A Balanced Small-Group Strategy

How small groups can apply the five purposes of the church.

Note: Steve Gladen will be a keynote speaker at the Community U series of conferences throughout 2010. Click here for more information.

At Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, small groups do five things that intentionally relate to each of the five purposes of the church: worship, fellowship, discipleship,ministry, and missions. We believe it is critical to balance the five purposes within every small group.

Obviously, this doesn't mean that you would come to your small group each week and do 15 minutes on each purpose. But over the course of six months, you could evaluate your group according to how much time you collectively spend on each purpose.

If it's not balanced, take one evening to work out how you—as a group—will balance the purposes of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and missions.

Now for the main question: What does each purpose look like in group life?


A small group helps people connect, moving its members from coffee and cookies to true community. I like to say it this way: My best friends don't have to ask my prayer requests, because they already know the details of my life.

This type of small-group fellowship encourages the other group members to reveal themselves, and also discover the real you.


A small group helps people grow. Everyone is on a spiritual path full of twists and turns, forks in the road, dead ends, and pot holes. Group life helps you in your spiritual journey and supports you as you navigate the road.

If you're on a smooth part ofyour journey, your small group can rejoice with you. On the other hand, if you find you're "off-roading" or moving away from your Christian commitments, the group will help draw you back. ...

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