This is the final stage of a small group, and it is the stage that makes the small group cycle a cycle.
Our small groups have been formed, found its feet, grown as a group, turned its attention to Jesus, and looked outwards into mission, evangelism and growth. All of these things are great! The growth of small groups and by extension the church is what we are built for as the body of believers. But as a small group grows it becomes less of a ‘small’ group.
In other words. We have seen the small groups birth, baptism and its life, but death is also part of a small group’s life. Our dream is to see small groups living out their lives as Jesus did.
Grief is okay
1 Peter 1:3: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
The death of a small group is therefore, not a sad thing. Yes there may be mourning. The end of a small group carries with it the fear of loss and a defiance to change. Even Jesus spoke these words when he was about to die, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done". We need to acknowledge our grief, but lift it up and offer it to God and his will.
Looking back to 1 Peter 1:3 we see that although there is grief, it is actually a celebration. We are especially aware of this in the Easter season. Christ’s death and resurrection; his rebirth, gives us and our small groups rebirth as well.
What comes next?
So, moving forward as a small group means dividing and breaking the group down but, we want to do this in a way that sparks multiplication, growth and a kingdom building spirit. The leader of the small group needs to communicate this change really clearly. The small group isn’t ending, it is more like a cell splitting. When a cell splits it doesn’t become two half cells. It becomes two new completely separate cells that can in themselves grow all over again and split themselves.
The other role of the leader is to delegate, give up, pass on the leadership. Maybe you want to choose new people to lead each of the newly created groups. Maybe you want to continue to lead one of the groups yourselves, but don’t be afraid to give up control. Let yourself be part of the group as a member.
Reset, Restar, Reboot
Small groups don’t have to completely restart from the groung up when they split. Sometimes it will be needed, but when a small group splits it carries a legacy of mission and friendships that have already formed and grown. It can be easy however, to see a halt in the momentum of a small group mission when they split, so hold on to the vision you’ve made so far, but reform and reshape it to match the new groups.
Shape, change and innovate with the new groups. Allow them again to go their own direction, to set their own pace and make it their own. Establish the starting place and go from there. Look back at the small groups cycle in Small Groups, Big Mission to figure out what stage the group is at and where it needs to go next.