Is there such a thing as Small Group Planting?
Typically, small groups are multiplied by 1) an apprentice leader being sent out from an existing group, 2) an apprentice leader staying with the existing group while the original leader gets sent out, 3) sub-grouping (hosting smaller groups within a growing mid-sized group), or 4) an apprentice group (often called “turbo groups”) spending a short season together for the purpose of disbanding with each member founding a new group.
I am an advocate for all four, but have been brainstorming with a peer (Joe McFadden) for other possible outlets. I have found myself Pastoring at a Church (Brooklife) that is experiencing a rapid season of growth. I and other group leaders at my church have invested nine months of hard work toward apprenticeship and multiplication, but appear to have come up a bit short. If of our Fall registration is as I anticipate, in a matter of weeks, our handful of new groups will be quickly overwhelmed; and most of our existing groups will be filled to the brim.
What about group planting? The Apostle Paul parachuted into some regions with the gospel, and left as early as three weeks later with a church in place. Theses churches needed ongoing coaching, but they were functional churches. If you can plant a working church in three weeks, I’m pretty sure we could do the same with groups.
In my final month at a prior church, we planted a group. There was a clear pocket of people where community and formation could occur (aka, small group). However, no one was ready to take the lead. After some dialog with each potential group member, I volunteered to the lead the group for three weeks, on faith that God would raise up a leadership solution by the end of that time. God did, and now over a year later, I’ve received word several states away that this group has been thriving well and are praising God for what they share together.
I am still trusting God for new leaders and new groups to emerge this month. If they don’t come in from other sources, I think Joe and I may be called to roll up our sleeves and plant a few groups.