by Cheryl Shireman
Surfing is the art of riding the waves that God builds. God makes the waves; surfers just ride them. No surfer tries to create waves. If the waves aren’t there, you just don’t surf that day! On the other hand, when surfers see a good wave, they make the most of it, even if it means surfing in the middle of a storm…Our job as church leaders, like experienced surfers, is to recognize a wave of God’s Spirit and ride it. It is not our responsibility to make waves, but to recognize how God is working in the world and join him in the endeavor.
I can relate to these words Rick Warren wrote in the Purpose Driven Church.
My youngest daughter, Scarlett, is a surfer – despite the fact that she grew up in Indiana. On a trip to California, I watched her as she paddled her board out into the vast ocean and then changed direction and turned to position herself on the board as she saw a large wave coming toward her. As she headed back toward the beach, I watched as she paddled rapidly, frequently turning to look over her shoulder as the wave quickly approached.
Although I have never surfed, I know how she felt. From the moment I joined Steve Gladen in this endeavor to develop and coordinate the Purpose Driven Small Group Network, I have not stopped paddling, and the building wave continues to rush toward us.
Two years ago we had less than 100 churches in the Purpose Driven Small Group Network. Today, we are at over 1300. Small Group Point People from churches of every size have joined us. We just had a new church (with eleven members) join us. We have many mega-churches who measure their members in tens of thousands, and we have many churches sized somewhere in between.
We are multi-denominational. We are composed of traditional churches and contemporary churches. Our members live all across North America. And while we do not have “official” meetings outside of North America, we have many international members who have joined us. I received an email not too long ago from a woman who told me she had several leaders in Africa and she wanted them to receive this monthly newsletter to help them with their ministries.
We have members who have been leading small group ministries for over twenty years, and other members who have just started – or are about to start! We recently received an email from someone who was starting to lead a small group ministry. He shared that he was scheduled to meet with the Lead Pastor the following week and “for some reason I am scared to death”. We often hear from people who tell us, “I need all the help I can get!” As Steve says, this is why we do what we do. We live for those moments when we can connect someone to others who can help them, who can support them, who can tell them that once they were new to small group ministry too.
We talk to people who are overwhelmed and are ready to give up. They are at the end of their rope. The Network is their life line. Their knot to hang on to. We also have members who already have 100% of their congregation connected in small groups and they want to know how to get 120% or 150% connected. They dream big and they want to talk to other big dreamers. All of our members have the same thing in common – a desire to serve God, and the belief that the community found in small groups can be life-changing. Our desire is to connect them so that they can help each other serve God in ways that are more intentional and effective.
This month we are excited to announce that we are changing our name from the Purpose Driven Small Group Network to the Small Group Network. As we met with leaders and exchanged emails with them, one of the things we heard was, “We would like to be a part of the Network, but we are not a ‘Purpose-Driven’ church.” Our response was always – You don’t have to be! Our desire is to help Small Group Point People connect with other leaders so that they can develop healthy and balanced small groups. THAT is our purpose. We are not seeking to create Saddleback clones, but help Small Group Point People to create healthy small group ministries. How each church accomplishes that goal will be specific to that church and and culture. So, we believe the name change to the Small Group Network will clear up any misunderstanding and open the doors for even more churches to join us.
Steve Gladen’s dream was to create a network for Small Group Point People. This network would connect them to each other so that they might build relationships, share resources, and support and encourage each other. That dream has come true. The Small Group Network is growing and thriving. All across North America, on various days and time, Small Group Point People are meeting in “huddles”. These informal gatherings happen at coffee shops, in private homes, at small group conferences, and in meeting rooms in churches across North America.
Conversations may be as simple as asking: What’s working for you, what’s not, and what’s next? Or they may focus on a topic such as, How do you train your small group leaders or how do you start new groups? Problems are discussed. Praise is given. Prayers are offered. In short, Small Group Point People gather to “talk shop”.
Oddly enough, Small Group Point People are often isolated as they encourage others to build community. Small Group Ministry problems are unique to this ministry, and leaders often have no one to bounce ideas off of or to turn to for advice. The Network gives Small Group Point People an opportunity to talk to other leaders of Small Group Ministry. Our huddles are like going to a mini conference where you have the chance to not only listen, but to also ask questions and give your own suggestions – all for free!
We accomplish this through a huge volunteer team of twelve Regional Leaders who each oversee several states and/or provinces, dozens of Area Leaders who oversee defined areas of states and provinces, and hundreds of Local Leaders who hold huddles locally. These men and women are the ones who took a dream planted in Steve’s heart by God and made it a reality. The Small Group Network would not exist if not for the dedicated work of these volunteers.
