THE STORY: So, I got a call from Bill. He had questions about his small group ministry. Shortly thereafter, I got a call from Sue with similar questions. They were both struggling alone to create a vibrant, authentic small group experience while their churches were only 5 miles apart.

I realized small group leaders needed to connect in a community. They needed a place to get their questions answered. That is when I felt God was leading me to start the Small Group Network.

In 2007 God began connecting me with people who shared the same passion when it comes to leading a Small Group Ministry. People who believed “No One Should Lead Alone.” Soon we had volunteers leaders across North America.

Now, our website is full of helpful resources just waiting for you to dive into. You can get connected with people in your local area through ‘huddles’ where you will be coached and encouraged.

When you attend our Accelerate! conference you learn about the importance of creating a strategy to meet the need of your local church.

SGN is connecting people and churches with a proven system for their small groups so they are better equipped to go out and fulfill the great commission.

Take your next step now.

Join our Facebook Group to connect with other small group leaders and optimize your small group ministry.

Ask me a ministry question, I’d be happy to help.

Sign up to receive a free resource to help train your volunteer army to be better leaders.

Steve Gladen

SGN Leadership Team:

Steve Gladen




Steve is the Global Pastor of Small Groups at Saddleback Church since 1998. He oversees the strategic launch and development of over 7,000 adult small groups on multiple campuses. He has authored Small Groups With Purpose, which has been translated into eight languages to date, and Leading Small Groups With Purpose. He frequently speaks at conferences and consults with church leaders both in the United States and around the world. He has a driving passion to see each church attendee connected to a qualified shepherd and become an integral part of their church body, living purposefully for Christ. Steve is also the Founder of the Small Group Network (SGN) giving influence and oversight to all the SGN initiatives. He earned a Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1985, and a B.A. in Biblical Studies, with minors in Greek and Philosophy in 1982, from Evangel University. Steve and Lisa have been married since 1989 and have two children, Erika and Ethan.

Derek Olson

Small Group Network Development



Derek loves espresso, the outdoors, building teams & enjoying community with the family of God! He has been active in small group ministry since 2004 & serves as Pastor of Network Development at Saddleback Church.

Carolyn Taketa

Director of Podcast Communications



Carolyn is the Executive Director of Small Groups at Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, California. She serves on our Leadership Team and is the host of the Group Talk podcasts.

Hector Paredes

Latin America Director


From Southern California where he serves as a Small Group Host at Saddleback Church, Hector serves as our Global Connections Director overseeing our international teams in Africa, Australia, Latin America and more. He and his team will begin with gathering and translating small group resources so that the pastors & small group point people are able to use effectively in Latin America. Hector has also volunteered in many capacities, and has led, hosted, or coached small groups since he was 17, in addition to leading mission trips outside the U.SA. His passions are Christ, his family, discipling new believers and equipping leaders, and a good cup of coffee. He is a world traveller, enjoys sailing hiking and skiing. Hector married his beautiful wife, Olina, and they have two small children, Tiago and Amelie.

Jason Banzhoff

Creative Arts Director

240 520 2557


Jason is our Communications Director who produces our Group Talk podcast and oversees our graphic design and social media teams. He is also the Life Group Director of Lifehouse Church in Hagerstown, MD. He has had previous ministry experience in video, production, and social media but found discipleship is what his heart truly desires. Jason is married to his beautiful wife Tirsa, who is a pastor’s daughter from El Salvador.

Reid Smith

Communities of Purpose Director



Living in Florida where he serves as Pastor of Groups at Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach County, FL, Reid is our Communities of Purpose "C.O.P." Director. He will be leading this forum for small group point people who have read the book or attended one of our “Accelerate!” small group workshops to receive exclusive resources, ask questions, to discuss and share their learnings with others. He has also been equipping leaders in churches of all sizes and stages of growth for effective disciple-making since 1996. Reid has been a contributing author for Christianity Today’s smallgroups.com, LifeWay’s Ministry Grid, and he developed small group training for the North American Mission Board’s Send Network. One of the ways he expresses his love for helping leaders start and multiply healthy groups throughout their churches is through www.reidsmith.org.

