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Online · School of Divinity · Christian Leadership & Church Ministries

Small Group Ministries

  • CG
  • Section 8WK
  • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020
  • Modified 01/13/2020

Course Description

Ministry of Small Groups prepares the individual to serve and equip the church to embrace, plan for, implement and evaluate small group ministry. In addition to helping establish a clear biblical basis for small groups, this course is divided into two distinct, but related, topics. The first aspect deals with the issue of organizing and ministering small group ministry. The second aspect deals with the dynamics related to small group leadership. The focus is on one leader and one group.





Jesus told us to “go and make disciples.” This is the clear command from our Lord and Savior. We have the command, and we have principles from the Word of God that help us to understand how to go about the process of making disciples of Jesus Christ. The principles are to love God and love people. The early Church quickly implemented these principles and “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). The Great Commission is still applicable today and so are the principles of God’s Word. Small groups give the church a context for accomplishing the commands of Christ.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Analyze the principles and practices related to common small group models.
  2. Analyze spiritual leadership in regard to a small group ministry.
  3. Create a plan for developing church attendees into kingdom-minded leaders.
  4. Implement practices and principles related to leading a small group effectively.
  5. Transition a traditional church with Sunday school into a church that has a decentralized model of discipleship and pastoral care.
  6. Implement a small group and/or small group training program.

Course Resources

Required Resources

The resources below are provided in the course at no cost to the student.

Arnold, Jeffrey. The Big Book on Small Groups. Downers Grove: IVP Press, 2004.

Comiskey, Joel. Biblical Foundations for the Cell-Based Church: New Testament Insights for the 21st Century Church. Peabody: CCS Publishing, 2012.

Earley, Dave, and Rod Dempsey. Leading Healthy, Growing, Multiplying Small Groups. Lynchburg: Liberty Press, 2015.

House, Brad. Community: Taking Your Small Group off Life Support. Wheaton: Crossway, 2011.

Disclaimer: The above resources provide information consistent with the latest research regarding the subject area. Liberty University does not necessarily endorse specific personal, religious, philosophical, or political positions found in these resources.

Recommended Resource Purchase

Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. Current ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Additional Materials for Learning

    1. Computer with basic audio/video output equipment
    2. Internet access (broadband recommended)
    3. Blackboard recommended browsers
    4. Microsoft Word
    5. School of Divinity Writing Guide:


Course Assignments

Textbook readings and lecture presentations/notes

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Module/Week 1.

Discussion Board Forums (3)

Discussion boards are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to provide a thread in response to the provided prompt for each forum. Each thread must be 400 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to 2 other classmates’ threads. Each reply must be 200 words. (MLO: A, B, C, D, E, F)

Analysis Papers (4)

The student will write a 4-page analysis paper based on the posed topic. The paper must be written in current Turabian format and include at least 4 references. (MLO): A, B, E)

Small Group Training Manual

The student will compose a Small Group Training Manual that can be implemented in a small group ministry. This will be completed in 2 steps. The manual must be 12–15 pages and cover areas detailed within the course. The manual must include at least 10 sources cited in current Turabian format. (MLO: A, B, C, D, E, F)

Course Grading

Course Requirements Checklist


Discussion Board Forums (3 at 100 pts ea)


Analysis Papers (4 at 100 pts ea)


Small Group Training Manual: Step 1


Small Group Training Manual: Step 2





Late Assignment Policy

Course Assignments, including discussion boards, exams, and other graded assignments, should be submitted on time.

If the student is unable to complete an assignment on time, then he or she must contact the instructor immediately by email.

Assignments that are submitted after the due date without prior approval from the instructor will receive the following deductions:

  1. Late assignments submitted within one week after the due date will receive up to a 10% deduction.
  2. Assignments submitted more than one week and less than 2 weeks late will receive up to a 20% deduction.
  3. Assignments submitted two weeks late or after the final date of the course will not be accepted outside of special circumstances (e.g. death in the family, significant personal health issues), which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the instructor.
  4. Group projects, including group discussion board threads and/or replies, and assignments will not be accepted after the due date outside of special circumstances (e.g. death in the family, significant personal health issues), which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the instructor.

Disability Assistance

Students with a disability and those with medical conditions associated with pregnancy may contact Liberty University’s Online Office of Disability Accommodation Support (ODAS) at [email protected] for accommodations.  Such accommodations require appropriate documentation of your condition.   For more information about ODAS and the accommodations process, including how to request an accommodation, please visit Requests for accommodations not related to disabilities or pregnancy must be directed to the Registrar’s Office, which generally handles medical needs support.

