|Sometime during the 10th year||1000|
This amazing growth can occur, and we only need to be able to grow at a rate of 10 to 14 in 9 months to do it. We can do that. Through Christ who strengthens us, we can do that. I began to talk to groups about the possibilities, trying to create a movement.
What I have begun to see recently is that God is at work. God is creating the movement. I don't need to create the movement. God is doing it already. I just need to join Him in what He is doing. Perhaps you too want to join God in what God is doing in doubling groups.
At about the same time God began talking to me about doubling groups, he was talking to Dave Ferguson as he began Community Christian Church in Naperville, IL. The church has grown from Dave and his wife and brother and a few friends to 20 services at 8 locations.
This is what Dave says about how it happened:
There were just a few of us-myself, my brother, my wife, and four of my friends from college. We had just moved back from college. We were all in our early twenties. It was one of those situations where we didn't have any money, didn't have any facilities, didn't have any people, didn't have any sense, quite frankly. But the one thing we did have was a passion to, "help people find their way back to God." We started this church and it got off to a great start and we saw consistent, stair-step growth for a long time, but, it was at this point that we became a multi-site church that things kind of took off for us. In retrospect, there were some key decisions that we made early on that I don't think we fully understood the importance of them at the time. Early on, even before we had our first celebration service, all of us had small groups, and made sure that every group had an apprentice leader in there, so there was reproducing mechanism at the smallest component in the life of our church. I think that was a really important decision-we had no idea how important that was at the time.
They didn't know how important it was at the time, but God knew. God was up to something. He was birthing in the heart of this people a passion for helping people find their way back to God through reproducing groups. It starts with reproducing small groups and works its way up to reproducing congregations. Twenty services later, it is not hard to see that God is up to something.
To listen to Dave yourself http://www.joshhunt.com/DaveSHORT.mp3
At about the same time God was talking to me about the book You Can Double Your Class in Two Years or Less he was also talking to Dave Browning of Christ the King church in Washington state. He says:
"Our vision is not to see a great ministry develop here. Our vision is to see a movement. A movement that is spread like wildfire in small group settings and worship centers that begin to spring up across the country. Our vision is to transform the spiritual landscape. Our vision is, at the end of the day, when people look that, that they would say, 'Wow. Our community is not the same.'"
How is that working for them? Well, they are growing by around 70% a year. They are now meeting in 30 locations in 7 states and 10 countries. So, God is at work in a big way with Christ the King and doubling groups.
Christ the King has tons of online training to help groups double. Check out their site at www.ctkonline.com
At about the time God was talking to Dave and Dave about doubling groups, he was talking to Andy Stanley about doubling groups. I think God has been trying to speak to Andy from early on. I spoke recently at the church where Andy's wife grew up. The name is First Baptist Church, Dublin, GA. Think about that. Say it quickly: First Baptist Church, Dublin, First Baptist Church, Dublin. I think God was trying to speak to Andy about doubling groups.
Still, the best example I know of doubling groups in the United States (there are far more dramatic examples overseas) is Andy Stanley's Northpoint Community Church in greater Atlanta. They have grown to close to 20,000 in a little past 10 years. In a recent sermon, Andy explained part of the strategy:
"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.
This is not just a one-time vision casting for Andy. Listen as he did another piece at a group training event a few years ago. (Yes, Andy does some of the group training himself, not delegating this to a staff guy.)
One more. This one from a recent end-of-summer sermon. Northpoint groups take a break during the summer and Andy often does an-end-of summer message to get the groups fired up again:
Summer is coming to an end and if your group is not up and running by Labor Day it is hard to get going back after that. Our group met three weeks ago, we are dividing this fall and Sandra says every time, "This is the best group we have ever had. I wish it never had to come to an end." And, it has been an incredible, incredible group, we wish it wouldn't come to an end but every eighteen months or so we divide our group and start new groups because we are so committed to this. We don't need any new friends, I can hardly keep up with all the friends we have. But, we are so committed to this.
As I listened to Andy say this, it hit me, "I bet there is not one pastor in a thousand that routinely says this to his people: "I am in a group that is committed to dividing I want you to be in a group and get committed to dividing." How many times have you heard a pastor say, "I am in a group that is committed to doubling and I want you to be in a group that is committed to doubling"?
But, I think it is changing. Not because of Andy Stanley. Not because of Dave Ferguson. Not because of Dave Browning. Certainly not because of Josh Hunt. Because God is at work, this is changing. There is a worldwide, unprecedented movement of doubling groups.
Time does not allow me to share all the places where God is working with His people about doubling groups. If you would like to read some more stories, see these links:
Won't you consider joining God in what God is doing?