Part of setting them up for success is preparing the group for its eventual multiplication. There are several ways to do this effectively:
1. Keep your disciples focused on the words of Jesus. If you have a group of “consumer Christians,” you will struggle to ever experience real discipleship and multiplication. The best way to break “American Dream Christianity” is to keep your disciples reading, studying, and living the words of Jesus. Keep the focus on the Great Commandment, the New Commandment, the Great Commission, and embracing the Cross.
2. Talk about multiplying early and often. Start from the very first week. Describe the fact that one of the purposes of the group is to make disciples who will make disciples. It exists to raise up leaders who will be sent out to lead new groups. At least monthly, pray in the group about the new groups to be birthed from this group. Remember, people are down on what they are not up on. Keep the group informed of the plans and progress of each step along the way.
3. Talk about multiplying in positive terms. Do not speak of “breaking up” the group, “splitting” the group, or “dividing” the group. Instead, talk about “making disciples,” “birthing” new groups, “launching” new groups, “multiplying” groups, and “raising up” new groups and leaders.
4. Talk about multiplying in terms of the big picture. For example, in Las Vegas, out of a population of 2 million people, there are 1.91 million lost people. Every new group that is born lowers the number of unreached people. When we talk about birthing new groups, we talk about reaching more of the 1.91 million lost people. I find that when we begin to speak of multiplying, people often resist. Therefore, ask them questions like: “How many of you were not in church or our group a year ago?” “What if the people who were in our group a year ago had been unwilling to give up their place in this group? Where would you be now?”
5. Pray about the best timing for multiplying. It is possible to make the right decision at the wrong time. Maybe the group is ready to multiply, but the new leader(s) are not. Or maybe the new leader(s) are ready, but the group is not. Or maybe it is a poor season to launch. Usually groups launch best at natural times in the school calendar, like fall and January. For us, summer is usually not a good season to launch. Pray about finding the best timing for multiplication.
6. Set a date for multiplying. Setting a date for multiplying is essential in achieving the dream of multiplying your group. According to Joel Comiskey’s survey of seven hundred multiplying cell leaders, “Cell leaders who know their goal—when their groups will give birth—consistently multiply their groups more often than leaders who don’t know. In fact, if a cell leader fails to set goals the cell members can clearly remember, he has about a 50–50 chance of multiplying his cell. But if the leader set goals, the chance of multiplying increases to three of four.”3
7. Celebrate the new birth. When the disciple group is ready to give birth, invite friends and have a party with lots of food. This may be a great time for testimonies. People who are staying with the original leader can share what the new leaders have meant to them. Those going with the new leader can share what they are hoping God will do through them and the new group. Some churches have the church’s small-group pastor or discipleship pastor come to preside over a special time of prayer, sending out the new group(s) and leader(s). It is a great opportunity to recast the vision for multiplying.
Earley, Dave. 2013. “Discerning the Overall Goal and Process.” In Disciple Making Is . . .: How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic.