How does North Point define a Community Group?

Community Groups are small groups of approximately six married couples or six to eight individuals of the same gender that meet weekly in someone’s home for sharing, study, discussion, and prayer. They’re for adults of all ages, stages of life, and spiritual maturity. Most Community Groups are formed as people meet and connect at GroupLink.

Why does North Point do Community Groups?

We believe that significant life change best takes place in the context of intentional relationships. Community Groups are the places where real life and real issues are discussed. This is the environment to celebrate the successes and good times of life, as well as comfort one another in the tough and disappointing times. It’s a place to be encouraged, equipped, and challenged to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ.

When do Community Groups meet?

Each Community Group decides when and where it wants to meet. Most groups meet at least three times a month. As individuals seek to join a Community Group, we help them find people that are meeting on a particular night and in a certain area of the city. All of our Community Groups meet in group members’ homes. With the exception of Starting Point, no small groups meet at the church.

How long does a Community Group last?

Initially, all of the groups that form at GroupLink are Starter Groups. A Starter Group is an introductory step into group life. After eight weeks, group members decide to continue with their Starter Group members or dissolve to find another group. Starter Group members who continue establish themselves as a Community Group and commit to meet for an additional twelve to twenty-four months. Each group determines the duration of time that it will meet.

What is North Point’s process for connecting people into Community Groups?

The primary way we connect people into Community Groups is through GroupLink. We hold two GroupLink events per year for singles and two for married couples. We promote GroupLink during our Sunday services. Throughout the year, cards are available at our Information Centers for people to fill out when they ask about joining a group. Those who complete cards are contacted by a staff member or volunteer to answer any questions they may have about the GroupLink process.

What is GroupLink?

GroupLink is a two-hour event where people meet and connect with others in their area of town and stage of life with the purpose of starting a Community Group.

What kinds of Community Groups are available through GroupLink?

In selecting the group that is right for them, attendees select a Married, Single (male or female), Women’s (single and married), Men’s (single and married), or College (male or female) group, depending upon their stages of life. We also have Just Married groups in which couples who have been married for two years or less are led by couples that have been married for at least five years.

What criteria does North Point use to place people in Community Groups?

Typically, people looking to connect into a Community Group for the first time use the following criteria: stage of life (married with kids, married with no kids, married empty nesters, single males or single females, men’s or women’s groups).

  • Area of town
  • Day or night of the week

What’s the next step for people who get connected into a Community Group at GroupLink?

The group typically decides at GroupLink the time and location for their first meeting. Group leaders leave GroupLink that night with contact information for everyone in the Starter Group.

What is a Starter Group, and how is it different from a Community Group?

A Starter Group is a group that has agreed to meet together for eight weeks to get to know each other, do a relational curriculum, and at the end of that time determine whether they want to stay together for another twelve to twenty-four months as a Community Group. The main purpose of a Starter Group is to allow group members to get to know one another and form relationships. This sets the foundation as it becomes a Community Group.

North Point places people in groups according to marital and/or gender status (single/married/men/women). Does North Point offer other group opportunities for people in special situations, such as divorced, widowed, or those with unbelieving spouses?

Group seekers are able to choose a group that best fits their desires and stage of life. Their options are married groups, singles groups, men’s groups (with married and single men), or women’s groups (with married and single women). However, if we created multiple, affinity-based choices for groups, it would require us to find leaders for these different types of groups. Too many options would be more confusing for the average unconnected person and more challenging to manage.

Why doesn’t North Point have mixed-gender, single adult Community Groups?

The purpose of a Community Group is to provide a predictable environment where participants can experience authentic community and spiritual growth. We believe this happens best with single adults when they’re connected with members of the same gender. It’s more difficult for a leader to create a predictable environment with single men and women in the same group. The relational dynamics created by a mixed environment limit the accountability that’s possible or appropriate. As a result, we don’t believe mixed-gender single adult groups experience the same level of community that’s possible in same-gender groups.

How do groups choose curricula?

The first source of tension for new groups is often what to study. We remove that potential obstacle by giving group members their first curriculum at GroupLink. After the first study is complete, our leaders have access to resources.groupleaders.org, an online resource that gives them over 100 choices as well as feedback from other leaders. They also have the option to contact their Directors to assist them in selecting a study. Our goal is that groups choose studies that promote growth around the 3 Vital Relationships (intimacy with God, community with insiders, and influence with outsiders).

If a member drops out of a group, does that group add members?

During the first six months of the group’s twelve- to twenty-four month life cycle, members are added to fill the group to capacity. After that, it’s the group’s decision whether to add members. If the group is planning to multiply within six months, we recommend not adding new people.

How do groups add group members?

We encourage group members to look at their existing relationships first (friends and neighbors). After that, we encourage them to go to GroupLink or contact their area assimilators.

What makes North Point’s Groups model unique from others?

Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of our model is the closed-group structure. We believe relationships take time to form and anything that gets in the way of the group building relational capital with one another works against this goal. Groups stay closed for a predetermined time of twelve to twenty-four months. At that time they multiply to form at least two new groups. If a group loses members along the way, they are free to add new couples or individuals if everyone in the group agrees.

What is North Point’s process for making sure that Community Groups stay “closed”?

Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of our model is the closed-group structure. We believe relationships take time to form and anything that gets in the way of the group building relational capital with one another works against this goal. Groups stay closed for a predetermined time of twelve to twenty-four months. At that time they multiply to form at least two new groups. If a group loses members along the way, they are free to add new couples or individuals if everyone in the group agrees.

Is the Community Group Agreement really necessary?

The Community Group Agreement is a tool used by group members to establish expectations and manage the group for the duration of its life cycle. Its use is essential because most problems that groups face are due to unmet expectations.

Since Community Groups don’t meet at the church, what do group members do about childcare?

We offer childcare reimbursement for any member of an active Community Group. Parents arrange for childcare and we provide childcare reimbursements at a predetermined rate. Reimbursement is provided for a maximum of four children for four hours. The member of the group pays for the childcare and then submits a request form to be reimbursed.

What is North Point’s process for recruiting and approving leaders?

Our primary means of identifying potential leaders is our apprenticing process. “Replace Yourself” is one of our eight leader essentials. This means that a leader identifies an apprentice within the first six to nine months of a group. Once the apprentice is identified, he or she must still be approved to lead by a staff Director. The approval process for group leaders includes:

  • Completing a group leader application
  • Completing the process to become a member of the church
  • Meeting with a staff Director for an interview
  • Committing to ongoing development, beginning with a one-time Community Group Leader Orientation (CGLO) before or shortly after starting the group

During the approval process, the candidates are evaluated in five key areas:

  • Character—Is this person in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ?
  • Competence—Does this person have the skills and experience to lead a group?
  • Culture—Does this person embrace the mission, vision, and strategy of the church?
  • Chemistry—Is this someone with whom you’d like to be in a group?
  • Connected—Is this person connected to the church through membership?

For more details on these criteria, see the Group Directors’ Group Leader Interview sheet.

How do leaders choose and prepare an apprentice?

Leaders should choose people who could replace them. The best way to prepare apprentices is to include them in every aspect of facilitating and leading the group. In looking for an apprentice, we ask leaders to look for those who have the four Cs (character, competency, culture, and chemistry) to lead a group.

How does North Point get groups to multiply?

We get groups to multiply by continually casting vision to our leaders, who in turn continually cast it to their groups. We also encourage leaders to identify and equip apprentices. The apprentice will take half of the group and start a new group, while the leader keeps the other half and starts another new group.

How does North Point train leaders?

We offer our leaders multiple training opportunities:

  • Online training—We’ve developed an online training platform that provides new leaders with the tools they need for the first six months of their groups. We also introduce new leaders to our Eight Essentials (Stay Connected, Cultivate Relationships, Promote Participation, Serve Together, Celebrate Change, Provide Care, Replace Yourself, and End Well).
  • One-on-one meetings (one per trimester)—Directors meet with each leader individually at least three times a year.
  • re:group—This is a large training environment held in the fall where group leaders and apprentices from all NPM campuses gather for a day of worship, teaching (large group), smaller learning communities covering a variety of relevant topics, and encouragement. *This is different from the re:group Conference.

Who do leaders contact if a problem or question arises that they can’t answer?

Group leaders have a staff Director assigned to them who helps them walk through any challenges their groups mayexperience.

How does North Point train staff Directors?

We invest in two conferences per year, have monthly leadership training, and hold weekly departmental meetings for encouragement and direction.

What does the average week in the life of a staff Director look like?

They average seven to nine meetings, including leader meetings, leader interviews, and staff meetings. Approximately 15 percent of their time is spent in administrative duties, such as weekly reports, documenting meeting notes, scheduling meetings with leaders, and other duties as assigned.

Does North Point have a website where I can learn more about North Point’s philosophy and opportunities for small groups?

We are constantly adding information to our website, but our most current information is on the following sites:

Does North Point have any leader training materials that I can purchase?

Bill Willits and Andy Stanley have written a book called Creating Community. It outlines North Point’s philosophy on groups. We’re in the process of making other aspects of our training available, but none are completed at this time.

Can North Point provide guidance for churches that desire to move from a Sunday school environment to small groups?

Moving from a Sunday school environment to a small groups environment can be challenging. For us, small groups aren’t an add-on. They’re how we do ministry. We’ve resisted the urge to be everything to all people and have chosen to stay focused on implementing one simple strategy. The best direction we can provide a church that wants to move from a Sunday school environment to a culture of small groups is two-fold: 1) Don’t have multiple strategies, and 2) Make sure that those in staff leadership support your strategy and are willing to say no to good things that are not in alignment with it.

To assist you in the process, we would suggest reading Creating Community by Bill Willits and Andy Stanley. Pay special attention to Parts II and III entitled “Leaders Need Clarity” and “Churches Need Strategy.”