Measuring Your Small Group Impact and Progress

Tuesday 7th October, 2008

In our world today, there are many easy measuring methods. We can use scales and tape measures. There are programs to measure distances between two addresses. There are tools to measure cubic airflow, diameter (see above), angle, and more. Other tools measure speed, brightness, temperature, and more. Surveys are done continuously prior to elections to measure to see which candidates are ahead.

Some behaviors and attitudes are a little more challenging to measure. One way to do so is to survey people to discover their range of practices. Then you can compare your actions to the groups' actions. This is called benchmarking. In 2007, Dan Lentz wrote an interesting article entitled Benchmarks: Growth in Small Groups which seeks to get a "finger on the pulse of small-groups ministry." He refers to survey results from SmallGroups.com on the subject of what goes on during typical small-group meetings.

Lentz states that "benchmarking—or comparing your small group to other small groups—is not intended to be a substitute for the Holy Spirit's work and guidance in your group. However, knowing what other small groups are doing can be a helpful diagnostic tool and can show what God is up to within the larger small-group movement." Consider how your small group compares in these areas:

FELLOWSHIP.  Lentz said, "Seventy-three percent of groups begin their discussion time with an icebreaker question or activity. Seventy-eight percent said, 'There is a lot of joy and laughter in our small-group gatherings.'"

  • 70% of groups feature a snack or refreshments at nearly eveyr meeting
  • 19% eat a meal together at every gathering
  • 11% do not eat at all when they are together

When asked, "When was the last time your group ate a meal together?", 43 percent responded "last week"; 33 percent responded "last month"; 13 percent in the "last year"; and 11 percent have "never" eaten a meal together.

DISCIPLESHIP/STUDY FOCUS. When asked what groups were doing "right now" for a study focus:

  • 40% were doing a published study guide or authored book the group had selected
  • 16% were doing a curriculum developed by their local church or the group leader
  • 13% were doing a curriculum based around their pastor's weekly message
  • 3% have an open discussion format with no formal curriculum
  • 28% were doing other things or a combination of things (service groups, for example)

Of the total amount of time the group met together:

  • 42% said the study focus consumed 1/2 of their group time
  • 29% said the study focus only consumed 1/4 of their group time
  • 21% said the study focus consumed 3/4 of their group time
  • 5% said the study focus only consumed 1/10 of their group time
  • 3% said the study focus consumed 9/10 of of their group time

WORSHIP/PRAYER. When asked what intentional thing groups did most frequently to promote worship during the group time:

  • 41% sing together
  • 36% take time for prayers of praise
  • 4% read Psalms or scriptures of praise
  • 19% do not have regular, intentional worship activities

As far as the amount of time a group spe nds in prayer together:

  • 36% spend 5–10 minutes in prayer during group gatherings
  • 31% spend 5 minutes or less
  • 20% spend 10–15 minutes f or prayer
  • 13% spend 15 minutes or more in prayer time

OUTREACH/SERVICE. Here are the responses when asked, "In the past 12 months, how many evangelistic service projects has your group done?":

  • 45% of groups had done zero
  • 12% had done one
  • 17% had done two
  • 10% had done three
  • 2% had done four
  • 14% had done five+

When asked about the most recent type of service project the group had done:

  • 25% served a meal to the hungry
  • 17% did an act of service for the poor
  • 12% provided cleaning services to someone outside the group
  • 8% provided childcare as an act of service
  • 7% did some type of construction
  • 4% painted as an act of service
  • 3% visited the sick
  • 3% provided transportation as an act of service21% did some other kind of service

Where would you rate your group? What are your group's strengths? weaknesses? How balanced are you in carrying out the five purposes of the church through your group: worship, discipleship, fellowship, evangelism, and ministry? What might happen as a result of intentional actions to strengthen one of the purposes? What is the next step you need to lead your group to make? Pray. Measure. Challenge. Encourage. Grow. Impact. Be revolutionary!

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