Birthing new groups is vital to kingdom growth. Every group that multiplies opens the door for pre-Christians to be involved in Christian community. Church plants need groups to multiply so people with leadership gifts and skills can be identified and prepared to take on meaningful roles.
When a small group is truly living in community, multiplying ( or birthing) may lead to discontent within the existing group. There are ways to diminish the pain while helping the group during the grieving process.
Following are 9 steps that will not only simplify group multiplication, but may even make multiplication an exciting part of the journey for any missional small group.
1. Share a vision.
From the very first meeting, the vision must be cast for the mission of your group. God can greatly affect the larger body of Christ through a small group if there is a vision for creating new groups and bringing people into the kingdom. An effective leader will regularly keep this goal in front of the group. It’s essential to raise up group leaders from your group and to divide into new groups every 18 to 24 months. Announce the intention to multiply early and often.
2. Build a new leadership team.
As the group matures through the growth and develop stages, the present leadership team should identify apprentice leaders and facilitators. This is done best in a small-group setting. Look for an engineer type as the group administrator, the party animal as the hospitality person, a person that loves interaction and knowledge as the facilitator, and a caring person to handle group shepherding. Next you must seek to train and mentor them as they grow in confidence. Here are the steps of this process:
- Identify apprentice leaders and facilitators.
- Provide on-the-job training.
- Give them the opportunity to lead your group.
- Introduce the new team to your church.
- Launch the new group.
3. Determine the type of group.
Who are you trying to reach? There are four commonly identified audiences: a “core” audience consists of those in your congregation who are the leaders and the heart of the congregation; the “congregation” consist of those who are basically the regular participants who can be counted on to be present at most events; the “crowd” includes members and other participants that come to worship at least occasionally; and “seekers” are those who have not been church-attenders in the past, but who are now spiritually seeking.
4. Choose curriculum.
Make sure your choice fits the group type and the stage in the life cycle of your group. See suggested Bible studies in our Resources section. All of these are small group-centric and discussion-oriented. This list will help leaders and group members immensely when selecting your next study.
5. Ask someone to serve as host.
Determine when and where the group will meet. Someone must coordinate the following.
- Where the meeting will be held?
- Who will provide childcare (if necessary)?
- Who will teach children (if necessary)?
- Who will provide refreshments?
6. Determine who will go with the new team.
There are several options in beginning new groups:
- Encourage several members of your group to go with the new leadership team to start a new group.
- The existing leadership team can leave to start a new group leaving the existing group with the new team.
- Several groups can break off beginning all new groups.
7. Begin countdown.
Encourage your group to begin praying about the new group at least six weeks before birthing it. This gives group members time to grieve and get excited about the new group that is forming.
Have a party with presents for the new group. Make announcements to your church, advertising the new group and its leadership team.
9. Keep casting a vision.
Remember as you start new groups to keep casting a vision for multiplying into new groups.
Rick Howerton has one passion — to see “a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet making disciples that make disciples.” He is pursuing this passion as the small group and discipleship specialist at Lifeway Church Resources.