Home Small Group Leaders Articles for Small Group Leaders How to Take the Pulse of Your Small Group Ministry

How to Take the Pulse of Your Small Group Ministry

If you want to build a thriving small group ministry you need to slow down long enough to periodically take its pulse. Yes, you need to keep one eye on the preferred future and the other eye on the next milestone, but taking an accurate pulse of your small group ministry provides an important gritty reality to what otherwise can be an exercise in mere fantasy.

I love this line from Winston Churchill:

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”

Taking the pulse of your small group ministry does several important things:

1. It ensures that you are still on the right trajectory.

2. It helps determine progress.

3. It can provide clarity about the effectiveness of strategic initiatives.

4. It helps you plan the next season or the next year.

How to take the pulse of your small group ministry:

There are four basic steps to taking the pulse of your small group ministry:

1. Determine what you will measure. Here are a few measurements and there certainly could be others:

• How many active groups do you have? Choose a measurement you are comfortable with (i.e., are currently meeting, have met four times in the last 60 days, etc.).

• How many people are actively attending your groups? Again, you choose a measurement you are comfortable with (i.e., have attended four times in the last 60 days, etc.).

• How many new groups do you have? Depending on how frequently you plan to take the pulse, this could be “new this season” or “new this year.”

• How many active coaches do you have (i.e., are they actively interacting with the leaders in their huddle)? It’s important to confirm activity. Coaches “in name only” may impress your supervisor, but it doesn’t build a thriving small group ministry.

• How many people are actively taking a turn facilitating group meetings (whether the whole group or a subgroup)?

• How many groups are serving together (pick the frequency you want, could be monthly or quarterly, etc.)?

2. Determine how you will measure:

• Create a survey (your survey could be a paper form or an electronic survey, Google forms are easy to create).

• Determine your process (i.e., will you make a first pass by email and then a follow-up pass by phone?).

• Set a completion date

3. Take the survey

4. Debrief what you learn:

• Use the 4 Helpful Lists exercise (What’s Right, What’s Wrong, What’s Missing, What’s Confused).

• Use what you learn to chart the course for the upcoming season or year.

• Determine your goals for the next season or year.

• Determine the lead measures that will help you arrive at the next milestone.

An annual or semi-annual pulse-taking exercise is a best practice you should establish. Being able to track year-over-year numbers is very beneficial. Having hard numbers at your disposal enables more accurate planning and accountability.

This article originally appeared here.

Previous articleThe 10 Worst Excuses for Not Sharing the Gospel
Next articleHow to Give a Talk That Rocks
Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV. He founded SmallGroupResources.net, 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 ChurchCentral.com.