Managing small group attendance

In this article

Overview of small group attendance functionality
Adding attendance through ChurchSuite
Adding attendance through My ChurchSuite
Small group attendance reporting

Overview of small group attendance functionality

Included in ChurchSuite's Small Groups module functionality is the ability to record and track attendance for small groups. Attendance data can be added by a User through the Small Groups module and also by leaders in the member-facing My ChurchSuite, reducing the administrative burden on the office.

Attendance recording for group members with a pending status

It's not possible to record attendance for group members with a pending group member status - they must first be approved (Set as active) - either by a Small Groups module User or by a group member with Edit Group Details role permissions (such as a leader).

Adding attendance through ChurchSuite

In the Small Groups module, navigate into the Attendance section and click Add attendance.

On the Add attendance pop-up, begin by searching and selecting a Group and the attendance Date. While you can edit previously-added attendance, you can only add attendance for a date that hasn't already been added. Note also the option to record that the group Didn't Meet? on the selected date. Finally, tick the Attendees. As you tick or untick names, the Number of Attendees auto-updates.

Optionally add a note of any group visitors in the Notes field. If you wish to include those visitors in the group's attendance count you'll also need to manually adjust the No. of Attendees accordingly. Click Save when you are finished.

The attendance "View" page is shown, with all the details just added. You can return here at any time should you need to Edit and make changes.

Previously-added attendance is recorded in the Attendance section of the Small Groups module. A helpful Advanced Search enables you to locate historic attendance. Note also the attendance Actions to View, Edit or Delete attendance.

Top Tip!

You can also Add attendance from the Attendance tab of a group profile page. The Recent Attendance of group members is also listed and can be further filtered. You can also navigate directly to the attendance for a date by clicking on a date heading - ideal if you need to correct a mistake.

Adding attendance through My ChurchSuite

Group members assigned with attendance submission role permissions can record attendance for a group they attend. Typically attendance submission permission might be enabled for a "Leader" role, but it's entirely possible to enable others in a group to record attendance. Empowering leaders to record attendance themselves helps reduce the administrative burden on the office while ensuring you have valuable attendance data for safeguarding and ministry reporting purposes.

Attendance submission through My ChurchSuite must first be enabled for a small group role, typically a 'leader' role, but you may also prefer to create a designated "Attendance submission" role, which would enable you to assign attendance submission to other group members without making them leaders. Begin by navigating to the Roles section of the Small Groups module in ChurchSuite and click Add role (or Edit an existing role).

Give the role a suitable Name and tick the Attendance Submission option for My ChurchSuite. See the related support article called Assigning small group roles for further information on the other role permissions.

You can optionally enable Attendance Submission for My ChurchSuite for other roles too, meaning that group members assigned those roles are also able to add attendance if you wish. Click to Save the roles changes. From the role "View" page, navigate back to the Roles section. From here your can re-order roles if you wish - click any Order icon and use the up-down controls in the pop-up to order roles as required. Note also the role Actions to View, Edit, and Delete roles.

The final task is to assign the newly-added role to one or more members of each small group. Navigate into the Groups section of the module, and for each group, in turn, select View from the Group Actions. From the group "View" page click on the Members tab.

To assign a role to a group member click into the space under the Roles column for that member and click Edit. Available roles are shown as grey pills. Selecting a role changes the pill colour to blue. Select the appropriate roles (including the newly-added Attendance submission role) and click Save.

Repeat the above steps assigning roles to other group members as appropriate, and for each of your small groups. Assigned role holders with Attendance Submission permission for My ChurchSuite are now able to add attendance. We've produced a separate My ChurchSuite User Guide that explains how role holders can add their group attendance through My ChurchSuite, but briefly here's how it works...

From the Attendance tab of their group's "View" page, click Add attendance.

On the Add attendance pop-up select the attendance Date - you can only add attendance for a date that hasn't already been added. Note also the option to record that the group Didn't Meet? on the selected date - which prevents the group from showing on the Missing Attendance report. Finally, tick the Attendees. As you tick or untick names, the Number of Attendees auto-updates. There's also a handy Select all / none option, helping you to quickly select all group members or no group members as having attended your meeting. Optionally add a note of any group visitors in the Notes field. If you wish to include those visitors in the group's attendance count you'll also need to manually adjust the No. of Attendees accordingly. Click Save when you are finished.

Previously-added attendance can also be edited, perhaps to correct a mistake or add notes. To do this, instead of using the Add attendance process described above, scroll down the Attendance tab to the table of recent attendance. The table shows attendance for the most recent 12 weeks. Clicking the pencil icon of a Date heading opens a pop-up for that date's attendance for editing.

Small group attendance reporting

Missing Attendance

Of course, Attendance reports are only helpful if attendance data has been recorded! The Missing Attendance report enables you to filter a list of groups that haven't submitted their attendance for a specified number of weeks or months. Good leaders are often busy, so they'll appreciate a periodic reminder to help them stay organised before the attendance slips their minds!

There are several other Attendance reports in the Small Groups module's Reports section.

