By Libby Eaton
As you look around your sanctuary on Sunday morning, perhaps most of the pews are filled, or at least occupied. The parking lot has about the same number of cars. Your attendance seems to be pretty steady. I should feel good about that, right?
Answer: Maybe. But what if the people filling your sanctuary and parking lot are different people from the ones who were there last year? Could it be you have actually had new people come in the front door, while others left out the back? How do you know?
Jesus gave us the answer in Luke 15:4 — “What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it?”
How did this shepherd know he had 100 sheep to start with? He counted! And when he counted the next time, and only had 99, he knew to go look for the one that was lost. John 10:3b says “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” It is safe to say the shepherd not only knew that one sheep was lost but he knew which sheep was lost!
As the shepherd of your flock, how do you know which sheep is lost? By keeping accurate records. With accurate records you can tell at a glance how many sheep were in your flock last year versus this year, and which ones are missing or have been added. It’s all about relationships.
Here are five ways good records promote strong relationships:
— Good records have accurate contact information on members, visitors and prospects.
This contact information is vital for follow up with visitors and prospects and for members who are absent. Providing this contact information to your local association and to the state convention assists in communicating about training and other events.
— Good records record who is attending.
Whether its Sunday school, small groups or sometimes even worship services, well organized records will quickly identify people who have been consistently absent. Once the absence is identified, outreach can be done to discover the reason for the absence and to provide ministry as needed.
— Good records keep track of special events like baptisms and new babies.
With accurately recorded professions of faith and baptisms, churches can celebrate milestone “baptism birthdays” within the congregation. With babies, proper records prompt events like scheduling a parent/child dedication or other celebratory events.
— Good records prompt reasons for celebration.
How many individuals have made decisions to follow Christ as a direct result of your church’s ministry? Is it 100? 1,000? 10,000? How many dollars has your church given through the years to Cooperative Program? Is it $50,000? $500,000? Maybe $5 million? How many children have been touched by VBS or backyard kids clubs at your church?
— Good records keep us accountable.
If we are not making an impact on our community, then we are no longer the salt and light God commanded us to be. Good records point to areas of weakness and strength so action plans can be formulated for the future.
Each year, churches are asked to submit a portion of their annual records to the Tennessee Baptist Convention. These records help us maintain our relationships with the pastors and key church leaders in the church. They also help us as a convention see our strengths and weaknesses so we can do a better job equipping churches for kingdom impact.
If you are curious about how many lives have been impacted by the ministry of your church through the years, contact me or call the Tennessee Baptist Convention at (800) 558-2090. Ask for a Multi-Year Digest report that captures reported statistics as far back as 1927.
Libby Eaton is the Information Specialist at TBC and believes in counting! To connect with Libby about these or other ideas, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.