Citam Tops Nairobi Churches in Latest Survey

  • Citam Church in Karen, Nairobi
    Citam Church in Karen, Nairobi
  • On Sunday, March 22, President Uhuru Kenyata banned church services as one of the measures that would combat the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19). 

    With churches closed and gatherings banned, most churches resorted to streaming online services to their followers and social media usage picked up immensely.

    A research conducted by A Thousand Watts, a communications consultancy firm offering communications solutions and insights into faith-based organisations, indicated that Christ is The Answer Ministries (CITAM) had topped an April 2020 survey in which digital engagement of 12 Kenyan churches was conducted.

    The research by a Thousand Watts, led by David Kuria, a communication strategist, analysed data over a five-week period between March 29 and April 26, covering five Sundays seeking to find out if churches were converting their regular Sunday morning offline numbers into Sunday morning online numbers and to help churches improve their digital engagement. 

    File image of David Kuria, a communication strategist
    File image of David Kuria, a communication strategist

    The data was covered from live services streams and social media numbers, with Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and web broadcast their points of focus. 

    CITAM beat 11 other churches, AIC Milimani, ICC Nairobi, Karura Community, Mavuno Church, Nairobi Baptist, Nairobi Chapel, Parklands Baptist, Purpose Centre, St. Andrews, St Francis and JCC Parkland in the number of video views in Facebook and YouTube.

    The church averaged 17,000 views for Facebook and 9,192 views for YouTube, with ICC Nairobi second with an average of 10,880 Facebook video views and 1,662 YouTube views. 

    Purpose Centre ranked third with 9,260 (Facebook) 1,277 (YouTube) with JCC Parklands at fourth with 9,000 (Facebook) and 3,149 (YouTube).

    On Live stream metric, CITAM averaged 1,217.4 gadgets on the Facebook live streams, with Parkland Baptist at 584.2, Purpose Centre 464.6 and ICC Nairobi at 415.2. For YouTube metrics, CITAM had an average of 2,181 gadgets, Parklands Baptist had 1,672, ICC Nairobi had 853.8 and Nairobi Baptist followed with 681.6.

    "Across the board, most churches have experienced a decline in their Facebook stream viewership. The same cannot be said about YouTube streams, where various churches experience contrasting fortunes. Facebook numbers can be arrested by increasing paid reach (boosting) posts and encouraging shares from viewers. As Facebook is generally a more interactive social platform than YouTube, creating relevant content through the week
    that engages the audience may help develop loyalty," the research states. 

    However, the researches also found out that all churches experienced growth in their followers/subscriber base. Whether this is continued organic growth from pre-Covid-19 times, or as a direct result of increased online activity is uncertain. They advised that churches would need to look at their prior growth trends.

    For Facebook and YouTube growth of subscribers, St Francis improved by 83% and 83.4%, AIC Milimani by 18.3% and 14.6% and St, Andrews by 7% and 92.9%. 

    Some of the assumptions made were that church viewership is predominantly appointment-viewing and more concentrated over shorter periods of time on Sunday mornings, as opposed to on-demand viewing. 

    It also recognised that viewers could be visitors from other churches, curious onlookers, diaspora viewership or any other viewership. Viewership numbers for churches that broadcast on mediums such as radio and television were also not considered. 

    "Don't compare apples with oranges. Every church has very unique dynamics that impact their online numbers, including the size of the congregation, and other important demographical differences. As a result, the best use of this data is to compare one's online numbers against their own offline numbers," the researchers urged. 

    Bishop Allan Kiuna (left) and Reverend Kathy Kiuna of Jubilee Christian Centre (JCC).
    Bishop Allan Kiuna (left) and Reverend Kathy Kiuna of Jubilee Christian Centre (JCC).