How to start a new group in 4 easy steps

Starting new groups is very important if Bible teaching ministries like Sunday School are going to grow.

If your church’s Sunday School is plateaued or declining, the first place I’d check is your new groups. How many did you start last year? I bet the answer is, “Not many.”

New groups:

  • Add 10 people on average to the total number of people attending Sunday School.
  • Grow faster than existing groups.
  • Are more evangelistic than existing groups.
  • Are easier for guests to make new relationships in them.

New groups also cover what we call “churn.” Churn is the number of people who leave the Sunday School each year. Some leave because they are unhappy. Others leave because they join a different church. Still others leave because they can – they get busy and choose to do other things on the weekend. The churn in many churches is 10-20% of the Sunday School membership. If you are not starting new groups, you will not replace these churning members very rapidly, and that leads to the decline most churches are experiencing. So if the churn at my church is 30 people a year, then I have to start 3 new groups each year just to cover this decline! If I don’t, my Sunday School’s attendance is likely to go backwards.

If starting new groups is important (and it is), then how can you and I go about the business of starting new groups?

  1. Talk about it with the group. Create a culture within your group that says, “Starting a new group is a good thing.” Many people see “splitting” a group as something that is bad and to be avoided. Actually, it is something to celebrate and reward. The starting point, however, is to have a conversation with your group about the necessity of starting a new group.
  2. Pray about it with the group. Praying about starting a new group keeps your group’s attention focused outwardly (where it belongs). Pray for the lost, pray for new leaders to step up, and pray that God uses your group to bless others by starting a new one.
  3. Select an apprentice teacher from within the group. As you select an apprentice teacher, allow a few people to “test drive” the teaching role. Get feedback from group members. Find the candidate who will agree to starting a new group, not just the one who will agree to substitute teach the group. The goal is replication.
  4. Set a date to “franchise” your group. Putting a date on your group’s calendar sets the launch in concrete. Setting a date helps to hold both you and the group accountable for starting a new group. Celebrate when the day comes. Mark the date inside the front cover of your Bible. You and your group are now part of expanding God’s kingdom!


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