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Small Groups with Purpose: How to Create Healthy Communities [Kindle Edition]

Steve Gladen , Rick Warren
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Now the pastor behind the phenomenal success of small groups at Saddleback Church shares his secrets with you.

"In this long-awaited book, Saddleback's brilliant pastor of small groups shares the biblical strategy, the secrets, the failures, and the lessons behind the remarkable growth of our small groups. Saddleback may possibly be the only church in America that consistently has thousands more people attend weekly Bible study in groups than attend our weekend services. So much of that is due to the genius of Steve Gladen, a pastor with a passionate heart for Jesus and his body."―Rick Warren, author, The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church

"You absolutely must put a copy of Steve Gladen's book into the hands of your small group leadership. Steve Gladen sees growth happen year in and year out as he marshals support for the leaders of more than 3,500 small groups. This book relates his learnings from over thirteen years of his Saddleback experience. The wisdom he shares here is a gift."--Carl George, founder, Consulting for Growth, Inc.

"Steve Gladen's new book provides us with a pocket GPS to help us find our way to balanced and healthy small groups in the church. Steve's work reflects the wisdom that comes from living out God's emphasis on developing relational community and discipleship among his people. It also conveys an awareness of favorable routes that groups can take, which endorse God's plan for building up the church to become vigorously alive in Christ. The inclusion of illustrative stories and practical, realistic principles of operation make this an enjoyable read and an enthusiastic stimulator of purposeful groups."--Dr. Julie Gorman, author, Community That Is Christian; professor of Christian formation and discipleship, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Jesus and the early church discipled people through small groups. In this book, my friend Steve Gladen mines the Bible and his leadership experience at Saddleback Church for practical advice on how to create healthy small groups at your church."--George O. Wood, general superintendent, Assemblies of God USA

"Whether your church is pioneering a new approach or you've been at it for years, this book has insight for establishing a sound approach to small group ministry, built on Steve's extensive experience. You will find his book practical and encouraging."--Ed Stetzer, coauthor, Transformational Church


Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Make small groups work in your church!

Over the past fifteen years, small groups have become a vital way to build community in large churches. Nowhere has this been more apparent than at Saddleback Church. Steve Gladen, pastor of small groups at Saddleback, shares the secrets of that ministry's incredible success in creating small groups with purpose.

This practical book walks you through the questions you need to answer to develop your own intentional small group strategy. Because it is built on principles and not methods, this step-by-step process can be implemented successfully in any size church. Each chapter ends with a list of questions for you to answer to help you assess your current situation and your desires for the future. Personal stories, Scripture, and examples ground the discussion and show the system in action.

From the Back Cover

Now the pastor behind the phenomenal success of small groups at Saddleback Church shares his secrets with you.

"In this long-awaited book, Saddleback's brilliant pastor of small groups shares the biblical strategy, the secrets, the failures, and the lessons behind the remarkable growth of our small groups. Saddleback may possibly be the only church in America that consistently has thousands more people attend weekly Bible study in groups than attend our weekend services. So much of that is due to the genius of Steve Gladen, a pastor with a passionate heart for Jesus and his body."―Rick Warren, author, The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church

"You absolutely must put a copy of Steve Gladen's book into the hands of your small group leadership. Steve Gladen sees growth happen year in and year out as he marshals support for the leaders of more than 3,500 small groups. This book relates his learnings from over thirteen years of his Saddleback experience. The wisdom he shares here is a gift."--Carl George, founder, Consulting for Growth, Inc.

"Steve Gladen's new book provides us with a pocket GPS to help us find our way to balanced and healthy small groups in the church. Steve's work reflects the wisdom that comes from living out God's emphasis on developing relational community and discipleship among his people. It also conveys an awareness of favorable routes that groups can take, which endorse God's plan for building up the church to become vigorously alive in Christ. The inclusion of illustrative stories and practical, realistic principles of operation make this an enjoyable read and an enthusiastic stimulator of purposeful groups."--Dr. Julie Gorman, author, Community That Is Christian; professor of Christian formation and discipleship, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Jesus and the early church discipled people through small groups. In this book, my friend Steve Gladen mines the Bible and his leadership experience at Saddleback Church for practical advice on how to create healthy small groups at your church."--George O. Wood, general superintendent, Assemblies of God USA

"Whether your church is pioneering a new approach or you've been at it for years, this book has insight for establishing a sound approach to small group ministry, built on Steve's extensive experience. You will find his book practical and encouraging."--Ed Stetzer, coauthor, Transformational Church

Product Details

  • File Size: 1204 KB
  • Print Length: 241 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Books; Reprint edition (June 1, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005BOXOMQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #229,269 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fabulous Resource! May 26, 2011
Format:Hardcover
I've said this a number of times, but I want to be sure and say this again. Steve Gladen is a couple of things. First, he's one of the smartest GroupLife guys on the planet. He's also one of the most helpful small group experts on the planet.

Steve's new book, Small Groups with Purpose: How to Create Healthy Communities is a perfect example of his brilliance and his extreme helpfulness. Even better? It is a great book, absolutely packed with wisdom and insight. You'll have trouble finding a chapter that doesn't get extremely marked up, underlined, starred, and dogeared for future reference.

There are several things I really love about the book. First, this is a first person, insider account of the inner workings of the largest small group ministry in North America. That is worth noting. Size isn't everything, but to build something like this takes time, wisdom, patience, and leadership. If you read with eyes to see...you'll have some aha moments about how to build a pervasive small group culture.

