I am blessed and cursed with the profound conviction that it
really is possible for groups to double every two years or less.
Something I ponder regularly is why it is not happening routinely.
Why isn’t it happening all the time? More importantly, how can
doubling groups be a widespread movement in your church? How can we
join God in what God is doing in a worldwide movement of doubling
I picked up a book recently that casts a floodlight of
understanding on this subject. It is called Influencer.
We introduced it last week, but let’s review the six
principles of influencers, and apply them to influencing Sunday
School teachers to double and to use hospitality as a means to
growth. Again, here are the six principles of influence:
- He must believe he can change
- He must believe he wants to change (it is in his
self-interest to change)
- He must be led by leaders that model the desired behavior
- He must see his peers engaging in this behavior
- He must be rewarded by the system
- He must be empowered by the system.
Now, let’s apply these principles to the idea of persuading
teachers to double their groups.
He must want to double. He must see that it is in his best
interest to double.
People often say to me in response to my talks, "I don’t know if
we want to double our classes; we are happy the way we are." I want
to ask in response, "Do you think your happiness will go up or down
if you embrace this vision?" I ask this because I have known
hundreds of teachers that have actually doubled their classes. Here
is the dirty little secret: doubling teachers are happier than
non-doubling teachers. It is absolutely in your best interest to
double your class in two years or less. One teacher described his
doubling class as the single most exhilarating thing in his life. He
is the CEO of his own company. Has a nice home, nice family, nice
job, nice car, but the single most exhilarating thing in his life is
his Sunday School class. I have been in a lot of Sunday School
classes that no one would describe as exhilarating. But, doubling
teachers feel that way.
I am in about a hundred churches a year. About half of them
growing–many of them growing rapidly. The other half are
struggling. The dirty little secret is this: the growing churches
are having more fun. If you didn’t have any more noble,
high-sounding goals than just to have fun at church, I would invite
you to give yourself to the magnificent obsession of trying to
double a class every two years or less.
If you would like to persuade people to embrace the vision of
doubling groups, you must persuade them that it is in their best
interest to do so. In the long run, people will only do what they
believe is in their best interest.
He must believe that he can double. We are only motivated to do
what we think we can do.
All it takes to double a class every two years or less is to grow
from 10 to 14 in a year. Forty percent growth this year and next
will get us from 10 to 14 to 20. You can do this.
I often ask groups, "Could you do it if I offered you a million
dollars to get it done?" Of course we could.
There must be a careful balance in any attempt to motivate
between why and how. Why would we give ourselves to this? A group of
ten that doubles ever eighteen months can reach a thousand people
for God in ten years. This is an undeniable fact of math. We do it
to glorify God. We do it because God said so. We do it to get
sinners out of hell and into heaven. We do it because it is fun and
a wonderful way to live.
But, we must also show people how. The best way how that I know
is through the party driven strategy modeled for us by Levi. The
scripture says about Levi that when Levi became a follower of Christ
that Levi held a great banquet. We are told in scripture to "offer
hospitality without grumbling" and "Get into the habit of inviting
guests home for dinner."
Dr. Barry McCarty, an early adopter to this strategy emailed me
this week. Here is a part of his email:
BTW, thanks to you, 10+ years later my wife and I
are still giving
to Jesus, only now it’s a
"Pizza with the Pastor" because in
the population worships FOOTBALL
! We do it once a month, adding every
new visitor to the invitation list. We keep inviting them for
six months until a) they come or b) they tell us to go away and
leave them alone. This idea, along with a church membership
class–which I also teach–continues to be the two best church
growth ideas I’ve ever put into practice. I still bless
the day you asked me to be one of the critical readers for Double
If you would influence people to double their classes, teach them
about hospitality. Show them how.
He must have leaders who set an example.
If we would motivate people to double their classes, we must set
an example for them. You have heard it so often it has become trite:
everything rises and falls on leadership. The leader must embody the
I don’t know how many pastors I have had tell me they love my
ideas, but they just can’t get their people to do them. My response:
how are you doing?
