Statistics for Mission
** Update January 2021 ** – We have not made a request for you to complete your Statistics for Mission due to the current challenging and changing situation with COVID-19. The deadline has been extended to April. If you do want to make a return please feel free to do so using your existing Parish Returns login details or return a completed form to Fraser McNish. If you have any questions, please get in touch with Fraser Tel 01636 817244 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Data collection – 2020
The online system is open.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic many of our church buildings were closed for a large part of 2020. We recognise the huge upheaval that churches have been through, and the amazing creativity and resilience that churches have displayed in continuing to offer worship and pastoral support to their congregations and parishioners during this difficult time. We would like to celebrate and capture this through the Statistics for Mission 2020 form. The form is a bit different this year, and we realise that there may be sections that are harder than usual to answer in this context. We’re keen to find out anything you can tell us, and your best approximation is fine if you don’t have precise numbers. Please don’t worry about anything you don’t feel able to answer. We also recognise that attendance at services held in church buildings will be impacted by social distancing and complex cleaning arrangements, so please be reassured that the data for 2020 will be used carefully by the NCIs and Dioceses. Thank you for taking the time to help us understand the national picture of the church in this extraordinary year.”
Where can I find the Statistics for Mission form?
The form is available to complete on the online parish returns website https://parishreturns.churchofengland.org/. On the homepage you will find a pdf and word version to help you gather your figures before completing the form.
What is the closing date?
As usual, the closing date was 31st January, but we recognise that in these difficult times it may take a little longer so the form will continue to be available for some time after this date, though we’d recommend you complete it as early as you are able while the figures are most current.
What should we include in “Church at Home”?
As with the previous October Count, the Church at Home question is focussed on worship services, therefore online house groups, youth clubs, Alpha courses, and social events etc should not be included there. There is a comment box should you wish to share with us anything else, aside from services, you have been offering remotely to your congregation.
How do I count Church at Home attendance?
You may be using a number of different ways to engage with people at home, for example YouTube or Facebook. Both platforms offer some viewing numbers and these will give you some indication as to how large your audience is. We’ve not asked for viewing figures directly as these figures are very variable dependent on how the platform is used and for how long and will require some adjustment. For more information on interpreting view figures please see “Everybody Welcome Online” (in particular pages 9 and 10) by Ven Bob Jackson and Revd George Fisher for some helpful advice https://cofecarlisle.contentfiles.net/media/documents/document/2020/04/Everybody_Welcome_Online_PDF.pdf
We can’t fit as many people as usual into our church building so our October Count figures will be lower than usual.
Attendance ‘in person’ during 2020 will be impacted by a variety of complex factors, and therefore will be reported and used carefully and sensitively. It is very helpful to know how many of our national worshipping community are currently attending church buildings in person so that dioceses and the NCIs can best know how to support churches and the CofE worshipping community. The 2020 figures will not be used as part of any measure of growth or decline of local churches.
How do I report numbers of people participating in a service live streamed from church in October?
A service live streamed from church in October will be recorded on the form in two places. Those attending in the church building will be counted in the “in person” October count section. Those watching from home via the live stream will be recorded in the “Church at Home” section.
We are running church at home as a benefice, how do we record the figures?
Ideally, as usual, we’d like separate forms to be completed for each church in the benefice. We ask for this because each year there are a number of pastoral reorganisations across the church, so for us to be able to continue to use data we need it to be as fine grained as possible. Where church at home was offered as a benefice (or any other grouping of local churches) all churches should tick the answers in question 5:
5. What ‘Church at Home’ services did your church offer or refer people to during lockdown (March 2020 –July 2020) and what has your church offered during October 2020?
Then in question 6, choose one of your churches to enter the figures. The other churches should leave this question blank. Feel free to use the comment box to say which churches were included in the church at home figures.
6. Did your church offer any ‘Church at Home’ services during October 2020? (If ‘Church at Home’ services were offered as a group of churches, for example as a parish, benefice or group, then please agree which church will report the ‘Church at Home’ to avoid double counting)
What if church buildings are closed over Advent and Christmas?
If your church buildings were closed during Advent or Christmas then please enter zero for these questions. We are not collecting figures for online participation (we didn’t want to complicate the form too much!), but feel free to use the comment box if there is something particular you’d like to mention.