It has been proven that starting a new group is the key to growing a groups ministry as well as growing a church. “New” is always more exciting and magnetic than “old.” People are drawn to anything new.
The most efficient way to have a growing groups ministry is by starting groups that will, in time, start a new group. In group life we often call this “multiplication, or “birthing” a group. In most instances a pre-existing group sends part of the group off with a trained apprentice to start a new group or a pre-existing group sends an individual or a couple on mission to start a new group. And, in most instances, getting a pre-existing group to do this is like getting a pre-existing arm to want to be cut off with a dull chain saw.
How does a groups pastor create an environment where starting a new group is viewed as heroic rather than sacrificial. Below you’ll find a few suggestions.
- Make group multiplication part of the group covenant. By doing this you establish early on that this is a practice that is highly valued and expected.
- Start each group with a group leader as well as a group apprentice. The very visible apprentice is a constant reminder that the group will someday multiply. Also, the apprentice, if used wisely, will become more of a second leader than simply a person in training so, when the group multiplies many group members will be honored to leave the group to be led by an effective and established leader.
- When asking groups to multiply choose terminology carefully. It would be wise to say that you’re “planting a new mission” rather than stating that you’re “starting a new group,” “multiplying the group,” or “birthing a new group.” People understand the importance of and adventure of being on mission together. Using this term will make multiplication much more palatable.
- Establish when the group starts that the group will multiply in 18 months. It has been proven that a group that doesn’t multiply in 24 months will most likely never do so. Giving a concrete date to start a new group will establish that starting a new group is more than a suggestion, it’s an expectation.
- Remind group leaders that great principles never trump the greatest principle. Most groups don’t want to multiply because they’re experiencing authentic and intimate relationships with other believers, often for the very first time. They’re experiencing authentic Christian community. This is a great principle. But the greatest principle is to expand the Kingdom of God. And each time a new group is started more people have the opportunity to join a group, understand the gospel, and be transformed through the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.