Birthing, Dividing, & Splitting Groups vs. The Jedi Path

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(This article is a response to the recent Q&A Discussion over at regarding “the right time to divide an existing small group in order to birth another.”)

First I should say…I love Carl George.  I do.  My introduction to the Meta Church model was a revolutionary experience.  It launched me into small group ministry almost 20 years ago.  I would not be in small group ministry today if it were not for Carl’s work in the 1980s and Willow Creek’s adaptation in the 90s.

But you need to know one thing.  My exposure to Brett Eastman’s ideas and the exponentially accelerant ideas that came out of his partnership with Rick Warren and the Saddleback experiment forever changed my view of what is possible and even what is preferred.  While I continue to hold onto the value that “good groups grow and birth,” I no longer believe it is a viable way to connect the numbers of people that must be connected in almost every church.  Beyond that…it is absolutely not the way to reach the 60% of people who will never come to a church service.

If not grow and birth…then what?  Small Group ConnectionChurch-wide campaignTake a small group vacation.  Any of these launching strategies will put more people in groups, identify more leaders and reach more people in the community.

Listen…I’m not saying abandon the apprentice model.  It works.  It is proven.  It’s biblical!  But it is inadequate and rarely produces new groups fast enough to truly connect a growing congregation.  That’s for starters.  To me the largest issue is that it will not reach the community or even the crowd.  And with the clock ticking…that is all that matters.

There is a reason that Saddleback has connected over 130% of its weekend adult attendance in groups.  In fact, there are 10 of them right here.  And none of them have anything to do with apprenticing.  Again…not that apprenticing should be abandoned.  Just that it is not the strategy you should be depending on to grow the number of groups in your system.  It is not the best way to launch new groups.

I am not a theorist.  I am practitioner.  And I aspire to be the mayor of crowd’s edge.  And so should you.

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