Home > Uncategorized > How to plant a small group pt. 1: The motivation

How to plant a small group pt. 1: The motivation

This series is an edited version of a teaching manuscript the Small Groups Team at the Summit Church used in our first ever “how to plant a small group” seminar held in May of 2009. The purpose of this series, as was the purpose of the seminar, is to equip any Christian man or woman with the basic plan needed to launch, or plant as we say at the Summit, a new small group. The section below discusses the motivation behind planting a small group at your church, and the next 3 installments will discuss at length the 5 steps to take to successfully plant a group: Pray, Tell People, Establish the Core, Soft Launch, Plant.

The aim of this series is definitely the “how,” the practical steps to take to get a small group up and running. However, much more important than how is “why.” Why should your church try small groups in its discipleship model, why should you lead a group, and most importantly why should you lead a group that is always looking to plant new groups. For most of the answer to this question I will gladly defer to Pastor C.J. Mahaney and his book Why Small Groups? Pastor Mahaney and his staff team at Sovereign Grace ministries infused this work with years of wisdom, sound biblical insight, and great encouragement in such a way that I consider it the most valuable resource currently in print in the small group world. Read it to understand most of the “why”. There is one element I will seek to add to the motivation behind planting small groups as it is a part of the foundation on which we are building our small groups ministry at the Summit Church.

We believe God has called us to make disciples of Jesus Christ in all nations (Matt 28:18-20). We believe while mission trips both short and long term have their place, the BEST way to reach a local community with the gospel is to for there to be a thriving local church in that community. The local church is made up of people in the community living and speaking the love of Jesus to their neighbors, co-workers, friends, and families. As we believe Jesus gives life to the spiritually dead and dying, we believe the men and women of a local church are the carriers of that life. Thus, a very real sign of a healthy church is one that is unceasingly opening its doors, seats, and homes for more people to encounter the gospel of Jesus Christ. This was the example set by the early church (Acts 2:42-47) and the example set by most healthy local churches today. We are therefore very passionate about putting this into practice in 2 connected places: Small Groups and church planting.

Small Groups are the front door
We want every small group to see themselves, and not the weekend worship services, as the front door of the Summit Church. We have seen people who would never come to a church service participate in a Summit Small Group. And in time, some of them have become followers of Jesus Christ. To maintain this missional focus, we challenge Summit small groups to always be looking for opportunities to plant a new small group. Why? Not because we want to accommodate growth, we want to be a catalyst for it!  When a small group sees planting a group as a duty and not a joy, it takes the first step towards becoming an inward focused holy huddle that can be cancerous to its church. A healthy small group longs to see others come to know Christ and to see those people mature in such a way that they are participating in the great commission by making disciples. Basically, a healthy small group is contagious and growth becomes a joyous side-effect of gospel-centered living.

Small Groups are the lab
Because of our convictions about the local church (see above “Doctrine”) We are very, very passionate about church planting at the Summit. Outside of our lead pastor no ministry has given more input into how we structure our small group ministry than our church planting center. We believe the next generation of small group leaders at the Summit are going to come out of those presently in small groups. Therefore, we want to give them a small taste of the church planting process. This is why we use the language of “planting” small groups. Because healthy churches plant new churches, they don’t SPLIT and Multiply (at least not in the United States). Our church planting team teaches people how to develop a core team to go out with a lead planter to provide support, encouragement, and multiplied influence in the new community. Likewise, we do not SPLIT small groups, we send out a small core team (anywhere from 2 to 5 people) to PLANT a new small group. The steps to accomplish this (seen below in the “how” section) mirror in a scaled-down way the steps a new church planter takes to get his church rooted and established in his new community. So not only do our small groups get to actually taste what our church planters are doing, we are likely to find our next church planters by observing who is thriving in the small group planting model! When we see a small group leader successfully plant a new group three or four times, we may ask him to consider being assessed for church planting because he would pretty much be doing the same thing he has been doing just in a different location.


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