Small Groups with Purpose by Steve Gladen – Ebook

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The Purpose of This Book

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much tremble. My message and my preach were not with knowing and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit ’ south power, so that your religion might not rest on men ’ sulfur wisdom of solomon, but on God ’ randomness office. 1 Corinthians 2:1–5 A man ’ south errors are his portals of discovery.

James Joyce On a daily basis, the small group team at Saddleback Church is inundated with questions from small group point people, precede pastors, and little group leaders. The denominations and locales vary, but the questions are all centered on one fundamental question : How can I improve my modest group ministry ? The callers and emailers look at Saddleback, a megachurch with over 3,500 adult small groups, and assume we have all of the answers. Let me say right now that we do not have all of the answers. I do believe, however, that we have found some of the answers through both our failures and our successes. The people who call, electronic mail, and come to our Small Group Conferences desire to learn and get answers to their questions. If they are on the church staff, it is likely they are trying to lead the small group ministry while besides directing a different ministry. They may not be getting paid at all, and even if they are, the money they are making is not commensurate with the hours they are working. very much they are pouring their hearts into the ministry with short or no digest from anyone inside or outside their church. They call, electronic mail, or come to workshops and conferences eager to talk to someone—anyone—about minor groups. I talk with them on the earphone, through emails, after workshops, or as we meet in the hallway during conferences. In these ad-lib meetings, I am ineffective to give them the wax care they deserve. My answers are shorter than I would like them to be and lack the detail they need. For example, I remember meeting Norma from Missouri on a pause from teaching. Her interview was a good one, but my time was inadequate. I rushed to answer her, but quite honestly, the answer was adept adequate at best. This book is my attempt to answer those questions in far greater detail, to throw out a lifeline, and to share with you some of the mistakes I have made and some of the things that I have learned from those mistakes. This book is organized around the questions I asked in my journey— the lapp questions I now am asked every week. What is a healthy and balanced small group ? What does this look like ? bit-by-bit, how can I do this ? What does this mean for overall church scheme ? And one more significant wonder that is often unasked : Do I have what it takes ? I am a hands-on kind of a ridicule. I don ’ triiodothyronine want to good read data ; I want to begin processing it and applying it to my situation. In fact, in my position there is a whiteboard with the maxim : sight without execution is delusion ! I want to help you begin the implementation serve, which is why there is a section entitled Questions at the conclusion of each chapter. In this format of the written news, I will be able to talk with you without being in a travel rapidly to move to another workshop or take another shout. I will be hera at your public toilet. So grab a cup of coffee bean ( Venti with skim and three Splendas for me ), sit down, and let ’ s begin. What Is a Healthy and Balanced Small Group?


My Story

And What It Has Taught Me about Ministry

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30 NASB It ’ s not my ability, but my response to God ’ second ability, that counts. Corrie Ten Boom Ministry did not come easily to me. At the point I felt God calling me to ministry, my response was, God, you have got the amiss person. From that point, it was a seven-year run from God. I did everything I could to avoid going into ministry. I have mild dyslexia, and when I am thinking promptly, I sometimes mix things up. If I am reading loudly, I sometimes swap words around and try to make sense of it as I go. This didn ’ t make school very slowly for me. I remember my sixth grade teacher, Miss Beatenhead ( yup, I ’ molarity not making that up ), getting frustrated with me because I never amply spelled out my name on papers. I would often write Stev or Glade. I remember her asking me in front man of the entire class, How will you make it if you can ’ t even spell your mention ? I sank down in my chair and wondered the same. Being raised Catholic, however, my fear of God was greater than my fear of failure, and I enrolled in Evangel College ( now Evangel University ) in Springfield, Missouri, flush though I didn ’ t precisely feel like college material. As a condition of toleration, I had to take high school–level english classes during my first year. not precisely an self builder. In addition, although my parents credibly could have afforded to pay for my schooling, they believed I would appreciate my education more if I worked for it. At the time, I didn ’ thyroxine care for that philosophy, but looking binding, I can see they were mighty. During high school I worked part-time for a cable television receiver company, so when it came time to find employment in Springfield, I looked for a job in that field. By God ’ s providence, a modern company called TeleCable was starting up. The general coach, Jerry Rutherford, was kind enough to hire me and allowed me to work a flexible schedule around my classes. After four years in Springfield, I completed my BA in biblical studies with minors in Greek and philosophy. It was a tough four years, and I had to spend more prison term than most understand and studying. Social life was about nonexistent. I had besides just completed four years with a small ship’s company that started with just a few employees and had grown into a big party, and I actually liked my job. I had become comfortable in it, the pay was good, and the people I worked with had become family. alternatively of going home during my concluding two summers, I actually stayed in Springfield and worked full-time to make extra money for school. As gradation neared, an internal conflict began to develop. Should I stay in Springfield and continue working at the cable caller or move on to graduate educate ? The possibility of working in a church didn ’ t tied cross my judgment. I couldn ’ metric ton imagine how church ministry could be partially of my future. One day after workplace I ran into the general coach of the company, Jerry. I realize now this brief meeting was a God find that changed my course in life. I had previously shared my struggle with Jerry, and on that day he told me I was welcome to stay at TeleCable and he would never fire me. But then he went on to say he didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate believe God ’ s plan was for me to stay. He felt my destiny was to finish what God started, and if a church wasn ’ t the following footstep, I should honor God and continue on to graduate school. Jerry was a godly and wise man, and like a word from heaven, his words went neat to my heart. Everything I knew, everything that was comfortable and familiar, I was about to lose. I applied to Fuller Theological Seminary, was accepted, and attended the Pasadena campus. With my former know, I cursorily landed a subcontract with another cable company. Unlike Jerry at TeleCable, however, my new boss did everything he could to make my liveliness hapless. Looking back, I think it was God ’ south manner of pushing me away from the comfort of working with a cable company and toward staying focused on calibrate school and the possibility of working in a church service. My schedule was tough, and it seemed as though every hour was spent attending class, working, studying, or sleeping. On the positive side, California felt like home. It was leftover, since I was raised in Ohio and had barely spent four years in Missouri, but when I moved to California in 1982, I felt as though I had come home.

