David Ripley, President

David Ripley, President

Vision Statement #5

“God’s Vision for us is to: Develop small groups in every church as a major source of relationship building for the community to become integrated into the church family .”


What if I told you how to increase your ability as a church to reach your community for Christ by 300%?  Would you be interested? What I am about to share works for all churches, large and small. You may never look at small groups the same again!

Small Group Disappointment

When I was early in my pastoral ministry I read about the value of small groups. What I read insisted that every member of a church should be part of of a small group. So, I set out to develop small Bible-based study groups within the church. We called them “Home Bible Fellowships.” The plan was to have these groups in homes all around the community where members lived. We worked very hard to have every member involved in a Home Bible Fellowship.
After about six months, we took inventory and found that about 15% of the church were involved in the Home Bible Fellowships. We were a long way from 100%! So we redoubled our efforts and the groups worked hard to recruit new members. After a year of increased effort, we counted and found about 18% were now in Home Bible Fellowships. We felt discouraged!

New Insight

I continued to read about small groups. George Barna in his book, “The Second Coming of the Church” noted that most churches, working hard, can get about 18% of the attendance involved in small Bible based groups. Our church had reached this goal!

Then I read a book by Win Arn, “The Church Growth Ratio Book.” It has an inventory that shares ratios to help us understand what a healthy, growing church looks like. It’s definition of a small group is “30 or less people meeting together at least once a month.” Suddenly I was seeing our church in a totally different light! Our church was full of small groups! The choir, the Pathfinder Club, the Sabbath Schools, the church board, the community services ministry, and yes, the Home Bible Fellowships.

New Approach to Small Groups

We changed our approach to encouraging any group that would form within the church. This began to include groups structured around different interests such as gardening, golfing, quilting, running, cooking, and yes, Bible based study groups. Some have called these, “free market” small groups.

Our new approach was now to help all the groups to become healthy, relational, evangelistic groups to grow the church.

empty-chairAll groups were taught to be Bible and prayer focused. They always had an “empty chair” for new members. A small group can become ingrown; more interested in protecting itself from intrusion from anyone outside of the group. But if a group will remember its purpose is to grow the Kingdom of God, then it will do all it can to include others, especially those who do not know Christ.

It Can Work For You

Just imagine that you approach your neighbour or work associate and ask them to join your Bible study group. They may be resistant. But what if you asked them to join you in attending your cooking, golf, running, or wood working group? It is much easier for a secular person to come and find that Christians can be enjoyable to be around! And for Bible based study groups it is much less intimidating for a new person to join a small group in your home than attend a church service. The small group setting makes it easier for people to find friends who know Jesus.

Some churches have formed some unusual groups around common interests. I know of churches that have motorcycle, skeet shooting, coin collecting, astronomy, or rocks and mineral groups. All with the purpose to draw stronger together in their relationship with each other and God. And to include non Christians who will then become friends with Adventist people in the group.

As these new friends learn more about Jesus through the small group Bible-based fellowship, they will become open to joining Jesus’ mission, and will even attend church.

Inspired Counsel on Small Groups

If you ever want to research what Ellen White says about small groups go to https://egwwritings.org/  (http://m.egwwritings.org for mobile users) or download the EGW Mobile App. Then search for the phrase “social meeting”. It’s the 19th century expression for small group. The results will be a long list of inspiring quotes testifying to the importance of small groups within the church.
Here is one quote:

“These social meetings (small groups) do more than preaching to ripen off the work, bring hearts close to hearts, and educate them to profess the truth, to lift the cross, to be witnesses for Christ.” ~ Ellen G. White, Manuscript 84-1893.7

Start Small

Perhaps you are saying, “My church is a small group! How do we grow our church?” The best way to begin is to go from one group to three as fast as you can. By doing this and remaining outwardly focused you will have increased your ability to reach your community for Jesus by 300%!

Help Is Here

If you want to know how to create a disciple-making culture that fosters a healthy vibrant church, actively connecting the people in your community to Jesus, be sure and give us a call at the office. We are eager, ready, and willing to help you develop evangelistic small groups. These will bring people into relationship with your church members and the Lord of our church, Jesus Christ. They will meet the Lord of the universe through fellowship and Bible study in a small group!

Lord bless!

David Ripley, President

A Great First Step to Growth

Book a Total Member Involvement Weekend for YOUR Church.

One of the main topics shared at a Weekend Training event is on small groups. The Ripley’s can come to your church and help teach you to start and maintain healthy, growing, evangelistic small groups for Jesus! Learn more about Weekend TMI events and contact Lynn Ripley for booking.


Mission & Vision_08AUG2016_Page_1_editLearn More: This article is part of a series focused on making the new Man-Sask Mission & Vision practical and applicable.

– Where did this Mission & Vision come from?
– How will it make a difference?
– How will it impact you?

Check out previous articles in the series here