For a number of reasons, small groups have been a growing experience in recent years in this country:
- One reason is a desire to take Bible study and community off of the campus of the church. Some will come to a Bible study in a home that would not attend in a church.
- Another reason is the desire to make Bible study available at times that are more convenient for people. Studies have concluded that as many as 40% of people today cannot attend Bible study on Sunday morning.
- Some believe small groups that are off campus can create better community, accountability, and ministry.
- An obvious reason is the cost of building space. New churches often start with small groups because they cannot afford to rent or to build Sunday School space. Also, existing churches are often able to assimilate people in small groups when their Sunday School space is full.
- Finally, the advent of the Purpose Driven Life experience allowed many churches to discover that small groups can be attractive and effective.
There are a number of books that can help you and your leadership team make wise decisions as you consider whether to launch a small group or a small group ministry. Some of these include:
- Building a Church of Small Groups, Donahue and Robinson;
- Nine Keys to Effective Small Group Leadership, George;
- How to Build a Small Groups Ministry, McBride;
- Starting Small Groups: Building Communities That Matter, Arnold; and
- Groups of 12: A New Way to Mobilize Leaders and Multiply Groups in Your Church, Comiskey,
When you are launching a small group ministry, your first group or groups are key. Read these and other resources, like Some Things to Consider When Starting a New Group in Your Church. Take your time and do it right! Train your leaders. Set up coaches for these leaders. Ensure that multiplication is in the DNA of your first group or groups. Pray and watch God bless. To consider the potential of multiplication, read my blog entry entitled Your Sunday School Class Can Reach Hundreds in Ten Years.
A while back, I did some training about groups and multiplication. One of the attenders was excited about the training. He quickly enlisted leaders and launched two new groups. They grew quickly, but he soon realized that multiplication was absent from their DNA because he had rushed and not trained these leaders well or enlisted coaches. He would have to need to launch his small group ministry again and work to retro-train these two existing leaders (and groups).
Anyway, I want to recommend a new resource that can help you whether you are launching one small group or planning a small group ministry. The book by Rick Howerton is entitled Destination: Community Small-Group Ministry Manual. It has been published by Serendipity House Pu blishers. Rick is a practitioner. He is a pastor of a contemporary, small-group driven church called The Bridge in Spring Hill, TN (the Nashville area).
The book begins with five chapters on Basic Principles and Practices of Small-Group Life followed by five chapters about The Heart of Leadership (obtaining and retaining group members, organizing the group, and unifying and directing group members). The next eight chapters deal with Starting a Small Group Ministryfollowed by seven chapters on The Model Group. The next five chapters deal with The Small-Group Meeting and the final four chapters deal with Youth Small Groups.
I want to challenge you to begin praying about starting a group off the campus of your church. I believe you will find our Lord is way ahead of you. After all, He has already said, “Go and make disciples…” (Matthew 28:19-20). When (not if) you launch a group, make sure that multiplication is in the DNA of the leader(s) and the first group(s). Enlist coaches to ensure a successful launch. Watch as God blesses! Be revolutionary!
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