Confessions of an International Small Group Point Person

This is a message from one pastor leading the small group ministry in a church outside of North America.

“There are many things that we have in common with our brothers and sisters in small group ministry in other countries. Yet, here are some pronounced differences between what we see in North American ministry and churches like ours:

  1. We struggle to find resources. You have almost unlimited resources compared to what we have. A few of the ministry resource providers that you take for granted have hundreds of options, all in the language spoken in your church. The principal language in our church isn’t English so we have to either find things in our language, or we have to translate them.
  2. Speaking of language, we deal with multiple languages, ethnicities and dialects in our congregation. This complicates how we communicate and which resources we can use. Almost everything we use has to be contextualized for our church.
  3. We have other cultural challenges. Because of housing, people are not readily able to go very far from their homes for a small group meeting. More than that, most homes are very small and there is rarely space for more than the people who are living in them. That complicates how we have to structure small groups.
  4. Immigration is a big issue for us. We have many different peoples from very different cultures in our community. Each has its own uniqueness and that makes it more challenging for us because we have to tailor our approaches to be inclusive.
  5. Our church is quite small. Our budget is either low or non-existent for things like curricula or travel to conferences and other helpful events. To travel to the U.S. or other countries is a dream that I have, but we don’t have the means to do this.
  6. There are not many churches with small groups in our country. Our own church tried different groups ministries in the past but without any lasting value. Now, we are learning of new ways to do groups, but there are still some naysayers that ask why we are still trying to do something that failed in the past.
  7. I have many different jobs in my church, only a tiny part of which is small groups. I believe in the value and importance of small groups, but I struggle to juggle all of these assignments and still help foster an effective groups ministry.

We are working hard and trusting God to meet all of these challenges. Thanks for trying to understand what we deal with. We are so excited to see the amazing things that God is doing in so many other churches and we hunger to experience those things in our church. Having contact with others around the world that have more experience gives us an emotional boost. Thank you for praying for us!”


  • Ron Wilbur

    Ron is formerly the Pastor of Small Group Health at Saddleback Church in Orange County, California. Ron co-leads our connections team and leads the international team connecting SGN members outside of North America.

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Daniel Thomas

Connections Director


Daniel serves as Executive Pastor at Community Church of Mountain City, TN.  Daniel and his family are on a mission to establish roots within their community, fight for peace and serve well.  He serves as our Connections Director in laying the groundwork for Circles. He loves great coffee and traveling with his wife Tia and two children, Deklan and Aden



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