Why and How to Track Progress in a Disciple Making Movement

track progress

Why track DMM progress?  Let me illustrate.

I come from a city in America called Minneapolis. It has many beautiful lakes. We like to rent canoes and go boating on them. I learned something about canoeing. Keeping my eyes fixed on the other side of the lake matters. Otherwise, it is easy to paddle around on the lake for hours without actually crossing it.

Some people engage in disciple-making efforts without tracking their progress. They are a bit like me on the lake.  They take their eyes off their goal.

That is fine if you just want a fun way to spend a day off. But if you are serious about making progress in starting a DMM, you have to measure forward movement.

You need to know where you are at. You must be able to determine whether or not the movement is multiplying.

Multiplication is your destination.  Stay focused on it. The only way to know if you are getting there (or not) is to keep careful records and regularly measure progress. Are you seeing multiplication growth or only addition? Tracking allows you to celebrate, assess, and make needed changes.

“How do I do this well?” you may ask. Few people like to fill out monthly reports! Especially volunteers and unpaid workers like we have in house church movements.

Indicators, Charts, and Evaluation

  • First, identify which DMM indicators you want to track.
  • Then, create a simple way of monitoring those things. Many people use generation charts or maps to help them do this. Particularly with oral culture people, a visual picture is very helpful. Compare previous charts with current ones. This makes it easy for trainees to see their progress (or lack of it).
  • Lastly, evaluate. Diagnose problems and make plans in response to what you have learned through the reporting process.

Big Reports- Pride and Exaggeration

In an email from a mentor, I read the following words.

“Big reports are driven by one of two reasons; Ego/pride, or the desire to influence funders and donors.  The first is always sin and the second can become sin when it leads to exaggeration, claiming other’s fruit and dishonesty.”

Wise words of caution when we talk about reporting.  If your goal in tracking movement progress is either of these things, take note. Carefully guard your heart.

Building Trust

There is often resistance to gathering data. I used to get frustrated with this. Wanting to understand their reasons, I asked further questions.

The reasons eventually surfaced. They didn’t want to give me their numbers if I was going to use them to raise funds for myself.  I could understand that! They didn’t want to be used for my gain. Others feared being viewed as a failure if they didn’t have big “numbers” to report.

Building trust took time. We needed to go through a process of helping our trainees understand. The reason we were gathering reports was to help the movements grow. It was not to build our own egos or to raise funds. We certainly didn’t want to make them feel like a failure!  The reports were to help them.

A few others had concerns about whether it was Biblical to track numbers. They were concerned about God’s judgment on David when he wanted to count his army. If that is a concern for you, please see this blog I wrote on that years ago.

“Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.” 1 Cor. 9:26 NIV.

How To Track Progress in a DMM

1. Identify which DMM indicators you want to measure.

There are many different things you can track as it relates to a movement’s growth. Keep it simple. Make a list of things you want to know, then cut it down to the absolute essentials. The shorter the report, the more likely they will complete it.

At the bottom of this post a free pdf download  with a list of indicators you could consider choosing from.  It’s not complete but will get you started.

2. Devise a simple way of monitoring that works for your group.

Many people use generation charts to track progress. When we began doing that with our teams, we saw a huge difference. Each training we had, the trainees made updated charts.

A circle represented a house church or disciple-making group. Looking at the chart you could easily see which generation it was (1st, 2nd or 3rd). You could also quickly see which groups were multiplying and which were not.

Then, as a coach/trainer you ask questions like this. “This group seems to be starting other groups. What is happening here that isn’t happening in your other groups?

See my video that explains how to make a generational growth chart.

 

3. Determine how often and where you will collect reports and track progress.

Some do this with a simple Typeform or Google form, trainees fill out. This is easy to set up. Message me if you want to see a sample.

Collect information as often as monthly, but at least once a year. I prefer to do it quarterly. In some situations, it works best to get the data when running a face to face training. Or, it can be gathered during a coaching call.

The important thing is to decide when and how often you will collect and analyze the data. Then do that consistently over a few years. If you do this, you will see trends and can evaluate more effectively.

4. Include analysis, feedback and action steps as part of the reporting process.

I can’t emphasize this enough! Reporting without a feedback loop is a waste of time.

Review the data given, think about it, and respond. Whether this is done on the spot or soon after receiving the report, don’t delay doing this.

People are much more motivated to report when they get helpful feedback immediately. This can be done through a coaching call. Discuss the report together, hearing their self-analysis. Then give them feedback as well. At the end of the coaching call, help them set goals related to what they have seen through the reporting process.

Still have questions? Need more help? Let’s dialogue about this on the DMM Facebook group. Click here to join!

Comments

    1. dmmsfrontiermi

      Wonderful to hear of your efforts to start DMMs there in Mexico Mike! Thanks for sharing about the tools you are using. Have you considered joining the DMM Facebook group? Would be great to have you share them there as well. You are welcome to join that community as we learn together!

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