FAQ: When Should We Launch Small Groups in Our Church Plant?

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FAQI get a lot of questions.  Here’s one I’ve gotten before and never answered on the blog:

We launched our church in 2013 and have about 50 adults attending regularly.  About 40% of them are connected in church groups like choir and ushering. Do you suggest we start small groups or wait until we raise the adult worship attendance.

Great question, don’t you think?  Many of you may have an opinion and I’d bet a fair number of you have actual experience in a church plant. I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

When Should We Launch Small Groups in Our Church Plant?

Keep in mind that there are several different strategies and if you ask around, you’ll probably get several different answers.  I think there are two main ideas:

  • Wait until you’re large enough. Kerrick Thomas, Nelson Searcy’s Executive Pastor, recommends that you wait until you have over 100 adults attending before beginning small groups.  You can read his rationale right here.
  • Start small groups before you launch worship. Eric Metcalf, Leadership Director at the New Thing Network and a Pastor at Community Christian Church, begins building small groups first and later launches a worship service.  You can read about this method right here.

I’ve seen it work both ways and I’ve also seen it work to launch small groups at nearly the same time as the public worship service.  An important factor may be what you recognize as the purpose of a small group.  For example, if almost anyone can pick up a small group host kit and invite a couple of their friends to join them for a study, wouldn’t that be an excellent way to speed up outreach?  On the other hand, if you’re counting on your small group leaders to help establish a brand new culture, you’ll want to be extra careful about which leaders and groups you send new members to.

Personally, my small group strategy is designed to leverage the outreach potential found in unconnected people whose closest connections are with neighbors, friends, co-workers and family.  Rather than wait for my weekend adult attendance to reach a minimum size of 100, I’d look for ways to help foster a growing number of outsider focused groups.  See also, 7 Assumptions that Shape My Small Group Strategy.

What do you think?  Have an opinion?  Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Image by PhotoSteve101

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