Had a great time at the Exponential Conference last week. I really think it was the best year yet! Here’s my condensed notes… a paragraph from most of the main session speakers:
Danielle Strickland told stories about the importance of letting people see us bleed. Discipleship needs to be from and for real humans.
Joby Martin explained the importance of lead pastors, handing over the keys to new pastors out of a vision for the next generation.
Steve Murrell was a very compelling speaker. He emphasized that our commission is to make disciples, and God’s job is the build the church. Just focus on discipleship. We really don’t need to worry about the organization and church growth structures. He’s grown a planting movement of 90,000 in Manila.
Steve Stroope told his story of the great commission, realizing the need to partner globally and plant in influential American urban centers. Continue reading
My wife and I hosted a training this past week on how to multiply small groups. We shared the ups and downs of our history in multiplying house groups, and boiled our experiences into three steps: 1) Normalize Involvement, 2) Apprentice New Leaders, 3) Send New Groups. Take a look at our handout if you’d like a little more information filled in.
At the training, we diagramed the timeline of groups we’ve lead and the people we had the opportunity to influence within them. I had never drawn it all out before. As I stepped back to look at how God has been at work through us as group leaders, two things stood out.
First, I realized that more people have been influenced by new groups we’ve multiplied, as opposed the original groups that they came from. For every 10 people we had in an original group, there were 12 represented in second and third generation groups. More than half of God’s plan to impact the world through us would have been forfeited if we hadn’t apprenticed new leaders and sent out new groups.
Second, I was humbled to acknowledge that all the people we’ve reached through groups first started with someone reaching me. As a freshman in college; living in a freshman dorm; five doors down from a pair of seniors (seniors who sacrificed prime pick amongst dorm rooms to instead invest in the next generation); I got my first invite to a house group. These two guys grew my faith, but they also grew me as a leader by apprenticing me. Twelve years later, I am now able to count roughly 225 people who have been reached through groups we’ve led. Without someone apprenticing me, it would not have happened.
We owe a lot to those who have invested in us.
Brooklife Church, where I serve as a pastor, is in the thick of pursuing multiplication of groups. I thought I’d give a little inside look at the Q&A we’ve gone through…
- Why are we making a big deal about multiplication?
- To live out Brooklife’s value statement, to “multiply at every level.”
- To follow Biblical Direction. The early Church, as well as Israel, we corrected by God for collecting and clustering their blessings, rather than going and multiplying it for others.
- We are a growing church, even without a new facility. If our Church is going to be more than a Sunday morning thing, we need more groups to do life in. Our average group size is already 13. Quite simply, we need more room for more people.
- Are we too concerned about numbers, just “trying to fill an aggressive quota” so to speak? If a number represents a real live person, I’m going to care about them with all heart, soul, and strength. So yes, I’m going to unashamedly be obsessive over taking care of the new people God brings to our church.
- Will you make my group multiply? Continue reading
I am meeting with a handful of other small group pastors of the Milwaukee area today for one of our regular networking gatherings. One of them posed this topic for discussion:
Small group ministry will forever wrestle with the issue of which is the greater value: mission and multiplication or relationship and community? Steve Gladen (Saddleback’s small group pastor) writes,
Small groups need a simple mission. Too often small-group “theory” dictates that groups should be constantly multiplying. These strategies often place too much pressure on an average leader to be a “church strategist” instead of a relationship builder. We help small group leaders relax and use their natural desire to serve in ways that help their group grow closer.
When John and Mary walk in the front door of a small group, they’re hoping that someone will be there who will greet them warmly, love them for who they are, pray for their challenges, encourage their growth in Christ, and praise their answered prayers. The last thing they want is those friends they are starting to trust—those people who they now feel ready to open up with—suddenly say, “OK, it was fun knowing you. Let’s all pray about the new small groups we are going to start!” Life on life takes time. One piece of iron doesn’t sharpen another piece of iron with one brush against it. Iron on iron has to happen many times in order for both to be sharpened.
Yet many of us agree that to fulfill the Great Commission small groups can play a key role in multiplying disciples. Is this a “both/and” rather than “either/or”?
Although I’m generally quite flexible on what small group leaders do with their groups, I have some strong feelings on this issue. I am looking forward to seeing where our dialog takes us.
Small Groups hit the 301 marker by birthing a new group. Regardless of whether the newborn group is a 101 or a 201, remarkable vision, leadership development, and fruitfulness has been achieved when one group can start another. More than a one-time phenomena, true 301 Groups make their mark on the world by reproducing several groups that each reproduce several groups, and thereby play a part in multiplication movement.
301 Groups are great for accelerated spiritual formation and broadening the reach of Jesus’ church. Everyone in a true 301 Group sees themselves as a leader on deck. Anyone who isn’t leading now knows that they will someday. When people know they’ll have to lead, they move from spiritual consumers to spiritual contributors; therefore accelerating their growth process. As new leaders are released to start new groups, the good news of Jesus is spread to corners of the church and local community previously left unattended. Continue reading