I received an email last week from a friend with questions about new groups, specifically some stats on new groups. I’m going to reprint the questions today along with my answers because these are excellent questions. The questions also allow me the opportunity to share a little more than just some tactical answers about new groups.
I have been asked to compose a short presentation for this coming Sunday to be given during the morning worship service. I am needing statistics about the benefits of starting a new Sunday School unit. I have heard many numbers given in conferences. I can not find such in my books or through internet searching. The types of statistics I am looking for are:
How fast does a new class grow?
Answer – A new group will grow faster than a class that has been in existence longer than two years. It is generally accepted that after about 18 months a group will formed its basic social framework. If you want evidence of this in your own class or group, simply chart the group’s average attendance for the past two years. If your group is new, that chart will generally show a decidedly “upward” trend. After the two year mark, the chart will essentially be flat.
How many new people (prospects) does a new class reach?
Answer – If the teacher of the new class comes out of the church’s “core”, then the class will generally reach marginal church members. If the new group leader is not from the church’s core, it will be more evangelistic because the leader has more unsaved friends. For a more fully developed explanation of this principle, see my post The Reason Why Your Group May Not be Evangelistic.
Also, typically a new group will increase church attendance by about 10 people.
How fast does a new class replicate?
Answer – As fast as the group leader wants it to, in cooperation and with encouragement from the pastor. Many new groups do not start with a multiplication mindset. For many groups, starting the new group is goal. Instead, starting another group as soon as possible from within the new group should be the goal of a new group. This mindset needs to be clearly communicated from both the pulpit and also from the group leader. Otherwise, the new group will rarely multiply itself.
How many professions of faith does a new class have?
Answer – Again, the more unsaved friends the new group leader has, the more likely it will be to have lost people attend. Also, the Gospel must be presented regularly in the group, worship, and personal interactions.
Although I wish I could share documented research that shows that every new group produces x, y, and z… because of the human personalities involved, the results from new groups can vary quite a bit. Here are some things that we do know about new groups and why I believe that every church should be starting a new group:
- A new group will generally increase your church attendance by 10 people;
- New groups grow faster. They grow faster because everyone is new, and making new friends is more likely;
- New groups tend to be more evangelistic. Someone is much more likely to invite an unsaved friend to a relationally open new group than an existing group with no friendship openings.
- New groups involve more people and develop more leaders;
- New groups broaden the church’s Gospel influence. Unreached people are more likely to attend a new group, it’s that simple.
- New groups are not as hard to start as everyone thinks;
- Eventually, consistent failure to start new groups will cause your church to decline and take on a negative growth spiral that is extremely difficult to reverse.
Of all the things a church can do to reach more unsaved people, make disciples, develop leaders, and put church members to work who need a challenge: starting new groups is at the top of my list.
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