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.
Give yourself more time than you think
You want to give your group a long runway between when you announce your multiplication date and when you launch out as a new group. A good rule of thumb is that it should seem a bit too slow for the leaders and a bit too quick for the members (Linneman, Life-Giving Groups). For most groups, three months is a good timeline. During these months, focus on casting the vision for multiplication and assuring they believe in it. As the marketing tip goes, “At the point in which you get tired of saying it, they are just hearing it.”
Once you have decided which group will launch out (original leader or emerging leader), consider how the new group can meet a need. Does one of your core members live in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a Small Group? Does the church have a specific night that has little or no Small Groups meeting? Is there a specific group of people that you want to target? These questions can give your group a built-in mission before you ever multiply.
Choose a core group, not everyone
Regardless of which approach that you choose, you want to strategically choose a core group of people, but not everyone. Evaluate your current group and identify the key people who have contributed the most to making the group special. Decide between the original and the future group leader, where each of these people would best serve and then strategically ask them to be a part of that group. For the remainder of the group, you want to encourage them that there is no right/wrong group to join, but they should go with the group in which they have the strongest relationships. By choosing the core strategically, you can have confidence in each group’s makeup, thus allowing you to be open-handed with the rest of the members. This will allow your group to keep a greater sense of community as the group multiplies.
Find a Host, Facilitator, and Cordinator
One of the reasons that your group has been successful is that it includes different personalities and giftings that reflect the body of Christ. This diversity is crucial and must be protected. As you identify the core for each group, make sure that you strike a good balance in your people’s gift sets. Three types of people to make sure are in both the original and the launch group are a host, a facilitator, and a coordinator (snacks, communication, etc.). It is important that these qualities are represented amongst each core group, whether that be amongst two people or six. This will keep the group balanced and prevent all the “book worms” going in one group and the “fun guys” going in the other.
Celebrate and commission
On the last night of your group, you want to celebrate what God has done during the original group, while also recognizing and sending out the future group. The night should feel more like a graduation than a funeral. As you celebrate, ask the group, “In what way has God used this group to bless you?” A great follow up question is, “Who in your life could benefit from a group like ours?” Once you have celebrated, take the time to commission the future group and pray for the neighborhood where they will meet. Whether it is a laying on of hands or giving a gift to the leader, make the moment special.
About a month after you multiply, have the two groups gather for a night of celebration. Doing this two or three times in the first six months is a great way to reinforce the vision and celebrate the new people that are joining. It also gives your original group members time to reconnect.
Check out our previous posts about Small Group Multiplication:
- Two Things You Need Before Multiplying Your Small Group
- Small Group Multiplication: What we can learn from Avengers: Endgame and the Early Church.
Take a listen to the podcast episode below as Eric Allred and I share even more practical advice about how you can multiply your group well!