Growing Small: It's a Wesleyan Tradition
By: Sherri Gragg - En Español
Hispanic Ministries is partnering with the Joel Comiskey Group, an internationally recognized non-profit consultant ministry dedicated to empowering local churches to grow through the small group movement. Hispanic clergy and laity will learn key strategies for forming small group ministries during a Joel Comiskey Group Conference, March 29th-31st.
We recently sat down with the Rev. Arturo Cadar, Coordinator of Mission Field Development, to learn more about the conference and why small groups are key to sustainable growth in Hispanic congregations.
Q: As you launch your small group discipleship program, you are offering your clergy and lay leaders the opportunity to attend a three-day workshop with the Joel Comiskey Group. Why is this training so important?
A: Dr. Joel Comiskey has worked with churches around the world. He was highly recommended to us by Rev. Patricia Peña, a Hispanic Pastor in our denomination, who was coached by Dr. Comiskey as she grew a new church plant from zero to three hundred in two-and-a-half years. Patricia attributes much of her church’s growth to her small group network strategy; a strategy she put together with Comiskey’s coaching. The Comiskey method is very successful.
Q: You have said that for Hispanic Ministries to experience growth, “we will have to go to our Wesleyan roots." How is the small group model consistent with that?
A: Wesley’s Societies, Class Meetings and Band Meetings were all “small groups” at the core of the explosive growth of Methodism from 1776-1850. Comiskey says of John Wesley: “I only have the highest praise for Wesley and his small group system. In my opinion, Wesley is the forerunner of the modern cell movement. Like no one before him, he combined discipleship with evangelism.”
Q: Tell me a bit more about the three day workshop your leaders will attend.
A: We want to grow our Hispanic communities through small group ministry. The Methodist church in countries like Cuba and Brazil are growing and multiplying in significant ways through networks of “mission groups” and “house churches.” Why can’t we do the same here?
I am bringing five representatives from each church to the conference at El Mesias, Houston, March 29th-31st. After that, if churches are interested in individual coaching through Joel Comiskey Group, Hispanic Ministries will pay 50 percent of the cost. If we are going to grow the house church, this has to be the channel.
Q: How will this conference empower Hispanic clergy and laity to better lead their churches in sustainable growth?
A: Pastors and laity will return from the conference with not only the training to begin a small group ministry, but a plan to implement it. This initiative is unique in that we are empowering pastors and their lay leadership to work together to build a strong small group ministry in their churches. We often invite pastors to our training workshops and conferences only to have them return to their churches and encounter a wall of resistance to change. This is why we’re including lay leadership in this workshop. The pastors can’t do it alone!
Q: What are your hopes for this conference?
A: I pray that we will leave this conference with a renewed spirit to make disciples of all nations for the transformation of the world through small group ministries. We will be challenging the churches to build a small group network that will allow them to grow beyond the walls of their buildings and into their communities. This is how Wesley did it. This is how we can do it again!