Jesus Himself modelled the "prototype" small group in the calling and training of the twelve disciples, and the early church was built on this model. It should come as no surprise therefore that modern research has demonstrated beyond question that the single most important characteristic of growing churches today is the multiplication of holistic small groups (Schwarz, Natural Church Development, page 33). Especially within the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the formation of small groups should be understood as a God-ordained foundation for both nurturing and evangelistic ministry, as the following inspired statement makes clear:
"The formation of small companies as a basis of Christian effort is a plan that has been shown to me by One Who cannot err." (Ellen G. White, Evangelism page 115).
According to a survey of Adventist churches in the North American Division which have used the "Natural Church Development" health analysis test in recent years, the "multiplication of holistic small groups" is the weakest of the eight quality characteristics (identified in healthy, growing churches) in the S.D.A. denomination in that Division (and probably world-wide). Building a strong network of small groups in which the majority of church members participate is therefore our most urgent need.
Recommended Training Resources:
- Residential weekend training courses are organised regularly by BUC and Conference PM departments.
- Excellent one-day courses are also organised regularly by Cell Church UK.
- Small Group Ministry in Today's Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 8 training sessions. Available through Union or Conference PM department.
- CD-Rom - Developing Dynamic Small Groups In Your Church. Contains 8 power-point slide presentations, leader's notes, participants' guide and basic text of the published book "Think Big, Think Small Groups". Available through Union or Conference PM department.
Recommended Bible Study and Worship Materials:
- Serendipity Bible - for personal and small group study. Thousands of penetrating study questions. 60 course plans for 10 different kinds of groups. Available through Union or Conference PM department.
- Serendipity Small Group CD-Roms for Adults (2700 lessons, 650 courses) and Youth (540 lessons, 75 courses) Available through Union or Conference PM department.
- Worship Music Kit - includes: 50 worship ideas for small groups, 10 songsheets, 2 CDs containing 200 songs. Available through Union or Conference PM department.
- More Bible Study booklets available through Christian bookshops.
- "The Second Reformation", by William A Beckham - probably the most significant book on the theology and Biblical background of small groups/cells. Essential reading.
- "Think Big Think Small Groups", by David Cox - a basic guide to starting small groups in your church. Looks at small group ministry within the Adventist/contemporary perspective.
- "The Small Group Leader", by John Mallison - perhaps the best "how to" book available on organising and leading small groups.
- "The Challenge of CELL CHURCH", by Phil Potter - a recent book on the value and development of small group/cell ministry in the English setting. Highly readable.
- "Building a Church of Small Groups", by Bill Donahue, Russ Robinson - similar to Phil Potter's book but is based on the small group ministry of the Willow creek Community Church in Chicago. Much useful material.
- "The Cell Church", by Larry Stockstill - a good basic guide to understanding the cell church, in which all members belong to and attend a cell/small group as well as the weekend congregational worship or celebration event, and in which virtually the entire ministry of the church flows from its cells.
- "Home Cell Group Explosion", by Joel Comiskey - an exciting update on recent developments in the world's fastest growing churches, showing how the work of God on earth can be finished in a very short period of time - just like a second Pentecost.
- "The Small Group Book", by Dale Galloway - the inspiring account of how a single small group meeting in someone's home became a 7000 member church. Inspiring.
- Cell Church UK magazine - a quarterly journal providing updates on what is happening in small groups/cells in the British context, and useful information to help your group grow to its best potential.
(These books or journals are available through Union or Conference PM department.)