How does North Point define a Community Group?

Groups are small groups of approximately six married couples or 8-12 individuals 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. 

Why does North Point do Groups?

We believe that significant life change best takes place in the context of intentional relationships. 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 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 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?

We encourage new group members to give their group a try for eight weeks, before they decide to continue. After eight weeks and a group is established, the groups decide the duration of their group, which ranges anywhere from nine 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 Groups?

The primary way we connect people into Groups is by placing all our available groups online twice a year, in February and August.  Those looking to join a group will register for a group that fits their age, location, night of the week preference and stage of life, which are all outlined in the group description on the website. To launch our groups well, the church will host their first group meeting at the church in a large group environment.  

What roles do volunteers play at your groups first meeting hosted at the church?

The volunteer needs for the first group meeting are not extensive, but we depending on the number of groups attending, we will still utilize the following roles to help with the evening.

  • “Host Team” members greet and register our guests as they enter the building.

  • “Connectors” help guests connect with one another and with their leaders in the room the event is held.

  • “Facilitators” assist groups that form without leaders.

  • “Event Team” members help with set-up and teardown.

  • “Data Team” members help with collecting rosters from the leaders to confirm the final group members joining each group.

Are all first group meetings the same?

All groups will launch their first group meeting at the church, with the goal being to set proper group expectations. All churches follow a similar format of having a 1-hour event held in a large group environment where members will come to meet their leader and other members who have joined their group. There is time set aside for relational time for the group and vision casting, hosted by a staff person with light production, to keep the evening flowing. 

Because our churches vary in size, each one customizes for their specific needs. Some churches will begin week 1 of our start curriculum, Circle up, while others may use the first group meeting to focus on the groups getting to know one another. Churches will also customize the best dates/times during the week/weekend, volunteer teams, the length of the event, and the organization of the event room. 

What about those who don’t get connected into a Community Group between group connections seasons you have twice a year?

There are several steps that we work through with people in these situations. Our first step for them includes checking the website for any available openings, which are left online if a group has not filled. We also encourage people to join short-term groups that begin a few months later. Finally, we have people mark their calendars with the dates of the next group connection opportunity (February/August).

How do you promote groups being open?

We primarily promote through email, social media and on Sunday mornings with our pre-service announcements, videos and promo cards. Additionally, there is a Sunday message given once a year that focuses on the importance of community.

Can your online connection tool be purchased?

It is custom software that has not been made for sale. However, other software vendors provide similar tools.

What kinds of Groups are available?

North Point places people in groups according to marital and/or gender status (single/married/men/women). We also post short-term topical groups, Starting Point and Care Network groups, as available. 

Does North Point offer other group opportunities for people in special situations, such as divorced, widowed, or those with unbelieving spouses?

We offer as many options as we can. Our groups are typically grouped by the most requested criteria: stage of life, location, age, and day of the week group. We have found that limiting to these options has been successful in ensuring groups fill. It also adds less confusion for someone looking to join a group. For special circumstances, we will create groups as demand in generated. 

Why doesn’t North Point have mixed-gender, single adult 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 providing groups with their first curriculum. Our leaders also have access to groupleaders.org, which is a site that provides many suggestions on studies and tracks for their groups. Leaders 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 cycles, 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 place their group online during our connection seasons (February/August), or contact their staff group’s director. 

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 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 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 are Short-Term Groups?

Short-Term Groups are small groups that meet together for a defined period of time to study and discuss a specific topic. They last 6 to 8 weeks. Topics include spiritual growth, marriage, dating relationships, and finances.

What is the purpose of Short-Term Groups?

Short-Term Groups create group experiences that equip and connect the disconnected. They were developed to provide an opportunity for a larger segment of our disconnected audience to find community. Short-Term Groups are also a great way for us to re-engage leaders who are disengaged or may be considering a break from Community Group leadership.

Where do Short-Term Groups meet?

Short-Term Groups meet in homes or at the church. Groups are organized around topic and geography.

How do people join Short-Term Groups?

People register for groups online based on topic and proximity to their homes. 

How often do you offer Short-Term Groups?

Short-Term Groups are offered three times a year: March, June, and October.

Why do you offer both Groups and Short-Term Groups?

We recognize that the 9- to 24-month duration of Groups is a barrier for some people finding connection into community. Short-Term Groups provide an opportunity to connect and recognize the value of community.

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 four leader essentials. This means that a leader identifies a co-leader within the first three to six months of a group. Once the co-leader 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

  • 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

  • We also look to see if the potential leader exhibits the 4 leaders postures we ask of our staff and leaders: 

    • Humble

    • Curious

    • Teachable

    • Intentional

How do leaders choose and prepare a co-leader?

See our leader enlistment strategy. 

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 co-leaders. The co-leader 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?

See our leader development plan. 

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

Group leaders have staffs Director assigned to them who help them walk through any challenges their groups experience.

How does North Point train staff Directors?

We have quarterly leadership development, 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 we do not have anything available 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.”