It Could Happen to You!

Apply the success of Saddleback church to your small group program.

I can remember it like it was yesterday. I had only been on staff at Saddleback Church for a few weeks when I learned that over 800 men from our congregation were planning to attend the Promise Keepers rally in Washington, DC. I suggested we try to launch some new small groups among the men going to the event. Over 300 said they were interested, but I only had half a dozen men to lead them—the story of a small group pastor's life.

I got to game day, where everybody showed up to get into a group, and I tried something called the "small group connection" process. People gather into pairs, then fours, and then groups of eight according to where they live. The process simply allows people to traverse down a spiral of questions. The group moves from icebreaker-like questions into deeper spiritual conversation. This allows them to discern the relative spiritual shepherd (not leader) in the circle. This model follows the Acts 6 example, where the disciples encouraged the people to select from among the church seven people to serve tables.

We launched 32 groups that day with almost 300 people. We saw some disasters, but we also had a seed of an idea that helped to serve the church-wide small group campaigns for years to come. No longer did we have a problem finding leaders. We were providing the living rooms of every ministry with pre-qualified leaders.

We refined the process with training, coaching, and raising up co-leaders. And the big addition to this was adding what we called the "Rick Factor." The secret weapon in any church for recruiting new leaders is and always will be the Senior Pastor. In one weekend we signed up over 1,500 people wanting to get into a group. The biggest piece came, ...

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