How to Prepare Your Group for Growth
(Or, ‘How to Bring New Members into an Established Group’)
One of the values we want to highlight in our second year of Grow Groups is the value of growth. The idea of ‘growth’ runs two ways:
- Spiritual Growth. The mission of our Groups Ministry is to “help members and guests ‘Grow in Christ’ as we study, share, and serve in deep relationship with one another”. Spiritual Growth is central to what we do in our groups.
- Numerical Growth. It is critical that we grow more groups so that everyone has an opportunity to get connected and grow.
The focus of this post is preparing your group for ‘numerical’ growth. A few things to keep in mind before I get to the practical ideas:
- Once a group has been together for 6 months, it becomes more difficult for new members to break into the group. Keep that in mind as you consider growing your group.
- Growth can be difficult for the new member trying to enter an existing group, as well as for an existing group trying to be open to new members. One or both dynamics could be at work in your group.
- The best way to grow more groups is to equip more leaders. The whole idea behind the “And One” principle is that every small group facilitator and host should be looking for the next great facilitator or host. New groups can’t form without leaders. Equipped leaders naturally form new groups.
- Growth by ‘division’ is painful, no matter what you call it. Some folks call it ‘birthing’ to try and gloss over the discomfort of splitting a group into two groups (obviously a male came up with that idea!). Regardless of what you call it, splitting groups isn’t easy and doesn’t come naturally. Unless a group is fiercely devoted to this value from the outset, it isn’t likely to happen.
With all this in mind, let’s look at some practical ideas to keep your group on track for growth.
Talk About It.
Like most things in life, you can’t ignore growth and just expect it to happen. You must open up the conversation with the group. Name the barriers that the group has. “I know some of us are concerned that adding new people might .” Revisit the vision and purpose for groups. Hold up the value for growth and remind members what they’d be missing without group life. Make a commitment to run potential members by the group for prayer before they are invited as guests.
Pray About It.
Pray individually as a leader. Pray about it weekly as a group. Resistance to growth is often an issue of the heart. Only God can work in that arena.
Plan for It.
Even with the best intentions of an existing group, it can be difficult for incoming members to feel comfortable and ‘fit in’. As I mentioned in the orientation, “Failing to plan is…” You know the rest. Some ideas you might include in your plan:
- Host a special gathering or an “open house” for guests. Give them a history of the group, share stories, etc.
- Assign someone or a couple as a guide for each new member. It could be for a month, six weeks, or longer. Have them sit together, make regular contact outside of the group, and even invite the new member/couple into their home. Having a personal connection can go a long way toward helping someone feel like they belong.
- Wear nametags.
- Begin with the end in mind. Start preparing new facilitators and hosts from day one.