The Paradox of Statistical Reporting


by Mario Vega

We’ve talked extensively this month on the need for statistics to be accurate, updated, and applied to cell life in order for cell ministry to function properly. The statistics should become more and more efficient as the reporting system improves. But at the same time, it’s possible for statistics to become so important that they replace reality. That is, people who monitor the statistics can rely so much on good statistics that they end up putting the reports ahead of what is actually occurring.

When this happens, goals, projections, evaluations and other key aspects of the work will take place based on paper and ink but not on the true reality itself. Statistics will then become a barrier to getting at the real situation. This is the statistic’s paradox.

We must strive to ever improve in the area of reporting and statistics, but at the same time we need to be aware that it’s only a tool. We must not allow the tool to move us away from reality. Rather, we should allow the statistics to bring us closer to what’s actually happen. .

To avoid this paradox, those who supervize the cell work must always be in continuous contact with the real work of the cells and must permanently relate with the life of the cells. They must continually seek to connect statistics with reality. Only then the statistics will not lose their true benefit.



Translation in Spanish

La paradoja de las estadsticas.

Se ha dicho que las estadsticas deben ser actualizadas, exactas y recoger la información suficiente como para monitorear adecuadamente el trabajo. En la medida que las estadsticas son mejores, se convierten en una herramienta más eficiente para nuevos alcances.

Pero, al mismo tiempo, se puede producir el problema de que las estadsticas llegan a ser tan completas que pueden llegar a sustituir a la realidad. Es decir, las personas que monitorean pueden confiarse tanto de las buenas estadsticas que terminan sustituyendo la realidad misma por los reportes.

A partir de all, las metas, proyecciones, evaluaciones y los aspectos principales del trabajo se harán sobre la base de una realidad de papel y tinta; pero no la auténtica realidad. En tal caso, las estadsticas se convierten en una barrera para accesar a la realidad.

Esa es la paradoja de las estadsticas. Debemos esforzarnos por tener estadsticas cada vez más eficientes, pero al mismo tiempo se esta construyendo un instrumento que puede alejarnos de la realidad en lugar de acercarnos.

Para evitar tal paradoja, quienes monitorean, deben estar siempre en continuo contacto con la realidad. Deben estar inmersos en el trabajo real de las casas. Deben relacionarse permanentemente con la vida de las células y confrontar constantemente la realidad con las estadsticas. Solamente as las estadsticas no perderán su verdadera utilidad.

Relationships are the Bottom Line

By Michael Sove

We have been talking all month about reports and statistics and how they can help in measuring growth, health and potential of your cell / holistic group system.  I stress a point I made earlier, simple is better.  I gain the greatest insight about what is going on through the on-going relationships with my leaders and coaches and visits to see them in action.

Last night I visited a cell and I learned more by participation and observation than I would have by simply looking at a written report.  I also got to meet two new people who were attending the cell.  Sure their names will show up on the report the office will receive today.  But now I know who they are and gained insight into who they are as a person and a little about their story.  I learned much as I observed them and the rest of the group members throughout the evening.  Now when I meet with this cell leader for my monthly one-on-one time together, the list of names comes alive and I can help him see the potential in the people who surround him week after week.

During a one-on-one time last Saturday with one of my coaches I learned invaluable information about two other cell groups.  Sure, I could look at the report from the cell leader he is coaching and see the names of those who are attending but what I learned through the face to face communication with this coach was that a relatively new member of that cell led the Word time in the gathering and did fantastic as a facilitator.  I was able to approach this person and determine interest in being equipped to become a cell leader.  I will work in conjunction with this coach and leader to see that this happens.

This same coach told me about the struggles of another cell and how they have not been able to establish a regular meeting place.  Looking at the report I would have seen that they met in various locations but I would not have know about their desire to move south and establish a more stable place to meet.  Because of my relationship with this coach I gained the needed insight to understand what was going on and now the coach and I can encourage the leader to make the necessary move.

Reports and statistics are important but it is in relationships  where everything comes to life.  Relate to your coaches and leaders and hang out with them and you will learn so much more than sitting in an office looking at a chart.  Relationships are the bottom line to effective use of reports and statistics.



Reporting Dangers

JEFFby Jeff Tunnell

I LIKE STATISTICS and charts and graphs and tables of performance. In my case, details, diagrams and good reports make for happy days.

Does DANGER exist in collecting statistical data? Of course, such as putting numbers ahead of people becomes an easy error. Losing focus on the heart of the matter (bringing people to Jesus and maturity in living for Him) can occur if you sit behind a desk and pour over numbers only.

My cell leaders have accused me of caring more about goals and numbers than the “really important things”. This tells me that I don’t need to talk about the statistics with everyone, or all of the time. Discovering how to utilize statistics, which ones to put on display and which to keep private, is necessary.

