When you hear the words "small group multiplication," what comes to your mind? When I visit groups who have never multiplied and mention the idea of group multiplication, I often get a lot of resistance from group members. I have found that when I talk generically about group multiplication, group members who are new to the idea mostly hear it in negative terms. To them the term "multiplication" sounds a lot like "dividing" or "splitting."
That is why it is important to talk about multiplication in positive, even fun terms. Many group leaders have adopted a more organic terminology for multiplication and call it "birthing." Birthing is a great metaphor because it provides all sorts of useful and fun analogies but still reflects the reality of the small group birthing process.
At our church we've tried to leverage the birthing analogy to the greatest extent possible. We even have a lot of fun with it. Our small group leaders are coached and directed by church leaders who play the role of "grandma" to "expecting" small group leaders. You know grandma's role, don't you? As young first-time parents, when you first find out you are having a baby, there is usually someone who likes to "share some advice" with you about what it is like to have a baby. Sometimes it is a parent or grandparent.
What do you think Grandma would say? If the small group coach is playing the role of "grandma," he or she would say the process of group birthing, just like having a baby, is joyful and fruitful but not without pain and discomfort.
With that in mind, here is a little of grandma's advice on how to prepare, what to expect, and how to cope with a small group birth.
This chart was adapted from a workshop at the Willow Creek Small Groups presented ...