One of the most difficult challenges any of us ever face is when we find ourselves wrestling with a new way of seeing an old problem. You’ve probably run across this drawing. It’s frequently used to demonstrate the fact that what we see initially (an old woman or a young woman) makes it difficult to see anything else.
In a recent article (What’s the Best Way for People to Sign Up and Commit to a Group?) I made the case for providing opportunities to connect to new groups and recommended matchmaking only as a last resort.
And yet…it seems many of us still feel that pull towards finding homes for new people in existing groups. You need to know that I believe this compromise is one of the main deterrents to growing the total number of people in groups. I am a fan of using small group finders (like ChurchTeams), making it possible for unconnected people to get connected 24/7. But…that is no substitute for the advantages of starting new groups.
Top 5 Advantages of New Groups:
- In a new group, everyone starts off on a level relational playing field. This is a huge advantage! I can’t overemphasize the importance of this point. When you add new people to existing groups, even the best intentioned existing groups, it is extremely rare for a new person to really break through the impermeable membrane and fit in. The longer an existing group has been meeting, the more difficult it becomes. The exceptions to this rule are exactly that: exceptions.
- Roles have yet to be established in a new group. New groups can begin with fresh outlook. There is no status quo! It’s all a new beginning. When you add new members to existing groups, you’re requiring them to fit into available roles…as opposed to a custom fit for their interests and capabilities.
- New groups come with openings for new leaders. Yes, new groups require that you figure out how to recruit new leaders (this is where the Small Group Connection and church-wide campaigns come in). Adding new members to existing groups instead of launching new groups stunts the development of new leaders. Doesn’t praying for God to send workers (Matthew 9:37-38) and then limiting opportunities for new workers to engage seems like a dangerous stewardship issue (Matthew 25:14-28).
- New groups provide greater connecting efficiency (especially when launched at connection events or as part of a church-wide campaign). Matchmaking is time-consuming, rarely overcomes the difficulties and challenges of fitting new people into existing groups, more often than not leads to frustrated leaders and often results in stalemated small group pastors (as the stack of placement requests grows).
- New groups have room for everyone to bring a friend. The first few meetings of every new group almost always include a “who do you know that would have loved being here tonight?” moment. Bringing a friend along for the next meeting is a sign that they already value the group as a good thing! A benefit they want to share. On the other hand…there are few moments more awkward than when the new member of an existing group unexpectedly shows up with a friend!
What do you think? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.