Conference Statisticians in The United Methodist Church have the responsibility of collecting data from local churches and reporting a cumulative table across the geographic region. The statistics we collect included membership participation, financial expenses, and income strengths. The data can be used to compare churches on an annual basis.
In March, 2020, when church buildings closed to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the number of churches offering online worship grew exponentially. Churches are encouraged to track online worship attendance and enter the numbers into their 2020 statistical report. Conference Statistician John Wilson explains it this way:
Question 7a on the report asks for the number of persons who worship online. That is the place to report the average weekly number of unique viewers who access your worship online.
This includes those live streaming your worship service and views/downloads of recorded worship services (audio or video), sermons, and/or podcasts. Do not include generic hits/visits to your website.
Pastors have a great deal of discretion on how to answer the question. My recommendation is to count views on a weekly basis and then divide by the number of weeks to get the average. If you have access to the streaming analytics, use those. However you decide to count, make careful notes so that you are counting the same each week. And use the same method next year to get fair comparisons. Count in the way that makes the most sense for your local context.
See virtual attendance counting sheet from GCFA Data Services.
In this annual conference the Conference Statistician also carries the Archives & History portfolio because statistical comparisons between years are also helpful. We have posted statistical runs back to 1974 of key indicators.
Episcopal Terms Focuses on all United Methodist Bishops serving since 1967. The project was designed to study how long Bishops served after their election (tenure). The file also has supporting documentation with a comprehensive list of Bishops by year of Election and complete runs of Episcopal Areas listing Bishops.
See the annual Statistical records of the Conference for each local church, including membership and financial data