Pastor Mike Scolare wants to help small groups at Summit Evangelical Free Church grow even more in the future.
To do so, he will become a member of a big group this week in one of the biggest cities in the country - Chicago.
Scolare, associate pastor and director of small groups at Summit Church, will be attending the Small Groups Conference at Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago, which began Wednesday and will continue through Saturday afternoon.
He said he is very excited to see what he and fellow small-group leader Dr. Jim Gamache can bring back to the church from the conference.
"We have many small groups in our church, because we feel that's one of the best ways to learn about Christ," Scolare said. "We're going to the conference essentially to learn how to make these small groups even better and more rewarding to everyone that participates in them in the future."
Summit currently has nine small groups in operation, but church leaders plan to add two or even three more over the next few months.
With more small groups ready to start, Scolare decided it would be a good idea to attend the forum and see if members of the Summit congregation could obtain any new ideas on how to strengthen the small groups in Alta.
The convention, sponsored by Willow Creek Community Church, is open to all denominations, and is expected to attract an international audience.
"They draw from literally around the world," Scolare said. "That's going to help us out a lot, because we'll be able to tap into ideas from people around the globe. It's going to be a great place for us to learn from so many different people nationally and internationally."
Scolare said he heard about the event earlier this year from talking with other pastors, and he then used the internet to find out more information about the specifics and goals of the small group conference.
After deciding to attend, Scolare said several leaders of small groups were interested in making the trip to the Windy City, but, due to scheduling conflicts, Scolare and Gamache will be the only two heading to Chicago.
"The time of year just made it hard for many people, especially with harvest time right around the corner," Scolare said. "That, and the fact that it started in the middle of the week, which interferes with the work week of many people, made it a little more difficult for more people to attend."
The conference's schedule will contain a wide variety of seminars and clinics, as sessions will range from large group meetings to tiny clusters designed to help leaders plan for successful small group arrangements in the future.
Scolare said the mix between big and small would be beneficial for all involved.
"There are going to be a variety of ways we can learn," Scolare said. "There will be large-group interactions, and there will also be 50 to 60 breakout sessions where smaller groups will be able to sit down and discuss the topics presented to us that day. All that variety is really going to help us, because we're going to receive ideas from many different people."
Above all, Scolare said the purpose of the trip will be to help all of Summit's small groups know exactly what their purpose is in the church.
"We're going to be able to use this to clarify our own vision," Scolare said. "We are confident we know what our vision is, but every now and again you just have to step back and reinforce what you're doing.
"That's what this conference is really all about. We're going to be able to clarify our vision and then use that to move forward with our small groups."