Note: This article has been excerpted from the SmallGroups.com training tool Grow the Number of Small Groups in Your Church.
For many small-group leaders and coaches, just the word multiplication can evoke tension. They remember battles fought with leaders or group members when they were responsible for motivating those down the flow chart from them to birth a new group.
Too often, churches launch a small-groups ministry without instilling the birthing of new groups into its DNA. Those leading and attending first generation groups experience community like they never have before, and they don't want to see that experience come to an end. The beauty of the experience is so fantastic that when you request that they birth another group, you have a mutiny on your hands. (You say birth a new group; they hear abort the group they are presently doing life with.)
Therefore, if you are going to successfully grow your small-groups ministry through multiplication, the most important thing you can do is stress the value of multiplication from the very beginning. Make it a core element of the overall ministry, and of each individual group.
Of course, there are many current small-group ministries that would like to shift to a multiplication model, but did not take that step when the ministry was started. If you're in that situation, there is hope. Below you will find an excess of principles and practical ideas to help infuse the value of multiplication into the very being of your coaches and small-group leaders.
A New Paradigm
The first thing you'll need to do is declare principles and values that will help your coaches and group leaders understand that the multiplication of groups is more important than the comfort of small-group members. You'll need to help your people see that the Kingdom is more significant than an individual group's holy huddle.
Remember this fact: In order to get people to change what they're doing, they must first hear, understand, and embrace new principles and values. In other words, a new paradigm must be realized. Once the new paradigm is part of the communal mindset, those at every level of leadership will be open to new actions.
To help with this paradigm shift, you'll need to identify some basic principles that can be voiced to redirect and instill the value of group multiplication. These are not slogans or catchphrases. These are an articulation of what you have chosen as core principles of your small-groups ministry. Here are some examples:
For the Kingdom to grow, groups must multiply.
Jesus longs for people to be in meaningful relationship with himself and with one another. When small groups multiply, there is a renewed commitment to both of these relationships.
Any species that doesn't give birth to a new generation dies. This is true in the biological world as well as in the small-group world. Groups that don't multiply in 24 months die or become stagnant.
When a group has multiplication as its goal, there is an energy in that group that cannot be achieved any other way.
Multiplying new groups is the reason for apprentices. Future leaders may never achieve their full potential or find their role as shepherds if groups do not make multiplication an important responsibility.
Multiplication is the most effective way to welcome more people into Christian community.
Multiplication is the most satisfying accomplishment of small-group leadership.