Go Big With Small Groups

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Small groups seem to be the boon and the bane of local churches. Learn how to get 'em started, keep 'em goin', and keep 'em growing.


“Finalist in the 2008 Outreach Resources of the Year Awards”


 Most churches that begin small groups find that within a couple of years two things happen – the number of small groups has dwindled in size and few if any of them have birthed other small groups. So, the only way most churches keep small groups going is by reinventing them over and over, usually with the same people. The authors of this book know God has much more in store for these churches.
Bill Easum and John Atkinson have both led congregations in which small group ministry proved crucial to the church’s growth. Both know the pitfalls that endanger all attempts to center a congregation’s life around small groups. More importantly, they understand how to make small groups growing, self-reproducing centers of Christian discipleship.

Table of Contents:

The Need for Connection; The First Steps are Crucial; Managing a Small Group System; Multiplying Small Groups; Finding New Leaders: Part One; Finding New Leaders: Part Two; Training Future Leaders: Part One; Training Future Leaders: Part Two; The Small Group Leader’s Role; Filling Up Your Small Groups; Affinity Groups: Part One; Affinity Groups: Part Two; Affinity Groups: Part Three; The End of the Beginning; Appendix A: Hometeam Coordinator Covenanto; Appendix B: Curriculum

Convenient PDF Format

John Atkinson is the small groups pastor at Bay Area Fellowship (, among the one hundred fastest growing churches in North America.  Under his leadership, the small groups ministry has grown in four years from seven groups to almost two hundred, connecting nearly 65 percent of the church attendees in a small group.  John also consults with small group leaders throughout the United States.


“The transformational power of authentic community is amazing. We are witnessing small groups across America grow lukewarm church members into fully devoted Christ followers who then invite others along for the journey. If you are looking at this book you’ve already decided small group ministry is an essential part of your church. But how do you get started? How can you build a healthy small group ministry that is led with excellence at every level?

In their book Go BIG with Small Groups, Bill Easum and John Atkinson deliver practical tools to start, build, and manage a life-changing small group ministry. If you are ready to start small groups or improve your current program, you will find this book essential to ensure the success of your ministry.” – Steve Eckharft, pastor of membership & small groups, Fellowship of The Woodlands

“Great insights and practical suggestions for the growing church who has a crowd but needs more community. John Atkinson and Bill Easum have laid out a step-by-step, field-tested plan for churches that want to intentionally connect and grow their people in small groups.” -Dan Lentz, Director,

“I was thrilled to see Bill Easum team up with John Atkinson to write a book on small groups. Most people know of Bill’s contribution to the local church and how invaluable it has been; he and John, who is emerging as one of the top ten small group pastors of our time, make an awesome team. Every principle and idea that I have applied from John has either strengthened or grown my current ministry. Go BIG with Small Groups is an accumulation of years of success from two men who have experienced tremendous growth in their own ministries. What you find in this book can help any small group, whether it is an idea on a napkin, turning a floundering ministry around, or taking your exciting small group ministry to the next level. This is a must read for any small group leader.” – Phill Longmire, small group pastor Skyline San Diego

Well, my buddy John Atkinson, along with his mentor and friend Bill Easum, have put together an amazing book on one of the essential ministries of the church.  GO BIG with Small Groups is a powerful, practical book on starting, re-launching, organizing, and growing a successful, thriving, small groups ministry.  

At Cornerstone Church we don’t major on a lot of things.  As a matter of fact, one of the questions our staff is always asking is, “what can we cut?”   We have always focused on 3 things and 3 things only.  1.  Sunday mornings (worship, children’s & student ministries), 2.  Reaching the lost and unchurched (of our community and around the world) and 3.  Community Teams (which is what we call our small groups).  As we like to call it we exist to Reach up (worship) Reach Out (evangelism & ministry) and Reach In (discipleship).  That’s what I love about John’s book, it’s about the heartbeat of the church, the essentials:  community & building disciples and leaders.  John & Bill get it.  They’ll be the first to tell you, small groups are not how you grow a church, but they are how you bring people together in community as you grow a church and how you keep your growing church feeling intimate and not cold and impersonal.  Nobody likes to feel like just another number, whether it’s in the business world or a university, and especially in the Church.  That is the power of small groups and why this book is so good.

This amazing book is loaded with practical information that gives you the “how to” of small groups, not just the “why”.  I love John’s heart to share from his personal experiences; from both his successes and failures.  John’s humility and hard-learned lessons come across in a huge way.  It is one thing to read books about theory, but when you can read about and learn from someone who has been in the trenches and taken a small group ministry from about 5 groups to almost 200, then you’ve got something special in your hands.
And let me tell you, John is “smoking what he’s selling”; he lives out the principles he shares in the book.  I know firsthand.  I’ve never met anyone with such a passion to see people connect and share life together.  John has a love for the church, its growth, and its ability to change lives through Christ that is contagious.  I’ve personally seen him teach this material, live this material, and lead other leaders; this book will do wonders for your small group ministry.  We have personally implemented these principles and have seen our C-Team ministry grow like never before, seen people catch the vision of our C-Teams, and have been able to train some amazing leaders.
Lead Pastors and Small Group Pastors, if you have not read this book, you are doing your church a disservice.  I don’t care if you have 5, 50, or 500 groups in your church, this book will be a huge blessing to you and help you go to the next level in your small group ministry.  I have personally given a copy to each of our staff and our small group leader, who is an amazing guy, has given a copy to each of his leaders.  Do yourself and your church a favor and get some copies of this book in the hands of your leaders, your difference-makers, and see how God blesses.
Pastor Loui Canchola, Cornerstone Church in McAllen Tx

Go BIG with Small Groups, Bill Easum and John Atkinson deliver practical tools to start, build, and manage a life-changing small group  ministry. If you are ready to start small groups or improve your current program, you will find this book essential to ensure the success of your  ministry.” – Steve Eckharft, pastor of membership & small groups, Fellowship of The Woodlands


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