Here to help
Each year the national church asks churches to return a range of information about the number of people coming to church and to special services through the year. We will support you through this process.
This information is used to inform national church statistics. It is also converted into dashboards which provide local snapshots of the church community.
The National Church requests that all data is submitted by the end of January of the following year.
How we collect the statistics
In the Diocese of Sheffield, we use the Church of England online Parish Return system to submit both Statistics for Mission and Financial Summary Returns. We encourage parishes to enter the information directly onto the system as this reduces the administration load and also gives you more control over the data although helpful forms can be downloaded to make this process easier.
If you have not used the web-based system before and need a username and password please contact us…
For those who are not able to complete this online process, you can send your forms to Diocesan Church House where they will be submitted for you. PDF and Microsoft Word versions of the forms can be accessed from firstname.lastname@example.org.
October Count Guidance
An important part of the return is a count of church attendance during October. The October Count records the number of people attending your church in person and “at home” for services and other acts of worship during the first 4 weeks of October. This includes the number of people attending on Sundays and during the week. The count is split into Sundays and weekdays; adults and children; and type of service (Church, fresh expressions of Church and school services).
In addition to the standard questions, as with last year, there is an additional question asking for information on “church at home” attendance.
These are any services offered remotely, including online services (live-streamed or pre-recorded), services by telephone, and services that were emailed or posted. It is recognised that counting attendance for these services is not straightforward, and Research and Statistics Unit have provided some guiding principles for this:
- Principle 1: As far as possible, try to find an attendance number that means something reasonably equivalent to attending an in-person church service.
- Principle 2: Don’t worry too much about precision. A sensible, approximate, attendance number is often the most useful thing to aim for.
- Principle 3: If you can avoid double-counting people, do so.
Worshipping Community Guidance
The form again asks for a more detailed breakdown of the age demographics of our Worshipping Communities than in previous years. It asks for the numbers of people aged from 0-10, 11-17, 18-29, 30-49, 50-69 and 70+. This will enable us to better understand the demographic challenge that the new Diocesan strategy seeks to address. There are some resources that could help at the bottom of this page.
- Each church congregation should be counted as one worshipping community
- All home communions, however many houses are visited or when they are visited, would be counted as one worshipping community
- Each residential home would be one worshipping community
- Each school would be one worshipping community
- Each separate fresh expression of Church would be one worshipping community
Why Collect Statistics?
- Good quality statistics can present a facts-based window on the world, as well as helping to 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 planning for the mission and ministry of the church.
- Statistics can also help the wider church put 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 that has been adapted from one produced by the Diocese of Derby.
Statistics Collection Tools
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.
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 are providing some statistics collection tools that have been developed by churches that you can download from the links below.