Once our groups become large they are no longer small groups. It's kind of a funny statement, but think about it for a moment. Small and large groups do not share the same dynamics. Keeping our groups small promotes closeness, interaction, and accountability. These dynamics are the reason we started small groups; it would be a shame to lose them in order to stay within the comfort zones of our fears.
Birthing new groups expands the kingdom of God. Remember the excitement of starting your new group? You probably invited just about every one that you thought would even consider joining. Birthing new groups puts an emphasis on developing new potential leaders into maturity. Developing mature Christian leaders is one of the most effective ways a small group advances the kingdom of god.
But why are small group members so resistant to birthing new groups? As a small group leader I believe the member's motivation for resistance is fear. It is the fear of loss. As our groups grow closer together they experience acceptance, purpose, and security in each other. As we talk of birthing a new group they begin to have very legitimate fears. They begin to fear losing their acceptance. What if the next group isn't as close as this one? They may fear losing the purpose this group has given to their life. What if the next group doesn't share the same vision? They may also fear losing the security that your group has given to them. What if I can't depend on my next group the same that I can this one? Members who have spent their time and energy to build a strong group have the right to these fears. As group leaders we should never discount people for these feelings. We should patiently work through these feelings, showing our members that by birthing a new group we are sharing the acceptance, purpose, and security of our community with others in efforts to advance the kingdom of God.
One way we could make birthing less fearful in our group is to create a kingdom mind set from the very beginning. We can develop this kingdom mindset around the exploration stage our groups' life cycles. To develop this kingdom vision we will need to develop a positive kingdom mindset, practice the birth, and plan for the celebration of that birth. Developing this mindset will help members get past their fear of loss and motivate them to be kingdom thinkers.
Developing a positive kingdom mindset
If you want your group to embrace growth through birthing new groups, you should first lead them past their fear of loss and into a mindset of expanding the kingdom. Show them how your group can be the vehicle for this expansion. Identify your communities' need for other groups that share the acceptance, purpose, and security that your group shares to fully experience the gospel message as not just an ideal but a lifestyle. In my group we cast the vision by making it a point to share how much we have all grown in the small group and we pray for others with whom we would like to share our growth. We have used our personal growth and prayers to cast our vision. Even new members catch on fast and naturally start offering up prayer requests for others to join our group. Cast a vision in your own group and watch fear become a secondary issue as they discover the group is an effective vehicle for advancing the kingdom.
Prayer is one of the most effective ways to develop a kingdom vision with your group. Lead your group to pray for your community and for God to reveal how your group can impact the community for the kingdom. Solicit prayer requests for people your members would like to pray into your group. Prayer is an excellent way to lead your group to be active in developing a kingdom vision together, ingraining a shared mission deep into each members heart.
Practicing the birth
As your group increases in size begin practicing the birth of your groups. Spend some of the meeting time together in one group and some of your time in the two smaller groups. Consider paring up into two groups during the study and/or the prayer times. Let the apprentice take one group and you lead the other. This will give your group the chance to experience the birth in small steps, slowly becoming more secure in the process. Your group will also get the chance to see your apprentice as the leader of your next group. In practicing this birth some of your members my naturally gravitate toward following your apprentice as your group births. Let your group experience the birth slowly and they will naturally feel safe from loss.
Planning for celebration
As your group comes near the time to birth, your members may naturally fear a loss. Begin to share with your group your plans to reunite in celebration. This reunion could happen in your break times, seasonally, or on a regular basis. This plan should be brought to the group to get their ideas on how to reunite. It might be helpful if both leaders brought the plan to the group together as a sign of support from both groups. Vision cast into the future of several more groups joining in the celebration, all birthed from these two. Don't forget to praise God in advance for the privilege of birthing this new group. Planning these celebrations encourages the heart of the members to become kingdom thinkers.
Embracing birth for growth
Help your group to move past their fears and grasp a kingdom vision of birthing new groups by:
- Embracing and creating a kingdom vision together.
- Practicing the birth beforehand.
- Planning for the celebration of birthing a new group.