How to use the Attendance module
The ChurchSuite Attendance Module is the core repository for recording attendance metrics for your church. Optionally you can track contact attendance, but at its simplest level it serves to simply record key metrics about your church service attendance.
At the heart of the Attendance module are Categories and Groups (groups, in this context are like sub-categories). Categories are the headings under which your attendance metrics are grouped and from which Attendance module reports can be generated.
In this article
Adding a new attendance category
Recording attendance data
Archiving an attendance category
Tracking weekly attendance of your church members
How to turn the weekly attendance record on or off
Note about adding service data
Attendance dates must be unique - you can only record one attendance entry for a date per site. You will create categories for each metric you wish to record for any given date.
It is not possible to import historic service attendance data. However, if you have existing attendance data in a compatible CSV file format and you have created categories and groups to match your CSV file, one of our developers may be able to import your historic data for you. Drop us a line with your CSV file attached and we'll advise whether it can be imported.
Adding a new attendance category
Go to "Attendance" > "Categories" and click Add category.
Give your category a Name, and for multi-site enabled churches, specify the Site - you will create categories for each site for which you wish to record attendance.
Note that you can assign a Colour to a category and in this way use the colour-coding to help visually distinguish between your various categories when adding and reporting on attendance data. Click Save to create your new category - the following category view is displayed.
Next, add one or more Groups to the category. A group is a statistical value that you wish to record and report for the category. A category must have at least one group. For example, you might have a group for "Total attendance", or you might create separate groups for "Regular adults", "Regular children" and "Visitors". You can also create metrics that are excluded from the category totals - for example, "Number of visitor connection cards", "Number of communicants", "Number of cars in car park" - which you will want to be excluded from the category attendance totals so that the total attendance is not distorted. This will become clearer as we begin adding service attendance data - see later.
Note also the option to specify a group type as a Number or a Currency value. Currency type groups are totalled separately from number types. Again, you can choose whether or not to include a current type group from the category totals for all currency type groups. Typically you might create a currency type group for the collection/offering.
Continue adding all your groups (metrics), clicking Save for each one. Note that a group Status must be Active in order to record service attendance data. You can set a group Inactive at any time in the future if you no longer wish to record service attendance data for that group, without needing to delete the group and losing all your historical group data data.
When you have finished adding groups, the category view will look something like this...
Note that you can easily re-order groups within a category if you need to. - either by dragging the Order number within the list, or clicking any Order number to open the Reorder modal.
You can return to the Category view page at any time in the future add, edit or delete groups - use the action cog on the right hand side of the group in the list.
Note that if you Delete a group from a category, it will delete all historic data associated with that group - we therefore recommend you first set groups inactive, rather than delete them. Note also the options to Edit the category name or Delete the category and all associated groups and historic category/group data.
Returning to the list of all your Categories, note the option to Order your categories. Categories are always listed in site order and then category order. Since adding attendance data is done site by site, it's not possible to order categories outside of their site - site categories are always grouped together. Note also the cog actions on the right hand side of each category - to view, edit or delete a category.
Later, as you begin recording service attendance data for your new category - see later - the category view page will include a graph showing Recent Attendance, as demonstrated below.
Having created categories and groups, you are now ready to begin recording weekly service attendance data, explained in the next section.
Recording service attendance data
Go to "Attendance" > "Dates" and click Add service data.
For multi-site churches, select a Site and select the attendance Date and add any optional Notes. Multi-site service data is always added on a site-by-site basis for a date. You can only add service data for a site if you have user permissions for that site - meaning you will only see sites listed that you have permissions for. You can also only add service data for Active categories and groups - you can't record service data for Archived categories.
Remember, you can add data for multiple sites for the same date, but you can only add one site instance per date. If you attempt to add more than one instance of service data for a site for a date that has already been added you'll receive the following warning message. If you have further site data for an existing date to add, locate and edit the existing service date entry.
Proceed with adding service data for each of your groups. Note that groups with an asterisk symbol are excluded from the number and currency Total. You can enter 0 or leave a group blank if you wish.