Our twelve Regional Leaders and Steve and I get together annually for a four-day retreat to discuss the Network and how we might continue to improve it. These Regional Leaders are the backbone of our ministry and are a wonderful group of men (but don’t tell them I said that – I have to work with these guys!).
We have asked them to each share a little bit about themselves with you. Steve and I have also added a bit about ourselves. We all look forward to serving you. We are excited about the future and about riding the many waves to come.
Keep paddling boys!
Small Group Network Founder
Steve Gladen email@example.com
I attended Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri, where I earned a B.A. in Biblical Studies with minors in Greek and Philosophy in 1982. From there I moved to Pasadena, California and received a Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary with a concentration in Pastoral Counseling in 1985. I worked on 4 church staffs prior to joining the staff at Saddleback Church in February of 1998 as the Pastor of Small Groups. He now oversees over 3,500 adult small groups at Saddleback. I co-wrote several books and small group materials including: 250 Big Ideas for Small Groups, Building Healthy Small Groups in Your Church, and Don’t Lead Alone. With over 20 years in leading small group ministries, I love seeing a big church become small through true community developed in group life. My wife Lisa and I have been married since 1989. We reside in Southern California and have two children, Erika and Ethan. I am currently working on a book on small groups that will be released in May of 2011.
Small Group Network Coordinator
Cheryl Shireman firstname.lastname@example.org
I grew up in northern Indiana and still live there today on a lake with my husband, Bruce. I came to Christ relatively late in life, and it has been an adventure ever since. I served as Director of Small Groups for Dayspring Church in Auburn, Indiana (the church where I came to Christ). During that time, I attended a Saddleback Purpose Driven Small Group Conference in 2007 where I first heard about the Network. It sounded like a great idea to me, and I really wanted to be part of it. Beware of what you wish for! I simply wanted to be a member. I never could have dreamed what God (or Steve Gladen) had in mind. The entire process has been exciting, overwhelming, and humbling. I still can’t believe I get to do this (God really loves me a lot!).
I have three children, Rocky (married to Shawn), Lee Anne (married to Dylan), and Scarlett. I also happen to have the most beautiful and intelligent granddaughter in the world, Anna Lee.
My Indiana University undergraduate degree is in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing and American Literature. I have a Masters degree from Huntington University in Discipling Ministries/Christian Education with an emphasis in Leadership. I am passionate about discipleship – helping people discover God’s will for their lives and encouraging them to take their next steps. I believe small groups are an excellent vehicle for doing just that. I also love writing, backpacking in the Colorado Rockies, and gathering at the lake with my family on weekends.
Atlantic Coast – West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina
Michael Moore Michael.email@example.com
Michael Moore is the Small Groups Pastor at Grace Community Church in Fulton, Maryland. He and his wife Terry have two boys, Matt and Aaron. He is currently on a mission trip in Kenya, Africa and was unable to provide information at this time. Be sure to check back for his updated profile!
Florida – all of Florida
Reid Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
I serve as the Community Life Pastor of the 14,000 member multi-site Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (www.goChristFellowship.com) and am the founder of the 2orMore small group leadership training and resource ministry. I lives in Jupiter, Florida with my wife of 15-years, Lisa, and two children: Mikayela (8) and Drew (5).
My life-purpose is to empower God’s people in mission and I accomplish this by providing customized small group leadership training, consulting, and resources for pastors and small group ministry leaders around the world. I have developed a network of hundreds of leaders representing over 1,000 churches by providing practical and transferable materials for all types of small group leadership roles.
I also speak at small group leadership events including Saddleback’s Small Groups Conferences and have been performing professional training on building biblical community for many years. I am a regular contributing author for online publications such as Christianity Today’s smallgroups.com, smallgrouptrader.com, and Rick Warren’s pastors.com.
I also serve as a member of a panel of small group ministry experts for Christianity Today International. I am a licensed minister who received his Master of Divinity with an emphasis in Cross-cultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary where I developed curriculum used by Fuller’s School of World Mission.
