statistically speaking again

blog visits

I have noticed a trend with the visits you are making to my blog. When someone else advertises a bloggage lots more of you visit than on the other occasions. That’s what the chart above reveals. The significant peaks in views and visits coincide with the occasions when one of my bloggages was featured on the Baptist Times Daily News Sweep. This encourages those who are not normally bloggists on my site to have a look and see what sort of bloggerel I have generated on that day.

That is interesting in itself but what I also find interesting is that on the subsequent days the number of views and visits drops back to whatever is considered normal. Clearly those visitors did not feel sufficiently inspired to make return visits. Actually (and by way of making myself feel better) these statistics are slightly misleading because (bless you) over 130 of you receive my bloggages each day by e-mail and those stats would show up in the visitor stats because technically you have not visited.

Several reflections occurred to me as I considered the rollercoaster nature of the graph above.

  • word-of-mouth and recommendation are much better ways of advertising than simply being there and waiting to be found.
  • funny headlines and discussing relevant topics may well encourage people to take a look. However…
  • …unless you develop a relationship with your visitors they may well not stay.
  • in the pursuit of increasing the number of regular visitors it is easy to forget those who are already regular visitors and receiving from you.

Perhaps churches ought to learn these lessons too. And if we are unsure perhaps we should contrast it with how Jesus went about things.

Be blessed, be a blessing

Statistics joke:

Aunt Bessie loved to visit her nieces and nephews. However, she had relatives all over the country. The problem was that no matter how much she enjoyed seeing them, she hated flying. No matter how safe people told her it was, she was always worried that someone would have a bomb on the plane.

She read books about how safe it was and listened to the stewardess demonstrate all the safety features. But she still worried herself silly every time a visit was coming up.

Finally, the family decided that maybe if she saw the statistics she’d be convinced. So they sent her to a friend of the family who was an actuary. 

“Tell me,” she said suspiciously, “what are the chances that someone will have a bomb on a plane?” 

The actuary looked through his tables and said, “A very small chance. Maybe one in five hundred thousand.” 

She nodded, then thought for a moment. “So what are the odds of two people having a bomb on the same plane?” 

Again he went through his tables. 

“Extremely remote,” he said. “About one in a billion.” 

Aunt Bessie nodded and left his office. 

And from that day on, every time she flew, she took a bomb with her.

counting on you

I am a bit obsessed with the counter on my blog that tells me how many people have visited. Just by clicking on the link that brought you here, you have brought me joy – even if you get nothing out of it!

From my end of the blog I can also analyse the stats a lot more. I know which country you are in (thanks to whoever visits from the Maldives, Libya and Myanmar!) when you click on the link. I know which pages are visited most often. I know how you got here (search engines, Facebook, etc). I know the top terms used to visit my blog on search engines (fantastically ‘Elmer Fudd’ still reigns supreme). I know how many people have shared my blog with others. And there’s other stats I can identify too.

You have no idea how much the latent geek / nerd within me loves this information.

And I have no idea how useful it is. It does not affect the content I post, because I (selfishly) put stuff up as a way of me reflecting on my life and faith rather than to please any audience. It does not mean that I will be writing in other languages (good thing too!). It won’t make me get to know you at all.

In churches we can get obsessed by statistics too. How many people were in church / at the prayer meeting / go to house groups / came to the blindfold hang-gliding evening*? How many people have become members? How many people were baptised? How many people have come to faith?

The answers to those questions are not unimportant, but they won’t help us to get to know people better. They won’t tell us about the things that are going on in people’s lives. They won’t inform our praying. That only happens when we see people rather than numbers; when we are interested in one another not just in what interests us; when we don’t just say ‘hello’ but welcome people wholeheartedly. When we do, it would be interesting to see what happens to the statistics!

Be blessed, be a blessing


*Not yet inaugurated at our church.

statistically speaking

I freely admit that I am a little bit obsessed by the stat counter on my blog. I noticed a couple of days ago that it ticked over 10000 (thank you if it was you who made it tick over). I love it when my blog gets mentioned by other blogs and I get 100s of hits in a day. I have checked my ex-blog (hosted by Blogspot and still there but not updated) and that has now had over 17000 visits. I am astonished that over 27000 hits have landed on my little blog.

