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All questions and answers can also be downloaded.
Getting started & time scales
- I am new to statistics. Where do I start?
A good place to start are the statistics pages on the Methodist website, especially the online data entry section, which includes guidance notes, downloadable forms, and guidance on how to register as a web user: www.methodist.org.uk/about-us/statistics-for-mission/online-data-entry/
- When in the year do I start counting?
For the 2018 statistics collection, the following time scales apply –
Membership changes: data should be given for 1 November 2017 to 1 November 2018; the actual membership figure should be recorded as it was on 1 November 2018.
- Can I enter statistics all year?
No. The data entry site opens at the beginning of September each year, and closes at the end of January the following year. However, static data, which does not follow an annual cycle, such as office holders or church details (e.g. website address) can be edited at any time.
Going online & completing forms
- I want to enter my church’s statistics on the online data entry site but I haven’t got any login details or authorisation. How do I proceed?
Follow the registration process as per the Registration and Login guide within the online data entry section of the statistics for mission pages of the Methodist website: www.methodist.org.uk/about-us/statistics-for-mission/online-data-entry/
- I am responsible for collecting my church’s statistics but I don’t have the means to go online. What can I do?
Ask your minister to provide you with the downloadable paper forms, which are updated each year.
- I’ve got lots of forms left over from last year’s statistics collection. Can I use them again?
No. There are often subtle changes to the questions we ask each year, and you might be collecting information we don’t require, or missing something out. Please download the current form which is available on www.methodist.org.uk/about-us/statistics-for-mission/online-data-entry/
Web user management
- I want to register someone who has moved to my church from another circuit. I see an error message that tells me that they are already registered, but I can’t see them in my list of users. How do I proceed?
When someone moves to another circuit, all that needs to change is their permissions. You do not need to start from scratch. Web users can request to have their permissions amended via the Edit My Profile link which appears in the top right corner of the screen when logged into the Online Suite.
Alternatively, contact email@example.com.
- My Superintendent has authorised me but when I try to access my church the system tells me that I have “insufficient permissions”. What is wrong?
You may have been authorised to access a particular church, but it could be that none of the options (statistics, returns, consents) had been ticked. Please check with the person who has authorised you.
- There are several people listed as web users for my church / circuit / district who have long moved away or rescinded their role. How do I remove them?
You need user management permissions to do this. It’s important to ensure that no one has permissions they don’t need any more. While it may not be critical for statistical purposes, it is vital from a (property) managing trustee point of view. You may not be able to delete their account altogether but if you have given them permission to access churches’ data, you can also remove these.
Access to office holders and statistical data
- Who can access the data?
Once entered via the statistics for mission site, the data is securely stored on one of the web servers in the Methodist Church House. It can be accessed by the relevant members of the Connexional Team, such as the Web Support Officer, immediately after you have submitted it.
In addition to this, all web users with permission to access your church’s, circuit’s or district’s data can view and edit standing information such as office holders’ details throughout the year, and edit statistical data during the months when the site is open for data entry. Each church record has a “time stamp” that shows who has last edited the page.
- Do I need to inform you of all office holders in my church?
Before entering contact details of church, circuit or district office holders, ensure that they know and have agreed to this process.
The Methodist Online Portal is password-protected, so only people with the necessary permissions can see information about a particular church, circuit or district. In order to see e.g. a Circuit Meeting Secretary’s details, that person will need to have circuit-level or district-level access to statistics, which would have been given to them by someone authorised to do so (either within the circuit or district itself, or by the Connexional Team). Within the Methodist Church House itself, only specific members of staff have either read-only or editing permissions to the relevant section of our internal database which is fed by the information entered by church, circuit and district web users. Personal details are never given out to any third parties.
The office holders section is mainly there to add information flow within the circuit/district and between local churches and the Connexional Team. There is an option to list the church (“office”) address rather than someone’s home address, and it is not mandatory to include a telephone number as most communications would be conducted via email.
Adding and removing church records & circuit initiatives
- We are forming a new church. What do I need to do?
In order to start off the process, please inform the following:
Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes (firstname.lastname@example.org);
Conference Office (email@example.com);
Web Support Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- How do I register a circuit initiative?
