Planning for Multiplication

John, the person who criticized my definition of the cell group, felt that multiplication could easily become divisive among cell members. He thought that it was best not to tell the group of future multiplication. Rather, when people were transformed, he reasoned, there would be a natural desire to multiply. But is it so simple?

If you don’t tell the people in the group that multiplication is the plan, would they suddenly rejoice in multiplying because one or more people were transformed? And wouldn’t this be a “bait and switch” strategy to inform them after a transformation had occurred? I think it’s far better to tell the group from the beginning what the game plan is. If you tell them soon enough (perhaps a year before you actually multiply), you’ll give them plenty of time to prepare their hearts.

The idea of setting a multiplication goal was confirmed in my Ph.D. research of seven large cell churches in eight different countries. The 700 cell leaders surveyed were asked, “Do you know when your group is going to multiply?” Possible answers were “yes,” “no,” or “not sure.” When the survey results were analyzed, cell leaders who knew their goal—when their groups would give birth—consistently multiplied their groups more often than leaders who don’t know or just “hope it will happen.” In fact, if a cell leader fails to set goals that the cell members clearly remember, the group has about a 50-50 chance of multiplying. But if the leader sets a clear goal for multiplication, the chance of multiplying increases to three out of four.

It’s my observation that the focus of most small group ministry is exclusively community. I’ve also noticed, however, that  community and personal growth does not lead to multiplicaiton. There needs to be a clear focus and vision to reach beyond the group to others–to give away the community. And the group leader and coach need to promote multiplication to actually make it happen. The idea that it will simply happen “when” people are transformed is idealistic thinking, in my opinion.

What do you think?

Joel

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