The reality of ministry within a community group concept is that it is necessary for healthy growth for groups to multiply. New people will need to feel like they belong, and everyone will need to feel they have the opportunity to share. That doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be hard and that some people will not like it. There will be those who will feel the “loss” of brothers and sister more than others and therefore won’t like it. Change is harder on some than others. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary. Here are my 4 suggestions on how to effectively multiply your community groups.
1. Build in the concept from the beginning
As often as you can, whether you are a church planter or just introducing small/community groups to your church, your people need to know that in order to sustain healthy growth the groups will need to multiply. This means that the group you start with shouldn’t be the group you end with. Acknowledge that it will feel weird, after walking through the highs and lows of life with a group of people, to not see some of them every week. Point out that part of community is always being willing and able to make room for new people. Remind your people that this is a good and healthy thing, even though it’s hard.
2. Cast the vision … often
Once the concept has been introduced, remind the members of your group of the necessity, often. With these reminders, your group will be more likely to be accepting of the change when it comes.
This is where we (Redeemer Fellowship) are weak. We don’t talk about the necessity often enough so when we are forced to make it happen, it feels just that - forced. We need to do a better job of keeping the vision in front of the people.
3. Continually be raising up leaders.
So, if you’ve been clear with the concept from the beginning and kept the vision in front of the people by reviewing it often, the next step is to make sure you have a leader for the next group. The way we do it here at Redeemer is, always be identifying, training, and raising up leaders. Each group should have a back up leader in training. They should be taught how to teach and lead a group and how to care for the souls under their care. They should be given opportunities to exercise these gifts on a regular basis, especially as the date of multiplication draws near.
4. Pull the trigger
With the three steps listed above in place, it’s time to set that date. Give people plenty of time to decide which group they will attend (making sure no one drops through the cracks). Celebrate where the group has been and what God will continue to do through both groups. Then … pull the trigger. Just do it. It won’t get any easier, but God will continue to bless and grow you, your groups, and His kingdom as you serve Him.