Rev. Joshua Patty
Regional Minister and President

Each year, we ask every congregation to share numbers from the previous year. In 2021, this reporting moved to a new system, ALEX. Collecting such data helps us to see and explore trends across the church. I hope that you'll help congregational leaders to submit this annual report.

Of course, counting participation is challenging. At the moment, we have struggled to recognize and accurately count those participating online. Even more, reporting these numbers can be painful -- for many, if not most of us, the numbers are lower than in previous years.

This lower attendance is recognizable in most US congregations. Seeing fewer people is demoralizing. It's hard to preach or teach energetically if the room feels empty -- even if you are confident that there are people joining online. And it's hard for other congregation leaders too. Frankly, it's easy to feel like the numbers reflect on our performance; it's easy to conclude that we are failing.

Honestly, there probably are some failures in the church in recent years. For 50 years or more, our evangelism has mostly assumed "if we build it, they will come." And some of our theology has proven a bit shallow. And some church leaders have acted abhorrently, damaging countless lives.

But some of what we have done has been rich and faithful, experiencing and sharing God's love and forgiveness, peace and hope, in our communities. Our opportunity is to continue this vital work and invite others to join in it.

And the inviting is where our numbers are so important. More data helps us target our efforts more effectively -- to better connect with people who likely want to be involved in our ministry. The more congregations who share honest numbers, the more helpful this data will be.