I have heard Andy Stanley say on several occasions, "We are in a
group that is doubling; I want you to be in a group that is
doubling." Pastor, you have enormous influence on your people.
If you will join Andy Stanley in saying, "I am in a group that is
doubling; I want you to be in a group that is doubling."
Minister of Education: same thing. Lead by example. I have a new coaching and
consulting plan I am working on. The first thing I will do on the
very first night I am with the church is meet with the staff and
their wives. If I can’t get this group excited about embracing the
vision of doubling groups, we are done. People follow the example of
For more on the coaching plan, see
Average Sunday School teachers can double their classes every two
years or less. They can reach 1000 people in ten years by doing so.
But, they need the example of their leadership.
He must see his peers doubling
People need to see not only the example of their leaders, they
must see the example of their peers.
I’d encourage you do some reading on the topic of how ideas
spread through a group. Here a a few good reads:
- The Tipping Point
- The Diffusion of Innovation
- PyroMarketing (full MP3 version available for free at
- Unleashing the Ideavirus
The big idea is this: people are strongly influenced by their
peers. A few people will listen to experts. A few people will Give
Friday Nights to Jesus because Josh Hunt told them to. A few more
will do so because your pastor and staff do so. Once people start
seeing their fellow teachers giving Friday nights to Jesus, the idea
becomes almost irresistible. People do what they see the people
around them doing.
What we must do as leaders is, "catch them doing something
right." Every time an early adopter takes a step in the right
direction we need to get out a big spot light and point it on him.
Talk about it in the newsletter. Mention it in the pastor’s blog.
Talk about it from the pulpit.
Every time you have a group divide and create a new group, make a
big deal about it. Births are big deals. Get the whole group on the
stage and pray for them. Buy them all a steak dinner. (Trust me, if
you bought every group member that doubled a steak dinner, you will
never get hurt financially by this plan.)
For more on this, see previous articles:
He must be rewarded for doubling and held accountable for not
Whatever gets rewarded gets done. We need to spend more time
catching people doing something right and less time telling them
what they ought to do and should have done. (For more on that, take
a look at Ken Blanchard’s classic, One Minute Manager.)
Your church is perfectly designed to get the behavior you are
getting. We don’t get what we ask for. We don’t get what we hope
for. We get what we reward.
If you want people to double their groups, reward them for doing
If you want people to give Friday nights to Jesus, it is not
enough to teach about it. It is not even enough to model it. We must
reward it. Whatever gets rewarded gets done.
I have written quite a bit about this in the past. Here are a
couple of articles.
He must be enabled to double. He must be supported with the
resources necessary to double
I asked Paul Byrom of First Baptist Church, Midland, Texas for
his key to growing a Sunday School:
Short reply, and unusual growth strategy. As I unpacked his
answer further, he made the point in more detail. He just gets
people what they need to be effective. He gets them the resources
they need to be able to double. He makes sure the chairs are set up,
the rooms don’t have a little stacks of old literature, and, yes,
every teacher has chalk.
I have known a number of churches that actually pay the bills
when teachers do hospitality. The denomination I worked with
in Australia paid people $1000 a year to help cover costs if they
would do thirty parties a year. I have known churches that
encouraged members to take visitors out to lunch after church on
Sunday by offering to reimburse people for the lunch.
I know what you are thinking, "We could never afford to take
every visitor out to lunch." If you think you can’t afford it,
do the math. In my experience over half of them that you take out to
lunch will end up joining the church. Many of them will give. In
short, it will pay for itself.
The system must enable people to do what we want them to do.
Oh, by the way
Seeing the complexity of these six sources of influences helps me
to understand why people might need more than a video series and a
weekend seminar to make doubling groups through hospitality a part
of the culture of your church. If you want more help, consider the
Coaching and Consulting plan. See
You can double your class in two years or less. You can motivate
your teachers to do so. To motivate them, follow the six steps
outlined in Influencers. It is not as difficult as irradiating
guanine worms! You can be an influencer!