Small groups do not exist for community. They exist in community for the mission Jesus called us to: making disciples.

I've stopped telling our small groups they need to multiply or birth their groups.

That might sound odd; I've been encouraging and envisioning leaders to multiply themselves for years. I teach and write on this topic regularly. Multiplication is a natural, fundamental principle of life. Throughout Genesis, God says, "Be fruitful and increase in numbers (multiply)." Jesus' marching orders for His church involves multiplication. What happens to a family or any other organization that does not multiply itself? It dies!

So why do I not stress multiplication of groups at our church anymore? Because I think it emphasizes the wrong thing. Yes, we need multiplication of groups, but that is simply the byproduct. I want to put the emphasis on the process, not the final product.

So we are working diligently to teach the discipleship process to our group leaders. The purpose of every group is discipleship, and every group leader is called to be a shepherding disciple-maker. The process is simple: Disciple ? Develop ? Deploy. My reasoning is this: When people are growing in their faith—when they are being truly transformed spiritually—the natural next step should be for them to step out and lead others. Why? I can think of at least two reasons, a Biblical one and a developmental one:

1. The Bible describes a process of spiritual growth that results in leading others, teaching others, and bearing fruit:
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. … Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity (Hebrews ...

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