Steve Gladen: Small Group Health VS Numerical Growth

All Types of Churches to Reach All Types of People

A very small church may be very healthy; a very large church may be very unhealthy. This is also true of small group ministries—size is not indicative of health. When we have shared what works for us at Saddleback, sometimes the response is, “Sure, that works for you. You are a huge church with lots of resources.” The thing people forget, though, is that Saddleback also started out as a small church. It began as seven people meeting in Rick and Kay Warren’s living room. It is hard to get much smaller than that. Adhering to sound principles enabled Saddleback to grow not only in size but also in health.

Your church may never be over a hundred members in size. It may never have more than two groups. That is not necessarily an indi- cation of poor health. You may be limited by the demographic of the people you are trying to reach or simply by smaller population in general. For example, if you are working with a church whose members are primarily older people who are accustomed to attending Sunday school, they may be very hesitant to ever join a small group. That doesn’t mean, however, that your Sunday school groups can’t be healthy. We firmly believe the key issue for small groups in the twenty-first century is health, not numerical growth.

This is an excerpt from Steve Gladen’s book “Small Groups with Purpose


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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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