End-of-Year Stats Reporting In the Year of COVID-19
posted on January 05
In most years, at the beginning of December, we begin reminding pastors and churches about their obligation to complete their statistical tables in January. And, each year, we are reminded of how stressful this can be on our local churches and clergy. No one really enjoys the process.
This year, the stress will be worse. No one even knows what some of the data will mean because of the effects of COVID-19.
Someone will surely ask, “so why not just forget reporting this year?” It’s a fair question. The Cabinet seriously considered it. Unfortunately, that decision could lead to such things as a marked increase in our general church apportionments. It also could introduce unfair increases in Conference apportionments for our own local churches.
Because of that, we are again asking that churches and clergy make an effort to complete their end-of year reports.
Below are the important dates regarding the 2020 Year End Stats.
Stats module opens – December, 28 2020
Stats Deadline Entry - January 25, 2021
Stats module closes – January, 31 2021 - No changes can be made after the module closes
The link to the Stats Module is below. The module is not open for reporting yet, but you can access previous years if you need that information now. You will need to know your church's Conference ID and GCFA #s. Both can be found on your conference apportionment statements.
However, let’s set some new ground rules for completing stats in the year of COVID-19. As long as you follow these guidelines, you can rest easy that you are meeting the whole connection’s needs.
- Cut yourselves some slack. No one is going to heavily police you this year unless there’s a reason separate from statistics for doing so. Bear in mind that a failure to report will likely result in the use of last year’s numbers, and that could adversely affect your apportionments. Please note that a call to simply check on your reporting or to confirm a response isn’t “policing.” It’s just Conference and district office staff performing due diligence.
- A special rule for Table I called ”when in doubt.” With respect to Table I, for attendance or numbers of ministries, even professions of faith, this year above all years, you can breathe easier. If you know you have something to report on one of the items, but have no way of actually finding or collecting data on it ... "when in doubt" ... make your best guess. We don’t normally like you to guess, but this year just has to be different. Remember that we do have some tools to help you figure out the data. For example, we already have protocols for counting online attendance. We have protocols for counting in general, one rule of which is to exclude all Sundays when worship was canceled from the average attendance. Those protocols might be really helpful right now. We also did a webinar on the Tables a few years ago. The contents of that webinar all still hold true. You can find it at www.moumethodist.org/yearendstats.
- Table II should get priority. This isn’t unique to 2020. We use Table II to calculate Conference apportionments. We will do so again in 2021. GCFA uses Table II as its primary tool in calculating general church apportionments (it does also use Tables I and II with Table III to set the quadrennial budget). All this is to say, if you can only focus on one aspect of end-of-year reports, focus on Table II.
- Think about Table IV in a new way. Yes, we want the data. No, the Conference priorities haven’t gone away. But everyone, from the Bishop to the Cabinet to the Conference staff, recognizes that those priorities got really difficult in 2020. No one expects a miracle. In fact, we’d rather everyone be honest, so we have some idea where our baselines are when the pandemic begins to wane. Instead of thinking of Table IV as a means of accountability, which it certainly has been, this year, let’s use it to celebrate our victories in 2020 (lives were still changed for the better).
- Yes, it’s the pastor’s responsibility, BUT. This year, more than any year, as the Conference Statistician, Treasurer and Benefits Officer, I’m asking our laity: Please help your pastor with these reports. Ministry never happens without the laity. This year, think of statistical reporting as ministry that needs lay involvement. Please help your pastor finish the reporting. Then, even better, tell them you appreciate the work they do as your pastor.
We do understand the stress. It’s been a hard year. Please know that all of you, clergy and lay, are in my prayers. And I am at your service.
Peace and Blessings,
Rev. Nate Berneking
Conference Treasurer and Statistician
- Year-End Stats Webinar and Update Webinar
- PDF of Tables for printing (ignore the dates. These are the tables to use since General Conference didn't meet in 2020)
- Table IV Document
- Worship Counting Protocols
- Tips for Entering Year-End Stats
- Link to the stats module for local churhces (Username: GCFA Number, Password: Conference Number (located on your apportionment statement))