Steve Parr is a friend of mine. He is the Vice President for Sunday School & Evangelism at the Georgia Baptist Convention. He has written an article on their website that is entitled, Challenge to Start New Units! In the article, he lists six simple steps for starting new groups (steps are his; commentary is mine):
- ENLIST AN APPRENTICE TEACHER. This should begin 10-12 months ahead of the planned time to start a new group. May give the individual opportunities to serve early before asking him/her to be your apprentice. This gives time to observe and evaluate.
- ALLOW THEM TO TEACH AT LEAST ONCE EACH MONTH IN THE SPONSORING CLASS. This give you as teacher the opportunity to observe and debrief. This give the current group opportunity to have exposure to his/her teaching and to build relationships in advance of a new group launch. In addition to teaching, give the apprentice responsibilities in making contacts, visits, doing ministry, planning fellowships, and other group leadership activities. Again, observe and debrief. The last couple of months before the launch, give the apprentice more than one opportunity for teaching each month.
- ANNOUNCE THE CREATION OF THE NEW CLASS AT LEAST SIX WEEKS IN ADVANCE. Don’t ask the group if they want to do it–that only allows for differences of opinion. Six weeks gives them time to support, pray for, and even invite to the new group. Share the announcement with the church as a whole.
- ENLIST FOUR TO SIX MEMBERS OR COUPLES TO GO AS “MISSIONARIES” TO THE NEW CLASS. I usually say one to five others who will go with one of the teachers to launch the new class. Not all of the members or couples have to come from the same group. Synergy can come as others join the new teacher. This adds different personalities, gifts, and abilities to attracting new people to the new group. It also avoids making the early weeks lonely for the new teacher.
- ONE OF THE TWO TEACHERS GOES WITH THE CLASS “MISSIONARIES” TO START THE NEW CLASS. Either the teacher has prepared the apprentice to take over the existing group, or the teacher has prepared the apprentice to launch the new group. Honestly, new group starts are often most successful when the original group steps out boldly to start the new group. Group members are often even more supportive of being “missionaries” to go with the teacher to start the new group.
- CELEBRATE AND RECOGNIZE ALL INVOLVED IN THE CREATION OF THE NEW CLASS. This is a celebration not only of the new group but also of the group that birthed/sponsored the new group. I have seen several “storks” standing outside of new and sponsoring groups recently. I have heard of church staff in scrubs sharing from the pulpit about the new “births.” Allow the congregation to catch some of the excitement of launching new groups.
Have you had any new group births this year? Contact me with information about the new groups. Kentucky has a CONNECT goal to start 5000 new groups by 2010. Press the comments button below or contact me directly to share your stories. The definition of insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results. We often expect growth but don’t want to start any new groups–that is insanity. Start new groups. Don’t wait until September. Be revolutionary!