Small Group Life

Small Groups are the heart of Saddleback Church

We believe small groups of people can change the world. In a small group you'll cultivate meaningful relationships by fellowshipping together, engage with God’s Word and grow in spiritual maturity through discipleship, serve alongside each other in ministry, grow in sharing the love of Christ to those both locally and globally through our PEACE plan, and celebrate all that God has done and is doing by worshipping together. Ready to get connected?

Start a Group

Do life with people in your neighborhood

Starting a group is easy! Just grab a few friends, find a time and place to meet, and then find curriculum on Mysaddleback.com. As a small group host you will help cultivate growth and relationships within your small group.

Find a Group

Staff

Steve Gladen

Campus: Central Office Team
Pastor of Small Groups

Steve Gladen

Steve has been Pastor of Small Groups at Saddleback Church since February 1998 and serves as an Elder of the church. He oversees the strategic launch and spiritual development of over 7,000 adult small groups on multiple campuses. He has authored Small Groups With Purpose, which has been translated into eleven languages to date, Leading Small Groups With Purpose and Planning Small Groups With Purpose (Summer 2018). He has a driving passion to see each church attendee connected to a qualified shepherd and become an integral part of their church body, living purpose driven lives for Christ. He frequently speaks at conferences and consults with church leaders from many denominations both in the United States and around the world. Prior to joining Saddleback, Steve has been on four other church staffs of varying sizes. He earned a Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1985, and a B.A. in Biblical Studies, with minors in Greek and Philosophy in 1982, from Evangel University. Steve and Lisa have been married since 1989 and have two children, Erika and Ethan.

Aaron Amaya

Matt Graybill

Campus: Lake Forest
Lake Forest 101 Pastor

Matt Graybill

Matt Graybill was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is a die hard Philly fan. Before Matt was a pastor he was a Health and Physical Education teacher as well as a football and wrestling coach. Whether in the gym, or living in Africa, Matt has always had a passion for creating community where people can connect and grow in their relationship with Jesus and others. Matt and his wife Beth and their two boys Kallan and Aaron joined the Saddleback team in 2015. You will often find Matt on the patio at Saddleback connecting with people, but when he not there you might find him hiking and camping with his family, or coaching one of his sons at their sporting events.

Steve Yu

Steve Yu

Campus: Lake Forest
Lead Small Groups Pastor

Steve Yu

Steve Yu is Korean-American born in Sao Paulo, Brazil and grew up in the east coast. He appreciates his upbringing in different cultural environments because it has led to many conversations about other people’s background and culture. One of his favorite ways of connecting with people is eating good food or drinking coffee. He is very passionate about exploring delicious food. As much as he loves connecting with people, he loves spending time with his wife and two kids. As a family, they enjoy playing the video game called “just dance” and family Netflix nights on the weekend. When Steve has free time, he enjoys training for triathlons and going on date nights with his wife.

Aaron Amaya

Aaron Amaya

Campus: Lake Forest
Small Groups Pastor

Aaron Amaya

Aaron Amaya was born and raised in the inland empire. He began pastoring at Saddleback Church in Student Ministries at Saddleback Corona and is currently serving as a pastor with the Lake Forest Small Groups team. Aaron is a big believer that “all movements begin in groups” Aaron has a passion to see the the local church creatively capture the hearts of its community. Aaron is married to his beautiful wife Crystal and are raising their amazing daughter Laila who is 4 years old.

Ryan Hacker

Ryan Hacker

Campus: Lake Forest
Small Groups Pastor

Ryan Hacker

Ryan and his family moved from Northern California when he was 2 years old and his family has been attending Saddleback ever since. He attended BIOLA for his undergraduate degree in Biblical and Theological studies, and will be receiving his Master of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies-Diversified from Talbot this December. Ryan was a spring intern with Local Peace in 2012, and after finishing his Bachelors, he returned to work at Saddleback in 2015. He has been involved in small groups throughout every stage of his life, leading and coaching groups throughout his high school and college years. He has a deep passion for seeing people connected and growing in Christ by being connected and growing with one another. Ryan loves teaching himself new things, whether that’s taking some boxing classes, online cooking lessons, or even some photo editing tutorials, he’s always up for trying his hand at a new endeavor. When Ryan isn’t at work, he is likely cooking, spending time with some friends, at a wedding (he’s been to over 40 of them!), reading some fiction (likely Harry Potter), or re-watching The Office, Parks and Rec, or New Girl on Netflix.

