Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry DMin
Problem. Even though the Westchester Seventh-day Adventist Church in Miami manifests interest in its youth it has lacked a clear, planned, and structured program by which to train its youth into Christian ministry, outreach, and leadership. By not training the youth it is putting in danger its own leadership future, losing a precious opportunity to reach other youth for Christ, not fully fulfilling Christ’s call to thoroughly equip disciples, and is in danger of having its youth become mere spectators. In response to this problem this investigation is to study, develop, implement, and evaluate a small group leadership training program to involve the youth of the Westchester Seventh-day Adventist Church (WSDAC).
Method. After a pre-launch period of study, protocols, recruitment, and initial organization, I launched a prototype group in my house in the southwest area of Miami. That initial group of nine young people was trained and later multiplied itself birthing new leaders and new Growth Groups (GG). A structure was created to provide coaching to leaders and groups and to foster healthy multiplying groups. Lastly, the whole training program was evaluated by looking at the number of leaders developed, the number of groups planted, and the commitment of the youth involved.
Results. After approximately two and a half years of implementation, the GG training program gave the following report: (1) the program that started with the youth had encompassed the whole church; (2) there were dedicated GGs for early teens, teens, young adults, couples, adults, and intergenerational families; (3) the total number of groups in the WSDAC was 26 (9 adults groups, 8 young adults groups, 5 teen groups, 2 early teen groups, 1 intergenerational group, and 1 couples group); (4) 14 group meetings were held in English and 12 in Spanish; (5) by January 2011, there were 104 leaders trained; (6) youth involvement and leadership highly increased; (7) there were 10 baptisms in 2010 directly from the work of GG; (8) a GG was planted and met weekly at the Florida International University (one baptism from it already); (9) two visitors from a non-Adventist background reached the goal of going from visitor to leader within a year (came to a GG, studied the Bible, were baptized, then trained into leadership and led a new group); (10) two other nearby Adventist churches adopted the GG training program, trained their leaders, and multiplied their own groups (one of them is planting a new church based on GG); (11) GG training was given seven times in the WSDAC, four times in other nearby churches, and three times to pioneers working with Muslims in Central Asia countries; (12) the training manual intended for the WSDAC became the official training manual for the whole Florida Conference in Spanish and soon also in English; (13) the GG training has been adapted and is now being translated to Russian, plus it has become the official training material of the Southern Union of the Euro-Asian Division of Seventh-day Adventists.
Conclusions. This project has demonstrated the huge potential that youth have when rightly trained and coached in reaching their friends for Jesus. It also confirmed their willingness and passion when they embrace a God-given vision and plan. Small groups with a right philosophy and practice have proven once again to be one of the best ways in which to involve youth and adults in Christian ministry, leadership, and outreach to keep people accountable, to help them grow in holiness towards spiritual maturity, and in fulfilling God’s purpose for their lives.
Future Development. This project, since its beginning, has always been in constant change. Currently it is being adapted so that group leaders in Central Asia can use it especially to reach indigenous peoples, most of whom are Muslim. For more information on the whole program visit www.growthgroups.net
Church work with youth--Seventh-day Adventists, Seventh-day Adventist youth--Florida--Miami, Church group work, Small groups--Religious aspects--Seventh-day Adventists
Sand, Denis Leroy, "A Youth Leadership Development Program for Small Group Leaders at the Westchester Seventh-day Adventist Church in Miami, Florida" (2013). Project Documents. 116.
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