A free network for leaders of Small Group Ministry!

May 29, 2010

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, from all sizes of churches, and of varying denominations, are joining the Network on a daily basis. In a period of less than a year, we went from 200 members to almost 1300 and that growth shows no signs of stopping. 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.

Join us next month as we share our future plans for the Network!

Cheryl Shireman is the PDSG Network Coordinator. Interested in becoming a State or Regional Point Person? Contact her at cheryls@saddleback.com Interested in joining the PDSGN – click on this link and join today!  JOIN PDSGN

Top Ten Reasons to Attend our Small Group Conference – from Attenders!

May 5, 2010

1. You’ll learn how to use small groups to build spiritual health in your church and your community.

“The conference was my first Saddleback experience and I was not disappointed.  Every session and staff member demonstrated the purposes and heart of the leadership at Saddleback.  I could tell the ministry was all about people and helping them become spiritually healthy and not about building programs and buildings.”

“You might be interested to know that the group of 18 that we brought to the conference from Maryland back in February is still meeting together twice a month to pray for the spiritual health of our small groups, their leaders, and members.  This group fasts the day before we meet to pray each time.  Your conference had a significant impact on the spiritual lives of these folks.  It is interesting to note that the thing they all said impacted them the most were the members of Saddleback that were serving at the conference.  They were impressed with the ‘spiritual health’ of all of those people and the passion in which they pursued that health.  Speaking about the spiritual health of a local congregation, one of our attendees said, ‘I always assumed a church could either be deep or wide.  Now, I know you can be both!’  Thanks for sharing what God is doing at Saddleback with all of us.”

“After attending last year’s conference, I was drawn to the difference from the ‘others.’  Saddleback’s emphasis on the spiritual health of the group over form stood out. I wanted to expose our folks to that message.”

2. You’ll develop actionable plans for exponential growth that you can implement the moment you get home.

“Great conference last week.  I was challenged, encouraged and overwhelmed by all that took place.  Good planning and implementation.  I can’t wait to move my church to become a church of small groups.”

“The Small Groups conference was awesome; we learned a ton and have some good concrete plans to implement what we learned. We’re looking forward to next year’s conference.”

3. The Saturday “Gathering” for your small group leaders will get everyone in your ministry on the same page.

“The Saddleback Small Groups Conference really sparked a fire for me and my leaders.  For the first time, my small groups caught the vision for Purpose Driven small groups and even the ‘scary’ host home strategy.  My leaders clearly understood what would have taken me years of meetings to convey.  Now my team is energized and excited about tripling our groups in the next 12 months!”

4. The connections with other small group ministers will be invaluable.

“The Saddleback conference was a time to learn about Small Groups.  We came knowing that Saddleback would have the frontline speakers concerning Small Groups.  What we did not expect was to have so much in common with other attendees.  Most people there were struggling with the same issues we were.  We now have several fellow ministers/Small Group point people across the nation with whom to discuss issues.”

5. God will use it to rekindle your heart and your passion

“This conference was the perfect balance of learning environments – I was inspired and challenged in the large group sessions, I picked up several specific wins for our church in the workshops, and I had the opportunity to start and continue some invaluable ministry relationships in the lunch time regional gatherings!  Look forward to doing it again next year!”

“I was at the Atlanta conference last week and was so blessed.  Every session I attended was wonderful.  I thank God I was able to go and I feel so much more equipped to work with the groups in my church.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, everyone!”

6. God will spark new ideas in you

“Thank you so much for a provocative, refreshing, and practical conference this week!  I didn’t realize how much I needed this event, but I am thanking God for his work through you to re-charge my spirit and stimulate fresh thinking!”

“You put on a great conference.  It challenged me, provided refreshment, and allowed me some creative thinking space…”

7. You’ll get new resources to build on.

“I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate you and the resources you and your team provided us at the conference.  Thanks for sharing them with churches like ours.”

8. You will get new ideas and new directions no matter where you are with small groups.

“I enjoyed getting to meet so many Sunday School leaders who are searching for a way to implement Small Group principles of community and relationship.  I was encouraged to see many leaders looking for God’s direction for their next step on the journey.”

9. You’ll gain eternal value.

“The general sessions and breakouts were well timed, informative and varied.  It was all a great experience and we gleaned a lot.  I believe the churches and ministries present benefitted from the event and eternity will bear that out.”

10. You will experience God’s power of renewal and persistence.

“I’m still on a spiritual high from attending the conference in Atlanta this past week!  You and your folks hit a homerun!!”

“Thanks for a wonderful conference.  We drove from Tulsa, Oklahoma to it and were thoroughly blessed.  I have taken to heart…”Don’t give up!”  That was on my mind this weekend.”

