Small group attendance
In this article
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 administrative burden on the office.
Attendance recording for group members with a pending status
It's not possible to add group attendance for members with a pending group member status. 'Pending' status group members must be first set active - either by a Small Groups module User or by a group member with Edit Group Details role permissions (such as a leader). Once a group member's status is set active they cannot be set pending again. This means that for small group members added to the group through Small Group Embed - who are initially added to the Pending section of the Address Book, it is still possible to add group member attendance for those people as long as their group member status in their group has been set active. If their group member status is pending it will not be possible to add their attendance. This is helpful because your admin team may be slower at setting 'pending status' contacts active in the Address Book, but group leaders can still record their small group attendance for all group members that have an 'active group member status'.
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 for a Group.
Having selected a Group, enter or select the attendance Date. While you can edit previously added attendance, you can only add attendance for a group for a date that hasn't already been added. You'll get an error message when saving if there's an existing attendance entry for that group and date.
You can now either tick the Didn't Meet? option, or you can begin ticking Attendees. As you tick or untick names, the No. 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 group attendance is added and a summary page is displayed in respect of the attendance just added. You can return here at any time should you need to Edit the attendance to make a change.
You'll find all previously-entered small group attendance entries in the Attendance section of the Small Groups module. This section has a helpful Advanced Search option to make it easier to locate historic attendance dates for particular groups. Note also the options to View, Edit or Delete attendance entries on the Action menu on the right-hand side.
A Changes log is maintained at the bottom of the attendance page, under the group's Attendance graph.
You can also Add attendance from the Attendance tab on a group's "View" page. The Recent Attendance of the group's members is also listed and can be further filtered. You can navigate directly to the attendance for a date by clicking on a date heading - ideal if you need to make a correction.
Adding attendance through My ChurchSuite
You can also enable small group leaders to add their group's attendance data directly through the My Groups section of My ChurchSuite, reducing an administrative burden on your admin office.
To use this functionality you must first assign attendance submission permissions to a small group role, typically a 'leader' role, and then assign that role to at least one member in each group. That member will then be able to submit attendance. Begin by navigating through to Roles section of the Small Groups module in ChurchSuite and click Add role (or Edit an existing role).
Give the role a Name, such as "Leader" or "Attendance submitter" and make sure that the Attendance Submission option is enabled for the role. See the related support article for further explanation of the other role permissions.
While Attendance Submission is typically assigned to those with a "Leader" role, you can optionally assign attendance submission permissions to other roles if you wish - so if you want to allow 'leaders' and 'hosts' to record attendance, just enable attendance submission for both roles; or maybe even create a role specifically for attendance submission (see previous example) - ideal for the group leader that prefers to delegate!
Click Save to add the new role. Back in the Roles section the new role is added to the bottom of the list. You can re-order roles if you wish - simply click and drag the role number in the Order column, or click any role Order number and use the pop-up Re-order role page to change the role order as required.
Having added or edited a role with Submit Attendance permissions all that remains is for that role to be assigned to the relevant group member(s) in each of your small groups The same role can be assigned to multiple people if you wish. Navigate into the Groups section of the module. For each group in turn click on the group Name in the list or select View from the Action menu on the right-hand side of the group list to open the group's "View" page.
On the group's "View" page scroll down to the Members section - there are three tabs - Members, Attendance and Map.
On the Members tab you'll see a list of the existing group members (if any), and also any role(s) currently assigned. It's not necessary for every member to have a role, but a member may have more than one role. You can add members to the group using the Add member button at the top of the member list.
To assign a role to a group member tick the box next to their name and select roles as appropriate - selected roles change from grey to blue. Click Save to apply the selected roles.
Repeat the above steps for assigning an Attendance Submission permission role to at least one member of each of your small groups. Those group members are now able to begin recording attendance for their group using My ChurchSuite. Here's how...
From the My ChurchSuite Home page click on the My Groups menu option. If you are a member of multiple groups you'll see a list of your groups to choose from, otherwise you'll be redirected into your only group's page. Click the Attendance button in the top right hand corner of the group's "View" page.
On the group's Add attendance page set the Date of the attendance. If the group didn't meet, ticking Didn't Meet? will keep your attendance statistics accurate and prevent the group showing on the Missing Attendance report. Select each group member present by ticking names, add any optional Notes (e.g. visitors/guests) and click Save Changes when you are done.
As with adding attendance directly into the Small Groups module, you cannot submit group attendance for a Date that has already added, however you can easily edit an existing attendance entry, perhaps to correct a mistake or to add notes or make group member changes. To do this, instead of using the Add attendance button described above, scroll down the group's "View" page to the Members tab and click on the Attendance tab (shown below).
