From "Butts in the Pews" to Views: Calculating Online Worship Attendance Open Access

Hodges-Batzka, Diana (Spring 2021)

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Average worship attendance (AWA) is a defining metric for many churches, denominations, and even researchers in helping understand congregational organization and health. Yet, it means different things depending upon how it is used to measure desired outcomes. With the rapid expansion of online worship due to the public health restrictions implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, churches must develop a new method for calculating AWA. The questions of what counts as worship and who counts in worship reveal some assumptions of modern-era ecclesiology already being challenged by previous models of virtual church. In turn, it is proposed that churches are living into a new model of virtual church, a hybrid church online model. Because of this new model of hybrid church, AWA must be redefined incorporating online analytics. Using a simple Outcome Thinking Systems Model, traditional counting and calculating of AWA is evaluated considering the role it plays in measuring certain outcomes and then a comparable online worship metric is proposed. An infographic is included to help churches calculate their average worship attendance. 

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