Alan Danielson on Measuring Small Group Ministry Effectiveness

Share via:

Recently Rick Howerton was asked a challenging question by some small group pastors and Rick responded by sending the question on to a number of small group pastors in order to get a broader perspective.  Ready for the question?  It might be yours, too!

They asked, “What are the markers for a healthy small group ministry.  That is, when a small group pastor does her/his evaluation of the ministry, what are the list of things that that small group pastor should be measuring to determine how effective the ministry really is?”

Isn’t that a great question?  I thought you’d think so.  I also was sure you’d enjoy reading the responses.  Really good stuff from a number of the sharpest minds in small group ministry.  I got Rick’s permission to use the idea and asked each of the participants if they’d be willing to share with you.  All of them said “yes!”

(This is part one of a four part series.  You’ll find the other three parts below)

Here’s Alan Danielson’s Response:

When determining what to measure in regard to the health of an overall group ministry, I think measurements can change from year to year based on what you are trying to achieve.  For example:  if your biggest hope one year is to train up new leaders for future growth, then you’d measure how many leaders you train over the year.  If you are focusing on getting groups to be missional, you keep track of the number of small groups who participated in missions.  If you’re wanting your number of groups to dramatically rise, then you track your number of groups.  If you want more of your congregation to join groups, measure the % of your weekend attendance in groups.

I like setting 12 months metric goals based on the ministry’s overall needs each year because measured performance is improved performance.  If I need to improve something, I measure it, make it a habit, then move on to the next thing.

Alan Danielson, Great answer! If you’re not aware of Alan’s ministry, you can find out more about what he does at!

This is Part One of a series of posts about Measuring Small Group Ministry Effectiveness.  Here are the other three parts:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Mike Sharrow on March 22, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Shouldn’t there be some overall missional or discipleship efficacy gauges that are evergreen versus episodic? Seems like a question of both/and not “or,” right?

    We’ve really wrestled with the best gauges on group life. Typical manufacturing type metrics – # of groups, # of people, % of adults active in church active in a group, defining what does “in a group” even mean (threshold of participation being valid), # of apprentices, etc…

    But then there seems a need to also gauge the fruitfulness of groups as our vehicle for disccipleship and formation. Are people being catalyzed towards the Jesus life? Do we see an inflection of Christ-life in people amplified in groups versus general attendance?

    That’s when we started trying to apply measures of our mission and strategy to group participants…what are the buckets of mission success played out in the lives of Christ-followers? Should those be trackable within groups and, similar to Alan’s point, have periodic emphasis/thrusts in response to perceived deficits/sluggish growth? So things like what % of group members have shared the Gospel with someone this year, what % have actually led someone to the point of receiving Salvation, % feel equipped to disciple another person, practice of disciplines, Biblical literacy, stewardship expressions, have gone on local missional endeavors, have gone on global mission trips, know their spiritual gifts, are actively using their gifts, etc…Then does the reality of March 2010 used as a benchmark reveal that for those same groups in March 2011 there is significant gains?

    That’s been helpful for us to begin thinking what makes us know that the health of output is in line with our mission as a gut check beyond just successful deployment and participation type measures.

    Anyone else playing with similar dashboard categories?

  2. Anonymous on March 22, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Thanks for jumping in Michael! You’re asking some great questions. I love it! Be sure and check out the other three small group pastors that contributed to this series. Each of them have a slightly different take.


  3. Elise Minor on August 30, 2011 at 3:56 pm


    A few months late but your post comments are great.  We are on the same page as we have started to develop our strategic plans for 2012 & 2013.  Using standard metric but wanting to go deeper. 

    Our group leaders enter their reports in F1 which allows for customized questions.  So, we have added those very questions to the report (who have you had one-on-one discipleship with? Has your group met their discipleship goal this month? How many salvations?).  

    Hoping that as I share the data/information they leaders provided on their reports this year – it will serve as an opportunity for them to be ignited in the areas where they need to pray and focus more.