The Attendance table will show attendance data for the most recent 12 weeks. Clicking on any of the Date headings in the first row of the Attendance table (above) will open that date's attendance page for editing (below), enabling you to make any changes necessary before clicking Save Changes.
Small group attendance reporting
Of course Attendance reports are only helpful if your attendance has been actually recorded on the system! The Missing Attendance report in the Small Groups module's Reports section enables you to filter a list of groups that haven't submitted their attendance for a specified number of weeks or months, and then easily download or print the report. Good leaders are often busy, so they'll appreciate your timely reminders to help them stay organised before the attendance slips their mind!
There are a number of other attendance-related 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. This report can be filtered to show just those in groups in certain Clusters or Group Tags, or those belonging to specific Groups, making it an ideal tool to identify people who are beginning to slip away from a particular small group.
Attendance Notes report
This report displays a list of notes that have been submitted as part of group attendance reporting. Filter the notes within a range of attendance dates, and optionally drill down into the attendance notes of specific Groups, or those groups within certain Clusters or Group Tags. Remember to click Generate to apply the selected filters.
Attendance Summary report
The Attendance Summary shows attendance inline for each group member within a given range based on Number of weeks and an Ending on date. Using the same presentation of attendance information found on the group pages, this report shows you who was present or absent on each date filtered. You can further filter to view one or multiple or all Groups, or filter by Group Tags, either including or excluding members with zero attendance.
Exceptional Groups report
This report allows you to set Low attendance and High attendance criteria that you might consider 'exceptional', for better or worse. ChurchSuite will then display all instances of groups with attendance matching those criteria, allowing you to easily see whether a small group has a trend which might be a cause for concern, or one which may require further logistical planning, or one which might be cause for celebration! The results are displayed in red or green, making it easy to distinguish the attendance health of your groups.
Notice also the option for further filtering to only see exceptional groups within certain Clusters or Group Tags.
Monthly Breakdown report
This report allows you to visually see the long term attendance trends within your Small Groups. The information displays clearly on the graph but is only summarised in a snapshot beneath, in which the highest and lowest attendance figures are displayed alongside the numerical average and total number of logged attendance records from that month or week. Hover your cursor over points on the graph to reveal the graph numbers.
This report can be further filtered to View attendance data by Weeks or Months, and also for certain Groups, Clusters or Group Tags; making it easy to see the growth patterns of particular small groups.
Scrolling down the report under the graph is a summary of the supporting statistics...
If the Show group breakdown report filter option is selected, the supporting statistics show a group-by-group breakdown - scroll the statistics table left and right to view all the filtered group statistics.
This report allows you to visualise the number of unique contacts, children and visitors that are recorded as attending small groups each month. Although the Monthly Breakdown report is useful for showing the total number of group member attendees each month, that number only tells half the story. The monthly Engagement report seeks to show what proportion of that number is made up by regular contacts and children, and what proportion is made up by people who attend infrequently as visitors - giving you a much clearer visualisation of your 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 Group Tags, so you can see how a particular type of groups are doing with engaging with new people!
The Engagement report in more detail...
To begin, and by way of context, it's useful to consider the underlying data that's maintained in ChurchSuite when attendance data is added. A group's visitors are considered to be the difference between the total number of group members ticked as attending and the total number of people recorded as actually in attendance, on a date-by-date basis.
In the example below, only 6 of the 12 group members are ticked as attending, but the actual No. of Attendees was 8 - the group's leader helpfully added a note in this example, saying there were 2 visitors and could have optionally noted their names. For this example though, ChurchSuite mathematically derives that there were 2 visitors i.e. 8 - 6 = 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'. We therefore don't know if they're unique to just this one date or if they're repeat visitors across a range of dates.
The Engagement report does these same calculations across all the attendance records for every group, summarising for each calendar month within the range of dates filtered in the report. The system takes into account missing attendance and shows results based on attendance data present - the results are not skewed because of missing attendance. So if data has only been added for 3 weeks in a particular month, the calculations are 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 obviously can't determine "who" those visitors were and the derived data doesn't tell us whether the visitors were unique individuals each attending as one offs, or several repeat visitors.
However, what we can determine is that the minimum number of unique visitors for the month had to be at least 4 people (although it might have been more people; but 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+4+0 visitors (assuming all those people 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.
As you can see, essentially the Engagement report is showing us potential reach of 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.
Concluding 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, we could in theory get closer to the actual visitor reach, but that would be a significant manually-assessed admin exercise!).
This example looks at just one group in isolation for one month. The Engagement report matches results across all of your small groups and calculates the Sum total of each group's minimum and maximum "visitor reach" within a range of dates, giving you a powerful and broader overview of the true reach of your small group ministry!