I mentioned in my previous post on metrics that that the church is the last organization type to develop standardized metrics. Maybe, together, we can change that. eRA is the start of what I hope will be a good standardized metric… we’ll see…
eRA stands for ‘estimated Regular Attender’. Today we use the term ‘regular attender’ rather loosely. We can’t really define when one becomes a regular attendee, and even if we do we don’t define when one stops being one. It’s also hard to measure when exactly someone has met these criteria. God knows the exact number of regular attenders in our church, but for the most part we’re left guessing.
David and I came up with the concept of an ‘estimated Regular Attender’. It’s a model that helps to estimate the number of regular attendees a church has using data that is commonly available, attendance and giving. The key word here is estimate… if you get hung up on the exceptions to the rule you’ll miss the point. The point of this metric is not be be an exact count, that’s not possible, at least in a church larger than 1,000. The point is to create a estimation of the number of regular attenders that you can consistently use over time to see trends. We’ve played with the criteria quite a bit and feel like we have a fairly solid model. We’d love your feedback though as we’re not above being wrong 😉
So… how does one become an eRA? Here’s the criteria:
- Has given 3 or more times and has given in the last 6 weeks
- OR Has attended at least 8 out of the last 16 weeks
- Notice that the criteria is OR… giving or attendance
- We count eRAs as families not individuals
- We use attendance data from birth to 8th grade. We feel that Jr High and High School students are fairly independent and often attend church in patterns different than their parents
Ok, we see how to become an eRA how about the exit path? When building the model we quickly found that there needs to be a different exit criteria than the entrance. Otherwise you get a teetering effect where a family goes in and out weekly as they balance on the edge of the criteria. So here’s the exit criteria:
- Hasn’t given in the last 8 weeks
- AND Hasn’t attended in the last 4 weeks
- AND Attended less than 8 of the last 16 weeks
- Notice that the criteria here is AND… they must meet all of the criteria to stop becoming an eRA.
Using this module there’s a few things you can track… the obvious first metric is the number of eRAs overtime.
You can also measure eRA win and loss over time. This is important as it breaks out growth from loss and allows you to measure your back door. Even if you want the back door open you’d like to know how wide it is.
(top line is adds, bottom line is losses)
An interesting point arose as we looked at the resulting data. Review the eRA entrance criteria again… and now the exit criteria. Now add a person’s name to it… Joe attends 8 out of the last 16 weeks THEN misses 8 out of the last 16 weeks AND hasn’t shown up in 4 weeks AND hasn’t given in at least 8 weeks. Does that set off an alarm in your head… what happened to Joe!? Shouldn’t that fact generate a phone call?
Now some would say that a back door is a good thing… and that may be true. But, I would contend that it matters how someone leaves the back door. Do they leave grumbling about the use of a fog machine during worship? OK there’s another Bible teaching church down the road… But perhaps they are they bleeding out the back door from a failed marriage, an illness, or a change in faith? I would say a call is warranted to at least confirm which case it is.
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” Luke 15:4
There’s so much more to say about these metrics, but hey this is a blog post… but there it is in a nutshell… what are your thoughts? Useful…? Flawed…?
Note: Arena customers: be sure to see David’s blog on some stored procedures that help you generate these metrics.