Small Group Network: Q&A with Saddleback’s Ben Reed

Ben Reed is a Small Groups Pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA, where he also serves on the lead team of the international Small Group Network. Ben is the Author of “Starting Small: The Ultimate Small Group Blueprint.”

Ben answers the following questions below in this exciting interview…

  • What drew you to small groups ministry?
  • What are the best ways to promote small groups from the pulpit?
  • What advice would you give when it comes to recruiting more leaders?
  • What are some things to avoid when starting a small group ministry?
  • Have you found any new approaches that inspire people embrace to authentic connection?
  • What are the top things you are doing now to prepare for fall small group ministry this fall?

Splash Mountain Small Groups Hosted by Walt Disney

(Originally published on the

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 5.43.59 PM

What if Walt Disney was a Small Group Host? This question was bouncing around in my head a few weeks ago as I enjoyed a family vacation to Disneyland! In fact, I started penning this post as I waited in line for over 60 minutes to ride the newly renovated “Hyper Space Mountain!” Tens of millions of people flock annually to the Disney theme parks that were born out of the dream of Walt Disney. So, what if Walt Disney was a small group host? Imagine attending his small group on top of splash mountain or enjoying community together with his group inside Pirates of the Caribbean! While the purpose of a theme park is obviously different than that of a small group, I think there is much we can learn from Walt’s vision and leadership that we can apply to small group ministry!

So, if Walt Disney was a small group host, what might his group look like? Based on what we know about his theme parks, I think his small group might include the following components and aspects…

• Imagination
Walt Disney had a dream and began to imagine what could be. Successful small group ministry starts with leaders having a dream and catching a vision of what dynamic small group ministry looks like!

• Strategic Planning
Since its founding in 1955, Disneyland is always building and expanding. A dream without action will never happen! Small group leaders need to be strategic about planning for their ministries and groups to grow and be all that they can be!

Disneyland theme parks are known for their world class excellence and attention to detail. To create an amazing group atmosphere that makes people feel welcome, leaders and hosts should pay attention to details like lighting, music, mood and cleanliness.

• Fun
Disneyland is known as the “Happiest place on earth” where people come to have fun & laugh! Our small groups should be joy filled settings where people can laugh during an ice breaker game, eat good food and enjoy fellowship with the family of God! After all, we have the greatest treasure to celebrate and share – Jesus!

• Value for People
Disneyland values people highly by offering incredible customer service and by anticipating and meeting people’s needs. Healthy small groups should roll out the red carpet and value people well by going above and beyond to serve them!

Disneyland draws an international audience of people from all over the world – every race and creed. Our small groups should reflect heaven as we welcome anyone and everyone who desires to explore the Christian faith and grow deeper in Christ and in community!

• Empowered Leaders
With operations in more than 40 countries, Disney employs over 166, 000 employees to make the Disney Dream happen! Healthy small groups identify leadership potential and empower leaders to use their gifts and serve in ministry!

Q What else would you add to this list?

Eric Falcinella: Leadership, Balance & Learning from Every Leader

wLCCbzOWEric Falcinella serves as the Pastor of Network Development at Saddleback church in Lake Forest, CA where he leads the Small Group Network, workplace small groups and events. With an extensive background building teams and working in real estate management, Eric is passionate about helping people discover their leadership potential and has a blog and podcast where he equips leaders regarding these subjects and more at

Eric hits on the following topics in this exciting interview below…

  • Living a balanced life as a leader
  • Creating a system of leadership
  • The commitment of learning from every leader
  • The power of choosing joy in a negative world

3 Keys To Soaring Summer Small Groups


Last month we launched our summer term of small groups & have seen hundreds of un-connected people get connected into community! We’ve seen new friendships being made, families growing deeper in faith & lots of fun being had! We’ve seen many new leaders rise up to use their God-given gifts in leading & facilitating these groups! Praise God!

Summer doesn’t have to be a time to hit cruise & watch your small group ministry fade! By using the 3 keys below, I believe your summer small groups can soar!

#1 Think “Outside” the Box

In the fall & winter terms, all of our groups gather in homes, but in the summer we do a hybrid of both home groups & interest based groups that gather outside! Yes, many people are traveling during the summer, however I’ve found most are not all out-of-town at the same time! Therefore, think outside the box of ways to gather people into community! Hint: Outdoors, fitness, BBQ’s, etc

“A church must grow larger and smaller at the same time. Larger through worship and smaller through small groups.” – Rick Warren (

#2 Recruit Leaders Who are Hiding in the Shadows

Due to travel, several of our key hosts were unavailable to lead home groups this summer. Yet, because we had already been thinking “Outside” the box, it was easy to start identifying & recruiting leaders who were hiding in the shadows that might have been previously overlooked. Most of these leaders had experience in or a passion for one of our special interest groups or home group curriculums.

“Raising up new leaders is an intentional process, rooted in Biblical discipleship, that deepens peoples’ commitment to Christ and His kingdom.” – Andrew Mason (

#3 Promote Groups With an Appeal to People’s Summer Interests 

Our special interest groups include: a geo-caching expedition group, a couple of softball groups, a mommies group, a bicycling group, a baking group, a motorcycle group, a mountain biking group, a couple of fitness groups & an intro to music group – all of which incorporate a quick time of prayer! Our home groups are video driven & topical based.  If asked, I think most people would be very interested in this type of community! The focus is not so much promoting summer small groups, but promoting community, the outdoors & discipleship!

“When we have fun, we can invite people along who might not be ready to attend a Bible study or go to church, giving them an opportunity to begin building relationships with other people who are followers of Jesus.” – Will Johnston (

What else are you doing to cause your summer small groups to soar?

Free Youth Sermon Series: “Finding True Love”


This dynamic 3 week teaching series is all about how God is the source of true love & how sex, love & relationships are God’s idea & beautiful when enjoyed His way in marriage! Through the use of humor, stories & some break-through medical research, students will be encouraged & challenged to look at the topics of love, sexuality & relationships through the lens of scripture in this relevant series!

Part 1: Super-Glue, Intimacy & the Source of True Love

Part 2: Love, Dope & Killing Porn

Part 3: Purity Magnets & the Temple of the Holy Spirit