Elliot Diaz has served at Manna Church, Fayetteville/ Fort Bragg since March 2013. He has served as the Small Groups Pastor, and is currently the Site Pastor of the Cliffdale Site and is a member of the Lead Team. Manna Church is a multi-site church of over 2800 people in weekly attendance led by Senior Pastor, Michael Fletcher. Elliot is a 19 year Army veteran, who currently serves as a Chaplain in the North Carolina National Guard.
Vertical Church is an over 30 year old church in West Haven, Connecticut. The worship attendance is 1,600 adults in a diverse congregation made up of 38 different nationalities. No one ethnicity is dominant. Prior to implementing the principles found in Exponential Groups, the church had 34 groups following the Free Market model of groups.[
“The verbiage in the Northeast is small groups don’t work
here,” says Randal Alquist, Discipleship Pastor. “Nobody wants to open up their
houses. You’re not going to get them to join. We’re not a front porch
community. We’re a back deck community with fences. We’re going into our
backyards and have our own little space.”
After digesting the content of Exponential Groups, the church was challenged to add a new
approach. “My biggest revelation was this idea that people are already in
groups,” Alquist said. “There are distinctives we want to accomplish within a
group. We want people praying together, people gathering together for community
and to draw closer to Jesus. We’re activating faith together in the group. If
we know that’s happening, and they’re attending church regularly and serving
once in a while, then we know they’re growing. This revolutionized my approach
in how to talk about groups and promote them.”
Previously, the church sought out people with high
qualifications to lead a group. The new leaders were given a 52-page manual
they were expected to follow. Alquist says, “We started giving people
permission to jump in. We’re asking for people who love people and love God.
We’re not asking for elders here. We want people who are willing to facilitate
a healthy environment where connections can happen.” The 52-page manual was
replaced with a 10-page manual and a short briefing meeting at the church.
Training videos were created to answers common questions from the small group
leaders. Each new leader received a coach to help them.
In their most recent alignment series, Vertical Church had
over 90 groups with 920 group members. Additionally, another 240 people are
involved in eight short-term Growth Groups at the church. “This approach opened
up a world to us,” Alquist enthused. “We knew community was happening on the
periphery, but we’ve been able to look at all of these little communities in
our church and identify some basic things for those leaders to start practicing
and to make sure it’s happening. It’s been amazing.”
by Allen White Some of you know me because I was your pastor at one time. Some of you know me as a fellow small group pastor. Some know me as the guy who wrote an article about Robin Williams that half a million people read. And, some know me as the Vice President of Lifetogether Ministries. Lifetogether has had an amazing 12 months. We’ve created projects The Daniel Plan curriculum for Rick Warren, Destiny and Elijah for Dr. Tony Evans, Lifegiving Relationships for the Association of Related Churches (ARC), I See a Church with Greg Surratt and Josh Surratt at Seacoast Church, What If with Jonathan Falwell at Thomas Road Baptist Church, You Have It in You by Pastor Sheryl Brady at The Potter’s House of North Dallas, Believe with Dr. George O. Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, and In the Gap by Pastor Wilfredo (Choco) De Jesus. And, I’m forgetting a bunch of others. I am not a video producer. I am an executive producer, which means I solve the problems and pay the bills. While it was fun developing these projects, the greater fun for me is coaching churches who are launching small groups using these curriculum titles. It’s not about numbers. For me, it’s about an ordinary believer gathering a few friends around a user friendly curriculum and experiencing God using them to serve others. That’s why I do this every day. What do you think about video curriculum?