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Pratt Institute, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn ​hi my name is Rhonda Baldwin this is my final capstone presentation for research capstone two at San Diego Christian College for professor ELISA Christensen the title of my talk is where we are now and where we are going why we need to honestly evaluate the state of our small groups and intentionally develop and communicate vision for the future churches tend to have a vision for small groups where members connect and our care for where discipleship and growth happen where a missional mindset is formed and where people begin to develop a gospel and kingdom focus and live that out in their actions what members tend to look for in small groups though is friendship safety mutual help empathy encouragement and affirmation what is what we found in the Western world what researchers have found is that our small group are Christian small groups tend to look more like self-help groups than they do like a kingdom minded Kingdom impacting force many churches are coming to grips with the reality of the mark mismatch between increased Christian activities and attendance at seeker sensitive churches and the diminishing degree of Christian identity in society at large alright tivity has increased but our influence has diminished the church is not making a positive difference on society mainly because we look too much like the world around us that's one of the things that willow creek associations set out to answer and and figure out why that disconnect existed when they created their reveal study and that study looked at Christian growth and activity so what they found were two main things there's a spiritual continuum starting with those who were exploring Christianity these are the people who feel comfortable with the idea of God but not Jesus and he doesn't impact their lives on really any kind of level then there's the growing in christ group which are the people who have come to a knowledge of christ and they're working on what it means to build a relationship with him then there's the close to christ group this this group's would say i feel really close to Christ and I depend on him daily for guidance and then there's the Christ centered group this is the group that where God is really all they need and he is the center of the way that they live everything I do is a reflection of Christ they you reveal measured 25 different disciplines or areas of Christian growth that fit into four major categories those categories are spiritual beliefs and attitudes organized church activities personal spiritual practices and spiritual activities with others and what they found was that as people participate in those four categories of Christian growth they are moved or kind of propelled through those that spirits will continue on to higher levels of maturity at the same time when those things are not practiced are participating in on a regular faithful basis there can also be a backward movement on that continuum and the relationship with people have with the Lord and how they live out the Word of God so Roger Bolton has a theory of discipleship formation in small groups he says this is where the construction of faith thinking happens they provide support and care for people they empower all member ministry that the ministry is not just for the leaders but we all about what we're learning in the Word of God it encourages engagement with the scriptures it builds confidence in prayer and evangelism it keeps alive a Christian world we a real Christian worldview based on biblical knowledge and principles and not just ideas that are floating out in the culture about who God is and what he believes but something that's based on the scripture and it trains leaders this is not just about having it can a group of leaders that already exists but it raises up new leaders as they grow through this process and it allows for intimacy and community so many of our churches are so big that it's hot you can't really build relationships with people so small groups allow bring that in a little bit closer a little bit more intimate and help people feel like they have real relationships so how does an honest assessment of where our small groups are help it reveals where people are individually with growth and discipleship it reveals connections or dis connections between the desires versus the reality and small group experiences it reveals the level of safety that remembers feeling participating in group discussions and activities and it reveals and um nessus strengths and weaknesses and necessary changes that need to be made so when we take the individual and collective measurements as in the reveal study and lay them against the ideal prescribed by Walton and others we can get a better picture of the changes that need to be made to get where we want to go in our small group ministry and individual discipleship another area besides individual growth that's important to evaluate is leadership are our ministries in groups being managed or are they being led management is the idea of modeling good morals or even biblical christ-like behavior well a well-articulated vision this is why we exist this is why we do what we do and it's walking the talk so whatever i'm teaching in my small group is how I'm living my life leadership builds on those principles in a forward motion so it's the ability to deal with future uncertainty it's saying we don't just want to be stagnant to stay where we are even if it's even if it's mostly good but we want growth we want something that's even better than what we have right now and

we're not really sure how we're going to get there or what it's going to look like but we're going to go there together it's creating a sense of belonging and community and taking a group of people in a forward motion so it's it's not just saying come follow me but it's saying you have a place to fit let's go together leaders are responsible for building depth and community and small groups so they do that by creating a context that nurtures an alternative future based on gifts generosity accountability and commitment so here again we have the idea that everybody in the group has something to offer for the kingdom and for the gospel and we're all moving and we can't do this alone it initiates conversation that brings people together so it's it allows for the hard questions for the vulnerability for the where are you today where are you in your life and how does this apply to you they use questions skillfully and then listen and pay attention so not only willing to ask the hard questions but to not be afraid of the silence and allow people time to think about their answer and feel safe and giving that and encourage ownership and vision direction and gold so in attempt to help bring all of these things together and help my own church Northbrook church in threeway Tennessee begin to develop a vision in and for growth and moving forward I attempted to organize a project similar to but on a much smaller scale than the reveal study done by Willow Creek so there were three main goals of this study it was to provide an honest picture of current discipleship at the church to allow members