Don’t Keep Attendance Stats

“Ignore the stats for the first year. Grow a beard. Put your head down. And work your butt off.”   – Gary Vaynerchuk

Here’s a place where, I’m afraid, I’ve only learned the proverb after the fact.



It’s not that I was obsessed with numbers, or worse, that I was stacking our numbers up against the BIG LAUNCH church plants. It’s not even that I was keeping accurate records and filing them away for future reference.

But I was going home after every gathering and listing all the people who showed up, and comparing it with the previous week.

“Hon, we had 22 people tonight!”

“Hmm, only 19 this week.”

“Can you believe we had 35 people packed in that living room?!?”

Look, there’s nothing wrong with being excited about the fact that you have gathered people and begun to make culture. If you weren’t excited about these first signs of life, something would be very wrong. And the supposed dichotomy between qualitative and quantitative data is ultimately a false dichotomy.

But that’s not the point.


The point is this: the culture that you are working to form will likely “scale” eventually. The DNA of the committed core will likely be multiplied soon enough. Because of the near inevitability of this, you need to focus on the culture and the DNA almost exclusively at the outset. Ignore the stats for the whole first year, as wine expert and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk says from within his own context.

If you’re running the analytics on your attendance stats Monday through Saturday, that only means one thing: You’re not dropping in at your people’s workplace, inviting yourself to dinner, and hanging out on the front porch until 2am.

One of the hardest things about the slow-but-steady numeric growth we’ve had over the last year is that I’m on a different porch having a different after-dinner conversation with different people than I was with last year. I miss those first few front porches and the closeness I shared with those people. But one of the best things is this: I know that there are still people on those same front porches. Some of the same people, and a good bit of new people.

Don’t keep attendance stats. Keep the feast.


Do you feel the temptation to keep track? Are you more prone to qualitative, or quantitative, analysis? Have you experienced good or bad DNA multiplying in your church? Let us know below.

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2 thoughts on “Don’t Keep Attendance Stats

  1. If we believe a particular congregation is part of the body of Christ, then we should let that part of the body grow organically, with the Spirit causing the increase.

  2. Pingback: Trial Run: The One-Hour Prep Sermon | Gardens Don't Launch

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