The vast majority of successful church plants are built on small groups. This is because church plants need small group energy at two stages of their development:
1. Pre-launch. Groups give you a place to send people before you start worship and most importantly groups set a discipleship and relational tone to the plant. Weak groups and you don’t grow a committed base.
2. Post launch. Groups create the “sticky relational” environment that “close the back door” and assimilate visitors/attenders into partners and congregation. Weak groups and people don’t stick around!
The following are the key steps to developing simple reproducible small groups.
Gather 6-12 people and model a simple small group format. 30 minutes for socializing. 30 minutes for Bible study and disciple making discussion. 30 minutes for share and prayer. As leader, learn the dynamics of a life giving group experience. Learn how to read scripture and ask 2-3 engaging practical application type questions. Learn how to lead the group a simple prayer and share time. Learn to draw people into discipleship conversations.
Ideally your 6-12 people are potential group leaders. Their most important quality is not biblical knowledge but rather the gift of hospitality. Train them to follow the simple format of #1 for 3-4 months first by example and then by sharing the leadership role around the circle.
Encourage them to invite friends or other church attendees. If you are not yet launched, you will need to meet with them regularly as a team to equip them with the same Bible portion (best to use the Gospels). If you have already launched the study will be based on the sermon you preach.
Develop a simple weekly group study guide that uses your sermon text and 2-3 practical application questions that you develop arising from the sermon. Train new group leaders to follow the simple format. Work to develop high quality discussion questions.
Tease your congregation by frequently sharing the group discussion questions during your sermon. Use your preaching to stimulate people to join groups. Use groups for discipleship and care.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church