Jon Laster

Social Media Director


Jon, along with his wife Tina, serve as Ministries Directors at Christ Chapel in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Together they provide oversight and leadership to the leaders and volunteers of several teams, including prayer, small groups, and outreach. Jon is a Real Estate Agent by trade and also leads a SGN Huddle in the Spring Hill area. He is passionate about seeing the impossible come to pass, people walking in forgiveness and becoming more like Jesus. Jon strongly believes in the power of Small Groups and the life changing effect they can have in peoples lives. He is a dedicated Tennessee Titans fan, Nashville Predators fan and music fanatic. Jon and Tina reside in Thompsons Station, TN with their son Cole, daughter Avelyn and beloved french bulldog, Arlo.

Daniel Thomas

Events Director



Daniel serves as Adult Ministries Director at Highlands Fellowship Church in Abingdon, VA and serves as our Events Director in laying the groundwork for our "Accelerate!" Small Group Workshops.

Philip Byers

North America Connections Director



Philip is the Executive Pastor at Historic church in Dallas, Texas where he pastors the small group ministry. God used small groups to greatly change his life. His greatest passion is to help people discover their identity and calling in Jesus and then live it out!

Andrew Mason

Network Partnerships Director


Andrew Mason serves as our Network Partnerships Director. He and his team create strategies for the Small Group Network to partner with various conferences around the country where we can set up SGN kiosks to connect with, resource and serve more small group point people. Andrew is also the Executive Pastor of Discipleship Communities at Emmanuel, a multi-site church in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and the Founder of SmallGroupChurches.com, an online community of leaders dedicated to growing churches one small group at a time. He resides in Minneapolis, MN with his wife Camille and their two sons.

Nick Lenzi

Finance Director



Nick is our Finance Director. He and his team prayerfully plan and strategize on how to grow the small group network budget so that we can extend our reach around the world in equipping and resourcing small group point people, pastors & leaders in fulfilling the great commission. Nick is also the Dinner Group Director at Hoboken Grace Community Church in Hoboken, NJ.

USA Regional Leaders:

Mark Kendall

North Central Regional Leader

(623) 680-0866


Mark serves at Pastor of Spiritual Development at Grace Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota and is responsible for small group ministry, along with adult spiritual development. As North Central Region Leader he serves Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska.

Greg Robins

Central Regional Leader

(314) 413-6866


Greg serves as the Discipleship Director at the Gathering in St. Louis. He is responsible for their small group ministry along with providing additional adult discipleship opportunities. He oversees the states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri.

Brian Beall

Midwest Regional Leader



Brian serves as the Pastor of Small Groups and Connection Communities at Pathway Community Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Brian oversees Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Illinois.

Cynthia Considine

Atlantic Coast Regional Leader



Cynthia serves as the Small Groups Coordinator at Grace Community Church in Fulton, Maryland. Cynthia serves the SGN by managing the Pinterest page, leading the Central MD Huddle and serving as the Atlantic Coast Regional Leader supporting the states of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Cynthia lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her husband Darin and their puggle Hemingway

Nick Lenzi

Mid Atlantic Regional Leader



Nick is the Dinner Group Director at Hoboken Grace Community Church in Hoboken, NJ. He currently oversees the Mid-Atlantic Region which includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, & New York.

Heather Lee

NorCal/ NW Regional Leader


Heather is the Groups Director at Crossroads Grace Community Church in Manteca, CA. She is passionate about helping other grow and serves on our team as the Northern California Regional Leader. Heather loves coffee, time with friends and going on adventures! She and her husband Seth have two kids, Rudy (11) and Cassie (13); they enjoy being outdoors and making each other laugh.

Brian Brunke

South Central Regional Leader


Brian serves as an Operations Pastor for Small Groups at Parkway Fellowship Church, TX and an adjunct professor at the Bible Seminary in Katy, TX. As the South-Central Region Leader, he serves Texas and Louisiana state area. In his spare time, Brian enjoys spending time with his wife and three daugthers, traveling, and enjoying the outdoors hunting and fishing.

Steve Curran

Southeast Regional Leader



Steve serves as Life Group Pastor at Compassion Christian in Savannah, GA. As husband , father and friend, he is now following his call in Small Group Ministry after a 20 year career in the US Navy. Steve's South Region includes Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Adam Workman

SoCal/ Hawaii Regional Leader



Adam is the Small Groups Pastor at Sandals Church in Riverside, CA. He oversees the Southern California/Hawaii Region of the SGN.

Canada Regional Leaders:

Dennis Funk

Eastern Canada Regional Leader



Dennis serves as the Director of Ministry Resources & Small Groups Network for The Navigators of Canada. He oversees the Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces.

