Monday, December 06, 2010

Groups Are Stubborn

Team D-- the NCC Discipleship Team-- is writing a series of blogs about things that no one ever told us about small group leadership. Today, I talk about the stubbornness of groups.

Small groups are stubborn. Especially when it comes to that dreaded topic of splitting. Or as we like to spin it as small group pastors, "multiplying."

Community is tricky. It takes time to build it. And the reward we give to those who are successful is a stick to break them up and force them to start all over again. I came into small group leadership looking at multiplication as the goal-- the finish line-- the trophy of success. Little did I know my group would resist it. They would avoid it like the plague.

No matter how much we teach on the value of growing and multiplying, the reality is that most people don't want to form deep relationships only to have them torn apart 9-18 months later. Here are some things that might help us:
  1. Talk about the right goal. Talk about the idea of discipleship early and often. The goal is not really multiplication, even though practically and strategically that's what we tend to focus on. The goal is reproducing disciples. And if that is happening, then there has to be a strategic model for making that happen. We've got to get our theology right and talk about it until we are sick of it so that our group members understand the reason why.
  2. Pioneer groups. Focus on "pioneering groups" instead of "multiplying" groups. Instead of the traditional grow and split, grow and split paradigm, we have moved to a model of encouraging a leader and a core group of 2-3 to split off of a group to form a new group. It's a win-win. The new group gets sent off like missionaries from the original group. Now, multiplication is something the group makes happen as opposed to it being something that happens to them.
  3. Share stories. If all else fails (and it will), share stories of people who were able to find community because a group took the hard step of opening of space for new people. Sometimes, people just need to remember what it was like when they really needed a group of friends and how much they appreciated having an open seat in a group.
  4. Go multi-site. Two groups this semester had over 30 people show up on the first night of group meeting. Their solution? Go multi-site. The large group met together for dinner, snacks, and fellowship time. Then broke into smaller groups for discussion. This is a great way to ease a "small" group into multiplication and to sneak some reluctant leaders into new roles.
  5. Create networks. Keep multiplied groups together through a network of coaching huddles or outreach teams. Create opportunities for them to continue to connect regularly.
  6. Look at other models. We can always consider the closed group model like Northpoint Community Church implements.
What do you do to encourage the stubborn group to multiply?


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