Leading Small Groups with Purpose

Everything You Need to Lead a Healthy Group

Cover Art

Where to Purchase


Take Your Small Group to the Next Level

Steve Gladen, pastor of small groups at Saddleback Church for more than a decade, takes you step-by-step toward a healthy, dynamic group with focus and purpose. For the new small group leader, the seasoned leader who feels their small group lacks purpose, or the leader who is itching to move their small group to the next level, Leading Small Groups with Purpose is the road map to follow.

Every chapter includes ideas that you can implement immediately, as well as ways to shape your small group over time. With Gladen's expert help, you will define success clearly, develop a personal leadership plan, invite members into your group, and help members fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.


"Steve Gladen pours his twenty-plus years of shepherding and shaping small groups into this one-of-a-kind toolbox, designed to equip you and your group for the kind of dynamic growth that can turn ordinary people into water-walking disciples of the living and breathing Word of God. As pastor of more than 3,500 Saddleback Church small groups, Steve has mastered the principles he presents in these pages."--John Ortberg, senior pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church; author, The Me I Want to Be

"Leading Small Groups with Purpose is the one book on small groups that you simply must get into the hands of every one of your small group leaders. Biblical, intentional, and focused, this book is full of real-world advice on the practical matters of running a group. After almost thirty years in ministry, Steve Gladen gives your leaders the information they need not only to guide their groups but also to develop their members toward maturity and health. Want a healthier church? Develop healthier small groups. Start here."--Rick Warren, Saddleback Church

"I wish this book was in the hands of every small group leader in America. The power of God's work in community is not in the form (small groups); it is in the function (the purposes) lived out in deep, authentic relationships. Steve Gladen's biblical focus, practical instruction, and game-day experience make this an essential for all of us committed to transformation, not simply transmission of information."--Chip Ingram, senior pastor, Venture Christian Church; president, Living on the Edge

"Healthy small group communities are a key component of today's thriving churches. And healthy leadership is the key to healthy groups. In these pages Steve lays out a step-by-step plan for keeping both groups and their leaders healthy and vibrant. Leading Small Groups with Purpose is a must-read!"--Nelson Searcy, lead pastor, The Journey Church; founder, Church Leader Insights; author, Engage

"I'm so glad Steve Gladen wrote this book! Leading Small Groups with Purpose gives us an incredible resource that should be in the hands of every small group leader. It's filled with practical insights and time-tested wisdom on how to lead a group to be effective and balanced. His comprehensive approach gives clear direction on how to achieve health and mission in community. Don't miss it!"--Jud Wilhite, senior pastor, Central Christian Church, Las Vegas; author, Torn

"More than a how-to manual, Leading Small Groups with Purpose captures the heart of its author, Steve Gladen, and the thriving small group ministry at Saddleback Church. Steve's heart has always been for the local church to experience authentic community through healthy small groups. His honest, transparent, and helpful leadership offers life lessons in this book that will encourage you whether you are just starting out on your small group journey, desiring to increase the health of an existing small group, or searching for tools to develop future leaders. You won't be disappointed!"--Kerry Shook, senior pastor, Woodlands Church

"I have personally watched Steve Gladen tirelessly and meticulously work out small group architecting for the local church. His experience and integrity with the process is unmatched. The body of Christ owes him a big thank you for shortening the process for all who read this book, learning the painful lessons for us, and passing on to us a blueprint for small group community that produces church health."--Kenny Luck, president and founder, Every Man Ministries; pastor of men, Saddleback Church

"Leading Small Groups with Purpose will inspire and inform you with fresh ideas and practical information that flow from Steve Gladen's wealth of expertise. If you want to see your small group grow, this book is for you. Thanks, Steve--for this book, for your huge heart, and especially for all your help!"--Steve Mawston, Connect Groups pastor, Hillsong Church Australia

"Healthy people in healthy small groups is a sign of a very healthy church. Fewer people on the planet know more about building healthy small groups than Steve Gladen. Leading Small Groups with Purpose is about intentional small group leadership. Steve brings leaders into a fresh commitment to personal ownership for internal growth, passionate responsibility for outward mission, and intentional apprenticing for reproducing leaders."--Scott Hodge, pastor, The Orchard Community, Aurora, Illinois

"Some authors write about small group theory. Steve Gladen writes from the trenches of small group life and leadership. He has lived every word. If you've dreamed of moving from a safe, sanitized group of navel gazers to a strategic group of purposeful disciples, this book is for you."--Gene Appel, senior pastor, Eastside Christian Church, Fullerton, California

"God has built something truly remarkable in Southern California. And he has used Steve Gladen and Rick Warren to do it. For the first time in print, Steve lays out what every small group leader needs to know in order to lead a healthy group. This is a truly helpful addition to the small group leader's arsenal!"--Bill Search, author, Simple Small Groups

The Author

  1. Steve Gladen
    © Scott Tokar

    Steve Gladen

    Steve Gladen (MDiv, Fuller Theological Seminary) has been executive pastor of small groups at Saddleback Church since 1998 and serves as an elder of the church. He oversees the strategic launch and spiritual development of more than 7,000 adult small groups on...

    Continue reading about Steve Gladen