Statistics for mission
If your church has missed the deadline for any returns or would like to submit any updated data for a previous year, they may do so directly to the national team by going to Parish Returns Online (churchofengland.org).
Recording Online Attendance
Every Statistics for Mission return asks for a range of attendance data throughout the year; both an 'average' Sunday attendance throughout the year as well as a more detailed account of October attendance across a range of categories. But how do we do that when people are attending online church?
Measuring attendance of online church is difficult and problematic. Online platforms such as Youtube, Facebook and Zoom do allow content creators to view an analysis of who has viewed their output. However, these figures don't equate well to 'attendance'. Many of those who view will do so only for a few seconds and it still counts as a view; in addition, one single 'view' might represent the attendance of several people who are watching one device in a household.
The national Research and Statistics team of the Church of England have produced some forms and guidance on what and how you can keep track of attendance and they are asking for feedback from churches on how useful and easy to collect this information might be. You can download a simple Excel form that can be used to record information on your online church and attendance at services. It was originally designed for the periods of COVID lockdowns, but may still be useful for general online church.
In addition, the Church of England Digital Team have produced some good articles on how to use the analytics available on each of the major platforms you might be using:
Each year the national church asks parishes to collect a range of information about the number of people coming to church through the year and at special times, about baptisms, weddings and funerals, and about the worshipping community of the church.
A huge thank you to all those parishes who have collected and submitted their Statistics for Mission returns for 2020. It really is appreciated! Do start thinking about your 2021 return - you may like to download the collection tools below to help you keep track and make the job at the end of the year easier.
Why collect statistics?
Good quality statistics can present a facts-based window on the world, as well as help predict where things might be heading for the future. They can help with forming strategy, show whether current strategies are working well and highlight where more support might be needed.
Statistics can help us see more clearly what the church and the community we serve is like and inform the planning for the mission and ministry of the church.
Statistics can also help the wider church put her resources in the right place. They can help us to share good news widely, inside and outside the church.
Good statistics are a powerful weapon in the mission and ministry armoury of local parishes, dioceses and the national church. Not for nothing do we call them Statistics for Mission!
If you are new to Statistics for Mission, you can download a helpful introduction here.
How we collect the statistics
In Derby diocese, parishes use the Church of England online Parish Returns system to submit both their Statistics for Mission and Finance data. You can find out more about this system by downloading a short briefing here. The system can be accessed via any web browser - simply go to https://parishreturns.churchofengland.org/. You'll need a username and password to gain access. Each parish has an administrator for the system who can set up, amend and delete users for that parish. If you're not sure who the administrator is for your parish, your deanery administrator should be able to help.
A full and up to date user guide for the parish returns system can be downloaded from within the system.
When should the data be submitted?
Electoral Roll and Easter figures can be entered any time soon after annual general meetings are due to be complete. The rest of the data input opens at the end of September, but much of the information can't be completed until the end of the year. All data must be submitted by the end of January of the following year.
If you need further help and support concerning the collection and submission of the Statistics for Mission return, please contact your deanery administrator.
Statistics Collection Tools
Experience has shown that if parishes collect data week by week through the year, it makes completing the Statistics for Mission return at the end of the year much easier and produces much more accurate results. To help you to do that, we’ve provided some statistics collection tools that you can download from the links below.
These are not extra forms that you have to fill in. If you find them helpful, then please use them, and feel free to adapt them. We don’t need you to submit them – they’re for your convenience and use only.
Attendance Calculator (Excel) - assists in collection Usual Sunday Attendance and October counts, as well as recording figures for Advent, Christmas and Easter. Click the link below for the year you require:
- Attendance Calculator for 2022 data
- Attendance Calculator for 2023 data
Pastoral Care Register (Word) - a simple sample register that can be adapted to help keep track of attendance patterns across various services. Click the link below for the year you require:
- Pastoral Care Register for 2022 data
- Pastoral Care Register for 2023 data
Worshipping Community (PDF) - A document explaining the Worshipping Community statistics; their importance for the church (both locally and more widely), alongside some tips to help collect them.
Worshipping Community List (Excel) – Assists in collecting Electoral Roll, Worshipping Community, Joiners and Leavers figures.
Fresh Expressions Choice Tree (PDF) – A simple tool to help you decide whether you should include a group as a Fresh Expression in your Statistics return.