Circuit initiatives are not part of the 2018 statistical data collection. Previously recorded initiatives are stored on the Connexional Database but currently not displayed on the data entry site.
- My church has closed. What’s next?
If a society ceases to meet, becomes a class of another, or if one or more societies merge to form a new church, this change of status needs to be reported via the REPORT CHANGED STATUS button within the church profile. Once the Connexional Database has been updated, the closure will be reflected throughout the Online Suite of Applications.
Standing Orders 605 and 943(1) refer (see www.methodist.org.uk/for-ministers-and-office-holders/governance/cpd/).
- My church has become a class of another society. Do we still need to record individual statistics?
No. The change will have been reported via the REPORT CHANGED STATUS button within the church profile section (see above). Membership and attendance should then be reported as part of the statistical record of the incorporating church. Work is in progress to develop a more robust system for recording classes and accessing data of closed societies.
- My church has merged with two other societies but continues to meet as before. Do we need to do anything?
Any merger of two or more churches becoming a multi-site society needs to be reported via the REPORT CHANGED STATUS function within the church profile. The Web Support Officer will be in touch in case there are any queries. Work is in progress to develop a more robust system for recording mergers and accessing data of closed societies.
- One of my churches has disappeared from the statistics site. Why?
This might be because the society in question has become a class or merged with another society. Another possibility might be that you have not got sufficient permissions to access the statistics record of that particular church. Please check with your Superintendent or contact the Web Support Officer on email@example.com.
Local Ecumenical Partnerships (LEPs)
- How do I record LEP membership?
You need to report both total membership and “Methodist-only” membership. If all members are “joint” (or otherwise not “Methodist-only”), then report this last figure as zero. The “joint” figure should not be divided up according to percentages or number of denominations, although some churches make a separate note of this for calculating apportionment and representation.
- Do in-year changes apply to the total membership or just to Methodist members?
Transfers in or out, gains and losses as well as deaths should be based on “Methodist-only” members (if there were none of these this year or last year, report all in-year changes as zero).
- We worship on non-Methodist premises. Do we need to record an attendance figure?
Yes. Attendance and membership are recorded regardless of the ownership of the premises.
- My church used to be part of an LEP but this has now been discontinued. How do I report this?
Use the REPORT CHANGED STATUS function within the church profile, choosing “Ceased LEP” as option.
Historic statistics & data changes
- I can only see the data I submitted last November. How do I get hold of previous years’ information?
Previous years’ church statistics are available in a simplified format via the PRINT REPORTS link, which can be found in the left-hand information / action panel of each individual church record. More detailed church, circuit and district statistics of the most recent collection can be found in PDF format on www.methodist.org.uk/about-us/statistics-for-mission/district-circuit-and-church-reports/.
For more detailed or historic records as well as district-wide earlier PDF reports, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please bear in mind that the electronic collection only started in 2002. Records before that are a lot less detailed.
- The data collection has finished for this year but I need to make some changes. What do I do?
Contact the Web Support Officer on email@example.com.
- My church’s building has closed for refurbishment, but we still regularly meet for worship in a rented venue. What do we need to do?
A change of worship site, whether temporary or permanent, does not affect the statistics collection, which is about the people rather than buildings. However, your church will still need to update the property/trusteeship details in its annual returns.
Contact the Web Support Officer on firstname.lastname@example.org with the new details.
Data application & retention
- What happens to the data that is collected each year?
From this information, a Connexional-level statistical report is prepared for the Methodist Conference every three years. The latest report in this series was presented at the 2017 Conference.
One of the applications which annual statistics are used for is the Methodist Church Advanced Webmap (www.methodist.org.uk/about-us/statistics-for-mission/methodist-church-advanced-map/), which visualises statistical data on membership, attendance and other activities via pie charts and graphs, enabling trend comparisons and future mission planning.
The Methodist Church is fully compliant with current data protection regulations.
- I want to save my statistics before the website closes for data entry. How do I do this?
Current and previous years’ church statistics are available in a simplified format via the PRINT REPORTS link, which can be found in the left-hand information / action panel of each individual church record. Current statistics can also be downloaded via the Download a spreadsheet of current data link which can be found on the welcome page of each church record. These will show the latest data entered and revert to blank sheets when the new collection starts.
Last updated September 2018