Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Ministry (DMin)


Jeffrey D. Ward


Small, Groups, Great, Commission, Restricted, Community


Christianity | Religion


The late Twentieth and early Twenty-first Centuries witnessed an unprecedented rise in the numbers of families moving into restricted, residential communities, seeking security, an improved quality of life, and high property values. These communities hinder traditional churches from fulfilling the Great Commission. Homeowners’ associations disallow door-to-door neighborhood evangelism. Zoning laws prevent churches from erecting buildings for church services and discipleship programs. This research studies the effectiveness of small group ministries, using non-traditional evangelism and discipleship methods, as a counter measure to these hindrances. The study results found small groups are an effective method of fulfilling the Great Commission in restricted, residential communities. Some results, which were inconclusive, identify areas for further research on small group mentoring and ministry practices. Interviews of 2 pastors with successful small groups in restricted communities provides data on effective small group evangelism and discipleship. Learning surveys sent to small group members, collect data on members understanding of rudimentary Christian theology and their level of spiritual maturity. Researcher observations of a 12-member small group in a restricted residential community coupled with planting an experimental small group, provides analysis data on the best practices of traditional churches, which successfully planted small groups in a restricted community. The research results serve a guide for those interested in replicating or using it as a model for similar research. Further, it serves as a basis for traditional churches to begin evaluating their evangelism, disciple making, and small group practices.

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