Dear Clergy Colleagues and Lay Leaders in the Diocese of Olympia,
We have all been in conversations about how to record, assess, and track virtual attendance at our worship services during this time of being barred from in-person worship. Our communities still gather, but the medium and the available data about that gathering is starkly different from the data available to us when we could just count the number of humans in the building. Guidance from our bishop has been that Attendance, that is the number we write in our service books, means humans in the building. This means that for many of us weekly attendance has dropped to less than 10, and in some cases zero or one, depending on how and where we are conducting worship.
But we all know this number doesn’t reflect reality. The reality is our congregations are gathering in the best ways they can, and we are learning new ways to connect. As your Canon for Congregational Development, I see massive development opportunities in the midst of the discomfort and grief of this time. And – while we should not track our virtual attendance in the same medium or method that we use for in-person attendance, we should absolutely be tracking it. The Office of the Bishop has developed the attached form to assist us in tracking relevant numbers for our virtual services. You will see in this form a means to track the type of worship (Morning Prayer, Eucharist, etc.) and the type of virtuality (Zoom, Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Pre-recorded, etc.). We have also included particular metrics for Livestreaming/Pre-recorded Premeire or for Zoom. You may keep these forms electronically, or print them out and make a hardcopy viritual service book with them. But please keep a record. We will ask you to share this data with us periodically, so that we can learn together about how church is changing, growing, and developing in this crisis and prepare for the world that will come next. While The Episcopal Church has not yet set guidelines for how virtual attendance will be reported on next year’s Parochial Report, this tool should be helpful in preparing for any changes that may occur.
VIRTUAL ATTENDANCE TRACKING FORM
If you are not sure how to find the metrics for the platform you are using, here are links to info for each:
FACEBOOK LIVE TRACKING
YOUTUBE LIVE TRACKING
ZOOM ATTENDANCE TRACKING
If you are using a different virtual technology or are finding different tracking metrics that have been useful for you, please let us know what you're discovering. And if you are still struggling after viewing the info at these links, please be in touch with our office – with Josh Hornbeck at firstname.lastname@example.org or myself at email@example.com.
Friends, the work you are doing to step up and continue to convene, gather, form, and connect your people and your communities to God and each other is stunning. Let’s document this effort, and continue to learn and develop together.
With care and gratitude,
The Rev. Canon Alissa Newton