Friendship UMC to host small group training event on Oct. 15


On Saturday morning Oct. 15, 2011, Friendship UMC in Athens will host Group Life South, a training/networking/motivating conference focusing on small group ministry.

The event description notes, "Discipleship happens best in small groups. The real spiritual growth that helps people become more like Jesus happens day by day, life on life, in the communities we call small groups. But discipleship is messy, can be complicated, and is just plain hard work."

The event will feature four nationally known small group experts who have wrestled with the challenges local churches face with small groups ministry.

Speakers include:

  • Bill Willits is the Executive Director of Ministry Environments and one of the founding staff members of North Point Ministries, the parent organization for North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA.
  • Keith Stanley is The Pastor of Local Disciple-making at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL. He is responsible for the small group ministry and implementing principles from David Platt's Radical in the Local Disciple-making Ministry.
  • Tommy Gray is Lead Pastor of Friendship Church in Athens, AL, and has served as a United Methodist pastor for 28 years. He planted ClearBranch Church (Trussville, AL) as a small group and continued to lead as the church grew to over 1,600.
  • Dave Treat is Discipleship Pastor at Friendship Church in Athens, AL. Former Area Pastor at Willow Creek Community Church and small groups conference/training designer for the Willow Creek Association.

The event is designed for small group leaders, pastors, church staff, and lay leaders. Individuals are welcome to attend, but it is recommended  that each congregation send a group of participants.

The first main session: Creating Community (with Bill Willits) begins at 9 a.m. and the last session: Stump the Chumps (with Bill Willits, Keith Stanley, Tommy Gray, and Dave Treat) wraps up at 12:30 p.m. In-between participants will choose one of four simultaneous workshops based on their congregation's needs and interests: Connecting (with Bill Willits), Radical Together (with Keith Stanley), Leading a Disciple-Making Church(with Tommy Gray), or Advanced Group Leadership (with Dave Treat).

Prior to October 1, the cost of the event is $29 per person or a congregations may purchase a registration 10-pack for up to 10 participants for just $190. After October 1 the individual registration increases to $39 per person and the 10 pack increases to $290.

The hope of conference organizers is to provide a quality event that is close (if you live in the southeast US), convenient (one Saturday morning), and cheap (only $19 per person for a 10 pack registration prior to Oct 1.) For more information or to register go to If you have questions you can email or call (256) 232-4906.

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