The Importance of Launching New Groups

By Thom S. Rainer

Most church leaders want their churches to grow, and for the right reasons. They want new people to encounter God, grow in their faith, and join God on His mission of serving others. But there is often a wide gap between a church leader desiring to grow and the church possessing a mentality of multiplication.

During my church consulting days, I could quickly assess a church’s multiplication mentality by asking just one question: How often do you start new groups (or classes)? I would ask the question because I’d seen over and over again a close relationship between the churches that were growing and those who constantly launched new groups. The churches working hard to launch new small groups and Sunday School classes on a regular basis were continually connecting new people and building believers who were passionate about what the Lord was doing through His Church. Thus, they were growing.

The principle is obvious: If you want to connect new people in church, you must launch new groups.

Of course, that raises another question: What’s stopping churches from regularly starting new classes and groups? While a plethora of reasons may exist, here are the three that stand out in my mind:

  1. A lack of vision. It’s easy for church leaders to become trapped in the present. If a church has a handful of Sunday School classes meeting on Sunday mornings and another handful of small groups meeting on Wednesday nights, that may seem good enough. People are gathering in community. Members are being fed spiritually. The system is working. But failing to launch new groups today means there won’t be a community experience available for the guests and new members coming tomorrow. Wise leaders have a continual vision to launch new groups.
  2. A lack of leaders. Launching a new group or class without a capable, competent leader is like launching a cruise ship without a reliable captain—bad things can happen. Therefore, churches are right to be hesitant about starting new groups when they lack the leaders to support those groups. Thus churches must continually identify new leaders, invest in them, and challenge them to help launch new groups for the sake of connecting God’s people in community.
  3. A lack of systems. If launching new groups is important, necessary systems must be developed. I am not talking about complex databases or lengthy procedure manuals, but simple systems that will help the church launch and communicate new groups. Church leaders must be able to answer these few questions and have simple systems in place:
    • How does a new person get connected to a group/class?
    • How are leaders recruited and trained?
    • How are new groups launched and announced to the church?

One of the reasons I’m so excited about the upcoming launch of the new Bible Studies for Life series is that I know it will help churches consistently launch new groups.

The Bible Studies for Life material focuses on compelling themes designed to help churches connect the unconnected, strengthen families, and disciple people with wisdom. And because each study is intuitive and easy to lead, churches will have better success asking volunteers to take the plunge as group leaders.

If you want your church to grow, you need to launch new groups. And Bible Studies for Life can help. Last week we hosted a short, 30-minute webcast for the launch of Bible Studies for Life. You can watch a replay of that webcast below or at the Bible Studies for Life site.

Thom S. Rainer

Thom S. Rainer is president of LifeWay Christian Resources. This column first appeared at ThomRainer.com.