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How to Pursue Organic Small Group Growth

Seems like mainstream pastors today are motivated to solely use groups to support the attractional “big top” weekend event. This is more than just putting the horse in front of the cart. It’s a high maintenance mentality that requires more campaigns and group connect events to keep the hamster wheel turning. Man, I’m just full of metaphors today!

I keep coming back to the fact that so few American churches have adopted a genuine definition for a disciple and then changed the way they do church to help small group members become maturing disciples of Christ. Showing up for weekend services, going to a small group, paying tithes, and volunteering when the need arises is good enough.

Well, it’s not good enough to God or small group members. Both want more. A LOT more.

Now doing something about this when you’re leading a growing attractional model church is tough, similar to changing the suspension on your car as you drive down the road…but it can be done with a concerted effort on the part of the church leadership if they’re willing to do it over the course of a few years’ time. Here are a few suggestions to do it successfully:

1. Define what being a “fully devoted follower of Christ” will look like when that person has reached maturity.

2. Create a pathway for new believers to use to help them move from wherever they are values-wise to this point.

3. Implement the pathway for those who come to Christ as a result of a small group reaching the person for Christ, not someone walking an aisle who has no relational ties to the membership yet. This gives the process a fighting chance because whoever was principally responsible for the person coming to Christ will be more than willing to disciple them through the pathway, even if they have not gone through it themselves.

As believers complete the pathway, which should include reaching friends for Christ, they will be qualified to lead a group and get this—they’ll be ANXIOUS to lead well before they’re asked to lead or even ready to lead. Plus, many of the previously unactivated small group members will follow their lead.

Not sure why more churches aren’t doing this. It’s probably more work than they’re willing to do today, but compared to the time and money required to launch campaign after campaign and then attempt to connect people who don’t know anyone at the church, this is a no-brainer.

And last but not least, it makes God really happy because a church like this isn’t attracting or producing consumers.

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Randall Neighbour is the President of TOUCH Outreach Ministries, Inc., a non-profit organization located in Houston, Texas. His threefold ministry focus is to consult, train, and resource churches as they fulfill the Great Commandment and Great Commission through a highly relational holistic small group-based model for church life. Randall is the author of six additional resources for small group members, leaders, coaches, and groups, including the book, The Naked Truth About Small Group Ministry.