Birthing—that is, multiplying—a new small group can be one of the most exciting events in the Christian life. It can be a painful experience too. Leaving our Christian friends who have shared our lives is tough. The process is much easier if we focus on others instead of ourselves. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind as you birth your next small group.
1. Make birthing a new group a core value of your small group. At your first meeting, say something like, "We're glad you are joining this new group. We hope later on in our group experience, one or two of you will sense God's call to begin a group of your own." Or, "We hope the Lord adds to our group, and our goal is to celebrate the birth of a new group later on as well."
2. Group leaders must maintain the vision of birthing a new group. Birthing should be seen as a celebration, not a separation. Remember, the Lord "added to their number daily" (Acts 2:47). The Lord has caused the growth we must respond by keeping his work going and starting new groups.
3. Look for indications that the group needs to multiply. A few of the telltale signs are:
- when the group has met for 36 meetings or two years, whichever comes first;
- when group members find convenient reasons to be absent from the group;
- when your apprentice leader gets antsy to lead the group more often;
- when the group averages 13 to 17 regular attenders.
There are many other indications. The main goal is that the group begins to sense the original plan of birthing.
4. Launch the new group by getting the entire group involved in the decision process. Answer the following questions as a group:
- When will the new group begin?
- Who will lead the new group?
- Who will be the apprentice for the new group?
- If the apprentice of the existing group becomes the leader of the new group, who will replace the apprentice?