WHERE CAN I FIND SPONSORS FOR MULTIPLYING GROUPS? A sponsor is someone who will pray for, invite to, and fellowship with a new group. The pastor, educational staff, Sunday School/small groups director, and other leaders may be sponsors. Sponsors can also be individuals, Bible study groups, and the congregation as a whole. Finding one or more groups to pray, invite, and fellowship can greatly strengthen the new group launch.
Pray. Inviting people to pray for the new group prepares hearts and minds for the new group. Prayer sensitizes eyes and ears to others. We are more likely to be able to see God at work around them and to hear what God wants them to do when we are praying. Ask people to pray for leaders, people who will be reached, and lives that will be changed.
Invite. A month prior to the launch of a new group, ask other groups and the congregation to invite people within the target of the group that will be launched. Provide printed invitations. Mail invitations to all recent worship guests who are in the target range of the group. Set up a registration table. Share a testimony by the new group leader. Invite multiple times and ways.
Fellowship. Prior to and following the group launch, plan times of fun and ministry for the new group. Invite potential members to participate. Work to connect with guests and get contact information for follow up. Other Bible study groups may want to sponsor these fellowship times initially to encourage the new group.
Gathering a team of sponsors is also a way of multiplying leaders. It creates a culture of new group expectation and support.
HOW CAN I BUILD MULTIPLICATION INTO MY GROUP? There are several things you can do to instill multiplication into the DNA of a group. Consider the following ideas:
Talk about it. Talk about passing on faith to children, your community, and our world. Make it natural. Remind the group regularly about the need for more groups and more shepherds in order to reach and care for more sheep. Talk about it during regular and special group gatherings.
Don’t do it alone. Enlist people to help. Give tasks and ministry away. Enlist leaders to carry out group roles and functions. Apprentice, release, and continue to coach.
Expect every group leader to multiply. Regularly ask who your group leaders are praying for and enlisting as their apprentice(s).
Gather your team. Gathering your leadership team can (1) identify insights into potential apprentices, (2) prevent multiple leaders from focusing on the same potential apprentice, and (3) reinforce multiplication steps.
WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP? Without focusing on others, group members will tend to keep Jesus to themselves. Without additional leaders, the group leader will tend to focus only on teaching and neglect the reaching and caring aspects of group life. Without apprentices, new groups will not be started when needed or with confident prepared leaders. Finally, an apprentice is a concrete reminder for the group that there is more work to do and more people to reach. Show them the apprentice!
Darryl Wilson serves as the Sunday School & Discipleship Consultant for the Kentucky Baptist Convention. He served as Minister of Education in five churches in Kentucky and South Carolina. He is the author of The Sunday School Revolutionary!, a blog about life-changing Sunday School and small groups. This series is a part of Be A Catalyst: Start New Groups, available on your Kindle for 99 cents.