Series 3

Volume 11, Issue 1

Spring 2014, Small Group Ministries

Special focus issues also contain articles of general interest to the field of Christian education.

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Articles in this Issue

  1. Editorial: Nothing "Small" About It

    By Dr. Kevin E Lawson — Pages 3-7

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  2. Catechesis, Developmental Theory, and a Fresh Vision for Christian Education

    By Dr. Beverly C. Johnson-Miller and Benjamin D. Espinoza — Pages 8-23

    The use of developmental theory in Christian education, though invaluable, has led to several insufficiencies in practice, namely intergenerational fragmentation, a diverted focus from scriptural engagement, and the tendency to box people in according to their developmental capacity. We propose that the church’s historic method of educating believers, catechesis, is a preferable educational framework that re-centers Christian education around the historic faith, brings generations together, renews focus on Scripture, and rigorously challenges believers to continuously grow in their faith.

    Keywords: catechesis, Christian education, human development, educational theory, theological education, social science, interdisciplinary studies.

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  3. Training and Teaching Methods of Volunteer Teachers

    By Dr. Houston Heflin and Meredith Platt and Dr. J. Kyle Roberts — Pages 24-32

    This article presents partial results from a self-report questionnaire of volunteer adult Bible class (Sunday school) teachers from Protestant churches across the United States. The survey questions sought to reveal the current teaching practices and methods of volunteer teachers as well as to identify the training needs of these teachers. Respondents (n = 121) were from 11 denominations in 15 states and were predominantly male. This article describes the results found about the number of years respondents have been teaching, frequency of teaching each year, hours they spend preparing to teach each week, size of classes they teach, type of curriculum they use, frequency of particular teaching methods, and types of training they have previously had and would welcome in the future. There was a mild relationship (r = .302, p < 0.001) between the total number of teaching methods used and the total number of training experiences teachers had experienced. Implications for equipping volunteer teachers are discussed.


    KeyWords: volunteer teachers, Sunday school, teaching methods, teacher training

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  4. Is a Christian Identity Compatible with an Ethnic Identity? An Exploration of Ethnic Identity Negotiations Influences and Implications for Multiethnic Congregations

    By Kevin M Gushiken — Pages 33-51

    The ethnic landscape of the United States is changing dramatically. This increased heterogeneity is prompting churches to wrestle with issues of diversity, giving rise to multiethnic churches. This article explores ethnic identity negotiation among migrants to the United States and its relevancy for multiethnic churches. The specific influences that encourage or discourage ethnic identity are described. In understanding these influences, multiethnic churches will better be able to encourage ethnic identity in a diverse community.Ministry implications and educational considerations for multiethnic churches are provided as starting points for congregational engagement and discipleship with individuals of different ethnicities.


    KeyWords: Multiethnic, Identity, Ethnic, Congregation, Immigrants, Curriculum, Christian

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  5. Perceptions of Christian Women Leaders in Church-Related Organizations

    By Dr. Halee Gray Scott — Pages 52-70

    Research suggests that one’s perceptions of an ideal leader do not always match one’s perceptions of an ideal woman. The roles are incongruous. This study used a causal-comparative methodology to examine role congruity theory within Protestant evangelical nonprofit organizations in order to discover whether or not role incongruity posed as an obstacle for women leaders. Participants completed one of the seven versions of the revised Descriptive Index, in addition to providing basic demographic information. Similar to previous research, results indicated that role congruity emerged as an obstacle for women. Unlike previous research, role congruity emerged as an issue for men as well. Furthermore, male managers differed more from successful middle managers than did female managers.


    KeyWords: Gender, leadership, women leaders, perceptions, gender stereotypes

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  6. Guest Editorial: Small Groups-Context and Strategy for Christian Formation and Evangelization

    By Dr. Harley T Atkinson — Pages 71-74

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  7. Lessons from the Early House Church for Today's Cell Groups

    By Dr. Harley T Atkinson and Dr. Joel Comiskey — Pages 75-87

    As the apostles proceeded to carry out the Great Commission (Matt 28:18–20), they utilized a two-fold approach of meeting in the temple courts for large-group meetings and in the homes for more intimate small-group encounters. Very quickly, the house church became the definitive expression of church in the early Christian movement. In the wake of the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys, numerous churches sprang up and virtually all of the New Testament churches mentioned in the letters of Paul were in private homes. The house church remained the most significant context for early church worship, fellowship, and Christian education up to the early part of the fourth century, when Constantine legitimized Christianity. At that point in history, basilicas replaced the house church along with the small-group style of worship, ministry, and teaching. This article will explore the early house church as a model of small-group meetings and how these gatherings served as the context for the ongoing life of the early church.


