Many churches realize that they need to start new groups or classes, but how? What is the "best" way to start a new group? No matter what you may hear on the street, there is more than one way to start a new Sunday School class. Be sensitive to your particular context as you plan your new class start. I do recommend however, that you be careful not to use the words "split" or "divide". "New" sounds so much better. So does the word "birth" or "form". Here are some of the more common ways to begin a new group.
Birthing. By birthing a group, what you are doing is giving people the option to stay in the current group or help start a new one. Birthing a new class means that there must be a teacher who is prepared and ready to become the leader of the new class. Birthing works best when several class members opt to go with the new teacher to birth the class. Simply give people in the current group the option of staying put or starting the new group. Birthing is very effective when the leader of the new group has been a member of the former class and has had some teaching experience.
Forming. Forming a new group is recognizing that there are people who are not attending who may be reached if a new group is formed especially for them. For example, you may recognize that there are multitudes of single adults in your neighborhood. Enlisting a teacher and a seed group of singles who will organize to reach these singles is an example of forming a new group.
Enlarging. Sometimes new groups can be formed by simply enlarging the organization. For example, many churches have multiple grades in a children's Sunday School class. As the church grows, a department of both 1st and 2nd graders can be enlarged to two departments, one 1st grade and one 2nd grade department. Enlarging generally can be done along very recognizable groups, as in the previous example. Another example would be forming a new group for an existing college/career class, so that college students and the career students would begin attending different groups.
Promoting. Although I'm sure your church is different, many churches struggle to get their adults to move into classes that are appropriate to their stage in life. Many times adults will not move even if a new group has been formed in the age group appropriate for them to attend. Many times these classes contain a large age span of members. Here is the plan: Promote the teacher to the appropriate age group. Adults who are older will many times promote "up" with their teacher. However, younger adults in the class will not want to move with the teacher. Start the new group with the younger adults. In essence, by moving the teacher to the next age group, you create a vacuum which the younger adults will try to fill.
These are four of the more common ways to begin a new group. If you have questions or comments, be sure to leave a comment and we will address them.