How does North Point define a Community Group?

Community 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 offer groups?

We believe that significant life change 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 through the starter curriculum. After eight weeks, a group is established, and the group decides the duration of their group, which ranges anywhere from 9 to 24 months. Each group determines the duration of time and the frequency 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 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 descriptions on the website. To launch our groups well, the church hosts 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 roles for the first meeting for all groups are not extensive, but we depending on the number of groups attending, we utilize the following positions 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 where 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 group leaders to confirm the final list of members joining each group.

Are all first groups meetings the same?

All groups have their first group meeting at the church, with the goal being to set proper group expectations. All churches follow a similar format, hosting a one-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 individual groups leaders to facilitate relationship building and vision casting. The event is hosted by a staff person with some production to keep the evening flowing. 

Because our churches vary in size, each one customizes the event for their specific needs. Some churches will begin Week 1 of Circle up, our recommended starter curriculum for new groups, while other campuses may use the first group meeting to focus on getting the new members acquainted with 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 during the group connections seasons you have twice a year?

There are several steps that we offer for people in these situations. Our first step for them includes checking the website for any available openings, which are left online if a group does not fill during the connections season. 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 connections opportunity (February or August).

How do you promote open registration for groups?

We primarily promote through email, social media, in-service announcements, videos, and promo cards.

Can your online connection tool be purchased?

Our custom software is not available for purchase. However, other software vendors provide similar tools.

What kinds of groups are available?

Groups are categorized by marital and/or gender status (single/married/men/women). Also, when available, we post Short-Term Groups (usually topical), Starting Point Groups, and Care Network Groups. 

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 organized by the most requested criteria: stage of life, location, age, and day of the week. We have found that limiting to these options has been successful in ensuring groups fill. It also creates less confusion for someone looking to join a group. For special circumstances, we will create groups as demand is 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 study suggestions and curriculum tracks. 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 Three 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 12- to 24 month life cycles, members are added to fill the group. 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 place their group online during our connections seasons (February/August), or contact their staff Groups Director. 

What makes North Point’s Groups model unique from others, and what is the process for ensuring 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 its duration. Its use is essential because most problems that groups face arise due to unmet expectations.

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

We offer childcare supplement for any member of an active Community Group. Parents arrange for childcare, and we provide childcare supplements at predetermined rates. The supplement is provided for a maximum of four children for four hours. The group member 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 six to eight 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. We offer them to provide an opportunity for a larger segment of our disconnected audience to find community. Short-Term Groups are a great way for us to reengage leaders who are disengaged or may be considering a break from Community Group leadership. We also recognize that the 9- to 24-month groups commitment is a barrier for some people finding connection into community. Short-Term Groups provide an opportunity to connect and recognize the value of community.

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 two times a year—in-between Groups Connections events

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

Our primary means of identifying potential leaders is through the recommendation from an existing leader. Our Groups staff are frequently asking existing leaders which of their group members could potentially lead a group in the future. When a potential leader is identified, he or she must still be approved to lead by a staff Groups Director. The approval process for group leaders includes:

  • Completing a group leader application

  • Meeting with a staff Groups 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 does North Point encourage groups to multiply?

We encourage 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 takes half of the group and starts a new group, while the original 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 are assigned to a staff Groups Director who helps them walk through any challenges their group experiences.

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

They average seven to nine meetings, including leader meetings, leader interviews, and staff meetings per week. 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 Groups philosophy. We’re in the process of making other aspects of our training available, but we do not have any additional assets available at this time.

Can North Point provide guidance for churches that desire to move from a Sunday School environment to Community Groups?

Moving from a Sunday School environment to a Community Groups environment can be challenging. For us, Community 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 Community Groups is twofold: 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 this 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.”