Obviously, you can measure many things quantitatively. Quantitative measurements like how many groups you have, how many leaders and apprentices you have, and how many people you have in groups all tell you something. The reality though, is quantitative measurements don't tell you the whole story.
10 Signs Your Small Group Ministry is Gaining Ground:
1. Life-change stories begin to be more common (and have a small group angle).
Clearly a qualitative measure, but if it's true that the optimum environment for life-change is a small group, doesn't it make sense that as your small group ministry grows...there should be more life-change stories?
2. "One another" stories begin to be more common than complaints.
Since most of the one-anothers cannot happen in rows, doesn't it make sense that as your small group ministry grows you'd begin hearing more one another stories? And by extension, wouldn't complaints decrease.
3. Your senior pastor begins to talk about "my small group ..."
Isn't it just self-evident that people rarely do what their leader doesn't see as important? Isn't it just obvious that if anyone is going to champion a counter-cultural practice is going to be the senior pastor?
Isn't it just self-evident that people rarely do what their leader doesn't see as important? Isn't it just obvious that if anyone is going to champion a counter-cultural practice is going to be the senior pastor? Click To Tweet
4. Your staff and key opinion leaders begin talking about "my small group..."
An extension of #3, isn't it intuitive that a tipping point for small group ministry is somewhere between staff and the key opinion leaders of your congregation (i.e., elders, deacons, ministry leaders, etc.)?
5. Your website prioritizes small groups (i.e., small groups are on your home page and above the fold).
There is very little qualitative analysis necessary with this one. If you have to be Sherlock Holmes to find information about small groups on your website, you can be sure that you're not ready to gain much ground. Here's a great example: Saddleback.com.
6. Your church's highest capacity leaders begin saying "yes" to serving as leaders of leaders (community leaders, coaches, etc.).
Coaching is an essential ingredient since "whatever you want to happen at the member level, will have to happen to the leader first." If you truly want to influence the leaders of groups, you'll need a growing number of high capacity leaders (sixty or hundred fold) to get in the game.
7. The number of people in circles gains on the number of people in rows.
A clear sign your small group ministry is gaining ground is when your percentage connected is measurably increasing. Whether your worship attendance is increasing, remaining flat, or decreasing, your percentage connected should be increasing. And when that happens it should be noted.
See also, What's Better? Rows or Circles?
8. Programs that focus on learning information begin to shift toward the activities that produce life-change.
Have legacy programs that meet in rows and deliver a learning experience? The more life-on-life activities are integrated into these programs, the greater the potential for life-change.
9. Requests for counseling begin to shift from predominantly church members to predominantly the friends of church members.
This is a significant aspect that is often overlooked. As more of your congregation becomes part of a small group, much of what they would ordinarily seek out counseling to manage will be handled within their group.
10. There is a growing sense that people are known as more weekend attendees sit together and fewer are sitting alone.
Again, this is intuitively obvious, isn't it? Think about your auditorium on the weekend. How many times have you heard, "I feel like a face in the crowd" or "I just don't know anyone?" A clear sign that you're gaining ground is when you begin to hear that less frequently.
You might consider taking my 4 part video course: How to Diagnose Your Small Group Ministry. This course is designed to help you get into the details of what you're doing, spot the flaws in your ministry and correct them. You can find out more right here.
Image by Marc