the opportunity to evaluate themselves and church ministries and to develop a plan that would help the church improve the discipleship process and move the church forward in individual and corporate spiritual growth so the first step was to create a survey on SurveyMonkey the first half of this evaluated individual participation in spiritual disciplines such as devotional time prayer Bible study corporate worship attendance and service the second half evaluated the two different types of small groups that exists at northbrook one is the main small group ministry or salt groups which are mixed gender mixed ages a lot a lot of times Geographic but they're they're groups that generally tend to meet for a long time and those relationships are where people really invest in each other's lives and then there are pepper groups which are gender specific and they form for a short period of time to cover a specific topic so the survey method invitations were sent out to all members and regular attenders through the sunday bulletin the weekly email newsletter the church's Facebook page and then through email sent invitations from each of our group leaders to their participants participation was limited to Northbrook church members and regular attenders as they are the ones that are immediately impacted by this mugger ministry and the discipleship at Northbrook it was open for two weeks and consent was included in the introduction so once people continued with the survey it was considered side so survey results 44 there were 44 responses which is thirty-three percent of the church membership and approximately forty percent of smaller participants eighty percent were women twenty percent were men forty percent were between the ages of 30 and 39 and another forty percent were above the age of 50 so the last twenty percent of the participants were between the ages of 40 and 49 and under the age of 26 all age groups reported praying more than they read their Bibles and there was no correlation found between the amount of time spent in prayer and in the word and the amount of time people spend serving on a weekly basis participants under the age of 40 were more likely to use online resources for bible study and devotional time and participants over the age of 40 were much more likely to journal during their quiet time service was the lowest area of participation rated by all participants across the board the average steps are being inside the church is two and a half hours a week the average time serving outside of the church is one and a half hours per week participants under the age of forty serve more outside of the church but they're much less likely to serve inside of the church than those who are over the age of 40 all but one of the survey participants attend church at least three times a month and eighty-five percent of them says say that the worship service affects the way they live on a Miller basis eighty-six percent said they attend salt group at least three times a month and 61 percent of them said that it affects the way they live on a regular basis although eighty-five percent of survey participants reported attending salt from weekly with few exceptions as compared to fifty percent of pepper those and pepper groups reporting attending the same amount of time seventy-seven percent of pepper group participants said their group impacted their life on a regular basis so although they don't attend as often those groups tend to be the ones that really make a difference in the way people live out their lives on a daily basis participants under the age of 50 rated Fellowship is their highest priority and participants over the age of 50 right and caring for each other as their highest priority in their small groups Bible study was second to all participants and accountability and service tied for least important to all participants men and women of all ages reported equal participation in Bible study prayer worship service attendants and small group women made up one hundred percent of respondents who attend pepper group now we know because I'm a member of the church I know that there are men who are involved in pepper groups but those men did not participate in the survey men across all age groups rated fellowship as a higher priority and Bible study as a lower priority than their female counterparts and female participants were ninety two percent more likely to serve than male participants so with all of this information I came up with a smaller ministry plan for Northbrook church step one the small group

ministry team which is the SMT will evaluate the survey results and discuss the areas that need to be addressed these areas are inconsistent season time in the word and prayer especially among younger church members opportunities to involve older members in discipleship of the younger ones evaluating the discussions safety to participate and the focus whether it's inward or outward of the conversations in our small groups and offering clear information on opportunities to serve both in and outside the church in a way that advances the gospel in the kingdom focus of our community and our world step number two the SMT will meet with small group leaders to discuss their findings and ideas this meeting will include asking honest questions of leaders and genuinely listening to their feedback of observations and needs without judgment or defensive pneus that part is really important this needs to be a safe place for leaders to talk about the state of their groups their hearts and the ways that they feel that the SNT has has not or could be of help to them step 3 a member of the SMT will visit each individual small group and evaluate it from an outside perspective and that evaluation will be presented to the leader in a safe and encouraging way as they continue to lead their group the evaluations as a whole then will be added to the information gathered in steps one and two in order to develop a bigpicture understanding of the state of marshmallow then step for the SMT will completely compile all the information gathered and develop a plan of action that must include the following communication with leaders and church members of positive and negative aspects of the smoker ministry as it is today if they don't understand where we are they can understand the need to go somewhere else to move in a different direction a vision of where the ministry needs to go effective training as leaders if the leaders are the ones who have their feet on the ground and are leading people in a direction they need to be trained and equipped as to how to get there continued follow up through the changes for both leaders and group members and it must be bought in to buy all of the leadership on the smt and this small group leaders in order to give it strength to withstand people's frustration and aversion to change because people naturally over change until they see positive results and so all of the leaders need to be involved in coming in feel like they're a part of the process a part of the vision and are excited about where they're taking people so that the rest of the church will be excited as well thank you for taking time to listen I hope you have a great day New York School of Urban Ministry.