A youth pastor in Georgia got a vision for doubling groups in a kind of accidental way. By that I mean that he did not sit down one day and ask God, “Give me a plan for reaching Atlanta for You!” It was more like this. Because he was a youth pastor, he spent all his time with the youth. He longed to have some adult contact. He enjoyed being with the youth, but he was with the youth in Sunday School and at fellowships. He had them in his home and he was around them all the time. He wanted to have some time somewhere when he could have an adult only fellowship time. So, he started a home group.
Because it was rooted out of his desire to want to enjoy some adult fellowship, it was a closed group. Once the original group of six couples was set, they didn’t invite anyone else to join. They wouldn’t even allow anyone else to come. But, they told their friends about it and their friends wanted to be involved in a group like that. So, after eighteen months, it seemed the kind thing to do to divide the group down the middle. Three couples went one way and invited three more couples. Three couples went the other way and invited three more couples. Now they had two groups. Eighteen months later they did this again. Andy saw this happen several more times so that when he stated his own church, he decided to make this a key component of how they were going to do church at Northpoint Community Church. They were going to give the ministry to laymen who live out church life at the cellular level and see those groups grow and divide, grow and divide, grow and divide.
Ten years later, they have 15,000 attending Northpoint Community Church. That is the amazing power of doubling groups. At my seminars, I share a video clip of Andy casting a vision for the importance of doubling groups. Let me transcribe the clip here:
“The most motivating thing of all for us. (This may not mean anything to you. This may be like a big, ‘so-what’ to you, but this is so huge to us.) We have been in group a long time now, and as I have evaluated our history, I am convinced of this, for me and for you, if you are in a group: I believe that being in a community group that is committed to meet for a year to eighteen months and dividing and a year to eighteen months and dividing, I am convinced that if we stay in community group, and keep leading groups, that group gives Sandra and I more potential to impact more people directly and indirectly than anything else we could do together or alone, including my preaching on Sunday morning
I believe that together by being involved in a group Sandra and I have the potential to impact more people directly and indirectly in their relationship with Christ than anything else we could do together, or that I could do by myself.
Let me explain it to you this way, let me ask you some questions. The first one, you do know the answer to. How many of you plan to be alive nine years from now–you think you will make it another nine years?
Here is the question you don’t have an answer to. Everybody is thinking, “I have a good nine years in me.”
Here are the next two questions. First question is this: how many people do you think you can impact for Christ in the next nine years? How many people? You go, “I don’t know, I never thought about it.”
OK, here is the next question you probably don’t have an answer to: what is your plan for impacting people for Christ in the next nine years? What is your plan? “Well, if somebody comes up and says, ‘How can I become a Christian I will tell them?’” Well, that is a plan! “Honk my horn and go down the neighborhood on Sunday morning and yell out, ‘we are going to church!’ I don’t have a plan. That is a silly question. That is a preacher question. I don’t have any numbers. I just try to live my life and be a good example. How about if I put a fish on the back of my car. I don’t have a plan, OK?” I understand that.
Let me share something with you. Until you come up with a plan, or, until you come up with a better plan, would you just consider this plan? This plan is simple. You don’t have to sing, dance, learn to play the guitar, speak in public, juggle. . . you don’t have to learn anything knew. If you will simply get in a community group and allow God to do what he wants to do in you and through you and at the end of a year or eighteen months, start a new group, and do that for another year or eighteen months and start a new group, did you know that in nine years you would have impacted directly or indirectly over six hundred and forty people?
Now, if you have a better nine-year plan, run your plan, share it with me, we will spend a weekend talking about it, but until you come up with plan, why not do this? Simply by being in the system you would have impacted six hundred and forty people. Just by being apart of the system–you have to do something, right?
And these are not just fictitious numbers to me because I have been doing this for over nine years. And as Sandra and I look at the leaders in groups and the hundreds of people that are in groups as a result of our first group, this is a reality to us.
Now, let me tell you something that will really blow your mind. If we could ever get our arms around this, we could make history together. You ready for this? Because of the number of people in our organization on all of our campuses that are already in small groups–just adults, not children, not college students, not high school students–if you just took the number of adults that we currently have in groups, if, over the next nine years we just continue to do group the way I have explained it, at the end of nine years we would have over half a million people in groups.
Andy Stanley started his church in 1995. Ten years later over fifteen-thousand people attend. The reason has much to do with giving the ministry to laymen who are using their gifts to grow their groups to double every two years or less. That is an amazing story, but it is not my best story.