Three new reasons this year:

  1. Three tracks – Prime Track: get the essential foundation for successful small group ministry; Advanced Planning Track: you have attended this conference before and you’re ready to map out a 12-18 month roadmap for your ministry; Advanced Breakthrough Track: if you’ve attended previously, you plan every year but your ministry is facing thorny roadblocks that you want to chew on with other ministry leaders from around the country.
  2. Two CEU (Continuing Education Unit) credits from Saddleback Church and Rockbridge Seminary at no extra charge (you will have to apply for it and successfully pass an exam after the conference).
  3. Seven locations around the country (Nashville, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Seattle, Baltimore-Washington and Miami) from April through November.

Did we mention, live, in-person teaching from actual small group pastors for two-days, at one of the lowest prices for any conference? Check out our 2010 Community U Conference now!

April 16-17 “Community U” Conference Coming to Nashville!

February 25, 2010

Looking for an inspirational and economical way to take your small group ministry from incremental to exponential?

Connect your church into community and your community to your church!

There is still time to register for this exciting conference. Saddleback Church is bringing a new concept in small group conferences to a city near you. April will find us in Nashville! “Community U” is a comprehensive, two-day small group conference with tracks for everyone in your small group ministry. There are three different tracks for Small Group Pastors, as well as an inspirational “gathering day” for Small Group Leaders.

Develop an intentional community strategy!

Two simultaneous events:

  • a Friday-Saturday two-day small group conference for small group point leaders
  • a Saturday gathering and training day for all their small group hosts/leaders

This split schedule allows you and your entire small group team to attend one conference together while you each receive training unique to your responsibilities.

New this year for small group point leaders is the ability to get certified as a trained small group point leader. Bring back tangible evidence of your level of understanding of small group principles with a Community U Certificate of Achievement.

SMALL GROUP POINT LEADERS (responsible for the small group ministry of their church) – three different tracks

    Friday and Saturday
    Prime track – learn the foundational principles that Saddleback has used to connect over 100% of weekend attendance into small groups (in more than 3500 small groups).
    Planning track – a facilitated two-day planning process in which you draft a 12-18 month plan for your small group ministry.
    Breakthrough track – a two-day problem-solving session to tackle the challenges that are holding your ministry back.

SMALL GROUP HOSTS AND LEADERS – a rallying day of training, inspiration and alignment for small group hosts/leaders

Saturday only

The day includes a kick off session of worship and high energy teaching followed by two workshops, including Lyman Coleman’s ground-breaking sessions on relational community. The final session of the day is a time of deep reflection, inspiration and recommitment. Your small group ministry can use this day as a rally to kick off your ministry for the year, or as a unifying event to get everyone on the same page.
Small Group Point Leaders, instead of “bringing the conference back” to your small group leaders, bring them to the conference! There is simply no better way to cast vision for small groups than to involve your leaders in a high-energy environment surrounded by others who are in the trenches leading small groups. In addition, shared experiences like these will not only deepen the relationships between the members of the small group team, but everyone will all walk away from Community U energized, aligned, and ready for action!

Located just thirty miles south-east of Nashville, the upcoming Community U conference will be held at LifePoint Church in Smyrna, Tennessee.

Register HERE!

2010 Community U Small Group Conferences

January 28, 2010
 by Eddie Mosley

Saddleback’s Community “U” Purpose Driven Small Groups Conference will offer several options for Small Group Ministers/Point People and Small Group Leaders.

Community “U” offers three simultaneous tracks of training that begin all-day on Friday and continue through Saturday.

Prime Track – the original track for small group point leaders, teaching the principles of building and growing small group ministries that have proven so successful in churches around the world. We strongly suggest this track for point leaders who have not attended this track before or who would like a refresher or desire the optional (no additional charge) certification.

Advanced Planning Track – Takes small group point leaders, who have previously attended the conference, through a systematic planning process that will result in a 12-18 month plan for their small group ministry, completely contextualized for their church and their community. This track will provide more intensive training to help take your small group ministry to the next level.

Advanced Breakthrough ThinkTank – This is the track for ministry point leaders who have attended the original track and the planning track and are now looking for peer review and high-level ministry problem-solving with other point leaders. This structured “forum” environment puts leaders with other ministry leaders to work on persistently thorny issues in each church.

Saturday Host Gathering:  Concurrently with this great two-day conference for ministry point leaders, we also add great training for all hosts or leaders of small groups all day Saturday. Many churches bring all group leaders for this day only and use it as their annual kick off rally for small groups. The opening and closing plenary sessions are inspirational and instructional. During the two workshop sessions leaders can attend workshops on a variety of topics. We especially recommend Lyman Coleman’s workshop (takes both workshop sessions) which gives small group hosts or leaders great tools and techniques to quickly bind the members of their groups into life-changing community.

