What to Do When Your Small Group is not Growing or is Growing Too Fast

1. What criteria are you using to define growth and health? Is it quantity? How many people are sufficient for a healthy group? We find that 6-12 people makes for a great size group that allows for transparency and healthy discussion.

2. If your group has high turnover, ask people who came, but stopped attending why they stopped. Do this with a humble and teachable spirit listening to their reasons why they are not coming.

3. Discuss with your coach these honest questions about your group dynamics: *

  • Are you regularly praying for the people in your group and the actual evening of the meeting?
  • Are you meeting in a host home that is conducive for peace and fellowship? Is it warm and inviting or is it hard to find, cold, uncomfortable, and too small? Are there offensive smells, children out of control, animals, etc?
  • Is the Bible Study and discussion effective and interactive? How do you quantify this?
  • Are contentious, negative or over talkative people dominating the group?
  • Are you playing regularly, doing things you and the group members enjoy?
  • Are you meeting the practical needs of the people in your group?
  • Do you need to make better arrangements for child care? (if applicable)
  • Are you personally enjoying the meetings? Would you come if you weren't the leader? Why? What would help you want to come?
  • Are you and others continually inviting people to the group, or passively waiting for others to just show up?
  • Do you see your group as closed or open? Explain which?
  • Are you following a consistent curriculum and format?
  • Are you staying close to start and stop times for your group that others can rely on?

4. Another issue related to a lack of growth is whether or not the group is becoming complacent or stagnant. When this happens it could indicate that the group needs a change, small or large. This change may include re-casting vision and purpose, re-sharing of the values, adding new members, bringing in a new leader, a new meeting place, branching the group, or maybe disbanding that particular group altogether. Some things to look for as signs of group stagnation:*

  • Group apathy
  • Group cynicism
  • Irrelevant conversations
  • Dependence on a certain format or traditions (unwillingness to change)
  • Lack of diversity or creativity
  • Focus on only one member
  • No goal for multiplication
  • Unwillingness to serve outside the group
  • Reminiscing past interactions (the "good old days")
  • Group gossip
  • Group exclusivity

5. When a group grows too fast, it represents a very interesting opportunity. Be sure to deal with rapid growth with the same care as a stagnant problem. If a group grows too fast and its dynamics aren’t dealt with and adjusted, people will leave. Here are some ideas:

  • Pray and search for others within the group who can help share the needs of the group. Your goal is always to have an apprentice to prepare to lead.
  • Have the group meet into two smaller groups in the same home with another leader from the group leading. Take time to establish a plan for the group to branch. If the two groups stay strong, branch one into another host home. (See Group Branching Doc.)
  • Realize that quick growth isn't always the best growth. Give the group time to level off and establish relationship, trust and vulnerability. There is no set time to branch.
  • Give entire group vision for the opportunity to have multiple environments for others to connect and grow.
  • Don’t try to do it all yourself, delegate.

*Ideas from mygrouplaunch.wordpress.com