I took dawn classes or night classes and worked for the cable company in the afternoon. I felt as though I had a foot in both worlds. Most of the graduate students were already involved in ministry, but I remained outside that circle. I doubted myself. I felt inadequate. But I stayed. I struggled. I obeyed. by and large I tried not to think about it. I remember my steering counselor at Fuller saying, You ’ ra good. You try hard. But you can ’ t graduate with a headmaster ’ s academic degree until you actually work at a church. After a year and a half I decided to quit the occupation at the cable party. I remember wondering what I was going to do without the security of that job and no other possibilities before me. shortly after, however, using a connection through my acquaintance Doug Schmidt, God opened a doorway and gave me the opportunity to work as an intern for Pastor Paul Currie, who retired within a year. I had no church background and limited connections, so the very fact that I was accepted as an intern under such conditions was a miracle in itself. Although I wondered how God would provide, I felt at peace knowing my career was in his hands. somewhere during this time I came across 1 Corinthians 2:1–5 : When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or victor wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in failing and concern, and with much shaky. My message and my sermon were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit ’ south baron, so that your religion might not rest on men ’ south wisdom, but on God ’ sulfur baron. I felt as though God gave those verses immediately to me when I needed them the most. I suddenly realized I was not entirely in feeling inadequate ; many before me had felt the same way. In fact, all I had to do was trust God, and his power would see me through whatever challenges were ahead. Of course that didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate erase all of my diffidence and fear, but I knew that I didn ’ t need wise and eloquent words and I was confident that God, through the Holy Spirit, would provide for my shortcomings. It was nothing short of life-changing. I remember telling my ma, and she told me she had known I was destined for ministry from the time I accepted Christ. She was only waiting for me to catch on ! When Christ called the original disciples, what was the beginning requirement ? Follow me. That is a identical low prevention. It is interesting to note that Jesus didn ’ thyroxine pick the Who ’ randomness Who in Jerusalem—the people with the most influence or the ones with the most biblical education ( which by the manner would have been the Pharisees and Sadducees ). rather, he picked the most obedient. jesus can use you in your weakness and fear if you will entirely obey and follow him. As I read this verse ( Matt. 4:19 ) for what seemed like the first fourth dimension, I realized God could use me besides. We are all on the same team, and if we work together we can accomplish a bang-up deal. Since my Fuller days I have worked on staff for five churches of five different denominations—small churches ( equitable north of one hundred members ), medium-sized churches, and megachurches. If the focus is on Jesus, perplex things can happen careless of size and appellation. You will never have all of the answers. But you don ’ t have to have all of the answers ; you equitable need to obey. If I had given in to my diffidence and fear, I would be comfortably working in a cable company today. Questions These questions are intended to spark your think. Don ’ triiodothyronine feel you have to answer all of them at one sitting. After reflecting on them, mark one in every chapter that particularly stands out to you. then when you have finished reading the book, take some time and go back to the questions you marked and consider them from your raw perspective. Have fun. What are some of the things you are afraid of losing when you think about reorganizing or starting your little group ministry ? As you look at your life narrative, where do you see the handwriting of God ? Are there any new areas where you feel god might be leading you immediately ? Is there anything you are clinging to that might be a hindrance to God moving you into a new management ?