Registration information and locations are below.

Saddleback Small Group Regional Conferences

Small Groups Conference, Nashville TN April 16-17
Smyrna, TN
4/16/2010 – 4/17/2010
Small Groups Conference 2010 – Milwaukee, WI
Oak Creek, WI
5/21/2010 – 5/22/2010
Small Groups Conference 2010 – Los Angeles, CA
Irvine, CA
7/16/2010 – 7/17/2010
Small Groups Conference 2010 – St. Louis, MO August 20-21
St. Peters, MO
8/20/2010 – 8/21/2010
Small Groups Conference 2010 – Seattle, WA, September 24-25
Redmond, WA
9/24/2010 – 9/25/2010
Small Groups Conference 2010 – Washington, DC – October 15-16
Fulton, MD
10/15/2010 – 10/16/2010
Small Groups Conference 2010 – Miami, FL – November 5-6
W. Palm Beach, FL
11/5/2010 – 11/6/2010

Eddie Mosley is the Area Point Leader for the South which includes Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana. He lives in Smyrna, Tennessee and is the Executive Director of Group Life for LifePoint Church.

The 411 on the PDSGN

December 10, 2009

WHO: Thousands of Small Group Point People, Lead Pastors, and Lay Pastors responsible for the Small Group Ministry of their church. We are multi-denominational and composed of churches of varying sizes – from less than 100 members in size to churches with over 20,000 members.

WHAT: A free network of Small Group Point People who meet in “huddles”. Huddles are informal gatherings “in between” small group conferences, or in today’s economy with so many budget cutbacks, in lieu of a small group conference. Many of you reading this article will not be able to attend a conference in 2010. This is your chance to join other Small Group Ministry leaders in a location near you. They meet informally in churches, restaurants, and coffee houses to discuss what is going well, what isn’t going so well, and what is next. Want to know what small curriculum is great and what small group curriculum isn’t worth your money? Here is your chance to ask your peers in the field.

WHERE: In thousands of locations across North America.

WHY: So that no one doing Small Group Ministry stands alone. To help you build relationships, receive and give encouragement and support, and share resources. Because we want you to still be in ministry this time next year, and the next, and the next…

WHEN: Huddles, typically lasting 2-4 hours, are usually held once or twice a year, but in some locations they are so popular that the members are meeting every month, or even weekly!

HOW: Click here and join!

Top Ten Reasons You Should Join the PDSGN

November 23, 2009

FREE !!!


10. There is no membership fee! The Purpose Driven Small Group Network is absolutely free.!

9. You will build relationships with your peers – thousands of other Lead Pastors and Small Group Point People across North America. No one doing small group ministry should ever stand alone.

8. You will have access to a wealth of information and resources through our enewsletter, our upcoming website, and through meeting with your peers in “huddles” at locations near you. A short drive in the car and you will  be meeting with your peers near your location.

7. You will have a source of encouragement and support between small group conferences. In these tough economic times, many churches have reduced or eliminated budgets for travel and conferences. The PDSGN is your opportunity to “stay in the loop”.

6. You will have access to thousands of other Pastors and Small Group Point People through our regular monthly column, Ask The Network. Have a question about small group ministry? Here is your chance to ask it.


5. You will have access to our job listings in the montly enewsletter. Looking for a job or want to post a job? Members have access to do so, giving them an audience of thousands.

4. You will hear the latest and greatest on small group strategy from our many PDSGN leaders – who come from a variety of denominations and from churches varying in size from under 100 members to 20,000 + members. The PDSGN is full of leaders in the field of small group ministry. These are people in the trenches – leading small group ministries and writing about small groups.

3. You will have opportunities to gather with other PDSGN members during all of Saddleback’s Small Group Conferences at various locatons across the country. Meet with other members in your geographic area as we bring the conference to you!

2. Regular huddles at locations near you, as well as Think Tanks during conferences, provide you with the opportunity to get real world advice from fellow small group practioners. Get the scoop on how other leaders are dealing with typical problems, what small group curriculum they are using, and how they are using the campaign strategy in their churches.

1. As a “special” gift to you, Steve Gladen has agreed to shovel the snow off the driveways of all PDSGN members*! Won’t your friends and neigbors be jealous as Steve shows up at your house to provide this personal service!


* Steve Gladen snow shoveling offer only good during the month of July and in the southern sections of California and Florida

Save the Date! “Community U” Coming to You!