    KeyWords: house church, small group, cell group

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  8. 300 Years of Small Groups: The European Church from Luther to Wesley

    By Peter Bunton — Pages 88-106

    This article provides a survey of several types of small groups established within Protestantism in the centuries subsequent to the Reformation. The article examines how Reformation and post-Reformation church leaders, such as Luther and Bucer, the Puritans, Reformed and Lutheran Pietists,Moravians, and Methodists employed small groups. Observations are provided on those factors that contributed to their success and lessons are suggested for the use of small groups and cell groups today.


    KeyWords: small groups, cell groups, Pietism,Moravian,Methodist, Luther

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  9. Puritan Conference: "A Kinde of Paradise"

    By Dr. Joanne J. Jung — Pages 107-117

    The spirituality of the 16th- and 17th-century English Puritans was nurtured by a number of both private and public means of grace. Puritan Conferences were the types of conversations that focused on growing biblical knowledge and caring for the souls of others.Whether these occurred in private meetings of individuals, serendipitous encounters along the road, or through written communication, there was wide acceptance of this exercise as a common Puritan practice of piety. Primary sources affirm the benefits enjoyed by the participants. A relevant and practical application of this exercise is proposed for contemporary small groups.


    Key words: Conference, Puritans, small groups, biblical literacy, soul care

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  10. Small Groups: The Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever?

    By Dr. Bill Donahue and Charles (Alex) Gowler — Pages 118-133

    Over the last 40 years the use of small groups for building community and fostering spiritual growth has gained wide acceptance across North American churches of all sizes and theological persuasions. Indeed, the rapid growth of group life in churches has led observers to refer to the phenomenon as the “small group movement” in church ministry. As the movement grew, a logical question arose: Are groups effective in making disciples and, if so, to what extent? Beginning with Robert Wuthnow’s work in the 1990s, this article will discuss findings from key research efforts conducted with participants of church-based groups, assess the current state of the small group movement, and offer observations concerning the direction and focus of the movement for the years ahead.


    KeyWords: small group movement, community, spiritual growth, cell groups

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  11. Factors that Fuel Small Group Growth

    By Dr. Jim Egli and Dr. Wei Wang — Pages 134-151

    In order to improve congregational growth, thousands of churches in the United States have implemented small group ministries over the last several decades, but almost no statistical research has been done to determine what factors in small groups and churches foster group growth. This study involved surveying 1,140 small group leaders in 47 churches using factor analysis and multiple regression analysis to determine the factors that drive small group growth. Four small group factors showed a causal relationship to group growth: the prayer life of the group leader, an outreach focus, caring relationships between group members, and the empowering of group members in leadership and ministry. On the church level, three factors—an atmosphere of intercession, the active coaching of group leaders, and the equipping of members and leaders—promoted group growth by improving the four small group factors.


    KeyWords: small groups, small group leaders, variables, factors, small group training

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  12. Small Group Models: Navigating the Commonalities and the Differences

    By Dr. Jim Egli and M. Scott Boren — Pages 152-165

    Confronted with an abundance of small group models, pastors and church leaders often find it challenging to understand the various alternatives and what the differences are between them. This article outlines the origins and distinctives of some of the most popular contemporary small group models to help readers better understand them so that they can develop the best approach for their own church.


    KeyWords: small groups, cell groups, small group models

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  13. Annotated Bibliography for the Use of Small Groups in Contemporary Christian Formation

    By Dr. Harley T Atkinson — Pages 166-172

    Atkinson,H. (2002). The power of small groups in Christian education. Nappanee, IN: Evangel Publishing House.

    Atkinson, H. (2006). The power of small groups in making disciples. Toccoa, GA: Crooked Creek Publishing.

    Bunton, P. (2010). Cell groups and house churches: What history teaches us (2nd ed.). Lititz, PA: House to House Publications.

    Cloud, H., & Townsend, J. (2003). Making small groups work. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

    Comiskey, J. (2010). The relational disciple: How God uses community to shape followers of Jesus.Moreno Valley, CA: CCS Publishing.

    Comiskey, J. (2011). Myths and truths of the cell church: Key principles that make or break cell ministry.Moreno Valley, CA: CCS Publishing.

    Comiskey, J. (2012). Biblical foundations for the cell-based church: New Testament insights for the 21st century church. Moreno Valley, CA: CCS
    Publishing.

    Donahue, B. (2012). Leading life-changing small groups. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

    Donahue, B., & Bowman, G. (2012). Coaching life-changing small group leaders: A comprehensive guide for developing leaders of groups and teams. Grand Rapids,MI: Zondervan.

    Donahue, B., & Robinson, R. (2012). Building a life-changing small group ministry: A strategic guide for leading group life in your church. Grand Rapids,MI:  Zondervan.

    George, C. (2013). Nine keys to effective small group leadership. Taylor, SC: Center for the Development of Leadership for Ministry.

    Gladen, S. (2011). Small groups with purpose. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

    Gorman, J. (2002). Community that is Christian (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

    Greggo, S. (2008). Trekking toward wholeness. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.

