Hey Bob! My name is Jason Wood, I am a church planter and I am currently a part of a church plant and we are in the process of starting missional community groups that are to be the life blood of the church. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Hi Jason— Congrats on starting missional community groups. These can be a great way to spread the kind of missional DNA you want throughout the larger church. Here are my top seven pieces of advice:

1. Mandate missional service. If you want these groups to be the lifeblood of your church, they must be outward focused. Don’t just assume service to the world around them will happen naturally—make sure it happens.

2. Set clear expectations for the groups from the very beginning. They not only are going to connect with God and each other, but they’re going to reach out. Make sure people understand the commitment involved.

3. Get coaches for your group leaders. They need a support person who can serve as a sounding board.

4. Plan for growth. Keep developing new group leaders and new group coaches ahead of when new people arrive for the groups. Don’t wait until there is an immediate need to start developing more leaders.

5. Connect your group leaders with each other in some way. They need to know they’re not out there on their own and that others are running into similar challenges.

6. Give your groups something to do when they’re together. Some groups may want more autonomy, but most will want you to give them curriculum or a study of some kind. Some free downloadable scripture studies are available at Finding the Flow.

7. Don’t become Sunday-service dependent. If your groups are the lifeblood of the church, act that way. Don’t be afraid to cancel a Sunday service once in a while to have all the groups rake leaves in the neighborhood. In addition to demonstrating your values in action, this also sends a message to those not in groups that if they want to be a part of the church, this is the route in.