Second, you don't have to be a purpose-driven church to really benefit from an understanding of how the model works in grouplife. Important concepts like "healthy groups balance the purposes" are fleshed out in ways that you'll find yourself applying in your context. With a chapter on how groups can develop each of the five purposes, Small Groups with Purpose will become a road map for implementation. It will also provide some insight into the kinds of grouplife attributes and activities that can be measured to determine system health.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making Small Groups BIG! July 20, 2013
Format:Paperback
Out of boredom, I stopped reading Small Group Ministry books years ago. Few authors had anything fresh to say! But then last week, James Powell (from the 95 Network) and I had the random privilege of meeting Steve Gladen at a coaches gathering. Steve is the author of "Small Groups with Purpose."

Normally one might begin a blog highlighting an author's credentials. Would you stop reading if you knew Steve began leading 325 small groups? That is more small groups than 95% of churches have as members! Or what if I told you he currently provides leadership to over 3,500 small groups? That is more small groups than many mega-churches have as members.

Don't sweat it. Really. No, really really.

Steve readily confesses that size isn't indicative of health. A more critical dynamic is how well you `balance' the Biblical purposes of fellowship, discipleship, ministry, evangelism, and worship within the group life of your church. Another critical dynamic is how well you provide an onramp and pathway to help people grow from Jesus' invitation of "Come, follow me" to "Come and die."

You will appreciate the direct way Steve challenges conventional approaches pastors take to building group life. You can be overly cautious and perfectionistic. You can slip into the trap of overthinking your plan and structure. You can let groups become too one-dimensional or purposeless. You can front-load leadership development with so much training, and such unrealistic expectations, that few become qualified to lead a group.

So what are some of the "fresh" insights Steve provides on small groups? Here is my take. I hope you will grab his book and plunge deeper.

1. Language. The way you talk about groups often intimidates people out of leading or "hosting".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Secret to Saddleback's Groups and Yours August 22, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
By Allen White, allenwhite.org

When you look at the success of groups at Saddleback Church, it would be easy, though cynical, to assume that you can only achieve that number of groups if they are an inch deep and a mile wide. After observing and participating in the ministry of Saddleback for the last 18 years, I have discovered that Saddleback is both deep and wide.

They cast a broad net to recruit small group H.O.S.T.s and to connect their members into groups. Today, Saddleback has over 3,500 small groups with more folks in groups than in their weekend services. This is due in large part to their small group champion, Rick Warren, the founding pastor of Saddleback Church. A God-given idea and Pastor Rick's influence produced 2,000 new group hosts in their first 40 Days of Purpose campaign. His influence is huge in connecting people into groups. But, connecting and sustaining are two different animals.

Steve Gladen in Small Groups with Purpose outlines a success story not just for retaining numbers, but for life transformation and leadership development. Having run many successful church-wide campaigns myself, I know that it's easy to create a spike in groups during a campaign, but helping those groups to continue is another animal. In this book, Steve Gladen outlines a powerful strategy for gaining and maintaining momentum.

Coaching and training are Saddleback's keys to effective group leaders. Steve presents a unique coaching strategy. Community Leaders, rather than coaches, serve 20-25 groups leaders. This system works due to a key insight: not every group leader needs the same level of coaching. By determining whether the group is new, growing, mature or stubborn, community leaders offer an appropriate level of care.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great instruction!
Published 6 months ago by Dmaj77
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book!
Published 7 months ago by Frank Kozub
4.0 out of 5 stars A Must Have
If you are responsible for small groups, this book must be in your library and highly used.
Published 7 months ago by Matt
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good read...lots of helpful information.
Published 7 months ago by Bill Birdwell
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Book
Our church is looking into small groups and this book is an absolutely amazing resource. Steve sums up quite nicely what they do at Saddleback.
Published 9 months ago by Joshua
4.0 out of 5 stars Used in a small group dynamics course
The study of small groups in churches is very important for anyone in a ministry role today. Enjoyed the course and the book.
Published 11 months ago by melissa holl
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read for Small Group Leaders
Excellent book. It was well written with a wealth of information. You should check out the small group network as well.
Published 11 months ago by Phil
4.0 out of 5 stars Catholic Teaching translated to Evangelical Church
From my personal perspective the major topics in this book of greatest value is the campaign strategy and h.o.s.t. language for recruitment. Read more
Published 11 months ago by justin Philip Milne
5.0 out of 5 stars Most complete book on small groups
This book is the most complete on small group of those I read so far. Steve Gladen and Rick Warren gave the theology of small groups and the way to make sound and healthy community... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Ractery
5.0 out of 5 stars small groups with purpose
This was a great book. It covered the subject area at both a conceptual level and a practical level. The links to other resources makes it a step above the rest. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Robert Baines
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More About the Author

Steve attended Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri, where he earned a B.A. in Biblical Studies with minors in Greek and Philosophy in 1982. From there he moved to Pasadena, California and received a Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary with a concentration in Pastoral Counseling in 1985.

While completing his Masters, Steve was awarded an internship at a local church in the San Fernando Valley, which started his full-time pastoral career in 1982. Influenced by the small group model taught at Fuller, Steve began to realize the value of small groups in connecting people to the church and in the discipleship process.

Throughout his ministry, and in churches of varying denominations and sizes, he has successfully implemented the small group strategy in youth ministry, singles ministry and overall church structures.

Steve joined the staff of Saddleback Church (www.saddleback.com) in February of 1998 as Pastor of Small Groups, where he oversees the strategic launch and development of the small group community. Steve also founded the Small Group Network, a network for leaders of small group ministry in 2006 (www.smallgroupnetwork.com). Using the Great Commission and Great Commandment as inspiration, Steve encourages every group member to balance the five Biblical purposes in their heart and groups.

Steve does consulting and seminars throughout the United States and internationally, championing small groups and teaching what it means to have small groups with purpose. Learn more about Steve at www.smallgroups.net.

Steve and his wife Lisa reside in Southern California, have been married since 1989, and have two children, Erika and Ethan.


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