Archives For Discipleship


7 Principles in Sustaining and Growing Healthy Small Groups by Steve Gladen and Brett Eastman



Major General Richard Smith (Oak Hills Church): Community and Memorial Day



Rob Deklotz and Joel Van Ginkel on Creating Small Group Ownership Among Group Members



Laura Copeland (Life Groups Dir. Calvary Chapel): Keeping People Connected into Groups



Rick Warren Inspired Movie – Home Run based on John Baker and Celebrate Recovery Ministry


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I’ll never forget when, during my early years at Willow Creek, my supervisor said, “Brett, you have proven that you have some level of the gift of leadership. I’d like to further develop your leadership gifts in this next season together.”

It made me feel wonderful that someone was recognizing my gifts and willing to invest in growing them.  And this is exactly what coaches ought to be doing with their leaders — motivating them to develop their gifts. Of course, it shouldn’t stop there. The point of developing their gifts is for them to go and do likewise with their group members.

So how does a coach make this gift development happen? Using the acrostic MOTIVATE will help answer that question.

Model. If you want your leaders to turn around and work on developing others’ gifts, you’ve got to start by developing theirs. This will show them how to do the same with others. Do just what John Wallace did for me: recognize their gifts and look for opportunities to help them grow.

Let’s say, for example, you notice your leader is a good writer. First, you point out the talent you see. Then encourage them to take on a task that…

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Small group success isn’t just for mega churches.

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…

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Mad MenThe opening title sequence to the wildly popular Mad Men television drama shows a silhouetted businessman falling from the heights of the 1960s New York City skyscrapers.  The man free falls for twenty seconds while the iconic, half-century old advertisements and slogans display behind him. The viewer never sees the man crash onto the sidewalk. Rather one senses a fall that never ends.  In the midst of success and wealth all around him, the man has nothing to keep him from sinking lower and still lower.

The Mad Men fan would know the silhouetted businessman as the show’s protagonist, Donald Draper. He is the creative director responsible for many of the ad campaigns that define 1960s America.  The newcomer to this drama would be excused for believing this television show to be about the highs and lows of Madison Avenue.  The advertising world of New York’s past, however, is only the canvas upon which Producer Matthew Weiner tells his stories of the ever-falling Draper.

The opening sequence of the falling man, according to TV Guide, is ranked 9th ALL TIME for television show openers. What is it about this Vertigo-like…

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Sally had been leading a small group for a few months when Jane, her small group coach, called her. Sally thought, that’s her job to call me; she really doesn’t care, and consequently, didn’t connect with her. A week later, Jane called again. This time Sally thought she was really nice but still was just doing her job.

Jane had to call Sally eight times before she believed Jane actually cared and wanted a relationship with her. As a leader, Sally was slow to warm up, slow to trust, and a little insecure. Had Jane given up on try seven, Sally may have given up on leadership and missed out on an edifying relationship with Jane. Jane went the distance and never gave up.

As a small group champion, you can never give up on your leaders. Stay as faithful as possible when ministering to your leaders. At the height of your frustration, you may think, these people don’t need me, but they do. But in order to minister to them, you have to crack their heart’s code. In the end, people don’t care how much you know, to use the worn phrase, until they know how much you care.

Here are…

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When my daughter, Michelle, was diagnosed with a form of cerebral palsy, we thought she’d never walk. But one day she started getting up on her haunches and crawling. The next minute, she started climbing up the edge of things and trying to walk, but she didn’t look like she would ever get her legs underneath her. So we got a little walker that allowed her to cruise around the house — slow to fast, fast to faster, and faster to really fast. Finally, after four and half years, she took her first step and jumped into my arms.

When we bought a two-story house, she wanted to climb. She didn’t want to use the railing for support; she wanted to go straight up the center of the stairs, just like everybody else. One day, my wife called and said, “You’ve gotta come home.”

When I came home, Michelle, now 5, said, “Dad, I’m ready to do it.” She went up a couple of steps and wobbled a bit, but she refused to use the rail. She kept going up. Two thirds of the way up the stairs, she fell back on her heels, reached over for the railing, missed the railing,…

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Hurt BrideMost pastors have been there, struggling over the news that someone they love and care about has left the church in a tizzy. It doesn’t matter if the church has a hundred people or ten thousand; it always leaves at least a little sting when they go. This is especially true if they go away mad. We cannot control what people do, but we should attempt to pastor them even on their way out the back door.

Some current realities:

1. Unfortunately, we live in a consumer-driven culture. There are a lot of options if they don’t like your church. “Tick me off,” they think, “and I’ll just take my church-business down the road.”
2. Too few truly understand the value of connecting and belonging to a local church at a meaningful level. People have a hard time staying the course in marriage these days. Bailing on a church is even easier for many.
3. Too often people come and go for the wrong reasons. They might have come to our church for the wrong reasons, and if so, they will probably leave someday for the wrong reasons.

Good reasons to leave a…

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Steve Gladen and Brett Eastman talk about Group Talk – A great resource for you and your small group ministry.

Learn great ideas that are out there around the world. Every month has a new topic to take your ministry to a new level.

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May Group Talks

5/10 – Steve Gladen on “The Power of Alignment”
5/17 – Mark Howell on “Engaging Everyone”
5/24 – Allen White on “Recruiting Leaders”
5/31 – Mark Howell on “Connecting Members”

Listen to Group Talks Here

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Brett Eastman interviews Caleb Anderson on Small Group Leadership 101. 10 Simple steps that will make a difference for you and your group.

1. You are not alone.
2. Don’t try to do it alone
3. Just Be You
4. Prepare Ahead of Time
5. Pray for Your Group Members
6. Be Patient when Asking Questions
7. Always Read the Transitions and Questions Out Loud
8. Break Into Smaller Groups if too Large
9. Let Others Lead
10. Enjoy the Journey

Watch the Full Interview

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Breaking Free – Financial Freedom

Erik Van Alstine
(co-founder of Project 28, author of Breaking Free and teaching pastor at Champions Centre)

Steve Gladen interviews Erik Van Alstine about “Breaking Free” – Strategies that transform Debt into Wealth. Breaking Free is a personal finance small group and seminar program that will save you hundreds of dollars a month, immediately, and represents thousands of dollars in new wealth in your pocket in the months ahead. It offers you a new sense of personal power, a clear path to godly purpose, and a flourishing, prosperous life!

Watch the Interview

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Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
(Isaiah 55:6-7 ESV)

With open arms and abundant, forgiving grace, God invites every one of us — any one of us — to return to him. That for which you hit the “delete” key in repentance (which is part of the turning/returning) is worthless compared to lifelong fellowship with the God who made you.


Recently on Steve’s Free blog: Jesus at the Beach | And He Began to Walk

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