An old proverb states that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step! Often when it comes to accomplishing cell / small group-based ministry in our churches we have an idea of where we would like to end up, but we fail to do anything to help us measure each of the indidual steps along the way to help us get there. That is where the role of weekly reporting comes in!
In our "journey" to become a cell church we have seen the value of having our cell leaders turn in a report every week. This report is handled by their coach (a coach for us is a former cell leader who now oversees 3 to 5 groups) who in turn hands in a weekly report to the zone pastor on staff who oversses them (Currently we have 24 groups and only one zone pastor).
Innitially our cell leaders reports consisted of information gathered about their cell meeting (who was there, what issues arose, etc.), but as we came to see the value of cell leaders being involved in the lives of their group members, our report format changed to incorporate their ministry beyond the meeting as well (Who have they spent time with this week, what phone calls or notes have they sent, etc.).
Certainly, there's no value in tedious paper work. Our report is designed to be something that can be filled out in about 10 minutes or so, but it then becomes the basis for what the coach will talk with the cell leader about that week. In essence, the weekly report allows the coach to see what the cell leader is doing - both in their cell gathering and outside the meeting, and then allows him or her to help them shepherd their group better. Without this weekly evaluation, their effectiveness would be much more haphazard!
So many pastors I talk with who are doing groups in their church sort ...