by Cheryl Shireman
The Purpose Driven Small Group Network is the dream of Steve Gladen, Pastor of the Small Group Community of Saddleback Church. After receiving questions from so many Small Group Point People over the years, many ready to throw in the towel, Steve began to wonder how he could help all of these people beyond a short phone conversation or email. As he began to explore possibilities, he realized, beyond an occasional conference, very few of these leaders had contact with any other Small Group Point People – even those that lived just a few miles from each other. At that point, he started to dream of a free Network that would connect all of these people to each other. It is Steve’s goal that no Small Group Point Person ever stands alone. To this end, he created the PDSG Network to connect Small Group Point People across North America so that they might build relationships, encourage one another, and share resources and ideas.
The PDSGN began in 2007. It had a rocky start. There was such an overwhelming response that some people “fell through the cracks” – the very last thing Steve wanted. As more leaders stepped in across the country, however, the Network began to take shape. These men and women became Area Point Leaders, State Point Leaders, and Regional Point People.
There are currently twelve Area Point Leaders. The Area Point Leaders each oversee a group of State Point People in their area. For example, the Midwest Area Point Leader oversees Michigan, Ontario, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky and encourages each of those State Point People.
In turn, the State Point People each encourage Regional Point People in their state or province. For example, the Indiana State Point Person encourages all of the Regional Point People in the state of Indiana. The amount of Regional Point People per state (or province) varies according to the size of the state, but generally, we are aiming for one Regional Point Person per county.
The Regional Point People are the people “in the trenches”. They are the men and women doing the real work of the Network – gathering Small Group Point People in their area for “huddles”. A huddle is an informal gathering of Small Group Point People. It may be as simple as a few people meeting for coffee, or as elaborate as a group meeting during a small group conference. Whatever the venue, the idea is to build relationships, encourage one another, and share resources and ideas. All too often, Small Group Point People are isolated from their peers who do the same work. These huddles give them the opportunity to build personal networks of support by meeting others who live relatively close. Want to know what curriculum others are using? Want to know what other churches are doing about training? Want to know how to start new groups? A huddle is your chance to ask!
Steve’s idea of a network to connect Small Group Point People has taken root and is flourishing. Today, Small Group Point People of varying denominations and backgrounds are joining the Network on a daily basis. Some are serving as State Point People (we still have a few state positions available), some are serving as Regional Point People (want to have your own huddles?), and some are just showing up for coffee. All of them have one goal, however – developing healthy small groups. Our goal, is to help them do so.