Small groups are all about fostering community. As pastors and church leaders, you know that. You’re here to learn how you can help your congregation make the most of small groups. And we’ll get there, no doubt.

But first we’ll tackle the hardest truth for leaders to accept: real community starts with you.

In today’s show, you’ll hear from Doug Fields, executive director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University, on the private life of a public leader. Then we’ll listen in to a conversation between Holly Crawshaw, Sarah Bragg and Heather Zempel on the big changes you can bring about with small groups.

Welcome to Episode 60 of the Think Orange Podcast.

Where To Listen:  iTunes  |  Google Play  |  Stitcher  |  SoundCloud

Topic Timeline

Dave and Ashley introduce today’s guests. (5:35)

Doug Fields on the rooms of a leader’s soul. (9:15)

You can’t sustain a long term, busy pace without danger to yourself and others. (12:48)

Leaders need authentic community. (15:00)

Identify and track rhythms of your time to be more effective. (21:05)

Leaders must be lifelong learners. (24:55)

Remember: we are spiritual leaders, not activities directors. (27:30)

Healthy leaders can run the marathon because they know they’re called to it. (30:33)

Holly Crawshaw and Sarah Bragg introduce Heather Zempel. (32:58)

Heather Zempel on the four principles of a small group leader (35:46)

How to really be present for members of your small group. (40:45)

What it looks like to live in the tension as a leader. (44:48)

Practical ways a pastor can encourage small group leaders to move their members out. (49:22)

The reason we exist is to make disciples. (52:22)

Dave and Ashley’s final thoughts. (54:25)

People, Places & Helpful Resources


Book: Big Change, Small Groups by Heather Zempel

Book: Lead Small by Reggie Joiner and Shefchunas

Small group strategy:

The Orange Conference 2019

Blog: Orange Leaders – a blog with strategies, tips and ideas from leaders influencing the faith and character of the next generation

Book: Think Orange: Imagine the Impact When Church and Family Collide

Book: It’s Just a Phase – so Don’t Miss It: Why Every Life Stage of a Kid Matters and at Least 13 Things Your Church Should Do About It


Featured Guests

Greg Bradford


Doug Fields is a communicator, author, & consultant. He is the Executive Director of HomeWord’s Center for Youth/Family at Azusa Pacific University, the co-founder of, and the author of more than 50 books. More information about Doug is available at

Duffy Robbins


A native Alabamian, Heather Zempel currently leads the discipleship efforts at National Community Church in Washington, DC where she oversees small groups, directs leadership development training, and serves on the weekend teaching team. Heather is the author of Sacred RoadsCommunity is Messy, and Amazed and Confused, and you can read about her ramblings on small group environments, discipling the next generation and SEC football at

Quotes from This Episode

Ideas to Influence the Next Generation

Every yes is a no to someone or something else.

Sometimes it seems like you just can’t escape requests for help or feelings of obligation. Everywhere you look, you’re needed. And maybe that’s why you got into ministry in the first place: to help. Good for you! Now remind your heart that your body and mind need some time to catch up.

Say yes to the things that matter–your work, sure, but also your family, friends and time alone. And get over the guilt of saying no. No is a solid answer to anything or anyone who takes the focus off of your priorities. You can even try, “Yes, but not today” for trivial needs you’d like to eventually meet. By protecting yourself from burnout you can give more of yourself to the people you are called to serve.

Be willing to live in the tension of community.

Church leaders need community as much–if not more–than church members do. But relationships are tricky. That’s because they require a vulnerability and openness that might not come naturally to someone in your position.

Fight your instincts on this one. Lean into authenticity and be willing to sit with the awkwardness for a while. You might sense tension among members of your church or small group, or you may even feel the stress within yourself. That’s okay. On the other side of tension is growth.


Conversation Starters For Your Church

How well are we, as church leaders, following the command found in Proverbs 4:23 which says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”?

What are our biggest time suckers–people or activities that regularly pull us off mission–and how can we respond differently in the future?

How can we do a better job equipping our small group leaders to identify and grow future small group leaders?

Your Hosts

Dave Adamson, The Think Orange Podcast Host


When he’s not working as a pastor at North Point Ministries in Atlanta, Dave is usually making his family cross their arms, roll their eyes, and tap their feet while he takes “just one more quick photo” on family outings. You’ll also often find him up to his neck in “Jewish stuff” as he researches the cultural context of Jesus for his daily Instagram devotions. Learn more about Dave at

Ashley Bohinc, The Think Orange Podcast Host


Ashley serves as the Director of Middle School Strategy at Orange and the USA Director of Carry 117. She has worked with students in public education, athletic and ministry settings for the last 12 years. She is most passionate about resourcing the local church, communicating on stage, developing leaders, working with students and world missions. In her downtime, you’ll find her watching Friends, cheering on the Cleveland Cavaliers, traveling, reading, or on one of her Fairytale Friday Adventures.

Join Us Next Week

Thank you for listening to the Think Orange Podcast.

We hope you’ll join us for next week’s episode. More importantly, we hope that when you think next generation, you think Orange.