Karo Ku

Karo Ku

Campus: Lake Forest
Small Groups Pastor

Karo Ku

Karo Ku was born in Suwon, South Korea. His family immigrated to the United States when he was 19 where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Music in Worship from Biola University. He received a Master of Arts in Christian Education from Talbot School of Theology, and is currently pursuing his Doctorate of Ministry in Growing and Multiplying Churches from Talbot School of Theology. As an immigrant himself, he has a great passion for seeing the unity in diversity, supporting small groups that have unique cultural backgrounds, and seeking innovative ways to reach out to people for Christ. He and his wife, MK will celebrate their 10th anniversary with two kids Tehillah and Theodore. He enjoys taking photos with his Sony camera (mostly of his little kids), learning to make latte art, and learning from different churches in the area. Some of his favorite Bible passages are Psalm 121, Matthew 28:18-20, Romans 15:13, and Revelation 7:9-10.

Amanda Reyes

Amanda Reyes

Campus: Lake Forest
Small Groups Minister

Amanda Reyes

Amanda was born and raised in Seal Beach, CA. After graduating University, she lived abroad for several years but eventually moved back to become a part of Saddleback Church. She served Singles on staff for two years before moving into the Singles Small Groups Minister role. She is motivated by her passion to help people get connected and find community. When she is not working you’ll find her traveling with her husband, Eligio.

John Simons

John Simons

Campus: Lake Forest
Small Groups Pastor

John Simons

John Simons was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut and raised in Orange County, California. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at California Baptist University (CBU), and also received the degrees of M.A. Philosophy and M.Div from Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. John has been married two years to his wife, Kristen, who works as a nurse and is a proud dog-mom to their mischievous beagle, Riley. His interests include: Reading all genres of fiction (but favors science fiction and fantasy), conversations on theology, ethics, culture/pop-culture, film, and discipleship.

Reagan Miura

Campus: Aliso Viejo
Campus Pastor

Reagan Miura

Reagan has served in full-time ministry for the last 20 years. Born and raised in Hawaii, he is a true island boy who loves poke bowls, surfing and spam. Reagan has pastored in Hawaii and Kansas City, and has also helped to train and mobilize for anti-human trafficking organization, Exodus Cry. Reagan earned his undergraduate degree in Biblical Studies while in Hawaii, and is currently pursuing his graduate degree at Talbot. Reagan is married to his beautiful wife Rebekah.

Jim Sonnenburg

Campus: Anaheim
Small Group Pastor

Jim Sonnenburg

Jim was born and raised in Lake Forest, CA. He graduated with a Bachelor degree in Communication Studies from Vanguard University and received a Masters in Theological Studies from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (now Gateway Seminary). Jim’s first exposure to small groups was as a college student. The transformative power of community has fueled his passion to help cultivate relationships, connection and authentic community in his church family. When he is not working, you’ll find him enjoying his wife of 8 years, Kelly, his two kids Judah and Kate and his dog Buddy. Jim is an avid reader, loves aquascaping, being outdoors, and doing projects around the house.

Chris Yi

Campus: Irvine North
Small Groups Pastor

Chris Yi

Chris Yi grew up in New York City, where he was a part of innovative new ministries and church revitalization. He started attending Saddleback in 2014 after moving to Southern California and quickly fell in love with the small group ministry. Chris and his wonderful family currently live in Irvine and in their free time, they enjoy getting away from smartphone screens to hike the beautiful trails in California or take unplanned road trips to fun new restaurants.