Of course I recognise that many of them will have been people who were looking for something else and landed here by accident, but it seems that some of you keep coming back. Thanks for the encouragement!

I reckon churches can get a bit obsessed by stats too. How many people were at a particular meeting? How many members do we have? How many ministers? How many children? The ‘bums on pews’ measure is pants because as we count we make judgements about the responses that generally equate with whether or not we think we have been successful.

Jesus had a core team of 12 in whom he invested his time, energy, teaching and life. One of those 12 (8.3% of the total team) quit and was responsible for his death. The only other numbers that seem to be counted in the gospels are not about success: we know the number of people fed at impromptu picnics (4,000 and 5,000); the number of fish caught at an early morning fishing expedition (153); the number of lepers whom he had healed who came back to say thank you (1 out of 10); and so on. There’s no success attached to these numbers, especially when you consider he died with just a few of his followers watching from a distance.

What did Jesus consider success? Lives changed, dignity restored, hungry fed, love in action, hypocrisy challenged, people healed, good news preached, kingdom explained, stories told, prayers prayed, corruption challenged, death defeated.

So, I will try not to get too excited as the stat counter ticks over. But I will get excited about seeing the same things happen in and through churches all across the world. I will get very excited about seeing it happen in Colchester.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,700 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

what to preach?

Sooo, you’re preaching at your mother’s wedding in just over a week’s time and have been asked to provide a reading (from the Bible). What to choose?

Best to avoid some of the Proverbs (“a nagging wife is like a dripping tap”, “better to live on the roof than share a house with a nagging wife” and so on). Keeping well clear of Song of Songs (or Snog of Snogs as I think it should be better named) to avoid blushing, although the temptation to preach on SoS 7:2 “Your navel is a rounded goblet that never lacks blended wine” was briefly there. Avoiding all references to Lot’s wife (who, according to the apocyphal Sunday School blooper was a “pillar of salt by day and a pillar of fire by night.”) Ensuring I do not confuse 1 John 4:18 (“perfect love drives out fear”) with John 4:18 (“You have had five husbands and the man you now have is not your husband.”)


I’m not going to tell you what I have chosen (that would spoil the surprise for anyone who reads this and goes to the wedding) but if you want to guess I will confirm if you are right. After all, there are only 1,189 chapters and 31,103 verses to choose from! Statistically the middle chapter of the Bible is Psalm 118. There are 594 chapters before it, 594 chapters after it and if you add those two together you get 1,188. The middle verse of the Bible is Psalm 118:8. What do you make of that? Some people (if you check out their websites) think it is amazing.

But I am less impressed. Firstly because in the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts there were no verses or chapters. They have been added later to help us find our way around, a bit like the section headings in some versions of the Bible. The second reason I am unimpressed is that someone has spent a lot of time working all of that maths out (I got it off a website). That’s like having a Bugatti Veyron (mega-expensive high performance sports car) and only reading the manual that comes with it rather than driving it. The Bible is such an incredible book (to describe it as a book is rather underplaying it) that it begs to be read so that we encounter God. Which bits have you read lately?

Visiting his grandparents, a small boy opened the big family Bible. He was fascinated as he fingered through the old pages. Suddenly, something fell out. He picked it up and found that it was an old leaf that had been pressed flat between the pages. “Mum, look what I found,” he called out.

“What have you got there, dear?” his mother asked.”

With astonishment in his voice, the boy answered, “I think it’s Adam’s underwear!”

A father was reading Bible stories to his young son. He read, “The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city, but his wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.”

His son asked, “What happened to the flea?”

Three boys are in the school yard bragging about their fathers. The first boy says, “My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calles it a poem, and they give him £25.”

The second boy says, “That’s nothing. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a song, and they give him £200.”

The third boy says, “I got you both beat. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a sermon, and it takes six people to collect all the money!”