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.
When considering if your group is ready to multiply, a much better question to ask is, “What needs to be present in my group before we multiply?” To boil it down to its simplest form, two things are needed: A leader who is ready to lead and a group that believes in the vision.
A Leader Who Is Ready To Lead
The first part of the equation is a leader who is prepared to lead a group of their own. As you develop this new leader, you can think through three movements: identify, invite, invest.
Identify Potential Leaders: Looking for a future leader starts day one of the original group. The temptation may be to single out the most knowledgable person or an individual with the most leadership skills, but we must be certain that those competencies are built upon strong character. Below are three questions you must answer positively when identifying future leaders:
- Faithful: Is this person faithful to this group and following Jesus?
- Available: Is this person available to attend and help on a weekly basis?
- Teachable: Does this person display a humble desire to learn from those around them?
Invite Them To Join: Once you identify a potential leader, the best way to prepare them is to move them from a consumer to a co-laborer. Within a Small Group, there are many opportunities that an emerging leader can help. They can coordinate snacks, handle your monthly social gathering, join the teaching rotation, or facilitate the prayer time. Think through their gift set (skills, passions, personality) and identify how they could join you in facilitating the night.
Invest In The Leader: One of the simplest ways to develop leaders is to think through this framework:
This framework is simple, but powerful. If a group meets for a year, it may look something like this: For the first two months, the original leader teaches the group and identifies F.A.T. people. The next two months the original leader asks for those emerging leaders to help lead part of the discussion. For the back half of the year, the original leader’s voice gets less vocal and the emerging leader’s voice gets more vocal until finally the emerging leader is ready to lead on their own.
In the podcast episode at the bottom, Steve Elworth explains how his group used this simple framework to develop leaders and multiply their group four times in four years.
A Group That Believes In The Vision
Vision is the difference in your group multiplication being the birth or the death of a good thing. The group catching the vision and understanding why you are multiplying will make the difference between your last meeting feeling like a funeral or feeling like a graduation. Without understanding its vision, group multiplication makes no sense as you rip apart meaningful relationships. On the other hand, when a group embraces the vision, the last meeting together can feel like a party. When done well, the group feels the weight of the night and treats it similar to a church plant as they celebrate and commission out the future group.
One of the biggest indicators of your group’s grasp of the vision is an inviting culture. A healthy inviting culture exists when your members are inviting people on a weekly basis. When the members are regularly thinking about who is NOT at their group and how they can bring someone in, it’s a good sign that the your members understand the missional aspect of the group.
Be sure that the members, not just the leaders are inviting new people. Often, a group grows because one leader has invited all the new people. This is not a group with an inviting culture, but merely an inviting person.
Check out a previous blog post: Small Group Multiplication: What we can learn from Avengers: Endgame and the Early Church.
Below is a podcast with Steve Elworth on how to develop a leader and how to get your group bough in to the vision.