No one questions why we should collect metrics on how our small group ministries are performing. These measurements tell us how well our ministry approach is working, and they can be useful for everything from planning next year’s activities to justifying programs and budgets.
A common way to view metrics is to use a dashboard, a simple grouping of graphics that provides an at-a-glance view of how things are progressing toward your desired ministry outcome.
Organizations use dashboards to monitor virtually every kind of activity, so of course it makes sense to have a dashboard that shows the spiritual health of your church and your small groups.
So, let’s look at your dashboard. What should be on it? And, as we look at metrics, remember one caveat – it’s human nature to measure those things that are the easiest to capture, but the easiest to get are generally not the most important.
There are a few basics that almost everyone measures:
- How many groups do you have in your church?
- How many people are in your groups?
- What percentage of your weekend attendance is in a small group?
These datapoints essentially answer the question, “How well are we connecting people into small groups?”
But hold on, these are just surface metrics. It’s not that they’re not useful, it’s just that what we really want to know is what is happening inside the heart of each person in our groups.
Measuring spiritual health tells you if what you are doing in the ministry is having any effect on the ministry.
Great, so how do you do that?
First, remember that measuring behavior is more accurate than capturing opinions. People will often tell you what they think you want to hear, or what makes them look good, or maybe what they believe is the right answer. This skews the data. But if we can measure actual behavior, we can get a more accurate measure of spiritual health.
Here are five essential metrics for every small group ministry dashboard:
What percentage of the people in your small groups are:
- regularly attending their group?
- regularly caring for others in their group and in your church?
- regularly engaged in more than one spiritual discipline?
- regularly engaged in some form of evangelistic activity?
- regularly engaging in worship activities?
Second, how you ask the questions will determine the accuracy and value of the answers you get back. Just like any research and analysis, you get the best answers by asking the right questions.
Here is a question for you to answer: If you surveyed every single person in your church, what question would you ask to get a reasonably accurate, meaning truthful, answer to one of the five metrics just mentioned?
Looking for more info on small group metrics? A great place to start is the Bill Willits interview on the SGN GroupTalk Podcast.