FAQ: What Should I Count in My Small Group Ministry?

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One of my most frequently asked questions is “what should I count in my small group ministry?”  Here are the seven  numbers I’m looking for:

  1. Average adult worship attendance: This gives you a baseline attendance number that provides one of the numbers you need to determine percentage connected.
  2. Most recent holiday adult worship attendance: Whether Christmas Eve or Easter, this provides a baseline attendance number that reflects the real percentage connected.  See also, What Percentage of Your Adults are Actually Connected?
  3. Number of small groups: Depending on your group philosophy, this can reflect just off-campus groups or the number of groups where certain factors exist (i.e., the ingredients of life-change) and might include both off-campus and on-campus.  See also, Essential Ingredients for Life-Change.
  4. Number of new groups started: This is often an annual count and helps determine whether your strategy is keeping pace with the need.
  5. Number of facilitators: This annual count can help determine both the status of leadership incubation and the sustainability of your groups.  See also, Skill Training: How to Develop More Leaders.
  6. Number of groups that meet at more than one location: Along with #5, this number is a predictor of the sustainability of your groups.  See also, Skill Training: Rotating Host Homes.
  7. Number of open groups: Depending on your small group ministry philosophy, this number reflects inclusiveness.

How often should you be taking a census?  At least annually and definitely at a regular time of the year.  For example, North Coast takes a census in October that provides a snapshot of their percentage connected.  Saddleback waits for the dust to clear on their annual fall campaign and then takes their count.

What do you think?  Have a question?  Want to add an idea? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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  1. Small Group Nutcase on January 31, 2013 at 9:02 am

    The more I am involved in small groups the less I become concerned with the numbers and the more I become interested in individual growth (discipleship). Growing the people will grow a church.

    Unfortunately, the ability to count and measure such a variable is more difficult. I believe Steve Gladen provides some methods for this in his book.

  2. markchowell on January 31, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Thanks for jumping in here, Jeremy! I hear you…and would argue that it’s not either/or. What you discover with the measurements that I’ve mentioned reveals several very important aspects of ministry health. Group member spiritual health can be assessed using the assessment in Steve’s book and is very important…but can’t replace system assessment. They’re both important.