Care Team:

Mark Mehlig

Care Team Member



Mark is the Caring Ministries Pastor at Calvary Church in Saint Peters, Missouri. He has served as the team counselor for the St Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers. Mark loves Small Group ministry leaders and would gladly walk with any SGN member through a difficult time.

Ron Youtsey

Care Team Member



Ron serves as a Leadership coach/elder at NewLife Church of the Peninsula near Seattle, WA and as a trainer/coach for 2orMore Ministries. He offers one-on-one pastoral care within the SGN.

Vinnie Cappetta

Care Team Member



Vinnie serves as Associate Pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Framingham, Massachusetts. Vinnie is a licensed counselor and serves the SGN through one-on-one pastoral care.

Communications Team:

JW Hilliard



Passionate about empowering others to live boldly for Jesus through biblical community, JW serves as a Groups Director at Southside Church in Peachtree City, GA. He enjoys hiking, coffee, good books, and great conversations. He's blessed to serve Jesus through the local church and to share life with his amazing wife Melissa and two awesome sons Cade and Zechariah.

Amber Sanders

Facebook Page Manager


My name is Amber Adams. I am the Small Groups leader at a church in Maryland. I lead Small Groups because I am passionate about people and seeing them grow. Plus I really believe that life is better connected!

Cynthia Considine

Pinterest Manager


Cynthia serves as the Small Groups Coordinator at Grace Community Church in Fulton, Maryland. Cynthia serves the SGN by managing the Pinterest page, leading the Central MD Huddle and serving as the Atlantic Coast Regional Leader supporting the states of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Cynthia lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her husband Darin and their puggle Hemingway

Matthew Wray

Instagram Manager



Matt is the Director of Group Life at Hillside Chapel in New Albany, IN. He is responsible for the Small Group Network Instagram account.

Andrew Camp




After working as a professional chef for 7 years, Andrew Camp is the spiritual growth pastor at Mountain Life Church in Park City, UT, with a large focus on Life Groups. He has a Masters in Spiritual Formation & Soul Care from Talbot Seminary. He and his wife, Claire, have lived in the Park City area for three years.

Veronica Hasbrouck



Veronica is the life group director at Newbreak church in sunny San Diego. Life Groups, training and connecting people in life groups is her passion! As a true extrovert she gets powered up when people get connected in groups either attending or leading. Her favorite type of life groups are activity groups where people get together doing something they love. The setting allows for very natural and organic conversation about their life. Being Christ followers they begin to talk about how God is working in their life and there you have it! An evangelistic moment! Amazing!

Danny Bias



Danny is the Life Groups Connections Director at Newbreak Church in San Diego, CA. Helping new people get connected at Newbreak and into life groups are his passion. His role as Life Groups champion gives him the opportunity to train and develop Life Group staff, coaches, and leaders at all five Newbreak campuses. He and his wife, Jennifer, have been married thirteen years and have three boys together, Cash, Colt, and Jase. Danny also loves road cycling and the outdoors.

Kiersten Telzerow



Kiersten Telzerow lives in the Washington, D.C area with her husband, Matt, and their goldendoodle named Luna! Kiersten serves as the Small Group Director at one of the campuses at National Community Church and is a Master of Divinity student at Wesley Seminary through Indiana Wesleyan University. She loves being in community with people and learning about their stories. When Kiersten is not studying, her favorite thing to do is spending time with family and friends, trying new coffees, attending leadership conferences, or reading a new book. She loves all things small groups and believes that we were never meant to exist alone - community is always better!

JT Black



JT Black serves as the Small Groups Pastor at Stevens Creek Church in Augusta, Georgia. In addition to leading Small Groups, he helps guide the church’s outreach efforts in Augusta and the surrounding communities. He is married to his beautiful wife, Brittany, and is a loving father to June and John Bradley.

Tracey Ware



Tracey has a heart and passion for small group ministry which goes back to her teenage years. It was in a small group that she was mentored, challenged and encouraged in her Christian walk. She believes that small groups have amazing (often unleashed) potential to impact not only the local church but our world! ?Tracey is an ordained pastor and has had many years’ experience in small group ministry in both NSW and Victoria – (Australia). She is currently the Pastor for Life Groups at Syndal Baptist Church. She was a guest presenter at the Twelve Conference in April 2015, and also established the first SGN Huddle in Australia in Sept 2015. (Melbourne VIC). Tracey is married to David and has two young adult sons.