October 15, 2009


Small Group Conference dates have been set for 2010 and Steve Gladen and the Small Groups Team are hitting the road again!  MCj04348040000[1]

A new conference, Community U: Connecting Your People to Your Church and Your Community will show you how to take community to a deeper and wider level. You will experience two intense days of teaching, learning, and growing in an innovative format that will help you to create powerful plans that you can integrate into your church.

The first day, Friday, is aimed at Small Group Point People

Two courses are available:


This is for those of you who are in the initial stages. You are thinking about adding small groups, you have recently added small groups, or your small group ministry isn’t producing the results you had hoped for. Join Saddleback Pastor Steve Gladen as he teaches the “undergrad” course in Community U.

  • Learn the strategy behind Saddleback small groups and how we intentionally integrate the five purposes of fellowship, discipleship, ministry, evangelism, and worship into every small group.
  • Learn how small groups can:
  1. Revolutionize your church’s overall strategy and vision by reinforcing your teaching while building up the body.
  2. Better connect every person in your church into the body
  3. Disciple people
  4. Mobilize people to service
  5. Help reach your community
  6. Expand your church’s worship experience


This is the “graduate” level course. You have attended previous Saddleback Small Group Conferences. You’ve learned, you’ve implemented, and you’ve grown – now it’s time to kick it into a higher gear. Seasoned small group pastors will lead informative discussions on how to get from where you are to where God wants your ministry to grow. The Advanced Leadership Track session tackles subjects like:

  • How to grow from a plateau
  • Spiking new life in a tired relationship team
  • Aligning the ministries of your church for small group growth
  • Rebuilding infrastructure that works
  • Think Tank sessions with other Small Group Point People and PDSG Network leaders for direct exchange of encouragement, information, and resources

This is a highly interactive iron-on-iron sharpening. You’ll go back to your church having worked on the toughest issues with others who are in the trenches. No theory, no concept, just straight forward breakthrough thinking with other Small Group Point Leaders from around the country.

The second day, Saturday, is aimed at both Small Group Point People and their Small Group Leaders. Bring all of your Small Group Leaders for inspiration and instruction. Make it a time of connecting with one another. You could even make this your Small Group Gathering for the year!

Saturday brings more top teaching in two tracks – Advanced and Small Group Leading. This will be accomplished through:

  • General Sessions. All attendees meet together for great opening and closing sessions of worship, teaching, and inspiration.
  • Workshop Sessions. Small Group Point People will participate in innovative sessions that add additional teaching to prepare you for returning to your churches ready to roll! Small Group Leaders will get the benefit of the wit, wisdom, and amazing teach of Lyman Coleman, the foremost trainer of small group community in the world. Your leaders will leave with great new skills for forming and bonding their groups into vital, biblical, purposeful community.

COMMUNITY U AVAILABLE IN EIGHT LOCATIONS IN 2010!  In addition to seven two-day conferences (see below), we will also be at the Purpose Driven Conference at Lake Forest – a unique “ten in one” conference experience. 

PURPOSE DRIVEN CONFERENCE         Feb 9-12    Lake Forest, Saddleback Campus  [click here for info]

For the first time ever, this year’s Purpose Driven Conference is really ten conferences in one! Now you can bring your entire church team for individual learning experiences. This is a unique hands-on conference that will build and inspire each member of your team. Rick Warren, the Saddleback Team, and leading national pastors will challenge, develop, and expand your vision to be a moving force for God, not only in your church, but also in your community.

  • Purpose Driven Church & The P E A C E Plan
  • Preaching for Life Change
  • Purpose Driven Youth Ministries
  • Purpose Driven Children’s Ministries
  • Purpose Driven Small Groups
  • Worship
  • Leading Through Change
  • Developing Emotionally Healthy Leadership
  • HIV/AIDS/Orphan Care
  • Celebrate Recovery
  • Also a featured conference: Life as a Pastor’s Wife

TWO DAY “COMMUNITY U” CONFERENCES: [click here for info]

Nashville, TN            April 16/17    Life Point (Smyrna)

Milwaukee, WI         May 21/22    Parkway Church (Oak Creek)

Los Angeles, CA       July 16/17     Mariners Church (Irvine)

St. Louis, MO           Aug. 20/21   Calvary Church (St. Peters)

Seattle, WA             Sept. 24/25   Washington Cathedral (Redmond)

Washington, D.C.    Oct. 15/16     Grace Community Church (Fulton)

Miami, FL                Nov. 4/5       Christ Fellowship Church (W. Palm Beach)

We have created a low-cost high impact conference, and we are bringing it to a location near you. Hope to see you there!

 “Small groups are the most effective way of closing the back door of your church. We never worry about losing people who are connected to a small group” Rick Warren