A: We want to learn about the practices of hundreds of church small groups across hundreds of churches, and learn what thriving small groups do and don’t do -- so that we can help small group leaders cultivate thriving small groups.

If you want to learn about your church’s small groups, we need your church’s small group pastor or key small group ministry leader to register your church, and then we’ll need members from 3 of your small groups to complete a survey about their small group experience. If you are a small group leader, but not a pastor, and want your individual group to participate, you can register your individual group, as well. Read on for more detail on how the study works.  

Q: Why are you doing this?

A: We deeply desire for every small group ministry to be the most effective and thriving it can be. And we want to help you, as a small group pastor / ministry point person to have confidence to move forward in the right directions for your ministry.


A: There are lots of benefits! Through your participation in this study we’ll help your ministry:

  1. Clarify the consistency between your ministry’s vision and values and what actually happens within a small group.

  2. Compare vehicles and best practices from 100s of other churches and like-minded ministries.

  3. Learn about what most impacts small group effectiveness across hundreds of thriving small groups.

Did we mention that everything about this is FREE for you? We just ask you to invest some time with the study.


A: When your church completes the pastoral and group member surveys, you will receive the following 2 reports:

  1. Small Group Effectiveness Ratings. This report identifies where your small groups score on three key effectiveness measures — group health, personal discipleship/spiritual maturity, and member assimilation/connection to your church. Essentially, what makes your awesome small groups awesome, compared to the average ratings across all the participants.

  2. Ministry Profile Report. This report will compare your ministry model and practices to what we’ve learned about the best small group ministry practices and effectiveness across hundreds of churches throughout the country. Basically, how your ministry compares with ministries of other churches similar to you.

Even if your small groups are doing well, we’re confident what you’ll learn through this survey will be super valuable to you and your team as you help your small groups continue to grow in health and effectiveness.  

Q. What are you asking about in the survey?

A. We’ll ask about the following:

  • the purpose(s) of small groups

  • meeting structures and activities

  • discussion practices

  • leadership behaviors

  • community development, relational connections and activities

  • leadership development practices

  • church assimilation

  • spiritual growth

  • communication systems

  • assessment standards and practices

Q. Aren’t there a lot of training resources for small groups already out there?  How will this be unique?

A: Many groups outside the church can pinpoint evidence-based effective group behavior. Why not apply the same approach to small group ministry and know how effective groups form, function, and flourish?

We believe there are common key factors within every thriving small group and want to find out what they are. Through our social-scientific research of group members – and not just leaders or pastors – we believe we can develop a robust understanding of what makes groups great, or not.

Q. What should I expect from this study?

A. “Triginta minuta tempus” that is Latin for, “about 30 minutes of your time.” Just kidding. 

But really, as the pastor/ministry point-person, we ask you to take 20-30 minutes to answer the pastoral survey. That will provide us with valuable ministry information to help evaluate your vision, values, and vehicles. During that time you will nominate / register 3-5 small groups. We ask for one small group you consider in your top 10% and 2 groups you consider in your top 50%. After you register these groups and their leader, it’s a good idea to let them know you did this and what they should expect.  

Q: What should my leaders and small group members expect?

A: Well, also “about 30 minutes of their time.” Once you register and notify your group leaders you have done so, we will send the leader and the small group members an email with a link to the member survey. We think the best time for them to take this is during an upcoming small group gathering. We need 80% participation from each group in order to gather proper information for this study. We will send periodic reminder emails to each leader and group member until we’ve received 80% participation from each group you’ve nominated.

Q: What is the timeline for all of this?

A: Wave 2 opens on January 15.  We’ll close ministry registrations on March 1, so please register your group right away.  Small group members will have until March 15 to complete the surveys. 

Q: What else should I know?

A: We have a stellar support team that will help with follow through. Once you nominate your groups and communicate why you did so to each leader, we will continue the follow up process until there is a good amount of participation. Along the way if you have any questions, we’d like to help.  Just send us a note.

One final thing . . .

Thank you for all you do. Your passion for the Gospel, your care for people, and your desire to see everyone take a step closer to Jesus is what drives us as we embark on this research. We pray that you are encouraged and strengthened to continue the course!

- Ryan, Courtney, and Jason