Monday, October 31, 2005


There are three sizes of groups in a church: large, medium and small. These different conventions of people are often referred to as Celebration, Congregation and Cell. While at CTK we tend to focus on the Celebration (weekend worship) and Cell (weekday small group) gatherings (“house to house, and in the temple courts”), we should not underestimate the importance of the middle-sized group. The middle-sized group – bigger than a small group, but smaller than a weekend worship service – can be a “Fishing Pool” for identifying new leaders, and developing new groups.

One of the earliest “Fishing Pool” strategies I employed at CTK was the “under the Elks head” meeting following the weekend worship service. I would ask those who were new to CTK, and were not yet connected in a small group, to meet me under the Elks head (we were meeting in an Elks Lodge at the time). I would often have 20 to 30 people respond to the invitation. On the spot, I would have people go around and give their names. I would then ask if any of them would be interested in opening their home for a small group meeting that week, or facilitating a small group at someone else’s home (usually several would volunteer). I would then group those who were interested, exchange phone numbers, and write down directions. In the first year of CTK’s existence we started 38 small groups, and probably half of those we started in this deliberately simple way.

Another “Fishing Pool” I used with good results was a monthly “Welcome Dessert” that I held at my home for new people. My wife and I would invite newcomers from the previous three months to our home, and I would ask people to go around tell a little bit of their story. I would then tell mine. We would show a brief video about CTK, while serving dessert. After the video we would open the time up for questions and discussion. I would steer the conversation to the importance of small groups, and usually have one or two groups emerge from this “Fishing Pool.”

When I was pastoring at CTK in Bellingham, I developed a number of fishing pools of 30-50 people. For instance I held monthly “town gatherings” in various communities. These were held at restaurants. I would provide dessert for those who attended, have people meet each other at tables, play a simple game together, hear about small groups, and have the opportunity to start a new group with others they met that night. We often had a half dozen new small groups begin following such “fishing pool” events.

“Fishing Pools” are useful for transitioning people from “outside” the church to “inside” the church. It is sometimes too big a step for new people to move directly from Celebration to Cell. A “Congregation” provides an intermediate step whereby people can get to know some other people in a non-threatening environment, and “test the waters” before they ease themselves into a deeper relationship.

As a leader, if you are asking “How do I get people into small groups?” or “Where do I find new small group leaders?” consider developing some Fishing Pools. If you don’t know where to begin, consider gathering people based on affinity - people sharing the same: Locale, Stage of Life, Experiences, or Spiritual journey. For instance, a meeting of parents who currently have teenagers, or a gathering of folks who have been Christians less than 5 years, or a convention of “bikers.” Let your mind run wild with ideas. Oh, and one other thing. Happy fishing!


1. How could you use a fishing pool to start small groups?

2. How could you use a fishing pool to find volunteers?

3. What fishing pools have you created in your ministry?

4. What fishing pools need to be created?

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