Bible teaching ministries grow when new groups are started. On average, each new group properly
started will raise the overall attendance of the teaching ministry by 10 people. But when do you know it’s time to start a new group? There are at least 5 times when you should start a new group:
- When you have a group whose members have more than a 10 year age span – You wouldn’t put a 4 year old and a fourteen year old in the same Bible study group – and neither should you put adults who have more than ten years of age difference in the same group. A decade or more of age difference makes it more difficult for people to relate to one another. When you have a “catch-all” class with group members who run the age gamut, it’s time to start a new group and narrow the target audience of each group! Guests will be more likely to “stick” when they attend the group, and group members will have more in common because they are closer in age and share similar experiences at their particular stage of life.
- When you have more than 25 adults enrolled in a class – a tried and true organizational chart that has been used for decades in Christian education specifies that enrollment should max out at 25 adults. With a 40-50% attendance rate, approximately 10-12 adults would be present each time the group gathers for Bible study. The remaining adults who are absent would be reached and cared for by the group’s teacher and care leaders. When enrollment exceeds 25, the span of care often gets too broad and people fall through the cracks.
- When the room in which the group meets is 80% or more full – when a group’s meeting space is 80% full, the group stops growing. Although there may be seats available, the room looks like it’s full and people cannot sit where they want. Groups may actually exceed the recommended upper limit of 80% of a room’s capacity for the short-term, but in the long-run, the group’s attendance is almost always negatively affected and attendance drops below the 80% level.
- When adult prospects are without a corresponding class – if prospects come to your church and you have no group in which they naturally fit, it’s time to start another group for them. When you look around your church or community and see possibilities for reaching adults for whom you have no Bible study option, it’s time to start a group for them.
- When a group has been together longer than 2 years – groups of adults who have been together longer than 24 months tend to be hard for guests to infiltrate. Assimilation becomes problematic because relationships among current group members are solid, and they just don’t have much margin in their lives to invest in establishing new friendships with new group members. Having visited churches in the not-to-distant past as my family and I looked for a new church home, we experienced this first-hand. It’s hard to be accepted into a group that has been together for more than 24 months.