I also enjoy reflection time at the beach, traveling, date nights with my wife, Starbuck’s espresso roast coffee, cherry pie, spicy food, and hang-time with good friends. This year I hope to buy an ocean kayak and begin exploring Florida more! Oh yeah…and how could I forget: food challenges! [Editorial note – on more than one occasion, things have gotten ugly as Steve Gladen has challenged Reid to eat “special meals” at restaurants – such as a 6 inch high stack of dinner-plate sized pancakes or a four pound burrito. Enough said]
Middle Atlantic – New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey
Alastair Bate email@example.com
Alastair Bate, along with his wife, Carole, are Salvation Army officers ministering in Northern New England. Alastair is the son of New Zealand Salvation Army officer parents and grew up in several different countries as his parents spent most of their ministry on overseas service. Alastair settled in the New York area and entered the Salvation Army’s seminary in 1988 where he met Carole and married her shortly after their commissioning and ordination. Following a Salvation Army church appointment in Massachusetts, they took an overseas appointment, leading a congregation in the northern Russia. They continued to minister for nine years in Eastern Europe, including appointments at the seminary and then leading the Army’s work in the Republic of Georgia.
Alastair and Carole have four daughters who keep them busy and poor! Alastair likes to fish, do woodworking, and spends a great deal of time reading, often in front of the bathroom door waiting for teenage daughters to finish getting ready in the morning!
Midwest – Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and Ontario
Jon Weiner firstname.lastname@example.org
I serve as the Groups Leader Development Pastor with the Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY. I have been at Southeast for over ten years and have served in discipleship ministry for twenty three years. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, I am a graduate of the University of Louisville, with degrees in Political Science and Spanish. I earned a Master’s Degree in Adult Education from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I have served in churches in Kentucky and Florida, as Senior Minister and Discipleship Minister. I have also authored several books and study guides for groups. I am married to Glenda and have three children, Malinda, Nick and Andrew
New England – Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador
Vinnie Cappetta Vinnie@crosscommchurch.org
I grew up in Central Connecticut participating in a Roman Catholic Church and later an independent, Baptist Church. I have been married to a gal named Heather from North Carolina for 15 years and we have two children, Mikayla (8), and Megan (3). Our church is Crossroads Community Church in MetroWest Boston where I serve as the Pastor of Family Life. I am passionate about pastoral counseling, groups, Celebrate Recovery, and welcoming new people into the church. Several years ago I started a counseling ministry called Check Your Compass Counseling where I see adolescents and adults. I also provide seminars and workshops for church on the cross section of emotions and spirituality.
In my time off, I enjoy fishing on my bass boat, playing basketball in the old-men’s league (even though I am only 37), playing Nintendo Wii with my girls and taking my wife on dates. I root for the Boston Celtics, New England Patriots, and the Red Sox. I hate the Yankees even though God says we should love our enemies. Pray for me.
North Central – North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, and Manitoba
Jay Daniell email@example.com
Jay also serves as the Small Group Network Database Manager
Judy, my wife of 28 years, and I have two daughters; Megan (25) and Molly (19). We also own the family business, Ricardo’s Mexican Restaurant. Judy runs the restaurant “to support Jay’s church habit”. I also began to golf 2 years ago and wonder how something so frustrating can be so much fun. But my favorite thing to do is to sit on some tropical beach in a far away land with my beautiful wife Judy.
After attending a church conference in 1999, I brought back the idea of launching small groups in my local church. I led the small group charge as a volunteer for a time; became a part time staff person in 2002 and in 2004 my position transitioned to full time Small Group Ministry Director (as well as other duties). With no formal college education, I am a graduate of the “School of Hard Knocks”. God has given me a passion for Small Group Ministry so connecting with the Small Group Network has been a great fit for my ministry.
In May of 2010, after much thought and prayer, I resigned my position at Our Savior Lutheran Church. Judy and I are now in the midst of planting a new church called Renewed Hope Christian Community. The Lord has us and two other couples to develop a ministry strategy meeting primarily in small groups.
Northwest – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan
Ron Youtsey firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a southern California boy who grew up in San Diego spending my free time surfing and hanging at the beach. I graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Business Administration and got my MDiv from Bethel Seminary. I am married to Donna have twin sons, Eric and Sean and seven grandchildren. Donna and I now live in Port Orchard, Washington where we enjoy walks in the forest and watching the wildlife.
My passion is developing leaders and equipping new followers of Christ. I have 25 years of experience serving as pastor with a strong focus on small groups, from new church plants to mega churches. My heart is to make disciples and I am dedicated to helping build a community of missional Christians in the local church. My experience as director of Small Group development in multi-site churches helps me to provide a broad range of leader training and development for pastors. Serving on church staff teams I have developed successful Small Group start-up strategies and expansion campaigns to multiply groups while stimulating outreach. I am the groups team leader at Newlife Church in Silverdale, Washington.
