Reasons to Start a New Group from an Existing Group
Starting a new group from an existing group, or multiplying, can be painful - but so is dieting and exercise or earning a college degree. Just because something is painful or challenging doesn’t mean it’s not the best thing. In fact, painful efforts often have wonderful endings.
We already know the benefits of physical health and a college degree. Here are some reasons to consider starting a new group from an existing group.
MISSION - One central theme in God's Word is that redeemed people engage in God's mission to people who don't follow Him. From the first covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12) to the Great Commission of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20) to people from every nation gathered before the throne (Rev. 7:9), we see God's plan to reach people. Expanding our groups helps create connection points to reach people and establishes a culture of working to expand God's kingdom.
DISCIPLESHIP - Jesus taught us truth but modeled methodology for us. His involvement with the disciples showed us how important relationships are to discipleship. Interaction is critical to spiritual growth. By nature, the larger the group, the less everyone knows and interacts with each member and guest. There's a reason Jesus chose only twelve disciples.
ACCESSIBILITY - New groups are more easily accessible or easier to join than older groups. The longer a group is together, the more everyone knows all about everyone. While that is good, there can be drawbacks. If we aren't careful, inside jokes and inside prayer requests (i.e., "Keep praying for my cousin.”) can make one feel that they are not part of the group.
FOCUS - Being willing to change things helps remind group members that we need to be outwardly oriented and not just focused solely on our own needs.
CAPACITY - When a room is full, small group members may hesitate to invite others. Conversely, a half-empty room can actually encourage the need to invite others.
LEADERSHIP - Leading a small group requires much more than preparing for and leading the weekly meetings. Leadership requires much ministry, counseling, and conversations. Therefore, the personal ministry provided to each member declines as the group grows.
APPROACH - Larger groups tend to lean more toward a lecture format because discussions require more time as more people participate. The lecture format closely resembles a worship gathering environment. Small Groups fill a different need in different ways from worship gatherings. One sermon is sufficient.
METHODOLOGY - Brook Hills has adopted a Small Group strategy with an open group approach. When groups become large, the tendency is to close the group to new members to maintain connections among existing members. This necessitates the need to multiply groups as they grow.
SPACE - If a group runs out of space, the only option, other than immediately multiplying, is to close the group to new people. If there isn't a plan in the near future, this can create an unhealthy inward focus.
INVOLVEMENT - People grow deeper when they use their spiritual gifts and engage in ministry. There are likely many people in larger groups whose gifts will be wasted, and their spiritual growth opportunities will be lost if they remain on the sidelines.
OPTIONS - Creating new groups provides the church with different sizes, shapes, and personalities of discipleship communities. This makes it easier for more people to find a place (a group) that feels like home, where they can grow in relationship with one another and with Christ.
FLEXIBILITY - It's a good thing for a church and a group to be flexible. God often calls us to change, so we need to be careful with the comfort of keeping things the same.
May these thoughts help us all deal with the pain of group multiplication. Envisioning a better future makes enduring the pain required to get there easier. Ultimately, we can create a better future for many more people when we start new groups.