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What if we stopped growing?

Im working on a seminar for our Small Group Leaders that we are calling “How to plant a small group.”

Details: This Thursday Night, 7-8:30pm , Brier Creek Campus, The Bay.

In preparation for this night God has really been challenging me on some of the presuppositions our small group growth has been based on for some time. Right now God is blessing our church with a consistent Sunday morning growth rate that is pushing 30% this year. Its crazy. For some time now our church has seen an increase in Sunday morning attendance that has had us scrambling to connect these new faces to our church community…which exists as about 100+ small groups around Raleigh-Durham. And so I have challenged our group leaders to “make room” in their small groups just like we often have to “make room” on Sunday morning. It means being more uncomfortable than we’d like but its for the advancement of God’s kingdom so we live with discomfort. I’ve asked group leaders to plant new groups because we need the room for the 16oo people at the Summit not yet in a group. It makes sense. almost. The problem with that growth strategy is that it only serves to facilitate church-wide growth, not encourage it.

Last week I began asking myself…what if the Summit stopped growing on Sunday morning? What if we caught up in our small group ministry and everybody at the Summit was in a small group. 100% participation! Goal Acheived! No more need to plant groups because there are no more people we need to worry about putting in those groups. That right there is the first step towards a church’s demise. Seeing Sunday morning as the missional arm / front door of the church and your small group as the church holy huddle will kill a church. Why? Because the church is to be an ever-growing community of people reaching out to those who dont know Jesus with the love and truth of the gospel.  We fight hard here at the Summit to encourage our small groups to be missional and this just amplifies that.

In speaking with our church planting center (SendRDU) director Mike McDaniel, he mentioned one character trait of churches he is observing  that are making an influence in their area (called a movement church) is that they see their small groups as side doors into the church. And hundreds of side doors are more valuable than 4 (4 campuses) front doors if they just realize their potential. Let me give you an example:

If 80% of the people in SummitLIFE groups (roughly 1000 people) invited ONE, JUST ONE (often families invite families) person to be a part of their SummitLIFE group this August, we would grow our overall church population by 25% in a month. In this context evangelism and discipleship happen first in the group and second in the Sunday morning worship service. And if we recognize that our Small Group is the way that person is going to STICK and not just visit, we would sustain that growth and probably need about 100 new groups by the end of the year. We would not have a 25% bigger crowd, but instead an increase in disciples.

So this thursday, and throughout the summer, we are going to challenge group leaders to re-think the purpose of their summitlife group. Is it to facilitate growth, or to be a catalyst of growth? Is it to be a reactional group or a missional group?

As we move towards our Week of Hope this summer, consider how your group can begin to think missionaly. See you Thursday!

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