic membership information provides a measure of progress toward the United Methodist Church’s commitment toward becoming a fully inclusive denomination.

While it is recognized churches are about more than the number of persons attending worship or how many persons are baptized in a year, those numbers help bring attention to matters warranting concern or celebration. Sharing with each other the objective data numbers provide helps us to keep our connection vital.

Per the Book of Discipline ¶606.7, All pastors of local churches are required to submit a year-end statistical report each year.  GCFA has provided a website here for annual conferences to use to collect the requested information. The statistical reports are set up in 3 Tables, these tables are updated by GCFA at the change of the quadrennium and 2017 is the beginning of a new quadrennium. Therefore the tables have been updated and some questions have been changed and others added.

Please see the above graphic for detailed instructions.


Year-End Statistical Report Training Sessions: 

Wednesday, Dec. 6 
Session 1: 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Session 2: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Aldersgate UMC, East Brunswick

Thursday, Dec. 7 
Session 1: 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Session 2: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Malaga UMC, Malaga

Tuesday, Dec. 11 
Session 1: 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Session 2: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Totowa UMC, Totowa

Make Up Day 
Friday, Jan. 5, 2018 
7:00 – 9:00 p.m. 
Location: Mission and Resource Center, Neptune 


Click here for details and here to register.