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Jason Edwards

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The goal of this project was to develop a small group program for Second Baptist Church in Liberty, Missouri that utilized specific spiritual practices to facilitate meaningful community, personal transformation, and synergistic missional engagement within the congregation. Liberty has experienced significant population growth, and this expansion, combined with cultural pressures and increasing busyness has weakened people’s sense of community, encouraging individualism and low ministry participation. To address these challenges, “Community Groups” was developed to meet stated goals and needs.

This paper first examines the area surrounding Second Baptist, as well as the unique character of the church’s ministry. Sources of Liberty’s expansion are identified, as well as new related challenges. An examination of the practices, values, and beliefs of Second Baptist identify its identity and vision. The need for a new small group ministry at Second Baptist is explored, as well as obstacles and opportunities related to such a ministry. The paper then engages the relevant biblical and theological data, examining the strengths and weakness of Baptist ecclesiology for this initiative, as well as the supportive theological concepts of imago Dei, shalom, and “the priesthood of all believers.” Finally, the paper details the creation of a pilot project supported by the data. Church members were invited into high-commitment “Community Groups” with upward, inward, and outward foci. Groups were also informed by the Christian practices of hospitality, service, noticing, discernment, Sabbath, and celebration.

The project succeeded in raising awareness about the importance of community, offered a holistic formational opportunity, and prompted the creation of new, member-driven ministries. The goal of personal transformation was difficult to measure, but was evidenced in the personal reflections of participants. The new ministry program is now in its second year and continues to serve as a catalyst for transformation within Second Baptist’s congregation and city.

Theological Mentor: Kurt Fredrickson, PhD

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Fredrickson, Kurt

Document Type





Church renewal; Small groups; Church group work; Second Baptist Church (Liberty, Mo.)


Missions and World Christianity


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March 2018

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