I'm often asked what Saddleback Church does differently in our small group strategy. My answer is, "not one thing." Because, in fact, we probably do several things that many other churches also do. But what has been so interesting is to watch how God uses the combination of many different things to reach people and connect them into life-changing small groups.
This combination of eight key principles is what we characterize as the Saddleback difference.
Purpose-Driven Groups, not Special Interest Groups
Our small-group strategy intentionally deepens the five biblical purposes of fellowship, discipleship, ministry, evangelism, and worship into every group. We are far more concerned about healthy groups than the number of groups. Groupings of people that meet around "special interests" are strategic, but are not groups that are trying to balance the five purposes for healthy individuals and groups.
So, while our greeter's small groups (in the Greeter's Ministry) are very important and strategic, those groups don't generally focus on "health" of the person and group, but on greeting people to our campus. You need specialty groups that accomplish individual purposes, but you need small groups to bring "health" to your church.
Good Enough, not Perfection
Our small-group ministry strives to be effective, not excellent. We've made our biggest strides by pulling the trigger on ideas at the right moment, not by over-thinking every possible scenario that could go wrong. I love the passage of Scripture found in Ecclesiastes 11:4: "If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done" (NLT). We don't make excellence an idol, and we are not idle because ...