I taught for several years that if we are going to see a doubling group movement in our country, the groups themselves must embrace the vision of growing and dividing. After all, a group of 10 that doubles every 18 months can reach 1,000 people in 10 years, and a group of 10 that doubles every 18 months would reach the whole world in approximately 43 years. What an incredible opportunity!
So, why isn’t it happening? My reasoning was: We don’t want it to happen. The group has to first embrace the vision.
I had good reason to think this. I have had lots of people over the years say to me, “But we don’t want to double our class. Our class is comfortable the way we are.” I assumed that groups that were growing were made up of a different breed of people—people who were fired up about the vision. With these race horses, we could grow using any method or no method. I reasoned that groups that were growing must comprise the kinds of people who really embraced the vision of doubling groups.
Not so. There was almost no difference (2%) in the likelihood of growth between those in the top and those in the bottom of this scale. I was shocked. People who really embraced the vision were only slightly more likely to be doubling, when compared with those who didn’t embrace the vision.
How can we explain this? Here’s my attempt:
Imagine you’re rocking along, facilitating a group, but not overtly pushing it to grow and multiply. How aware are you of your group’s feelings about growing and multiplying? How likely would you be to report that your group is strongly opposed to the idea? Not so much, right?
Now, suppose you get bitten by the group multiplication bug. You start actively talking to your group about growing and multiplying. What kind of response do you expect to get?
In case you’re not sure, trust me—it’s highly unlikely that your group will openly embrace it. You start ranting about growing and dividing, they start resisting. How aware are you now of your group’s feelings about the vision? How likely are you to report that your group is strongly opposed to growing and multiplying? Very likely.
The more the leader embraces the vision of growing and multiplying, the more likely he or she is to be aware of the group’s resistance. Eventually, as the leader succeeds in growing and multiplying the group more people get on board with the vision. But it takes time.
In short, I still believe that if a group has embraced the vision it is more likely to be growing. Conversely, though, the more the vision is cast, the more aware the leader is of resistance. These factors offset each other, I think. But the facts remain the facts.
The lesson we can take away is this: if you want to grow your group and birth new ones, you don’t have to wait for your group to get the vision. Sometimes they’ve already embraced the vision and sometimes they haven’t. Either way, groups usually only embrace the vision after they‘ve seen it work a couple times.
I had a man come up to me after a conference in the Houston area with this testimony. “I bought your book [You Can Double Your Class in Two Years or Less], read it, and put it into practice. Our group grew. I presented the idea of multiplying. They hated it! They hated me! They hated you, Josh! But we did it anyway. Attendance actually dropped for a while. But, we rocked along. We kept doing the things that had caused us to grow—having parties and inviting every member and every potential member. We had the group well-organized and lots of people involved. A year went by. I looked up and noticed we had as many as we had had before we divided. The other group was doing just about as well. I realized we would have never gotten that many to come to our small group. So, we divided again. People were grumpy, but not as badly as before because they had seen some positive results. We grew again, and recently divided again. I’m starting to think I can do this!”
Most people catch vision after they see the results. It’s much the same way in other areas of life. You don’t have to be excited about grilled chicken, broccoli, and exercise to lose weight; you just have to eat broccoli and grilled chicken—and, of course, exercise.
Lesson: Don’t wait for your group to embrace the vision of growing and multiplying; just work the plan.