5 Steps for Starting New Groups

How many franchises have you frequented over the last 30 days? Chances are you ate at a restaurant that was a franchise. Perhaps you had your oil changed by a business that was also a franchise. Franchises are everywhere, and they are the way businesses have expanded their influence and reached new customers. Franchising works. Starting new points of business works. Starting new groups in the church works, too.

A new group will:

  • Add 10 people on average to the total number of people attending the Sunday School.
  • Grow faster than existing groups.
  • Be more evangelistic than older, established groups.
  • Provide a better place for potential new group members to connect with others.

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 (“franchise”) last year? If the answer is, “Not many,” that may be a big part of the problem.

To successfully start (franchise) a new group, I recommend the following steps:

  1. Know your possibilities. This first step is all about seeing the possible future of your Sunday School – who could you reach if you got serious? Check to see where you have “gaps” in your Bible teaching ministry – which groups are being underserved? Look at your community – what unreached people groups do you see that need a place to study the Bible? Look also at your current organization to determine if any of your groups are too large and should be “franchised.” Step one is to determine the target audience of the new group(s).
  2. Enlarge your organization. Once you have determined which new groups you are going to start, it’s time to draw up a new organizational chart. How many new preschool, children, student, and adult groups do you plan to add? List those new groups along with the existing groups.
  3. Enlist and train your new group leaders. This third important step is the place where a church will often experience success or failure in starting new groups. New leaders must know what is expected of them, what resources the church will provide for them (and how to use them correctly), and when regular training will take place. It is recommended that you have a one-year plan you can share with all teachers, both current and prospective.
  4. Provide the space and equipment needed for new groups. Now that you know who you want to reach, have expanded the organization, and have created a training plan for them, you will need to provide a place for those new groups to meet. Perhaps you have empty rooms on your church campus. If not, you may want to start new groups at an off-campus location. Do you have any rooms being used for storage? Clean them out and put people in them!
  5. Go after the people! Once you’ve accomplished steps 1-4, you are now ready to go after the people. Make calls, visit in the home, and don’t forget to say something regularly from the pulpit about the importance of belonging to a Bible study group. If it is important to the pastor, it will become important to the congregation.


I lead the groups ministry at my church, and I have taught Bible study groups for over two decades. I direct the work of LifeWay’s adult ongoing Bible studies team in Nashville, and LifeWay’s Sunday School/discipleship/groups trainers. Click here to jump to my home page and sign up to receive posts like this that will encourage and equip you to be a Bible study leader at your church. Pastors, teachers, and other staff leaders will benefit from these weekly posts, so sign up now!


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