A young couple is visiting the church and looking for a place to find friendship and community. They began visiting some of the church's Bible study groups and although the people are friendly, they are having difficulty breaking through the network of pre-existing friendships. They overheard someone in the church mention a new group was beginning and the following week, they attended. They were amazed at how quickly they were adopted into this new group. People asked them out to eat, and there were no prior friendship webs like there were in other groups they had tried. This married couple had found a home.
New groups are a necessity for any church wanting to reach new people with the gospel. The story above is lived out weekly in many churches. Often, it is the people who have been attending Sunday School or small group for a long time who are unaware of how closed their group has become. They are not bad people, it's just that time lends itself to familiarity, and familiarity closes the group to new people.
So why should your class begin a new group?
Change. Yes, change is good for a church. It is human nature to try to create consistency and familiarity. But consistency and familiarity make it more difficult for a person outside the group to break into the network. Change creates excitement and this is good for us.
New friends. New groups create the potential for new friends. We have the opportunity to share our story with new people, and they can share their story with us.
A place to belong. The more groups your church has, the more opportunities you are creating for people to belong. Yesterday we learned the Principle of 10, that for every class a church has, about 10 people will be in attendance. If you truly want your church to grow and reach new people, then you have got to create space for these new people to belong.
Leadership Opportunities. New classes require new leaders. It is always good for us to be developing new leaders in our churches. New classes provide opportunities for more people to use their spiritual gifts and talents and serve their Lord.
Evangelism. New groups provide room for more people to belong to the Sunday School or small group ministry. Many of these new people may be lost, and you are providing an opportunity for them to be in a biblical community where they can study God's Word and come to faith.
Organizational Quality. New groups provide more organizational structure. Eventually, as a church grows it must depend more upon its small group organization to provide the glue to keep the new people it is reaching. If the organization becomes overloaded with too many people, ministry to the individual begins to fail and people become disenchanted.