Jesus had 12 disciples who experienced intentional, gospel-centered community with him. This number provides us with no hard and fast rule about the mandated size of a healthy group, but it does seem to be the case generally speaking, that a group of 12 is plenty to manage in terms of spiritual health, development, equipping, and care. At ENC, when our groups hit 12 or more regular participants, we feel like that they are nearing capacity. Conversations about starting a new group will soon begin to emerge (if they haven’t happened already). Paying attention to the leaders capacity is a matter of concern for proper and adequate care for each group participant.
Whenever a group that has experienced health in the gospel is faced with the idea that because of growth, their group needs to send out and multiply, there is typically some emotional hesitation. This is a good thing! We should like who we do community with! In the spirit of encouragement, I’d like to share with you 5 positive reasons to celebrate the multiplication and growth of your groups.
1. A growing group that realizes its getting too big is evidence of health. God is sending people into your group to discover, experience, and hear about the gospel. More people want to get in on the good news of the gospel. Growth is a gift of God’s favor.
2. A growing group needs more room to grow. By starting a new group both groups have more room to invest and invite with more people who need to hear the gospel. Think of a healthy plant out growing a small pot. That pot is like a leaders capacity, which is limited. The best way to allow for the plant to grow is to transplant that plant into 2 pots so that both plants can experience growth. Keeping the plant in one pot will limit the growth.
3. A healthy group growing in the gospel won’t loose their relationships with one another. As you send out group members in the name of Jesus, for the sake of the advancement of the gospel, you will increase your partnership together by being on mission. Your relationship frequency may change, but the quality of your gospel friendships will actually increase.
4. A growing group that sends out a new group does so to fulfill the command of Jesus to “Go make disciples.” Just like you were once loved and welcomed into community with other believers, likewise there are others out there who need the opportunity to be part of growing in Christ together. New groups always attract new people.
5. A growing group means a growing church. Some churches may choose to pursue growth through things like a big show with lights and lasers, a charismatic leader, or providing attractional programs. We want our church to grow because of the message and truth of the gospel revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This is why our groups exist.