Jeff Feld

Campus: Laguna Woods
Campus 101 & Small Groups Pastor

Jeff Feld

Jeff Feld grew up in the Los Angeles area and is a USC Alumni with a BS in Business and a Computer Science emphasis. He immediately joined the corporate world and worked for technology companies in LA and Orange County. Once Jeff and his wife Jeanine found Saddleback Church, he began serving as a volunteer Small Group Community Leader for many years before coming on staff. Before Jeff’s current role at Saddleback Laguna Woods, he was a Small Group Pastor at the Lake Forest campus. He has a great passion for fellowship and welcoming others to become part of God’s family. Jeff also served as part of the Global Purpose Driven team that helps other churches implement P E A C E and the five Biblical purposes (PD) of a healthy church. He is currently working on his Masters in Ministry Leadership at Rockbridge Seminary.

Lalo Garcia

Campus: Newport Mesa
Small Groups Pastor

Lalo Garcia

I was born and raised in Costa Mesa California. I Grew up playing Soccer, I played at that collegiate and also played at the Semi-Professional Level. Attended Orange Coast Community College for two years and then Received a full ride scholarship to California Baptist University where I played and received my Bachelor of Science degree, and I have received a Masters of Arts degree from Rockbridge Seminary. I love Saddleback Church, it is where I discovered my own personal relationship with Jesus. I am married to the woman of dreams Liliana Garcia, and will be celebrating the life of our first baby this fall. I love to read, workout, run, and always seeking a challenge.

Jay Kranda

Jay Kranda

Campus: Online Campus
Online Campus Pastor

Jay Kranda

Jay Kranda was born in Los Alamitos, California and raised throughout Southern California. He graduated with a B.A. in Christian Education from Biola University and M.A. in Theology from Talbot School of Theology. Jay’s life was greatly impacted in his high school years from a church and it's one of the many reasons why he loves working in full-time ministry. Jay loves watching NBA basketball, drinking cold black coffee, and tweeting about it. Jay is married to Jody and they have three kids together.

Kevin Lee

Campus: Online Campus
Small Groups Pastor

Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee is a Small Groups Pastor at Saddleback Church. He oversees both home groups and online groups of Online Campus. He passionately believes that Small Groups is where God loves to change lives. Kevin has a small group that he participated for 7 years and counting. He currently lives in Fullerton, California.

Jacob Wilson

Campus: Rancho Capistrano
Campus Membership Pastor

Jacob Wilson

Jacob Wilson was born in Santa Ana, California and raised in Huntington Beach, CA. He graduated with a Bachelor’s in Biblical Studies from Biola University and received a Master of Arts degree in Bible Exposition from Talbot School of Theology. Jacob’s personal impact from community-driven groups has fueled his passion to help cultivate authentic relationships within the body of Christ. When he is not working, you’ll find his nose in a book or spending time with his wife, Jourdan, and their two ridiculously beautiful children, Elijah and Emery.

Clay Stokes

Campus: San Diego
Small Groups Pastor

Clay Stokes

Clay Stokes was born in Omaha Nebraska, moved to Texas for a few years and has been a die-hard California fan since moving to the Bay Area in 1975. He received his bachelors in History from San Jose State University and went on to get his MDiv at Denver Seminary. Clay has been in ministry for nearly 40 years, serving as a church planter, Executive Pastor and Senior Pastor in churches in the Bay Area and in San Diego. He most recently landed his dream job as the 101 Pastor at Saddleback San Diego where he thoroughly enjoys spurring others on in their faith and helping them find their place and joy within the life of small groups. Clay and his wife Candy have 4 grown children and 6 grandchildren (and counting) whom they utterly enjoy and spoil. Clay and Candy are foodies, so if he’s not working or entertaining one of the Small People, you’ll likely find him and Candy driving up and down the coast, trying out new eateries. Otherwise, he’d be delighted if you called him for a round of golf or to go to a baseball game!

Sam Yoon

Campus: South Bay
Campus Pastor

Sam Yoon

Sam Yoon was born in Los Angeles, California and grew up in Taiwan. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California Irvine, a Masters in Divinity from Gateway Seminary and a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from California University of Long Beach. Sam is passionate about helping people experience the transforming love of Jesus through the church. He loves spending time with his beautiful wife Grace and his two daughters, Karis and Zoe. You may find Sam on the basketball courts or playing tea time with his girls.

Small Group Event Calendar

Questions

Learn about small groups

The Small Group FAQ page can be found here.

If you have any other questions please fill out the form, or you can email us at smallgroups@saddleback.com