Don’t Force Multiplication

By Joel Comiskey, check out: Facilitate

I have to admit that I’ve forced groups to multiply too quickly in the past before the community in the group was established.

I remember one small group, in which we enjoyed sweet fellowship and community. The main couple who attended the group had a lot of non-Christian friends, booming secular business in the city, and loved the group.

Yet, after a certain amount of time, I felt we needed to multiply because that’s what small groups were supposed to do. The problem was that it wasn’t natural. The community was not deep enough, and no one was ready to facilitate the new group. This couple correctly realized that I was forcing the group to multiply before it was ready—something that I only later realized. They eventually left the group and the church.

People are not afraid to try new things when they feel loved and cared for. Christ’s own disciples were able to make mistakes, learn in a wholesome atmosphere, and try again. They learned to love one another as they were loved by the Master.

Jesus molds and shapes those in small groups today. Care and community among the members is the perfect atmosphere for people to attempt new things, use their gifts, and grow in their confidence to become part of a new group.

Yes, new births will be painful, and discomfort is part of the growing experience. But I also think we need to make sure that the pain isn’t self-inflicted through misdirected motivation and forced outcomes. The emphasis should always be on lovingly making disciples who make disciples and never forget that it’s a process that takes time.

Korean multiplication

Portuguese blog:

Não Force a Multiplicação Celular

por Joel Comiskey

Eu tenho que admitir que eu forcei os grupos a se multiplicarem muito rápido no passado antes do desenvolvimento da comunidade no grupo.

Lembro-me de um pequeno grupo, no qual desfrutamos de uma doce comunhão e comunidade. O principal casal que participava do grupo tinha muitos amigos não-cristãos, negócios seculares em expansão na cidade e amava o grupo.

No entanto, depois de um certo período de tempo, senti que precisávamos nos multiplicar porque era isso que pequenos grupos deveriam fazer. O problema era que não a multiplicação não seria natural. A comunidade não estava profunda o suficiente e ninguém estava pronto para facilitar o novo grupo. Esse casal percebeu corretamente que eu estava forçando o grupo a se multiplicar antes que ele estivesse pronto – algo que só percebi depois. Eles finalmente deixaram o grupo e a igreja.

As pessoas não têm medo de experimentar coisas novas quando se sentem amadas e cuidadas. Os próprios discípulos de Cristo foram capazes de cometer erros, aprender em uma atmosfera saudável e tentar novamente. Eles aprenderam a se amar como eram amados pelo Mestre.

Jesus molda e forma para membros dos pequenos grupos hoje. Cuidado e comunidade entre os membros é o ambiente perfeito para as pessoas tentarem coisas novas, usarem seus dons e aumentarem sua confiança para se tornarem parte de um novo grupo.

Sim, novos nascimentos serão dolorosos e o desconforto faz parte da experiência crescente. Mas também acho que precisamos garantir que a dor não seja auto-infligida por meio de uma motivação mal direcionada e resultados forçados. A ênfase deve sempre estar em fazer amorosamente discípulos que fazem discípulos e nunca esquecer que isso é um processo que leva tempo.

Spanish blog:

No Fuerces la Multiplicación Celular

por Joel Comiskey

Debo admitir que he forzado a células a multiplicarse demasiado rápido en el pasado antes de que la verdadera comunidad se estableciera firmemente en el grupo

Recuerdo una célula, en la que disfrutábamos de una dulce comunión. La pareja principal que asistía a la célula tenía muchos amigos no cristianos, negocios seculares en auge en la ciudad y ellos amaban la célula. Sin embargo, después de un cierto período de tiempo, sentí que teníamos que multiplicarnos porque eso es lo que se suponía que debían hacer las células. El problema era que no era natural. La comunión no era lo suficientemente profunda, y nadie estaba listo para dirigir la nueva célula. Esta pareja se dio cuenta correctamente de que yo estaba forzando la célula a multiplicarse antes de que estuviera lista, algo de lo que me di cuenta más tarde. Con el tiempo, ellos abandonaron la célula y la iglesia.

Las personas no tienen miedo de probar cosas nuevas cuando se sienten amadas y cuidadas. Los propios discípulos de Cristo pudieron cometer errores, aprender en un ambiente sano y volver a intentarlo. Aprendieron a amarse unos a otros como fueron amados por el Maestro.

Jesús moldea y da forma a aquellos en las células hoy. El cuidado y la comunión entre los miembros es la atmósfera perfecta para que las personas intenten cosas nuevas, usen sus dones y crezcan en su confianza para formar parte de una nueva célula.

Sí, los nuevos nacimientos serán dolorosos y la incomodidad es parte de la experiencia de crecimiento. Pero también creo que debemos asegurarnos de que el dolor no sea autoinfligido a través de una motivación mal dirigida y resultados forzados. El énfasis siempre debe estar en hacer discípulos que hagan discípulos en amor y nunca olvidar que es un proceso que lleva tiempo.

Sumate a la Obra Misionera a Pueblos No Alcanzados

3 thoughts on “Don’t Force Multiplication

  • If I may, do you have any suggestion as to when is the proper time to make them “go and multiply”? What could be the proper “signs” that they are ready for multiplication. When I was in G12 movement, I had to admit this multiplication issue became the biggest motivating factor to many that leads to many “wrong things” amongst churches. And I admit too that I am also guilty of forcing some to multiply which led them to leave our church.
    In my conviction which I based in the Bible, 3 years is enough for a new Christian to go and multiply. I based this on the time Jesus spent with His disciples while on earth. We know that Jesus ministered for 3 years before He ascended for heaven and we know too that before His ascension, His disciples are not that deep and matured yet and the only factor we know that made them ready is when they were endowed with power, the presence of the Holy Spirit.
    What do you think?

  • Hi Roger,
    If I may, though I am by no means any kind of expert, I wanted to contribute to the conversation. My small group recently went through something like this, and not successfully. So I too am trying to figure out how better to prepare small groups for multiplication…and, as you have asked, when is the right time? I believe, as Dr. Comiskey commented, multiplication of groups should be natural. I personally am of the belief that there really is no magic number for the time allotted before a group multiplies. Rod Dempsey and Dave Earley recommend at about the year to year and a half point. If a group stays together more than a year and a half to two years without a vision to multiply, they say, the group will die out. I tend to disagree, simply based on my own experience. If the group is continuing to grow, or new members are coming in as others are leaving (for whatever reason), AND there is evidence of spiritual growth in the group, then there should be no reason that group needs to disband. As people grow and mature, there should be a natural desire to break off and create their own group. Maybe by explaining to the group that the intent is to multiply into more groups when people are ready would help members to mentally prepare for multiplication? In fact, that is precisely what Dempsey and Earley recommend (Leading Healthy, Growing, Multiplying Small Groups; 2016; Ch. 46).
    This seems to not be an easy question to answer. I believe there is no “one size fits all” answer for the problem. As you alluded to, we should rely on the Holy Spirit to guide our groups, with the understanding within the groups that we intend to multiply at some point. Jesus continually prepared His disciples for multiplication, first by explaining that He would not always be with them, and then by allowing them on at least a couple of occasions to go out and minister on their own. Our group leaders should be doing the same so as not to create codependent groupies. I think that is what happened to our group. We were “groupies” and when the leader announced without warning that we would be meeting the following week, under different leadership, at another couple’s house, the group pretty much fell apart. There was no preparation for the group members. And although it sounds childish to me, the group really was codependent and needed the forewarning that a change was imminent. Mind you however, the group had been together for a good five years when this happened and multiplication or disbanding was never discussed amongst the group members.

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