Brainstorm This: How to Measure Your Small Group Ministry

Small group pastor and expert Mark Howell on the 7 numbers that matter most

As a leader in your small group ministry, do you know what numbers to focus on? They might not be what you think. And it might be a matter of perspective. But based on my experience and research, I’ve seen the importance of knowing and monitoring these seven key stats:

1. Easter adult attendance minus the number of adults connected in groups. (The Easter adult attendance number is often used to reflect the number of adults in the crowd.) This will inspire thinking toward the future, when our tendency is to want to respond to the past.

2. The difference between average adult attendance and Easter adult attendance. This difference is a reflection of crowd size, an important statistic when you’re seeking to understand the outreach potential of your church, and an essential consideration when choosing topics for churchwide campaigns.

3. The number of new groups launched in the previous year. The focus here is on new groups formed, not the growth in total number of groups. This number reflects the amount of new connecting opportunities. Remember, it’s easier to connect new people into new groups.

4. Year-on-year growth in the number of groups. This number is a reflection of groups sustained.

5. Total number of people connected. As your ministry grows, it becomes more challenging to track the actual number of people who have connected. A census taken at regular intervals, for example annually in mid-November, can guide your understanding of the actual number of people that have connected to a small group.

6. Number of people attending groups who don’t attend your church. This data can be collected and calculated at the same time you take the census. This number is another reflection of the inclusiveness of your groups.

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7. Number of people serving as facilitators. This number is much more important  than most leaders realize. Since the ability to rotate facilitators predicts both group viability (it can survive the absence of the leader) and expansion capability (much easier for group members to see themselves as group leaders), this is also a helpful number to track.

What do you think? Have I missed one? (Add your comments below.)

Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV. He founded, offering consulting and coaching services to help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. He spent four years on the consulting staff at Lifetogether and often contributes to ministry periodicals such as the Pastor’s Ministry Toolbox and Mark blogs at