The Saddleback Difference

The Ten Foundations of Saddleback’s Small Group Ministry

For we walk by religion, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7 KJV The key return for groups in the twenty-first hundred will be health, not growth. Rick Warren Our church is located in Orange County, California, and has over 20,000 people in attendance on an average weekend. Your church probably does not fit this description. God has a specific design for Saddleback, and he has a specific plan for your church excessively. In this koran I will share a lot about what has worked for us at Saddleback ; it ’ s up to you to decide what will work for you in your ministry context. Method versus Message All excessively often people go to a conference and then try to implement in their home church service the strategies that succeeded at another church service. very often their efforts fail. The fact that the strategies can not be transferred to a church in a different setting, however, may have nothing to do with the merits of the scheme. Methods may or may not transfer. Principles, however, will always transfer. Principles are based on truth ; God ’ second Word is the truth. It is not the accuracy only in sealed locations ; it is the accuracy in every location. If God ’ mho cognition is dispatch and absolutely true, then truth itself can not change ; it remains the same for every prison term and place in creation ; it is absolute. [1] Methods are merely what works in a given situation, a given culture. The methods must continually change but the message must never change. For exercise, some of Christ ’ s last words were, Go make disciples. As Christians, our responsibility is to make disciples, but how we make disciples has changed drastically over the years. For example, people may use television, the Internet, DVDs, CDs, MP3s, books, movies, social media, and sol forth. The change reflects newfangled technologies, our polish, and the times in which we live, but the message stays the lapp. All Types of Churches to Reach All Types of People A very small church may be very healthy ; a identical large church may be very insalubrious. This is besides true of small group ministries—size is not indicative of health. When we have shared what works for us at Saddleback, sometimes the answer is, Sure, that works for you. You are a huge church service with lots of resources. The thing people forget, though, is that Saddleback besides started out as a small church. It began as seven people meeting in Rick and Kay Warren ’ s live room. It is hard to get much smaller than that. Adhering to sound principles enabled Saddleback to grow not alone in size but besides in health. Your church may never be over a hundred members in size. It may never have more than two groups. That is not inevitably an reading of hapless health. You may be limited by the demographic of the people you are trying to reach or just by smaller population in general. For model, if you are working with a church whose members are chiefly older people who are accustomed to attending Sunday school, they may be very hesitant to ever join a little group. That doesn ’ thyroxine bastardly, however, that your Sunday school groups can ’ triiodothyronine be goodly. We securely believe the key write out for little groups in the twenty-first century is health, not numeral growth. Saddleback Small Groups I am often asked about Saddleback ’ s humble group scheme. How were we able to go from a modest group of seven people meeting in Rick Warren ’ s living room to a church of over 3,500 pornographic small groups ( and still growing ) ? There ’ s no quick or slowly solution. Since our minor group strategy has a lot in common with those of other churches, I can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate point to a specific key to our achiever. One thing remains ceaseless at Saddleback Church, and that is our message. meanwhile, our methods are always evolving and are subject to change. I can point to ten foundational principles we use that evolved as we sought to follow God ’ s leading in reaching and connecting people into life-changing, goodly minor groups. These ten principles not alone have formed our strategy through the years but besides serve as a funnel through which all our contemporary decisions are made. Each one of them was developed in the testing ground of Saddleback Church since its origin in 1980. As you read about these principles and then continue through this book, please keep an open heed. Don ’ triiodothyronine assume that something will not work because your church doesn ’ thyroxine resemble Saddleback Church. Be unfold to all possibilities and avenues of thinking. thus much we focus on what we will lose because of change. In order for us to master change, our paradigm must switch from what we will lose to what we will gain. 1. Bold Faith, Not Cautious Planning

From the beginning, when Saddleback Church was fair a dream in the heart of twenty-six-year-old Rick Warren, bold faith has always taken precession over cautious plan. very little of Saddleback ’ s ministry was preplanned, Rick writes in his book The Purpose Driven Church. [2] Instead, Rick followed the leading of the Holy Spirit and quickly responded to circumstances surrounding him. In fact, when he moved his wife, Kay, and their four-month-old baby to Orange County, California, they did not know a single person in the area. He writes that they were full of hope, but we also arrived with no money, no church building, no members, and no home.[3] Did that make sense? No, not so much. But Rick had faith and was willing to follow the leading of God, even if it did not seem to make sense at the time. In March of 1980 he stood in a high school secondary school before the very first congregation of sixty people ( most of them unbelievers ). Confidently, and about flat break, he announced that someday they would be a church of over 20,000 members and they would build a facility on at least fifty acres of land in Orange County, California ( some of the most expensive real estate in the United States ). He finished by adding, I stand before you nowadays and state in confident assurance that these dreams will become reality. Why ? Because they are inspired by God ! [4] today, Saddleback Valley Community Church has an average weekly attendance of over 20,000 people and sits on 120 acres of prime Orange County substantial estate. Christmas and Easter services average well over 40,000 in attendance. Rick would be the first to tell you the success of Saddleback has been more about religion in following the leading of

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