Real-world small groups at Westwood

Published 2:25 pm Friday, August 26, 2011

Tina Ciesla leads the Financial Peace University class on Aug. 24 at Westwood Baptist in Alabaster. (Reporter photo/Christine Boatwright)


ALABASTER – Westwood Baptist Church in Alabaster recently kicked off a series of Wednesday night small groups focused on growth, community and outreach.

“We’re helping people have a direction. The Bible is so big and hard for people to find a direction,” Westwood’s Pastor of Small Groups Jay Gordon said.

The small-group program uses “Grow, group and go” to differentiate the variety of class levels. Classes are offered in parenting, marriage support, financial education, biblical study and more.

For the “grow” portion, Gordon said when people become Christians, they need to start growing “from day one.” The next step involves group activities with other believers, and the final section, “go,” trains believers to get involved in missions and community service.

“It’s sequential if it needs to be, but I believe Christians need to see if they have balance,” Gordon said. “Do I grow and serve?”

As a part of the “group” section, Westwood is offering Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course. Tina Ciesla is leading the weekly group for the attendees interested in learning more about balancing finances. Ciesla said the theme of the class is “baby steps.”

“(Financial planning) takes so much of the stress and the fighting out of your marriage,” Ciesla said. “I don’t care how good your marriage is, everyone needs to stay ahead of that kind of issue. It’s so great. No one should start out with financial problems.”

Lee and Pat Walsh decided to take the class, as Pat said he’s familiar with Dave Ramsey’s radio program.

“We’ve always struggled with finances, and we need something to get on track,” Pat Walsh said. “I’ve always listened to Dave Ramsey on the radio, but applying the principles is hard.”

Pat Walsh’s wife, Lee, said it’s easy to hear the principals, but hard to apply.

“We have four children, so we’re thinking about college. We now have one driving,” Lee Walsh said. “We could use the encouragement and the help.”

For more information about Westwood Baptist’s small groups, contact Jay Gordon at