It is best to have intentional overt spiritual conversations with lost people. Those who respond with curiosity and receptivity should be invited to host a Discovery Group where they will invite some of their family and/or close friends to join them in participating. You may have to take them through 2-3 before they will invite others to participate and that is fine.
Other believers can be invited to participate in a multi-week experience of DBS as part of a training program to get them to begin using the format in their own disciple making efforts. But mixing this type of group with the one mentioned earlier is not preferable. Lost people are often concerned that they know so little of the Bible that their ignorance will show, so they hold back if they are with too many people who know much more than they do.
Inviting one other person who is training to become a Multiplier to sit in on a Discovery Group comprised of a lost family/friendship group can be very valuable. But you need to coach this person before they meet in this setting. They absolutely must not “show off” their extensive Bible knowledge! They need to model a humble learning spirit. They must obey their own “I will…” Statement and attempt to share with the person they name, if they are to return. Their greatest contribution will be serving as a role model of someone on a Discovery journey.
Many Christians will not do what is discussed in the previous paragraph, regretfully. Those who will not, will botch a Discovery Group.
What has to change to transition from Addition Strategies and Tactics to Multiplication Strategies and Tactics?
Recently when I was discussing the answer to this question I started to envision a chart which helps to compare/contrast some of the differences between these two approaches. But I have also been meditating on why we default to Addition, even though many of us “want” Multiplication. Here is the chart I developed.
1. Connects an individual to an existing group
1. Individuals become connectors to groups
2. Is possible when group members are inclusive
2. Is possible wherever PoP has friends
3. Strong leaders are needed to start each new group
3. Facilitation lowers starting demands
4. Challenges participants to be open to an old group
4. Changes participants into facilitators
5. Encourages decisions of faith
5. Encourages participants to become disciple makers
6. Outgrows space when successful
6. Expands to new friendship groups in new locations
7. Easy to do with existing group; difficult to expand
7. Challenging to start; expands more once going
Compare/Contrast Addition Strategies with Multiplication Strategies
Why? Why would we take the approach I have titled “Addition” in the chart?
It’s what we know. It avoids filling our schedule with lots of groups. It protects us from the risk that a new group will not develop the new rhythms needed for life to materialize. It fits with our highly individualistic cultural norms. It “gives in” to our fear that people will not be willing to invite their family/friends to participate in a Discovery Group.
Please do not misunderstand me. Good things can happen when an individual is added to an existing group. But GREAT things can happen when we coach someone to start a new Discovery Group with their family/friends who are willing to participate.
I am sitting in a rented car outside a coffee shop. Using WiFi writing a blog post which will go around the world as a series of 01 combinations. Makes me shake my head–Digital Morse Code.
I am in Ames, Iowa where I will teach Perspectives Lesson 13: “Spontaneous Multiplication of Churches” in a few hours. I taught this same lesson Sunday night in Des Moines to about 100 who were mostly in their twenties and thirties. Last night I taught the same lesson to about forty people in Marshalltown, Iowa. Tonight I will teach the last segment of this loop.
What I try to do when I teach this lesson is tell stories of what God has been doing in Africa through Disciple Making Movements. I see shock on the faces of some as they hear stories that sound like those in the book of Acts. But I also see disbelief and concern because most of us have never seen multiplication of church planting.
Maybe these numbers have been fabricated (exaggerated at least!), some communicate via their nonverbal responses. Others are easily convinced that we “must be watering down the Gospel to see these results.” But God really is doing something remarkable in our lifetime.
If we can dare to believe, then we can be open to learning some strategies and tactics that are more fruitful. We can shift from addition to multiplication, but we will have to shift and that can be a hard process.
Change begins with a new Vision. New possibilities. “What if…?” thinking. That’s why I share stories. Stories give meaning to the numbers.
“You can’t change an entire community by only changing the mom. A community is a collection of families. You change the community by changing the family, and you access the family through that one member.” A Person of Peace is someone the Holy Spirit is stirring up to become open to hearing about God and changing his/her life to align with what is being learned. Like Cornelius, Lydia and the Philippian Jailer, these people do not come to faith by themselves. They want their household (social network) to know God and fall in love with Jesus, too. They want this badly enough that they share what they are hearing with others, week by week.
Why is working with a group so powerful?
“We want to multiply impact,” responds a coach. “For change to be sustainable, there must be unity. A changed family can change another family. Train a husband, a wife and their children and all of them together will now show others the new way forward.” Much of the people groups who have not yet been reached with the gospel think from more of a collectivistic worldview than Westerners do. Few things have slowed the spread of the gospel more than our failure to understand this.