I’m so thankful for the well-known leaders who share their hard-won wisdom for leading small-group ministry. But I especialy love hearing from the small-group pastors and directors in the trenches—the people leading change quietly yet effectively. People who may never have a book deal, but serve God faithfully day in and day out as they find creative ways to connect people in life-changing community. People like you.
A few months ago, I was talking about this with Todd Watermann, the Marketing Manager for SmallGroups.com, and he asked, “Are there small groups in other countries?” “Of course!” I quickly answered.
When I tried to find stories of group ministries outside North America, however, I came up short. Besides the stories of house churches in China, I had a hard time finding much information about small-group ministry outside our American context.
As the North American church continues to question the validity of small-group ministry, it made me wonder: If small groups are a valid ministry with the potential to connect people in life-changing relationships, shouldn’t they be happening worldwide in a variety of contexts? And if they’re not, is it a sign that we need to rethink our model for community?
As the managing editor of a resource dedicated to small-group ministry, I was asking risky questions. But I’m happy to report that small groups are alive and well all over the world. In fact, as you’ll read, in some contexts like Bulgaria, small groups are reaching people that wouldn’t be reached any other way.
As I’ve connected with pastors from El Salvador, Bulgaria, Australia, and Brazil, I’ve been humbled by the way groups are connecting people, creating disciples, and reaching the unchurched in a wide variety of contexts. Even better: these leaders have wisdom to share with us. Yes, their contexts are vastly different, but they’re facing many of the same questions we have:
- How do we ensure everyone is being discipled?
- How do we help people assimilate into groups?
- How do we reach people who are skeptical of the church?
- How do we develop more leaders?
On top of that, some of their experiences may show a glimpse of our future. For example, the church in Bulgaria is dealing with a Post-Christian culture, and CityLife in Australia is ministering in a multicultural context. (The church has people from 110 nations!)
I’ll warn you: you probably haven’t heard of any of these pastors. But that’s the beauty of this, isn’t it? I’m proud to publish the stories of these hard-working ministries from around the world. Together, we can celebrate all God is doing through groups of people coming together to experience life change.
—Amy Jackson is managing editor of SmallGroups.com.