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Stop talking about small group multiplication

April 10, 2016 | by Mike Mack

Here's a better way to get your groups to reproduce.

Healthy small group multiplication begins with—you guessed it—a healthy group! Years ago I used to do lots of vision casting, goal setting, and arm twisting to get our groups to multiply. I’d share Scriptures with leaders that clearly articulated the need to reproduce. I prodded, rewarded, celebrated, shamed, urged, and manipulated … but none of these tactics ever produced great results. Then I started focusing on the health of our groups. We developed what we called the seven vital signs of a healthy group, which later became the seven chapters of my book Small Group Vital Signs. 

I stopped talking about multiplication because our healthy groups naturally multiplied, and they multiplied in healthy ways. (Do you really want an unhealthy group to reproduce itself?) It’s natural for healthy groups to multiply. It’s just a principle God built into his creation: Healthy things grow, bear fruit, and reproduce themselves.

When we assessed all our groups, we came to this surprising revelation:  Sharing leadership with a core team was by far the biggest catalyst for groups to grow and multiply.

Before he selected the 12 apostles, Jesus called two sets of brothers. Three of those four, Peter, James, and John, became Jesus’ core team. Jesus poured his life into these three men, investing into them and modeling a life surrendered to the Father. While Jesus did not ignore the other nine apostles, he concentrated his time on these three.

Jesus knew something vital that we may overlook: No one can effectively disciple or shepherd more than about three people. Healthy leaders who lead healthy, growing groups also share leadership with two to three others.

How do you go about building your team? The seven steps are basic:


1.    Share the leadership load with two to three others.
2.    Don’t go back to how you used to lead.
3.    Create a clear plan for action.
4.    Share the leadership roles of shepherding and discipling people.
5.    Actively develop core team members.
6.    Attend training sessions together.
7.    Extend the Kingdom.

It’s certainly true that by sharing leadership you will avoid leadership burnout. Even more importantly, when you build a team you will be much more effective and productive. Think about it: It takes a team to reproduce!


Mike Mack

Smallgroupologist Michael Mack believes life change happens best in groups because he has experienced it himself. He trains leaders; writes articles, books, and discussion guides; and consults with churches through Small Group Leadership.



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