Save your changes before navigating away from the page. Depending on your site permissions, you'll see your newly added site service data, along with any previously entered service data for other sites for that date (see below).
Note that where you have different categories perhaps representing different services for a site, site totals are shown. Note also the options to Edit or Delete service data for a site.
To add further service data for another date, navigate back to the Dates list using the menu option. In the Dates list, each date's service data is summarised and totalled by site. Note the View filter option, and the action cog on the right hand side of each date entry - used to View that date service data.
Once you have begun recording weekly service data, you are ready to begin exploring the attendance reporting available in the module's reports section - explained in the next sections.
Archiving an attendance category
Churches sometimes change - and over time the metrics that you choose to record may change too. Rather than deleting an attendance Category that is no longer being used (and all the associated groups within that category), it may be more helpful to preserve the historic service attendance data for that category by archiving the category instead. Archived categories don't appear when you're adding new service attendance data, allowing you to have fewer options on your screen. Archived categories are also excluded from report results. Archived categories can be reinstated (set active) if you wish.
To archive an attendance category, select Archive from the action cog menu on the right-hand side of the list of categories. Follow the on-screen instructions to confirm your request.
You can easily switch View between Active and Archived categories...
...and set an Archived category Active again.
Under "Attendance" > "Reports" there are two attendance overview reports.
Within the Graph Generator, you can filter your Categories, perhaps isolating a particular Group or Groups for a Category; and then plotting those attendance results within a range of dates.
The Monthly Breakdown report provides a month by month breakdown of attendance across each Category and plots the monthly average as well as the actual monthly category totals.
Tracking the weekly attendance of your church members
We introduce this section with a reminder of the vision for ChurchSuite: to provide useful tools that help churches in their respective ministries. While words like "tracking" and "monitoring" may sound overbearing or controlling, the simple level of functionality offered in the Attendance module is primarily intended to be part of mission; to help make disciples and care for people better as they interact with their church. Of course we know it's not about 'numbers', and yet in so many helpful situations, attendance recording is extremely helpful, and sometimes even essential.
Certainly when churches are smaller, this level of individual attendance recording is easier to achieve and can be very useful. If you're a new church and people are coming, are they coming regularly, or are they slipping away for some reason? Whether it's to satisfy trustee or board enquiries, charity commission or funding eligibility "stat" requests, or simply to quickly identify that family or individual who may be slipping away from fellowship and needs reaching out to; the weekly member attendance record may be useful.
How to turn the service attendance record on or off
You can turn off the service attendance record feature at any time, which has the effect of hiding the Average Attendance section from the meta-summary section on each contact's profile page, and also hiding the contact "tick box" section you would ordinarily see when adding service attendance data.
To enable or disable the service attendance record, head into the Attendance module's settings, accessed via the cog-wheels in the top-right corner of the module - you'll need Manage module or Administrator permissions to access this.
Once there you can simply toggle on or off a single module setting to manage the visibility of the service attendance record. Save any changes you make before closing.
Note about intended functionality
Weekly service attendance recording is only possible for your Address Book contacts. It is not possible to record child attendance in this way. Instead, ChurchSuite's Child Check-In system is designed to record children attendance for their groups within each of gatherings. There is also separate attendance record functionality in the small groups module for your mid-week group activity.
Furthermore, it is only possible to record each contact's attendance once per site per date. So if a contact attends your morning service but not your evening service on a date, you cannot distinguish which service they attended; simply that they were in attendance on that date. However, for multi-site churches, if a contact attends a service at one site in the morning and another service at a different site in the evening, you will be able to record the contact's service attendance at each site.
Enabling service attendance recording, will display a list of your active Address Book contacts in the Add service data page. Here you can simply "tick" each contact in attendance on that date. You can optionally filter the list of contacts by Tag(s).
The data from this Attendance Tracking service attendance record pulls through to each contact's profile page in your Address Book, allowing you to view a contact's recent attendance on their profile page.