Starting New Groups

Note: this post is Part 10 of a series entitled, “Rebuilding the Sunday School/Small Group Ministry in the Local Church.”

Starting new groups isn’t something only bigger churches talk about, it’s vital to the health of every church. If you’re a leader entrusted with overseeing the small group ministry at your church, you’ve probably heard countless times how important it is to start new groups. I Googled the term “Starting New Small Groups” and found 1,480,000,000 results! There’s a wealth of resources out there to help you plan and start new small groups by people much more experienced than me.

So why read this article?

Good question! As a pastor who’s served in smaller and larger churches, I want you to know that starting new groups is rarely easy, especially at first. Every church and every group has its own unique personality and culture. Changing the mentality and vision for your small group ministry will take time, involve much frustration, often leave you feeling ineffective and wondering whether you have the chops for the job.

Take heart! That’s my encouragement to you.

  1. God has called you to this task. Get past this fact. Don’t let doubt fester. That’s the enemy seeking to discourage you. You’re the person for the job, here and now! (2 Tim. 1:9)
  2. God equips and empowers you for the task. In Joshua 24:12, God shares how He brought the Israelites into the promised land, not by their sword or bow but by His power. God has also equipped and empowered you. (Rom. 12:3-8; 2 Cor. 9:8; Phil. 1:6; Heb. 13:20-21)
  3. Be faithful to the task He’s given you. The first two points were God’s responsibility in the matter, you also have a responsibility to God to be a faithful worker. (1 Cor. 4:2)
  4. Read up! Be a student of your role. Two new books that cover the fundamentals of SS/Small Groups that I recommend are Breathing Life into Sunday School by Ken Braddy and Leading Small Groups by Chris Surratt. These are both very helpful in thinking through and starting new groups.
  5. Starting building up leaders. Do you have a leadership pipeline? The health of your future groups depends on the health of your future leaders. If you can’t find leaders, then start discipling yourself through a D-Group. (Read Growing Up by Robby Gallaty.) Develop leaders you enjoy working with, who will share and follow your vision.
  6. Start new groups. Figure it out in your context. Your methods will change and adapt as you do it. How do you start new groups? One at a time. Eventually, you’ll start multiple groups at a time; then, move on to start small group launch events. But it all starts with the “one” group.

As God works through your small group ministry and you see the fruit of His work through you, He’ll reveal Himself to you in ways you never expected. It will be your God-story to share with future leaders you enlist and will affirm you as His person for the job.

Take heart!

Author: Paul Keating is the Discipleship and Evangelism Pastor at First Baptist Church, Denham Springs, LA.