If you have a complaint related to disability discrimination or an accommodation that was not provided, you may contact ODAS or the Office of Equity and Compliance by phone at (434) 592-4999 or by email at e[email protected].  Click to see a full copy of Liberty’s Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy or the Student Disability Grievance Policy and Procedures.

Course Attendance

In an effort to comply with U.S. Department of Education policies, attendance is measured by physical class attendance or any submission of a required assignment within the enrollment dates of the course (such as examinations, written papers or projects, any discussion board posts, etc.) or initiating any communication with one’s professor regarding an academic subject. More information regarding the attendance policy can be found in the Academic Course Catalogs. Regular attendance in online courses is expected throughout the length of the term. Students who do not attend within the first week of a sub-term by submitting a required academic assignment (such as the Course Requirements Checklist, an examination, written paper or project, discussion board post, or other academic activity) will be dropped from the course. Students who wish to re-engage in the course are encouraged to contact Academic Advising to discuss their enrollment options. Students who begin an online course, but at some point in the semester cease attending, and do not provide official notification to withdraw, will be assigned a grade of “FN” (Failure for Non-Attendance). Students wishing to withdraw from courses after the official start date should familiarize themselves with the withdrawal policy.

Grading Scale

A- B+ B B- C+ C C- D+ D D- F
940-1010 920-939 900-919 860-899 840-859 820-839 780-819 760-779 740-759 700-739 680-699 679 and below

For courses with a Pass/NP final grade, please refer to the Course Grading section of this syllabus for the assignment requirements and/or point value required to earn a Passing final grade.

Add/Drop Policy

The full policy statement and procedures are published in the Policy Directory.

Honor Code

Liberty University comprises a network of students, Alumni, faculty, staff and supporters that together form a Christian community based upon the truth of the Bible. This truth defines our foundational principles, from our Doctrinal Statement to the Code of Honor. These principles irrevocably align Liberty University’s operational procedures with the long tradition of university culture, which remains distinctively Christian, designed to preserve and advance truth. Our desire is to create a safe, comfortable environment within our community of learning, and we extend our academic and spiritual resources to all of our students with the goal of fostering academic maturity, spiritual growth and character development.

Communities are predicated on shared values and goals. The Code of Honor, an expression of the values from which our Doctrinal Statement was born, defines the fundamental principles by which our community exists. At the core of this code lie two essential concepts: a belief in the significance of all individuals, and a reliance on the existence of objective truth.

While we acknowledge that some may disagree with various elements of the Code of Honor, we maintain the expectation that our students will commit to respect and uphold the Code while enrolled at Liberty University.

Adherence to the principles and concepts established within facilitates the success of our students and strengthens the Liberty community.

The Code of Honor can be viewed in its entirety at



DSMN 630

Textbooks: Arnold, The Big Book on Small Groups (2004).

Comiskey, Biblical Foundations for the Cell-Based Church (2012).

Earley & Dempsey, Leading Healthy, Growing, Multiplying Small Groups (2015).

House, Community: Taking Your Small Group off Life Support (2011).


Reading & Study




Earley & Dempsey: chs. 1–4

1 presentation

1 lecture note

1 website

Course Requirements Checklist

Class Introductions

DB Forum 1





Comiskey: chs. 2–4

Earley & Dempsey: chs. 5–6

1 presentation

2 lecture notes

1 website

Analysis Paper 1



Arnold: Introduction, chs. 1–2

Earley & Dempsey: chs. 7–15

1 presentation

1 lecture note

1 website

Analysis Paper 2



Arnold: ch. 3

Earley & Dempsey: chs. 16–21, 30

1 presentation

2 websites

DB Forum 2



Arnold: chs. 4–5

Earley & Dempsey: chs. 22–28

1 presentation

1 lecture note

Analysis Paper 3



Earley & Dempsey: chs. 29–39

House: chs. 4–7

1 presentation

1 lecture note

2 websites

Analysis Paper 4

Small Group Training Manual: Step 1




Comiskey: chs. 5–9

Earley & Dempsey: chs. 40-46

1 presentation

2 websites

DB Forum 3



Arnold: Appendix A–B

Earley & Dempsey: chs. 47–51

1 presentation

1 lecture note

1 website

Small Group Training Manual: Step 2





DB = Discussion Board


NOTE: Each course week begins on Monday morning at 12:00 a.m. (ET) and ends on Sunday night at 11:59 p.m. (ET). The final week ends at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Friday.