December 1, 2014 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens/IAD

Pastor Melchor Ferreyra, personal ministries director for the church Inter-America and organizer of the event said the symposium was about reaffirming and strengthening the role of each small group leader across the territory.
IAD file photo.

Top Seventh-day Adventist leaders from the Inter-American Division (IAD) spoke directly to leaders of thousands of small groups spread across the territory during a special online symposium based in Miami, Florida, on Nov. 21, 2014.

“Today we have the Christian church thanks to the strategy blessed by the Holy Spirit that the early church used to grow,” said Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America as he referenced Acts 2:46,47 during the event. “They met at the temple but went house to house, sharing bread, praising God and enjoying fellowship with one other.”

“That’s the strategy that we in Inter-America have decided to follow, has brought about great results, and we will look at to see that it is a blessed divine strategy,” added Pastor Leito.

With more than 92,000 small groups in Inter-America, the online program sought to reaffirm and strengthen the role each small group leader has in discipling church members to grow spiritually and fulfill the gospel commission in coordination with local church pastors, said Pastor Melchor Ferreyra, personal ministries director and organizer of the event.

Small group leaders meet at pastor Juan A. Silvestre in the south region in the Dominican Republic. Image by Juan A. Silvestre.

The program featured top church leaders from the IAD territory who reviewed the biblical foundation of small groups, their role in church growth, reaching the secular mind, urban evangelism, practical ways to lead a group, and more.

“Small groups are an effective way of aiding the growth of the 20,000 churches and congregations in our IAD territory,” said Ferreyra. It’s straightforward, he added.

It’s as simple as a group of six to twelve people in a home meeting to pray, study the Bible, spend time and testify of God’s goodness together once every week. Yet to church leaders it is more than a strategy or method to keep church members grounded in the Word of God, it fosters fellowship and sharing the gospel in the community.

“It’s a lifestyle, really,” said Ferreyra. “One that benefits the church not only because it helps it grow with new believers but helps retain members as well.” The groups are organized by the local pastor and his church board, he added.

Unlike what some people may think, Ferreyra said, “small groups is about growing members and multiplying to more groups, otherwise it would only be a club then.”

Small groups strengthen marriages and families and aid in raising children with a missionary-minded mission, church leaders said during the two-and-a-half program.

Small group leaders gather in the Tuxpan district in North Veracruz, Mexico, during the online symposium on Nov. 21, 2014. Image by Inter-Oceanic Mexican Union.

Among the speakers was Pastor Moises Reyna, president of the church in Inter-Oceanic Mexican region. The church he oversees has one of the largest number of small groups in the IAD.

With more than 15,000 small groups, Pastor Reyna attributed the success of small group ministry to the fostering of spiritual revival among church members, examining the evangelism drive of the local church to engage in more missionary work, organizing small group outings and activities and allowing active involvement when church engages in public evangelism.

“Small groups are important in satisfying the physical and mental needs of people, and helps in finding effective methods to help people solve their problems through reaching people in missionary work in their communities” said Reyna.

Reyna reported that some 12,200 new believers have joined the church in the Inter-Oceanic region directly from the work of small groups.

Other Mexican regions as well as Colombia, Venezuela, Central America are thoroughly organized in small groups and are growing.

“Our small group goal this quinquennium was to reach the 100,000 mark and it looks we are going to be very close, thanks to this new lifestyle of connecting with fellow believers and reaching others in your neighborhood,” said Pastor Ferreyra who leads a small group every week where he lives in Miami, Florida.

The symposium also had segments where viewers submitted questions for church leaders to answer during the online program. In addition, South American Division leaders shared their strategy and results of small group ministry.

To find resources to use for small group leadership, visit grupospequenos.org

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