Every groups pastor I’ve ever met is outrageously passionate about starting new groups. In fact, starting new groups may be, in the minds of most groups point people, the most important thing they do.
In order for that to happen the groups pastor has to sell the idea to group leaders, coaches, and sometimes, even to the church staff and the elders. And if the small group pastor entered a situation where the birthing of new groups from pre-existing groups wasn’t on the radar screen of the prior groups point person, getting group leaders to consider multiplying in order to start new groups is like getting mice to purposefully march into a series of mousetraps. Groups Point People, if they’re going to start new groups, need ammunition they can use to convince people the starting of new groups is non-optional.
There are many great reasons to start new groups. A few of those would fall into two categories, the “Three tions” and the “Four Creates.”
The Three “…tions”
- Assimilation – When people visit a church, one of the first questions they’re asking themselves is, “Will I be able to find and make some friends?” At the point they realize they won’t be able to connect with some people at a meaningful level, they’ll soon try some other church. Small Groups are the perfect place to meet and get to know people. If a church is going to assimilate people into church life, starting new groups is a must.
- Justification – Justification is simply, being made righteous in the sight of God. That is, realizing one’s need for a Savior and allowing the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse them from all unrighteousness, becoming a Christian. For those who are not yet followers of Christ there’s no better place for them to hear the Gospel, process the Gospel, see the Gospel lived out in the lives of a few believers, and choose to receive the transformational power of the Gospel.
- Sanctification – Sanctification is the stage-by-stage growth that takes place as someone becomes more and more like Jesus Christ. This happens in community, a community small enough to know one another really, learn God’s Word together, hold one another accountable to live God’s Word, and drive one another to study and be saturated in God’s Word. A biblical small group is that community.
The Four “Creates”
Anything new creates a sense of anticipation and is a magnet for many people. Think about it. Church plants grow faster than existing churches. New movements grow faster than those that have lost their newness. Starting new groups creates an air of anticipation. In fact, each time a new group is started those who may have not been willing to join a group in the past are much more apt to do so
Other than creating a sense of anticipation, what do new groups do? A few of those things are listed below.:
- Creates Space for Newbies – Oftentimes our groups are all full. There’s no room for anyone else in the households where groups are meeting. Some will say, “Just add more people. They all don’t show up at the same time anyway.” The reason they don’t show up consistently is because, when a group gets to be too large, people get lost in the crowd and don’t feel they make enough difference to feel obligated to show up each week. Not only that, when new people try a group and the room is full, they feel very uncomfortable as they feel as though they’re taking someone else’s seat or making the room even more crowded. Starting a new group with the correct number of people creates space for those who aren’t in a group but are in the hunt for one.
- Creates a Safe Place for Newbies – Group members visiting a pre-existing group for the first time quickly realize that those who are already in the group have history. They also intuitively understand that they’re outsiders that will never know all the inside jokes or be able to connect at the level of those who have been together for months or years. The group doesn’t feel like an emotionally safe place to them because they don’t believe they’ll ever be insiders. Starting a new group gives newbies equal footing and a chance to join others who are beginning the journey at the same time together.
- Creates a Family for Those in Need of a Family – Every believer needs a Christian family, a small group of believers who have the indwelling Holy Spirit in them, who allow the Word of God to guide their lives, and who will care for and meet one another’s emotional and material needs. Starting new groups makes it possible for those who need a room full of Christian brothers and sisters to do life’s journey with to connect and become a family.
- Creates a Safe Place for Stories to be Told – As we tell our stories, God redeems our stories. Each time a new group is started those who make up the group have the opportunity to speak openly about their dark past and journey into the light while at the same time looking over their shoulders and celebrating what God has already done for them.