Small Group Multiplication: Can Community and Mission Coexist?

Every time I tell our group that we are multiplying, someone says something like, “We love our group! If we have such a good thing going, why mess it up?” My quippy, short response usually is, “Aren’t you glad the disciples did?” or “Aren’t you glad someone made space for you in their group?” Though this is a fun “drop the mic” response, it isn’t always the most loving or helpful. This question is valid and one that should be asked. If there is not some sense of sadness around multiplication, then it probably isn’t a group that should multiply.

The truth is that group multiplication comes with multiple emotions. There is an initial sadness of not seeing some of your friends on a weekly basis, but also an excitement about the new relationships you will make and the life change that you will experience firsthand. These feelings highlight a tension that needs to be unpacked further. 


7 Tips For Multiplying Your Small Group

Launch > Split

Two common ways to multiply a group are through launching and splitting. Launching is when you send out a leader and a core group, while splitting is when your group grows too large and you then split it into two medium-sized groups. Personally, I recommend launching a leader with a core group of four to six people.

Launching emphasizes the “sent people” value that we mentioned in an earlier post. As you pray and commission the leader and group, it feels similar to a church plant, while the split approach can often feel like divorce and leave people nervously picking a group. Additionally, the trigger for launching a new group is when you have a leader who is ready to lead, while splitting waits until a group is overpopulated. The former emphasizes leadership development and reinforces vision, where the latter often feels like a logistical remedy. Lastly, launching can be done well in a group of ten or a group of twenty-five. 


The Power Of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath

Think back on your favorite vacation. Through the years, as you have reminisced on this trip, you have probably replayed a few select memories over and over again. Research shows that we recall experiences by forgetting most of what happened and focusing on a few particular moments. The question is, “How can we create the moments that people will remember?”

In Power of Moments, The Heath brothers explain not just how moments shape you, but how you can shape moments. Whether you are a leader who is planning his next event or a parent who wants to create meaningful moments with their children, the Heath brothers give simple steps to help you create moments that will be remembered long after they are finished.


Two Things You Need Before You Multiply Your Small Group

One of the most common questions about multiplication is “At what number should our group multiply?” What I love about this question is the expectation that the group will grow and that when it does, the group will multiply. Nonetheless, this isn’t the right question. The question should be more qualitative than quantitative. Health, not logistics, should drive the multiplication process.

Group multiplication is the product of spiritual growth, not numerical growth. It is better for a healthy group of eight to multiply, than an unhealthy group of 25. Furthermore, to send out a leader who isn’t ready with a group that doesn’t embrace the vision is a recipe for failure. By focusing on the health, not the number of members, you assure that your multiplication process will promote member health, not neglect it. 


Learning Practice #5: Create A “File It & Find It” System

Think back on some of the key foundational things you learned in high school. Can you still do long division? Can you remember all the colors in Spanish? Can you recall the scientific method? If you are like me, you went 0 for 3 on that test.  This is why the final learning practice, creating a “File It and Find It” system, is so important.

Our mind has a “use it or lose it” quality to it. If we are not regularly acting on what we learn, then it quickly vanishes. This is frustrating because what we can apply can’t keep pace with what we learn. When we read a book with ten great leadership principles, realistically we only are able to apply two or three and forget the other seven. When we read a book that applies more to our future job than our present, we forget the principle before we need it. Unfortunately, many of the leadership principles we need today, we forgot yesterday. 


Small Group Multiplication: What We Can Learn From Avengers:Endgame and The Early Church

If you visited ten churches, all of them would probably have some type of group/class environment, but each would have its own unique strategy. You would see stances along several different spectrums: on-site/off-site, class/groups, closed/open, evangelism/discipleship, gender-specific/co-ed.

Over the last few years, I have learned that the best strategy is the one you will use. Though some strategies are better than others, the most influential factor in a strategy’s effectiveness is you. There is no silver bullet that works for every church in every context. Though each local church shares the same mission, the forms it uses to accomplish its primary functions, will differ. What is important is that evangelism, biblical community, and discipleship are evident in the life of every believer and represented in every church’s strategy. 

For our church, we have open groups that meet in neighborhoods for the purpose of providing a life-changing community for those inside and outside the church walls. One of the important parts of our strategy is group multiplication. This isn’t something that is mandated to the believer or the church. It is simply the strategy we chose that reflects our theology and ministry philosophy. Group multiplication isn’t how we determine if a group is successful, but it is a byproduct of a successful group. When we provide a place where people can experience the love of Christ through His Word and His people, we will need to create more space for more to join. This philosophy is built upon a biblical theme we see in society’s engagement with Avengers: Endgame and the Early Church’s emphasis on hospitality.