Powerful Small Group Insights from Jakarta Indonesia

Alvi Radjagukguk is the pastor of small groups (and as of January 2018, the pastor of Community, consisting of seven other ministries) at Jakarta Praise Community Church in Jakarta, Indonesia. We chatted recently about his life and ministry.

How did you get into ministry? In 1995 I was studying Finance and Marketing at a university in Perth, Australia, when I got a prophecy that I would serve God.

In September of that year, a pastor was invited to speak at my church in Perth and I was to be his chaperone. We became good friends. He would later start Jakarta Praise Community Church.

Around mid-1999 I was working for a bank when I felt a holy discontent that there was a bigger purpose for my life than working in an office. Within a short time I was offered two positions in Citibank with a significantly higher salary. I thought, “Maybe God wants me to stay.” I was also faced with the realization that if I were to take a full-time position in ministry then it would take faith, because there were only 30 people in my church and the salary would be not be as significant as if I stayed in Citibank. 

During a 40-day fast I got confirmation in Isaiah that it is not enough to be a servant of God, and that I should not be afraid for God can cause the rain to fall in the desert.

I have now been on staff for 18 years and the senior pastor is not just my friend, but also my boss. God affirmed that if I’m walking in His will then my life will be His deal.


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Current state of the Small Group Ministry? When I joined the staff in 1999 we had 30 people in the church. In 2002, I was made small group pastor. At that time we had about 25 groups. Today, the congregation is 17,000, and there are over 1,100 small groups, 1,300 leaders, 85 small group coaches, and 5 couples that are small group head coaches. This past year we averaged eight people signing up every day to join a small group. The ministry has two staff in addition to me  – one in small group research and development, and one in pastoral administration.

We have bi-weekly meetings for evaluating, analyzing, sharpening the initiatives we’re doing. We do a Google Docs or Typeform survey once every two months with 60-80% participation. 

We are encouraged that 80% of the ideas we tried work, but we are not afraid of failure.

How do you accomplish so much with so little staff? I try to keep the main thing the main thing. I try to do things through volunteers. Our senior pastor teaches that “Serving needs to come out of the abundance of your life. It should be part of your discipleship journey. Be fruitful and not just successful. The end goal of Christianity is maturity, when you put others’ needs above your own.” That gives us a clear mandate to help the congregation serve.

Ministry philosophy? Our pastoral leadership believes that the only way is through discipleship. Small groups are our main vehicle to affect the health of the church. We are to use ministry to build people, and not use people to build ministry. 

“If you love people it gives you the courage to try things. We’ve been through lack of clarity and lack of direction. We believe that your gift is never far from you. It is always around you. That includes the people that God has given you to do ministry with.”

One thought to give other small group point people? In Matthew 28:20 Jesus says, “…and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” The last part is so significant! God promised “I will be with you while you disciple people.”  


  • 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 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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