50,000 in doubling groups in one church
One of the most common questions I am asked is this:
I know the idea of doubling will work. I just
can't get my people to catch the vision? How do I get them to get
it? How do I get the vision to stick?
If you can relate to this question, I have some good news for
you. Andy Stanley has just released a new book called
Making the Vision Stick. It is great. The good news/
bad news about this book is you can read it in an hour. If anyone
knows Andy, tell him: we want more! We want more!
More good news: Andy's vision is about doubling groups. Here is
the long version of Northpoint's Vision: "We envision fifty thousand
people participating in weekly small groups that are committed to
multiplying." They go on to say they want to get this done by 2010.
(Page 23; Making the Vision Stick)
By the way, here is one for the
on-campus groups vs. home groups debate: when home group churches
speak of numbers, they are nearly always talking about what we call
in the Sunday School world, enrollment. They are usually not talking
about noses that were actually counted in a given room on a given
I'd like to summarize Andy's brief book for you, but before I do,
let me make two observations about vision:
- The vision must come from the top. One of the reasons why
doubling groups work at Northpoint is that Andy is casting the
vision. Often. Regularly. Personally. Publically. Andy himself
is beating the drum for multiplying small groups. I recently did
a meeting for the North Carolina Baptist Ministers of Education.
I collected four clips from four different talks that Andy has
given, restating the vision of doubling groups. He says it all
- The leader must embody the vision. That is actually a quote
from Bill Hybels book, Courageous Leadership.
Another reason why doubling groups works at
Northpoint is that Andy and Sandra are in a group. The leader
must embody the vision. I have heard Andy say, "We would do it
anyway." By this he means that he loves being in a group. He
doesn't do it because it is a good example. It is a good example
because he loves it. Let me ask you, pastor: are you in a group?
Do you love it? A friend of mine on staff at Saddleback told me
groups at Saddleback really took off when Rick Warren got in a
group and started talking about it from the pulpit. The leader
must embody the vision.
Assuming these two issues are in place, let's look at how to make
a vision stick.
1. State the vision simply
People don't remember paragraphs; they remember slogans. If you
can't put the vision on a business card, it is too long. You need to
be able to recall it quickly in one short sentence.
My vision: to help groups double.
Want a longer version: to help groups double through hospitality.
Want a longer version still: I don't have one. You shouldn't have
one either. Short is good.
But, you might be thinking, short is necessarily
incomplete. Northpoint's original vision was: to create a church
that unchurched people would love to attend. Andy readily admits
that this vision statement has theological as well as other
problems. It is incomplete. It is void of any theological content.
Here is the point:
It is better to have a vision statement that is incomplete and
memorable than one that is complete and forgettable.
Ultimately, the vision is a restatement of what Jesus has told us
to do in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Here is a
simple vision statement: make disciples of the whole earth in one
generation starting with our small group. That clears out the fog.
That is the command Jesus gave the disciples and it is the command
for al of his followers. As Henry Blackaby said it, "Anything less
is planned disobedience." Want a shorter vision statement? Consider
this: make disciples.
Remember the KISS principle: Keep it Simple, Stupid!
2. Cast the vision convincingly
Persuade people. How do you do that?
- Define the problem
The vision must solve a problem. The more the people can relate
to the problem, the better. The more they see the vision as a
solution, the better.
Doubling groups will solve a problem. The problem is the mess the
world is in. We can win the whole world to God, walking in His
power, in one generation through doubling groups. A group of 10 can
reach 1000 people by doubling every 18 months. What if your church
has 500 in Sunday School. You could reach 50,000 in ten years
through doubling groups. Sound unbelievable? Northpoint will soon be
3. Repeat the vision regularly
Visions leak. You have to say it over and over and over. My best
compliment is when someone says to me, "You are saying the same
thing to our people that I have been trying to tell them. You just
say it differently." I feel I do my best work where the staff has
been beating the drum about doubling groups and hospitality. I feel
I do almost no good if they only hear it from me and never hear it
At Northpoint, they have built regular vision casting into the
annual church calendar. In January and May every year they do an
emphasis on recasting the vision of the church. If you would like to
hear this year's rendition, point your browser to
Be warned: I did this yesterday and ended up listening to three
whole sermons. Andy is a very compelling speaker. So, if you don't
have some time to spare, you might not want to get sucked in.
I have heard Andy cast a vision about doubling groups numerous
times. I have four different clips on my hard drive that I
have ripped from various sermons and talks over the years. There is
no secret as to how to make doubling groups work in your church. You
must make it a top level priority of the top level of leadership and
say it over and over and over again.
4. Celebrate the vision systematically
Catch people doing something right. Then, get a big spot light and
cast it on them. I try to do this with my new video/ forum website
http://sundayschool.ning.com/ I am adding videos regularly of
teachers who have doubled. You can add your own, too. It is one way
to catch your people doing something right. You might have them
share at a worship service, catch it on video, and upload it to the
If you are a host of a future conference, I'd like to remind you
that I would LOVE for you to set up some testimonies for the
Andy tells an incredible story about one of the Children's small
group leaders, Greg Stubbs, who is in the military. He continues to
keep up with his kids by way of email after he is deployed to Italy
and then Turkey. Andy reads an email from a mom of one of these kids
that is so appreciative of the love and concern of this soldier who
remembers her son from half a world away.
Get this: Andy reads this email in church. Then, he has the
soldier, dressed in full uniform stand up so that everyone applaud.
Here is the clincher: "If any of you have a good excuse as to why
you can't serve, I want you come down and tell Greg your excuse."
That will preach.
Andy closes with an incredible story about his son and baseball
and vision. It is worth the price of the book. Run, don't walk to
pick up a copy of Making the Vision Stick.
You will learn four steps to making a vision stick:
- State the vision simply
- Cast the vision convincingly
- Repeat the vision regularly
- Celebrate the vision systematically