Attendance Averages report

This report displays the attendance averages of individual members of your small groups within a range of Dates. This report can be filtered to show just those in groups in selected Clusters, Groups or Labels, making it an ideal tool to identify people who may be beginning to slip away from a particular small group.

Attendance Notes report

This report shows a list of notes added as part of attendance submissions. Filter notes added within a range of attendance Dates, and optionally drill down to the notes of specific Clusters, Groups or Labels.

Attendance Summary report

The Attendance Summary shows inline attendance for each group member within a given range based on the Number of weeks and Ending on a date. Using the same presentation of attendance data found on group "View" pages, this report shows you who was present or not recorded present on each date filtered.

Exceptional Groups report

This report allows you to define Low attendance and High attendance criteria that you consider 'exceptional'. The report shows each group's average attendance, presented monthly, matching those criteria, enabling you to visualise group trends that might be a cause for concern or groups that may benefit from some logistical planning or who are a cause for celebration! The exceptional results show in red or green, making it easy to distinguish the attendance health of each group over time.

Monthly Breakdown report

This report enables you to visualise long-term attendance trends across your Small Groups. The information displays clearly on the graph and summarised in a snapshot or breakdown beneath. The supporting statistics show the highest and lowest attendance data displayed alongside the numerical average and the total number of attendance records.

Scrolling down the report under the graph is a summary of the supporting statistics...

Engagement report

Whether you have many groups or only a few, small group ministry is all about engagement, and this report is packed with valuable insights. This report enables you to visualise the number of unique contacts, children and visitors recorded as attending small groups each month. While the Monthly Breakdown report is useful for showing the total number of group member attendees each month, that number only tells part of the story. The monthly Engagement report seeks to show what proportion of that number is made up of regular contacts and children, and what proportion is made up of people who attend infrequently as visitors - giving you a much clearer visualisation of small group ministry's reach. The Calculations information on the right-hand side of the report explains how each metric is calculated. The report can be further filtered by Labels, so you can see how well a particular type of group is engaging with new people!

The Engagement report in more detail...

By way of context, it's useful to first consider the underlying data recorded in ChurchSuite when attendance is submitted for a group. The number of group visitors is deemed to be the difference between the total number of group members marked as attending and the total number of people recorded as actually in attendance, on a date-by-date basis. Consider the example below, all 7 group members are ticked as attending but the actual number in attendance is recorded as 9 - the group leaders have helpfully added a note that there were 2 visitors. However, ChurchSuite mathematically derives that there were 2 visitors i.e. 9 - 7 = 2.

However, from this number, we don't know who the visitors were, whether they've visited the group before or since, or whether they were just 'one-offs'. Therefore, we don't know if they're unique to just this one date or if they're returning visitors across a range of dates.

The Engagement report does this same calculation across every attendance record for every group, summarising each calendar month within the range of dates filtered in the report. The system takes into account missing attendance, showing results based on attendance data present - the results are not skewed because of missing attendance. So if attendance has only been recorded for 3 weeks in a particular month, the calculation is based on a 3-week month; similarly, the system takes into account 4 and 5-week months.

With the Engagement report, it's helpful not to think in terms of attendance but rather think in terms of how many people are potentially reached through your small group ministry - emphasis on "potentially" - more in a moment!

Let's consider an example. Based on attendance added for "Group A" for a particular month, ChurchSuite has derived the group had visitors of 2, 3, 0 and 4 for each of four consecutive weeks of that month. As mentioned, we can't determine "who" those visitors were and the derived data doesn't tell us whether the visitors were unique individuals each attending one-off or whether some were repeat visitors.

However, we can determine that the minimum number of unique visitors for the month had to be at least 4 people (although it might have been more people; it couldn't be less than 4 as 4 unique visitors were recorded as attending on the 4th week)

We can also determine that the maximum number of unique visitors for the month couldn't be more than 9 people i.e. there were 2+3+0+4 visitors (assuming they were all one-off visitors), but it may equally have been less than 9 people with some repeat visitors - we just don't know from the data.

Finally, we can also calculate a mathematical average number of visitors during the month - we do a simple average of the number of visitors across just those dates where there were visitors - so (2+3+4) / 3 weeks = 3.

Bringing together each of these metrics the Engagement report can show the potential reach to people - an alternative way of viewing group attendance data by distinguishing known group member attendance and extrapolating the potential visitor reach on a month-by-month basis.

Rounding out this example - for one group for one month - we can see that in addition to the known group member attendance (based on the actual 'ticked' attendance data), the group also reached between 4 and 9 visitors and that the group had an average of 3 visitors on any given date where visitors did attend. Again, to clarify, we don't know who the individuals were but we can say that the actual visitor reach was between 4 and 9 (although if visitor names were added by leaders in the attendance Notes, you could in theory get closer to the actual visitor reach, but that would require significant admin exercise to collate!)

This example looks at just one group in isolation for one month. The Engagement report matches results across all of your groups and calculates the total of each group's minimum and maximum visitor reach within a range of dates, giving you powerful insight into the true reach of your small group ministry!

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