Doubling-Groups-2-300The secret sauce of the nation’s largest church

Support for my latest book has been really strong–hitting #1 in the Amazon’s church growth category this last week.

This year’s top 100 edition was especially encouraging to me because a church that I have been following for a long time made it to the top of the list. North Point, pastored by Andy Stanley is now the largest church in America. (I am not sure what happened to Joel Osteen. His church has been at the top of the list for several years but is not on the list at all anymore.)

For years, I have been using a clip of Andy Stanley in my seminars. It works well with my emphasis on doubling groups. Andy says:

This is 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 groups 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 new. 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 a part 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 groups the way I have explained it, at the end of nine years we would have over half a million people in groups.

I will never forget the night I first heard Andy say this. I was driving in south Texas from Houston to Beaumont. It was late at night. I was listening to the Go Fish sermon series. I heard the clip above and thought, “I have never heard a pastor say this. I have never heard a pastor stand before his church and say (essentially), ‘I am in a group that is doubling; I want you to be in a group that is doubling.’”

I worked out the math based on what Andy said. A group of ten that doubles every eighteen months will reach a thousand people for God in ten years. Why isn’t it happening everywhere? That is the subject of the next chapter.

Andy Stanley, Go Fish DVD.

Available on Amazon.