The small group movement has become a significant feature of American spirituality
Intentionally small, these groups foster authentic fellowship, prayer and spiritual accountability among its members. The Barna Group estimates that 22-24% of all American adults have participated in the past month in a home-based religious group. For some, these small groups are their primary spiritual community: Barna estimates that 3-6% of American adults participated in the past month in a home-based religious group which comprises their religious affiliation – they are not otherwise members of an institutional church.
Small groups are not simply another activity within the Church. They are transformative for participants, establishing relationships of trust and authentic sharing, creating confidence in seeing the power of God in one’s life, and encouraging everyday conversation about the reality of God. But this very boldness can be disruptive to a church’s culture. Those churches with a culture of individual privacy, politely distant relationships, and putting on one’s “best face” will be challenged by small groups.
If your church is ready to start a small group ministry or to strengthen an existing effort, Twelve offers training and sustained coaching for small group leaders. Although there are numerous resources available for small group leaders, most essential are personal, face-to-face mentoring relationships, provided by Twelve.
Not only Dr. Swenson, but other small group leaders associated with Twelve share support, ideas and prayer through regular contact, training meetings and renewal gatherings. Leaders will find this breadth of perspective and maturity of faith invaluable to their own development.
Another feature of Twelve small group leader training is the opportunity to participate in an exciting research and publication project, funded by the prestigious Calvin Institute of Worship. Twelve has received a Vital Worship Grant from the Calvin Institute for a year-long project in which Twelve will develop worship “tool kits” for small groups associated with Twelve. One of the strengths and challenges of small groups are their being home-based and informal. How do you keep the casual tone of such a gathering but also deepen the atmosphere, so that meetings take on spiritual dimensions? This grant will enable us to craft worship tool kits for each small group that honor the informal quality of their meetings, fit their aesthetic sensibility, and deepen their awareness of God’s presence.
Church-related and independent small groups interested in exploring Twelve’s Small Group Leaders’ services may contact Dr. Swenson via this form.