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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

Make small groups work in your church!

Small groups are a vital way to build community. 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.


"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."―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. The wisdom he shares here is a gift."--Carl George, founder, Consulting for Growth, Inc.

"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
If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $2.99 (Save 70%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Books; Reprint edition (January 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801014956
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801014956
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Everyone needs to read this book.
Tina P
Steve's book "Small Groups with Purpose" is so informational and inspirational!
Ralphbertke
Excellent book full of lots of practical information.
Rachael

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mark C. Howell on 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 By Jon Morrissette on 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 By Allen White on 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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