Here are some phrases that group members don’t want to hear spoken in their Bible study groups:
- “We’re going to split your class.”
- “It’s time to divide the group.”
- “Let’s birth a new class.”
If you’ve been around group ministry long enough, you’ve heard one or more of those phrases! And most groups don’t respond very positively to them. In some churches, staff leaders even avoid approaching groups about starting new ones because they just don’t want the fight.
May I propose a new name for this process? Franchising!
Franchising is a common practice in the NFL, MLB, NHL, and just about any other sport you can name. It’s the way leagues have continued to expand and capture new people. Franchising is also a common practice in the business world. Chik-Fil-A, McDonalds, IHOP, Jiffy Lube, and many other companies grow by franchising. They don’t tear down an existing point of sale and build a bigger one – they just start another one on the other side of town – or in a new town – and the company grows. It can work the same way in our Bible study groups. Let’s start thinking about the process of beginning new groups as “franchising.”
- Franchising reaches more people. My Bible study group is almost out of space. No more rooms are available to us. If we want to take the mission of reaching people for Jesus seriously, we’re going to have to “franchise” our group and start another one.
- Franchising means you have a model to follow. Franchisees often have to sign contracts that specify how they will relate to the parent company that launched them. They are expected (or required) to stick with color schemes, menu choices, training programs, etc. There is a successful model to follow, so they follow it. When Bible study groups get to the point they are ready to franchise themselves, they do well to pattern the franchise after the group launching it.
- Franchising gives you every opportunity for success. People lined up around the block (literally) when Chik-Fil-A opened a new restaurant in the town where I live. Now we have two Chik-Fil-As, and both are doing a thriving business. Opening one didn’t hurt the restaurant chain – in fact, the franchise has increased their reach in my town. People were already familiar with the Chik-Fil-A brand, and people were glad to have another option that would be just as good as the original restaurant. When a Bible study group decides to get serious about reaching people and it launches a franchise group, the people who attend it can pretty much bank on the quality and the excellence of the parent group being duplicated – that’s what franchises do.
As you lead your Bible study group, lose the phrases “split our group” and “divide us up.” Instead, talk in very positive terms by using the “franchise” language. Help your people see that starting new groups is the best and fastest way to reach new people for Jesus. It’s the right way to “go and make disciples.”