    Henderson, D. M. (1997/2011 reprint). A model for making disciples. Anderson, IN:Warner Press.

    Jung, J. (2011). Godly conversation: Rediscovering the Puritan practice of conference. Grand Rapids,MI: Reformation Heritage Books.

    Kreider, L. (2008). House to house. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image.

    Lewis, B. (Ed.) (2005). Small group ministry in the 21st century. Loveland, CO: Group Publishing.

    Webb, H. (2005). Small group leadership as spiritual direction. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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  14. 2013 SPCE Scholastic Recognition Award Recipient Addition

    By — Pages 173-173

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  15. Book Reviews

    By Dr. Jane Carr — Pages 174-230

    The faith of girls. By Anne Phillips. Burlington, VT: Ashgate. 2011. 216 pp.
    Review by Karen-Marie Yust, Associate Professor of Christian Education, Union Presbyterian Seminary, Richmond, VA.

    OMG: A youth ministry handbook. Edited by Kenda Dean. Nashville, TN: Abingdon. 2010. 163 pp.
    Review by Darwin K. Glassford, Professor of Church Education, Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, MI.

    Personal Jesus: How popular music shapes our souls. By Clive Marsh and Vaughan Roberts. Grand Rapids,MI: Baker Academic. 2012.  234 pp.
    Review by Jason Lanker, Assistant Professor of Youth and Outdoor Leadership Ministries, John Brown University, Siloam Spring, AR.

    The new breed: Understanding and equipping the 21st century volunteer. 2nd ed. By Jonathan McKee and Thomas W. McKee. Loveland, CO: Group. 2012. 278pp.
    Review by Steve Huerd, National Ministry Coach, Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), Twin Cities, MN.

    Flip your classroom: Reach every student in every class every day. By Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology
    in Education. 2012. 112 pp.
    Review by Bryce F. Hantla, Adjunct Professor of English, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary,Wake Forest, NC

    God, philosophy, universities: A selective history of the Catholic philosophical tradition. By Alasdair MacIntyre. New York, NY: & Littlefield. 2009. 200pp.
    Review by Mark Eckel, Professor of Leadership, Education, and Discipleship, Capital Seminary,Washington, D.C.

    On our way: Christian practices for living a whole life. Edited by Dorothy C. Bass and Susan R. Briehl. Nashville, TN: Upper Room Books. 2010. 232pp.
    Review by Benjamin D. Espinoza, Covenant Church, Bowling Green, OH.

    Seeking spiritual intimacy: Journeying deeper with medieval women of faith. By Glenn E. Myers. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 2011. 219 pp.
    Review by Scott D. Edgar, Chair, Humanities, Azusa Pacific Online University, Glendora, CA; Associate Faculty in Religious Studies at the University of Phoenix, Tempe, AZ.

    The conviction to lead: 25 principles for leadership that matters. By Albert Mohler.Minneapolis,MN: Bethany House. 2012. 222pp.
    Review by William E. Allen, PhD student, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY.

    Leadership is an art. By Max DePree. New York, NY: Random House. 2004. 176 pp.
    Review by Timothy Darling, Bishop for Philadelphia District, Lancaster Mennonite Conference, Norma, NJ.

    Intellectual leadership in higher education: Renewing the role of the university professor. By Bruce Macfarlane. London, UK: Routledge (Research into Higher Education). 2012. 160 pp.
    Review by Lucas J. Roberts, Vice Principal, International School of Wuxi, Jiangsu, China.

    Leadership and self-deception: Getting out of the box .The Arbinger Institute. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler. 2010. 199 pp.
    Review by Patrick Kimani Gathere, Teaching Pastor, The ReBuild Project, www.rebuildcommunities.com.

    Love works: Seven timeless principles for effective leadership. By Joel Manby. Grand Rapids,MI: Zondervan. 2012. 390 pp. l
    Review by Dawn R. Morton, Associate Dean for Institutional Assessment and Assistant Professor of Christian Formation and Leadership, Ashland Theological Seminary, Ashland, OH.

    Engaging resistance: How ordinary people successfully champion change. By Aaron D. Anderson. Stanford, CA: Stanford Business Books. 2011. 202pp.
    Review by Paul Wright, Ph.D. Rector, Instituto Bíblico Evangélico Mendoza, República Argentina.

    Spiritual influence: The hidden power behind leadership. By Mel Lawrenz. Grand Rapids,MI: Zondervan. 2012. 219 pp.
    Review by Yvana Uranga-Hernandez, Associate Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders Department, Biola University, La Mirada, CA.

    What to ask the person in the mirror: Critical questions for becoming a more effective leader and reaching your potential. By Robert Steven Kaplan. Boston,MA: Harvard BusinessReview Press. 2011. 264 pp.
    Review by Gabriel Etzel, Associate Professor, School of Religion, Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA.

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