If you’ve ever been around a preschoolers, you know that “the terrible twos” are just that – terrible! Two year-olds tend to want to exert their independence, they can be temperamental, and they often demand their way – or else. For many parents, they can’t wait for their child to grow out of “the terrible twos.” That period of life is characterized by the child’s strong desire for independence and generally unruly behavior.
Bible study groups go through a different kind of “terrible twos” – but they do go through it. The two-year mark in a group’s life is crucial to its future. Several important things happen during the second year of a group’s existence:
- Groups calcify at the two year mark – It’s a sad but true fact of group life – groups turn inward at that time. The people have been together for 24 months, experienced a lot of life together, served together in some meaningful ways, and they’ve tightened relationships. New people find these two year old groups hard to join and connect with people.
- Groups reach their maximum size at the two-year mark – I’ve experienced this in the Bible study group I teach. We’ve been together three years now, and we quit growing over a year ago when we were a two-year old class. We averaged 14-16 adults back then, and we are still averaging that today. And we will likely average that next year. And perhaps the year beyond that. It’s just a fact of group life.
- Groups have to start covering their “churn” at the two-year mark – Churn is a term that refers to the number of people that churches lose over the course of a year. At the two year mark, some of the people in your Bible study group will drift away. Some leave because of a change in their job. Others leave they feel disconnected from the group. Still others leave because they may believe the group missed an opportunity to minister to them during a time of crisis, and their feelings got hurt. If my group of 16 adults has a churn of 20 percent, I can expect to have to replace 3 adults just to stay even with previous attendance levels. If I want to grow my group, I have to cover my churn, then begin adding new people.