Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2023

Document Type


Primary Advisor

Dr. James Thompson

Secondary Advisor

Dr. Tim Sensing

Committee Reader

Dr. Chris Flanders



This project was designed to address an ongoing challenge within the Southwest Church (SWC) in Springboro, Ohio. The specific challenge that SWC leaders have faced throughout the twenty-five-year history of the church is to continually increase the number of small group options within a growing congregation. Small groups have been identified as the primary vehicle for SWC members to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ. This congregational emphasis has led to the good dilemma of having more individuals willing to participate than lead weekly small groups. In the past few years, SWC leaders have identified the need for the current small group leaders to be focused on following Jesus’s example of making disciples who would be able to lead other disciples. In recognizing this need, the SWC elders and ministry staff realized that there was not a formal plan established to train and reproduce small group leaders within the church. The theological foundation for this project is the example and teaching of the apostle Paul described in the first Epistle to the Thessalonians.

The actual intervention was done with a purposeful sample of current SWC small group leaders. This diverse group of leaders met for eight weeks, reviewing the theological and theoretical basis for current leaders to reproduce the number of SWC small group options, identifying the role and expectations of SWC small group leaders, exploring strategies to reproduce small group leaders, and developing a one-year plan to enlist new leaders and continually equip both new and experienced leaders. As a result of this intervention, the project team developed the following five strategies: (1) branching one small group into two small groups, (2) planting a new small group with an experienced leader, (3) launching a new specialty group with an experienced leader, (4) forming smaller discussion/cluster groups within one large group, and (5) identifying and training new church members with previous leadership experience. These strategies were included in a detailed written one-year plan to increase the number of SWC small groups submitted to the elders and ministry staff.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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