By Gina Calvert

The Best Ever Church Year-End Annual Report

Everybody is familiar with the annual church year-end report. These reports are usually full of stats and updates on various ministries and projects – as they should be. Some people are very interested in the financial and organizational details of the church, but for some, the review is long and boring, especially in written form.

So this year, bring your annual year-end report to life with an impact perspective through the use of stories. The idea is that no matter the story the numbers tell, leadership conveys gratitude and excitement about what God has been doing among you this year – and thus, inspires people to feel hope and engage more deeply.

Share Stories: 4 Ways to Demonstrate Impact

1. Remember

Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.(Isaiah 46:9 ESV)

Impact and story are what move people, not (in most cases) obligation or a chart or spreadsheets. As you’re collecting updates from your staff ahead of the annual report, get your team to dig deep and remember the personal stories of impact that many in the church may not know. (This is most effectively done in a group, as our stories and ideas jog other people’s memories.)

Scroll back through the calendar, thinking back over various events and happenings to spark memories of a profound statement made by a child, a great picture that was taken at a baptism, or an especially powerful moment in the community.

An example that comes to mind is of a Dallas church’s recent trunk-or-treat event where the longest line was to the prayer booth, as families with children waited to be prayed over. Powerful!

2. Show it, don’t just tell it

All Jesus did that day was tell stories—a long storytelling afternoon. His storytelling fulfilled the prophecy: I will open my mouth and tell stories; I will bring out into the open things hidden since the world’s first day. (Matthew 13:34-35 MSG)

Wherever possible, use video and imagery to tell the story. Enlist members and children to share their thoughts on short videos, perhaps consisting of just one or two words, such as the answer to “What was the most impactful thing you experienced at our church this year?”

3. Report the Numbers’ Stories

Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. (Acts 2:41 NIV)

Christianity Today: The Case for Counting

Of course, your annual year-end report will include numbers. And just like Jesus, numbers tell a story. Look beyond the cold, hard facts and find ways to show progress and convey hope in both tangibles and intangibles:

  • New professions of faith or baptisms each year
  • Members who are meeting with other individuals for growth and mentoring
  • People moving into leadership roles for the first time
  • Personal breakthroughs
  • Households participating in various educational opportunities
  • Households participating in giving
  • Givers who have committed to recurring giving

If you’d like to grow this number next year,
download our Recurring Giving Campaign Checklist

  • Relationship between giving and attendance (i.e. attendance was down by 30% but giving actually held steady)
  • New givers this year
  • Digital-first participation (including live-stream viewing, visitors that found you and connected first through online connections, percentage of giving that comes from online gifts, along with the channels online gifts started from. (NOTE: If your giving software can’t track that and all other details about your donations, let’s talk! Vision2 can.)
  • Meals and angel tree gifts provided, number of ministry recipients served, etc.

Keep it authentic and transparent, but don’t worry if not everything looks impressive. Find the upside. For example, if attendance has been down (likely!) but you have a growing live stream audience, more people than ever in small groups, or just one marriage saved … that’s noteworthy and encouraging!

NOTE: If you keep these stats as a baseline, next year you can report on applicable increases!

4. Looking Ahead

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)

Wait! Didn’t Isaiah just say to remember the past and now he’s saying forget the past? Yes, rearview mirrors are for looking at what God has done to strengthen the way forward, not to get stuck in old ways or nostalgia.

This is where you cast your vision. Remember to also interject this section with stories, video or images depicting ministries that you plan to grow or volunteers expressing how their service blessed others, grew their own relationships within the church, and helped expand the kingdom.

Wish You Had Better Data for Your Year-End Annual Report?

Imagine that pulling all your data together was the easiest part of creating your year-end report. That’s just one of the unique things Vision2 brings to the table. Our soon-to-be-released key analytics dashboards are designed to put the number stories right in the palm of your hand.

Reach out to learn more.