Pacific Area – California and Hawaii
Ed Applegate email@example.com
I’m in my first role in ministry (four years in) and I have to pinch myself sometimes because I love what I get to do so much. My passion is to see God glorified as people’s lives are changed – especially in small groups! I am the Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Crossroads Grace Community Church in Manteca, CA (www.crossroadsgrace.org). I am married to Kiah (thank you God!) and have two kids Alathea (3) and Elijah (1). I have a BA in Math from Oxford University and an MDiv from Western Seminary. I was born in England and moved to California when I was four. I did elementary and jr. high school in CA, and then moved back to UK where I completed high school and college. So I’m English, but I speak with a California accent (whatever that is!). Because of that mix and confusion that results, it wouldn’t be unusual to find me watching (American) Football and drinking hot tea. I enjoy drinking coffee (and tea) and reading, but most of all hanging out with my wife and kids!
South – Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia
Eddie Mosley firstname.lastname@example.org
I am Executive Director of GroupLife at LifePoint Church, a multi-site campus in Smyrna, TN. I am enthusiasm about people to experiencing life change as guiding the direction and strategy for Small Groups.
I graduated from Middle Tennessee State university and Southern Seminary.
I spend time consulting and speaking to churches and at conferences including LifeWay and Saddleback events. My passion is to help pastors and church staffs develop a strategy to implement Small Groups in the local church. I’ve enjoyed writing articles for Nav Press, SmallGroups.com, and LifeWay Church Resources.
I love baseball and hunting. My wife Lisa and I have two boys, Graham 16, and Gresham 11.
South Central – Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas
Mark Mehlig email@example.com
I oversee the Pastoral Care and Small Groups ministries at Calvary Church in St. Peters, Missouri, and its three campus locations. Prior to coming on staff at Calvary in 2006, I served as senior consultant for BJC Healthcare, where for over ten years I provided counseling for employees of St. Louis corporations and several Major league Baseball teams such as the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers.
I have a Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Christian Education from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky. I am also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Missouri.
I have been married to my wife Suzi for 33 years and have three daughters, and two grandchildren. I enjoys sport of all kinds, being outdoors, four wheeling, and spending time with my friends, practicing and learning about wildlife conservation. I have enjoyed spending the last couple of summer’s teaching upwards of 800 children archery and hunting safety. I also enjoy traveling with my family and grandchildren; Laura 6 and Kole 4, who remind me each day how to have fun and stay young.
Southwest – Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado
Ian Kirk firstname.lastname@example.org
I married my wife Dannette, 29 years ago and we are the proud parents of 5 incredibly wonderful children, Kassandra (24), Christopher (24), Kara (19), Kayla (17), and Cameron (14).
When I first saw Dannette I was the least likely candidate as her future husband. Yet, for me it was love at first sight. It was as if God spoke into my ear saying, Dannette was the girl I would married. Funny thing about the moment is I had no interest in being married, yet alone having children. And that voice… it may have been God’s, but I had no interest in religion; I was a solid agonistic with atheist tendencies. Yet, through a variety of God ordain circumstances Dannette was used by our Heavenly Father to be the very one to lead me to Christ 30 years ago.
A few things I like to do would be spending time with family doing anything together. I also enjoy reading, watching old movies, seeing sunsets, going to the beach, hiking & camping; spending quiet time out in nature.
I have been a member of Canyon Ridge Christian Church, involved in a variety of teaching and leadership roles, since its conception in January 1993. I joined the Canyon Ridge Staff in December 1998, after twenty-five years in the automotive business, eighteen of those years in senior management. I serve as the Director of Groups Ministry. I’m passionate to help people discover who they are in Christ and how they can grow and serve Him in their area of passion and spiritual giftedness. I love community knowing it is through relationships Jesus teaches’ us how to live out the full and abundant life that He has for us.
Texas – all of Texas
David Hull email@example.com
I was born just outside of Pittsburgh, PA and spent my early childhood years living in western Pennsylvania. However, I consider Indiana my home since I lived in Bloomington, Indiana all of my junior and senior high school years. I then attended Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri and graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Communications and Biblical Studies. My wife Jennifer and I have been married for 27 years and we have been blessed with three beautiful and loving daughters, Britney, Jamilyn and Lauren. In my free time I enjoy nothing better than spending time my wife and family or occasionally playing some golf at one of our great South Texas golf courses.
I presently serve as the Small Groups Pastor at Woodlands Church, a multi-campus church in the Houston, TX area pastored by Kerry Shook. I have been fortunate enough to have serve at some great churches over the past 25+ years and have always recognized the impact that a small group can have on an individual’s life no matter what size the church is. Discovering and celebrating individual stories of life change and then watching people replicate that life change in others is what encourages and inspires me the most in Small Group Ministry.