Steve Curran



Steve is a Retired Navy Chief who has been involved in leading groups for 25 years. He is convinced that groups really do make life better. Every idea or strategy he suggests to other leaders has been beta tested in his own group. He currently serves as the Life Groups Pastor at Compassion Christian Church in Savannah GA.

Michael Grayston



Michael lives in Palm Bay, Florida with his wife and two kids. He serves Next Level church as the Location (Campus) Pastor and is pursuing his Ed.D. in Ministry Leadership at Liberty University. Before full-time ministry, Michael spent over 10 years in healthcare leadership.

Roger Carr



Roger Carr lives in historic Fredericksburg, Virginia with his wife Kim. They have been married for over 35 years and have a son who is enjoying life in Minneapolis. Roger is an engineer by day and small group advocate by night. He supports the small group ministry at Lifepoint Church through leading, coaching, and writing. He is also the blogger behind SmallGroupInternational.com.

International Leaders:

Arnold Kirubi

Team Africa



Arnold serves as the Lead Pastor of Beulah Community Church in Kenya, and has led small groups ministry since 2003. He is passionate about helping believers mature in their faith and in their walk with Christ. Arnold will be working with pastors and churches in East Africa to help them develop spiritually healthy small groups.

JJ Jackson

Team Africa


JJ is a Steering Elder and Pastor of Small Groups at Harvest Christian Church, a resource Church in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. JJ heads up a Huddle as well as trying to aid as much of South Africa and the country to Share the resource and training to empower Small Group Leaders, and develop the SGN in the regions. He is passionate about sharing what God has taught us to empower the local churches, and align them with the vision of the local church. JJ is also a Coffee snob, surfer and has completed 5 full Ironman races.

Manie Groenewald

South Africa Country Leader


Manie is leading the Lyttelton East Church on the southern side of the capitol, Pretoria, in South Africa. As the Country Leader for South Africa, Manie helps small group point leaders throughout the country to get excited about small group ministry in their respective churches, helps leaders to start new huddles and to get connected to one another for mutual support and sharing from their meaningful experiences around small group ministry.

Dan Tupps

Asia Connection Leader


Dan is a former Pastor of Discipleship at a church in Hong Kong. As the Connection Leader for Asia, Dan helps small group point leaders throughout the Asian region of the world start huddles and get connected.

Tracey Ware

Australia Country Leader


Tracey is an ordained pastor who has had many years’ experience in congregational leadership in churches across the states of NSW and Victoria in Australia. She loves ministering in a team environment. She started the first Australian huddle in Melbourne and has been a great encouragement to the Adelaide huddle leader. She has also taught small group ministry modules at Stirling Theological college as well as running small group seminars and training sessions. She has been a member of the SGN since July 2015. Tracey is married to David, has two young adult sons and lives in Melbourne, Australia. In her spare time she enjoys walking, visiting the family beach house, creating her own greeting cards, cooking, reading a good book and creating a blog post for the SGN blog.

Carrie Smith

Team Latin America


Carrie is a bilingual missionary who has been serving in Costa Rica for several years. She joined the staff at her church, Vida Abundante Heredia, as Small Group Coordinator in January 2016. In 2018, Carrie helped coordinate a live seminar with Pastor Steve Gladen for pastors all over Costa Rica, and she also attended the 2018 Lobby Gathering. Some of her favorite things are running, hiking, singing, baking, laughing, and Latin America, making her an ideal member of Team Latin America for the Small Group Network.

Tirsa Banzhoff

Team Latin America


Jason and Tirsa Banzhoff both serve within the Life Group Ministry at Lifehouse Church in Hagerstown, MD. Jason was born and raised in Hagerstown while Tirsa was born and raised as the daughter of a pastor in Lourdes, El Salvador. They were married in 2014. They have a passion to serve their local community as well as internationally with missions, and are a husband and wife team on Team Latin America for the Small Group Network.

David Tamez

Team Latin America


David is the Global Coach for Purpose Driven and Saddleback's PEACE Plan, serving Hispanic churches around the world with training, encouragement and resources. David’s extensive experience and relationships in Latin America are helping the Small Group Network in Team Latin America.

Will Guzman

Team Latin America


Will Guzman is the Associate Pastor of Saddleback en Espanol, a Saddleback Church campus to serve the 1.5 million Hispanics in Orange County, California. Born in Guatemala and raised in Southern California, Will previously served as a staff pastor at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Oahu, Hawaii. He and his wife have three growing young children. Will helps Team Latin America as an advisor and a connection between Saddleback en Espanol and Latin America.