It’s STATurday: The Power of Small Groups

imagesEach year I try to informally and spontaneously poll our weekend attenders in regards to two things: 1) their involvement in a small group, and 2) their commitment to serving on a ministry team on a regular basis. I never ask who is being polled (i.e., names are not required), nor do I ever announce when I’m polling the people. I’m simply after two ‘whats’—growing and serving. And I have found that a good way to get a good, honest assessment of those two items is to take an unannounced, informal survey of all the attenders on a random weekend.

You see, these two goals are part of the trio of values that have marked FFC for 12 years now. That trio? We celebrate (at a weekend service). We grow (in a small group). We serve (on a ministry team). It’s been a constant mantra since day one.

It’s easy to calculate who’s celebrating. Just count them. And believe me, most pastors in my circles do that very well!

But how does one discover if the people showing up to the large group on Sunday are actually connecting to one another in smaller groups throughout the week? Or if they’re actually investing in a ministry to others? In other words, what percentage of our weekend attenders actually live out the priorities we espouse? Those are the stats I think speak volumes year after year.

So I take the survey—unannounced, informally, spontaneously—year after year. In the past, we’ve hoovered around 75-80% in small groups most years, with about 65% serving somewhere at least once a month. There have been ups and downs, but for the most part that has been our consistent trend since 2004.

So what about 2016? How’d we do? Well, the informal, on-the-spot numbers are in for FFC’s Ankeny campus, and by God’s grace the survey says…

…of the weekend attenders there in the services, 80% are in a small group. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting it to be that high this year. So I was pleasantly surprised. And deeply grateful.

…of the weekend attenders there in the services, 76% are serving somewhere regularly (at least once a month). This was a big jump from previous years. Again, pleasantly surprised and deeply grateful.

At this point perhaps you’re expecting me to provide reasons why. Not this year. Instead, a different stat caught my eye, one my admin assistant captured with a little more research.  And it involves a connection between the two.

When it comes to being in a small group and serving regularly,

  • Almost half (48%) of the people not in a small group don’t serve anywhere regularly.
  • Only 20% of those in a small group aren’t serving somewhere regularly.

Conclusion? If they’re connected in a small group, they’re much more likely to be invested in serving. Opinions aside, that’s what the numbers say, at least at FFC, about the power of small groups.


I’d love to hear your stories and experiences about surveying your people, evaluating your processes, connecting the value dots, etc. What’s worked? What hasn’t? Feel free to share!

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