A greater danger is in NOT gathering and utilizing readily collectible data. When you are bound to goals that lead to specific measureable outcomes, you will need bencmarks along the route. Sailing = charts & maps. Driving = maps & mileage. Growing cells = names, attendance, equipping progress for those individuals & dates for expected multiplication of new cell leaders are a few basic data sets.

I am interested in your observations & comments on this important topic!


Pitfalls of Cell Reporting

JOELby Joel Comiskey

JCG blogging this month highlighted the importance of keeping accurate cell statistics. Church leaders need to know what’s happening in the cell groups and accurate cell reporting helps them to better “know the state of the flock.” Yet even if a church keeps accurate statistics, certain pitfalls can still occur. Here are two of them:

1. Depending too much on the numbers and not enough on human interaction. Statistics can’t tell everything. They can reveal how many met, prayer requests, salvations, who is being trained, etc. However, they don’t uncover whether the leader is battling with sin, discouragement, or is going to be moving out of town next month. They don’t diagnose the health of the group and whether it’s ready for multiplication.

To know these things, human, supervisory interaction is required. Cell coaching makes or breaks cell ministry. Statistics can help in the coaching process, but they can’t replace it. A leadership team (whether lay-staff or a fulltime pastoral staff) should interact and personally talk about leader “Joe Smith” or “Mary Temple” and make decisions about whether their groups are healthy or unhealthy. It’s possible for a cell church to produce weak, enimic cell groups that die over time based on pure statistics. We all know that uexpected obstacles and setbacks take place in cell ministry. Wise coaches expect these things to occur and rely heavily on the Spirit of God to guide the training and multiplication process–rather than on statistical reports alone.

2. Lack of understanding about the WHY of reporting. Some cell churches don’t adequately communicate to their leaders the reason for cell reporting. Those turning in the weekly reports feel it’s a waste of time and only begrudingly do it, if at all.

During the cell leadership training part of the equipping process, tell the future leader why cell reporting is necessary and expected each week. Talking about the reporting process during the cell leader’s training can break down mental obstacles and help make turning in the report a habit.

Leaders are more motivated to turn in their reports if you can show them how the reports are being used. As Steve Cordle said in a blog this month, If you never mention or refer to the statistics the leader provides, they will assume it makes no difference whether they report or not.

Perhaps you can think of additional pitfalls. Please share them.


How Elim Collects Cell Statistics


by Mario Vega

The collection of statistical data in Elim follows the natural order of the work structure, and it is divided among all its members. Here’s how it works:

  • The leader fills out his or her cell report and gives it to the supervisor.
  • The supervisor prepares a report of the cells in his sector based on the reports he has received from each of the leaders.
  • The supervisor hands in his report to the zone pastor.

The zone pastor is a person already working full time for the church. The zone pastor prepares a report of his zone based on the reports from all his supervisors. Then he delivers his report to the district pastor. The district pastor also prepares a report based on the information given by his zone pastors.

Finally, the district pastors send their statistics to the secretary’s office where the data of the nine districts are added up to create a report of the whole church. This process is carried out every week and is part of the work routine of those involved in the cell work.

At Elim we do not use in any specialized software. We have not found a software program that perfectly meets our precise needs. Thus, the work is done manually up to the level of supervisors, using worksheets, and from there we input the data into our computer system.

Elim is a church with a full working structure and 25 years of experience. Through experience, we’ve found the necessity of having firm data each week. You can adapt the principles that we’ve learned to meet your own needs.



Translation into Spanish:

Recolección de estadsticas

La recolección de los datos estadsticos en Elim sigue el orden natural de la estructura de trabajo y se encuentra dividido entre todos sus integrantes. Veamos, el lder llena el reporte de su célula y lo entrega a su supervisor. El supervisor elabora un reporte de las células de su sector sobre la base de los reportes que ha recibido de cada uno de sus lderes. Luego, el supervisor entrega su reporte al pastor de zona.

El pastor de zona es ya una persona trabajando a tiempo completo para la iglesia. El pastor elabora un reporte de su zona sobre la base de los reportes de todos sus supervisores. Después entrega su reporte a su pastor de distrito. El pastor de distrito elabora, a su vez, un reporte sobre la base de la información que le han dado sus pastores de zona.

Por último, los pastores de distritos envan sus estadsticas a la secretara donde, sumando los datos de los nueve distritos, se elabora el reporte de toda la iglesia. Este proceso se realiza cada semana y es parte de la rutina de trabajo de los involucrados en la labor celular.

En Elim no utilizamos ninguna aplicación (software) especializada. No hemos encontrado una aplicación que llene cabalmente nuestras necesidades. El trabajo se hace hasta el nivel de supervisores de manera manual. De all en adelante se hace utilizando hojas electrónicas de cálculo.

Obviamente, Elim es una iglesia con una estructura de trabajo completa y con 25 años de experiencia. Eso permite tener datos firmes cada semana. Pero, algunos principios pueden extraerse y acoplarse a iglesias menos estructuradas.