Rev. George Speake presented the Statisticians Report (pgs. 82-83, Workbook), providing insight to the trends happening in worship, participation, and giving in our local churches.
- Total number of Professing Members decreased from 218,982 in 2020 to 214,320 in 2021. Speake assured the body that a significant portion of those numbers are a result of membership audits that churches have conducted during the pandemic.
- Even taking into consideration the challenges and uncertainty in measuring attendance during seasons of online and hybrid worship, total worship attendance was down in 2021 compared to 2020. Total in-person average worship attendance in 2021 was down 13,342 from 2020. Similarly, online average attendance in 2021 was down 8,263 from 2020.
- In good news, baptisms in 2021 were 696, up 310 from 2020.
- While total church apportionment giving was around 85.5%, more good news is that the amount contributed to the UM Special Sundays offerings increased by $28,907 over 2020.
As part of his role as Conference Statistician, Speake often advises churches on their Table and Charge Conference reports. He sought to provide clarity about the categories of membership and the ways that churches have been unintentionally misreporting numbers in these categories because of misinterpreting their meaning. The differences and nuances between Professing members, Baptized members, and Constituents can be confusing, but pastors and congregations are encouraged to reach out to him for clarifications and assistance.
Speake also challenged the churches to engage in intentional work on evangelism and stewardship. One recommendation is to use Not Your Parent’s Offering Plate by J. Clif Christopher, a six-chapter book that can be a short-term study for finance and stewardship teams.
Other recommendations are available to be checked out from the Conference Media Center. Visit the Media Center website at nccumc.org/media-center to review recommendations in the “Resources by Topic” section on Stewardship.