In the fall of 2003, Greg Bowman from the small groups staff at Willow Creek Community Church introduced us to "Supergroups," a small group growth concept that has helped us answer, "How big can a small group be?"
We who direct small groups programs are constantly pushing our leaders in two conflicting directions. On the one hand, we encourage them to promote deep, meaningful relationships within their groups. But at the same time, we come along once or twice a year and say, "OK, it's time to break this up and send away one or more of your members to start a new group." In our need for leaders, we put community at risk. We're finding Supergroups to be a common ground for our leaders whose groups have grown large, and who want to continue leadership development, but also want to maintain meaningful Christian community.
Overview Of a Supergroup Meeting
The most important aspect of Supergroups is this: during a regular small group meeting, group members break into smaller groups (called "sub-groups") in different rooms.
Of course, the first reaction of group members is, "If we do that, how will we stay connected with the whole group?" But sub-groups only take a portion of the meeting. The larger group meeting begins with the usual prayer time or "catch up" time—whatever is the group's usual habit. Then, the leader still leads the first part of the lesson in the larger group setting. After that, the sub-groups meet.
These "meetings within the meeting" happen for a pre-determined amount of time, which could change from week to week. It might be 20 minutes this week. On another night, 45 minutes might be better.
After the breakout sessions, the large group reconvenes to debrief about what's been discussed. Or, just to complete ...