How do we track items that impact the success of ministry? After identifying what we are measuring, there are four questions we need to ask.
By Dwayne McCrary
Cyclists pay attention to their heart rate and cadence. Their heart rate tells them how hard their body is working while riding so they can make sure they are exerting enough effort without overdoing it. Cadence, or the number of pedal revolutions in a minute, can help a cyclist select the correct gear to use while staying within a spinning range that works best for them. These things impact overall performance, especially on a long ride or series of rides.
Tracking heart rate and cadence requires the cyclist to invest in some equipment. A biker can wear a heart rate monitor across the chest and add sensors for the pedals and a biking computer to the bike. Other approaches could be taken, but these tend to give a cyclist the best information. We track things that are important, even when doing so costs money and effort.
Within organizations, including Bible study groups, we can track items that impact the success of that organization or group. Systems analysis experts call these “lead measures” since they drive or lead to the reaching of an intended outcome. The lead measures must be measurable, predictive, and controlled.Within Bible study groups, we can track items that impact success. These lead measures must be measurable, predictive and controlled. — Dwayne McCrary Click To Tweet
The question remains: How do we track these actions in our Bible study groups? We do not have anything like a heart monitor or cadence sensor we can turn to, but there are other tools available. It will take some effort, but it will be worth it if we want to foster a reaching culture. The focus needs to be on gathering the correct information based on what we’re measuring.
After identifying what we are measuring (number of contacts, number of people praying for a person far from God, number of spiritual conversations this week, etc.), there are four questions we need to ask.
1. How do we gather information?
We need to establish a fair way of gathering information for a set period. The gathering should match what is being measured. If we are measuring the number of contacts in a week versus the number of spiritual conversations in a month, then we will gather the information at a different frequency.
Some options include creating a single form where leaders enter their data, asking them to reply to a text message, or inviting people to place a strip of paper with their responses in a box. Gathering the information is the most important thing, so find a means that works for you. We cannot report what we do not gather.
2. How do we count or tabulate?
Someone must take the reported information and count it. We may want to create a spreadsheet for each period, entering the total number of the measured action or entering a line for every response.“We should resist the temptation to estimate for those who failed to report or add numbers to ease our conscience.” — Dwayne McCrary Click To Tweet
The important thing is making sure we have as accurate of a number as possible. We should resist the temptation to estimate for those who failed to report or add numbers to ease our conscience. We must be honest in what we tabulate and trust that what is gathered is accurate.
3. With whom should we share the report?
We want to make sure the people doing the measured action see the report. Reporting is the big encourager and motivator. When we see that the action impacts the outcome, we will be more likely to do the measured action.
The purpose is not to guilt someone into doing the measured action but to let them see how that action impacts the result and why that action is so important. Reporting also helps people see how their contribution impacted the group’s ability to reach a desired outcome. We will also want to share the report with other leaders who can affirm or encourage others.
4. How do we report?
The answer to question three influences how we answer this question. Posting the report on a website or social media page for all the world to see may seem like the easiest way to share the report, but we want to be discerning. We will want to weigh what is being reported with how appropriate it is for people outside our class, group, or congregation.
We may set up a private feed, use email or texts, or share during the worship service. And we want to be encouraging to those doing the measured action while being sensitive to those who may be on the receiving end of the measured action.
Dwayne is the manager of the adult ongoing Bible study team at Lifeway, an experienced group leader and church leader, and one of the people behind Simplicity, a resource to help churches start new groups.
Explore this topic further in Farsighted: Fostering a Culture of Outreach in our Churches and Bible Study Groups by visiting lifeway.com/trainingresources.