By Rick Howerton
In the beginning of Acts, we see the early church growing by leaps and bounds. Paul writes that people were becoming followers of Christ every single day.
Isn’t this the dream of every pastor? We long to work in tandem with God to see multitudes of lives redeemed by the gospel and to make mature disciples of them. But how does this happen? We just need to back up a few verses to find out.
In Acts 2, we see those gathered in the early church learning and obeying God’s Word, living in deep and intimate fellowship with one another, and breaking bread in each other’s homes while praying for God to do the things only He can do. They lived in such close community that when someone had a need others stepped in to help meet it.
We can see many come to Christ when the people in our churches devote themselves to those same things. But they happen best and most frequently in a small group, which is why it’s vital we start new groups. Here are some keys to launching new groups you’ll want to keep in mind.
1. Find the appropriate location.
Sometimes new groups never get started because church leaders believe they can only meet in someone’s home or the church building. But that’s not the case. In fact, some of the most transformational groups meet in places where those who are far from Christ are most comfortable.
Some often overlooked locations are: coffee shops, work sites, restaurants, hospitals, convalescent centers, parks, workout centers, shopping malls, and college campuses. Each of those locations can meet the needs of a specific demographic. And the more demographics your church connects with, the more possibility there is of getting the gospel to various people groups.
2. Discover the right leaders.
Finding them may not be as difficult as you think. Potential group leaders are all around us. You can find them almost anywhere.
They could be in established small groups or Sunday school classes, on the church staff, or serving on your hospitality team. You simply need to be open to whomever it is God is calling to lead your new groups.
3. Recruit small group members who will stick.
Once you’ve established meeting locations and have commitments from group leaders, the most important ingredient in group life is still missing—group members.
Pray for God to place the right people in your group. Jesus prayed before inviting His apostles to join Him. God can use any number of ways to get people to consider joining a group. You should continually be in prayer for God to do what only He can do—place the right people in the right group.
4. Answer questions that may come up.
Clearly communicate to possible group members what the group will be about. Group members who are hesitant will probably be among the first to ask questions. You need to be prepared to respond to questions like these:
- How much time is this going to take?
- What are we going to do with our children during group meetings?
- Will there be homework? If so, how much?
- Am I going to have to talk or can I sit and listen during meetings?
- Who else is going to be in the group?
- How many weeks or months is the group going to last?
- If I don’t like it, can I leave without people being angry with me? And can I join a different group?
- What are we going to do during meetings?
Being able to provide answers may be the key to people connecting with a group.
5. Invite possible group members to the first meeting.
A personal invitation will be the best way to gain a new group members. Try to make them as comfortable as possible. Remind them that everyone in the group will be new and getting to know one another for the first time. Assure nervous attendees they won’t be asked to read or pray aloud until they are ready to do so.
If you want to start a revolution in your church, start groups that start other groups. Like the first century church, we can change the world. Imagine the impact if we establish a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet.