[This week we're featuring a couple posts on group multiplication. If you recently began a group, you may think these posts aren't relevant to you right now. They are. We'll go into more depth as to why that's true in this week's posts, but consider this: Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end—including groups. Beginning with the end in mind will improve the quality of your group experience . . . even as you're just starting out.—Ed.]
Multiplication is the topic groups most like to ignore. If you love your group, the idea of multiplying doesn't sound fun, does it? Why introduce change when you have a good thing going? Why not just stay together forever?
Well, from a practical perspective, groups really do have a lifespan. We've found through experience that lifespan tends to be 18 to 24 months. When groups stay together longer than that, they usually fizzle out as group members lose interest and attendance to meetings becomes spotty. If that doesn't happen, everyone can get so comfortable with one another that they stop growing. The old saying "familiarity breeds contempt" can ring true in group life. After a certain point, the law of diminishing returns kicks in.
Beyond that, there's also a strategic reason for multiplication: It makes space for the disconnected. We can only lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ if we offer them a place to plug in. When a group multiplies, it doubles the number of opportunities for people to experience healthy relationships and spiritual growth. That stimulates growth in each of the Three Vital Relationships for all of the members of the new group.
- Intimacy with God grows because when we obey the command to go and make disciples we prioritize what's important to Jesus.
- Community with Insiders grows because the natural hesitation to multiply highlights the quality of the relationships we currently enjoy. And when groups commit to multiplication they have to work together to achieve the goal.
- Influence with Outsiders grows when we are intentional about investing in the lives of others.
Multiplication also fosters healthy relationships within the group. We chose a closed group model because life change happens best where the environment is safe and predictable. A revolving door of new faces can undermine the development of authentic relationships. But it is also true that the injection of new members brings valuable energy, diversity, and freshness to the group experience. If groups intentionally multiply at or near their peaks, they will finish strong and carry that momentum into the next generation of groups.
On Wednesday, we'll offer you some practical tips for preparing to multiply and multiplying your group.