Most churches are not starting enough new groups to compensate for the decline that naturally takes place each year. Call it “churn,” it is the drop in attendance that takes place over the course of time. Starting new groups can offset this decline (new groups add 10 people on average to a church’s total attendance). But when you get ready to start new groups and approach existing groups to help start new ones, there are 3 words or phrases to avoid:
1. Split – this is perhaps the worst word you might use. To say “I want to split your group” is a painful sounding phrase and wise leaders drop it from their vocabulary.
2. Birth a new group – no pain in birthing, right? Wrong! Ask any woman who has delivered a baby and you will quickly realize that “birthing” is another word to avoid. It brings to mind long hours of labor and pain, and is not a positive phrase to use when trying to convince an existing group to start a new one.
3. Divide – dividing a group into two groups might be the right move, but telling a group that you want to divide them is as bad as saying you want to split them up. Division usually is not viewed positively, and people fear the loss of relationships and familiar routines that often become part of the group’s DNA.
The Right Words
If you can avoid the 3 words above, you’ll save yourself and the people you lead a lot of heartache. Instead of those 3 words, replace them with one of the following:
1. Duplicate – a much more positive term, duplicate implies doubling…doubling something that is good and having two of them. Encourage groups to duplicate themselves so that new people might connect with them.
2. Replicate – this is a positive word that helps group leaders think in terms of extending their influence by starting another group like the one they are leading.
3. Create – the opening verses of the Bible tell us that God created…He created the universe, our world, and man. Using the word create to encourage an existing group to create another one is a very positive-sounding way to view starting a new group. As group leaders lead their people to create new groups, they can do so while avoiding mistakes made along the way in their current group.
4. Franchise – I love this term! It may be my all-time favorite. All kinds of businesses franchise themselves to remain viable and competitive. Sports leagues often allow for franchising, as do restaurants and businesses. It’s a proven way for a company to extend its influence in the culture. Why not apply this term to starting new groups?
5. Launch – another positive word, launch says to me that we are going places…up, up, and away. We are heading toward new heights. Ships launch out from port and go on journeys. Rockets launch into the upper atmosphere and them into space itself. Yes, launch is a great way to help group members see the importance of starting new groups.