Something I’ve found to be true is that our “feeling” often deceive us. Too many times we also make decisions without taking an honest look at the data. One of my biggest pet peeves is when church leadership makes big (sometimes life-altering) decisions before getting all the facts. Looking at the data, interpreting the data and then asking some questions will help any leader really understand what is going on.

Last Sunday was a pretty full house here at Gateway. We’ve instituted the off-site parking shuttles and all the other things you do to “make room.” One of the things I learned last Sunday is that things were not as I had assumed. I learned an important truth. Because our attendance surged so high this last weekend, I was able to see something I hadn’t seen before.

Since coming here I have been told that 11:00 is our biggest service. It’s pretty obvious on Sunday. The lot is more full and people are sitting against the walls in the auditorium at the 11:00 service. Even when I look at my overview of numbers, I do have more kids at 11:00 than at 9:30. It’s always that way. The last 3 or 4 weeks I’ve walked around the early childhood area at 9:30 and noticed that they were feeling fuller than normal. This was odd because elementary seemed about the same as always. It wasn’t until I looked at the report a few hours ago and noticed a trend that I hadn’t seen but makes perfect sense.

At 9:30 the nursery was almost twice as full as it was at 11:00. The preschool was only 5-10% bigger than at 11:00. Elementary? It was about 50% smaller at 9:30 than at 11:00. This was an unusual Sunday, but it caused me to go back and look at past weeks numbers. They all say the same story (although not as dramatic). Yes, 11:00 is a bigger service and we have more kids at that time. But unless you look at individual rooms or areas, you won’t see that the younger ages are busting at the seams at 9:30.

My assumption had been that 11:00 is bigger, so we should always staff that service bigger. Now our team knows that this is true (except for early childhood). My new assumption is that we have a lot of parents of young children getting church in before nap-time. I won’t know for sure until we start asking around. This week we’ll be able to communicate to our parents about ideal service times. We’ve come dangerously close to turning away some little kiddos simply because our facility was at capacity. We can communicate to our parents that if it isn’t a big deal for them to come to 11:00, it will make room for more babies at 9:30.

I love looking at numbers and trends. I’ve learned a lot from studying them. What have you learned from keeping an eye on your numbers?