By Joel Comiskey, Passion and Persistence, 2022
Statistics don’t motivate. Numbers, in fact, can have a “numbing” effect. Well-meaning pastors proclaim idealistic cell group goals which are divorced from reality. They do this to motivatepeople to believe in the impossible, but such number schemes come crashing down and do more harm than good when the goal fails. Members can then become distrustful of the church’s goals and vision.
But statistics do matter! Let me explain. Statistics are essential to maintain the quality control of the small group system. Everyone knows what’s happening on Sunday morning. Cell groups, on the other hand, are out-of-sight and can quickly become “out-of-mind.” The only way to know in “real-time” how the groups are doing is through consistent reporting.
I believe strongly that a cell church should receive simple, weekly reports from its cell groups. The pastoral team should then analyze those statistics to give pastoral care and future direction. Otherwise, weeds can grow around the cell system as ghost groups or other problems.
I’ve written about statistical control at various times on the JCG site. The Elim worldwide cell church models exact statistical reporting because they collect precise weekly cell reports analyzed weekly. I highlight their system in my book Passion and Persistence. Last week, Celyce and I ministered in the Elim Church in Austin, Texas (approximately 300 cell groups and six church plants). I took a short video of their cell office (the first part in English and the second part in Spanish), where they analyze the weekly statistics to chart their path forward.
In my local church, we have worked hard to get weekly reports, but it’s been a struggle. The main reason was our faulty collection system. We were using a WordPress website developed by another cell church that was more confusing than helpful (the leaders would often forget their usernames and password). We eventually abandoned it in search of a better package.
After looking at various options, we landed on Survey Monkey. They have a basic package for $450.00 per year that allows us to send a simple report to the cell leaders, receive replies to the pastoral team, and then a great suite of data analytic tools. We’ve combined this with a text messaging service to remind leaders to turn in their reports (with the Survey Monkey report link in the text message). We’re now back on track.
Whatever works best for you, make sure you do it! Quality control is essential for the long-term success of cell ministry. Remember that discipleship details matter and often make the difference between success and failure.