Top 5 Ways to Multiply Small Groups

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How can we start some new groups? We have 14 (or 34, 78, or 103) and we're stuck on how to add new groups. What's the best way to do it? What are some ways that we're not thinking of?

This is a very frequent question. And it's a good one because it's rooted in a concern for the right things. One of the axiomatic beliefs of many in the group life movement is that good groups grow and birth. Ought to work. Sounds good. But does it work in reality? Not always. If you're depending on apprenticing to provide new leaders and new're betting on the wrong horse.

Here are the top 5 ways I've found to start new groups.

1. A Church-wide campaign using the HOST strategy is by far the easiest way to launch a significant number of new groups.  While there are definitely some seasons when it is more effective, this method executed with skill can recruit new leaders and new groups in big numbers.  One of the best aspects of the strategy is that it finds leaders you don't already know.  That is very important.

2. Another way to multiply groups is to put on a Small Group Connection.  I've written a a step by step tutorial detailing how to hold a Connection, but the essence is that you put on an event, sort people out by affinity, and help them through the process of choosing a leader from amongst themselves.  North Point's Group Link idea has some similarities, but a Connection has one striking difference. It identifies leaders from the group itself. That is a huge difference. Like the HOST strategy, this is a great way to identify leaders when you didn't know you had them.

3. Encourage your existing groups to take a small group vacation and help start some new groups. If your church is like most churches, you'll notice that your earliest small groups are full of great people, many of whom could easily lead a small group...if they'd just leave the one they're in! What's the best way to get them to consider leaving their group to start a new one? Don't make it a permanent move. Make it a 6 week commitment and try to encourage whole groups to take the vacation. It is amazing how many of these vacations pay off with new groups full of people who need group life and who really need what their temporary leader offers...and the fact that they are needed helps many of these temporary leaders make the decision to move from consumer to contributor. Best part? They make the move without pressure from you.

4. The Apprentice model is not a bad idea. It does work, just not easily and much slower than most methods. One of the keys is to celebrate those who actually leave their group to launch a new one. Having the title is of little consequence. Stepping up to lead a group is the only thing that counts.

5. Taking leader training sign-ups and/or recruiting likely candidates to a leader training process is often the least effective method. First, people who sign up for leader training do not always have the best motivations. Second, once through leader training there's no guarantee they'll be able to connect with the members you give them.

The key in each of these methods? Keep in mind that there is no problem-free solution. Choose your method based on the time of year and the development stage of your ministry. I use them all...just not at the same time.

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1 Comment

  1. Petrush Macute on September 23, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    wow, really would like to know what HOST strategy is!

    great ministry!