Saturday, February 28, 2009

Review - Destination Community

As one who doesn't believe that small groups are dying, I'm frequently on the lookout for fresh approaches to group life, or material that emphasizes the goals of life transformation, authentic community and biblical discipleship. Destination: Community Small Group Ministry Manual by Rick Howerton is an excellent resource that covers all the key aspects of small group ministry, of interest to small group leaders, coaches/shepherds, ministry directors, and those considering developing a small group ministry.

The book discusses key questions like why small groups, how to lead a group, how to start a SG ministry, tips on effective SGs, tips on facilitating a SG mtg, and a specific section on Youth SGs. The book is very easy-to-read, with super short chapters of about four pages each. A key aspect of the book is the cover-to-cover emphasis on authentic relationships and community, not about the need to convey knowledge. The small groups proposed to not ignore discipleship, but they are insistent that this occurs best in close community, living life together. My favorite quote from the book: "Leaders must invite people into their lives, not their programs"

The book discusses both principles and practical ideas, yet without telling the reader what to do. Howerton stresses that every group is unique and should have a well-defined purpose that fits their group and is communicated well. On first reading I wasn't quite sure if what Howerton was proposing was an emergent or relational 'spin' on other excellent small group approaches (including the excellent books by Donahue and others from Willow Creek), but a second look suggests that it's more - that the emphasis on community and relationships is real and central to the book. The approach in Destination: Community will be of great interest to those seeking relational and redemptive community in a group setting, and to those who see the purpose of small groups as life transformation. The approach to small group leadership is fresh, with the leader much more of a shepherd and first among peers, sharing meaningful responsibility with others for facilitating, caregiving, and hospitality. Check it out ...

Table of Contents
SECTION 1: Basic Principles and Practices of Small-Group Life
Chapter 1--Authenticity
Chapter 2--Life is a Story
Chapter 3--Embrace Adventure; Do Life Together
Chapter 4--Experiential Discipleship
Chapter 5--Compelling Community
SECTION 2: The Heart of Leadership
Chapter 6--Obtaining Group Members
Chapter 7--Retaining Group Members
Chapter 8--Organizing the Group
Chapter 9--Unifying Group Members
Chapter 10--Directing Group Members
SECTION 3: Starting a Small-Group Ministry
Chapter 11--Decide If Small Groups Are Right for You
Chapter 12--Envision the Vision
Chapter 13--Choose the Types of Groups You'll Include
Chapter 14--Capture the Purpose Behind our Passion
Chapter 15--Plan for Growth
Chapter 16--Obtain Approval from Infl uencing Church Leadership
Chapter 17--Enlist the Senior Pastor to Cast Vision
Chapter 18--Recruit Generation 1
SECTION 4: The Model Group - Leading G1
Chapter 19--Five Actions of Healthy Small Groups
Chapter 20--The One Anothers
Chapter 21--In His G-R-I-P
Chapter 22--Team Evangelism
Chapter 23--Covenanting
Chapter 24--Power Prayer
Chapter 25--Multiplication
SECTION 5: The Small-Group Meeting
Chapter 26--Meeting Tips
Chapter 27--Before the Meeting
Chapter 28--During the Meeting
Chapter 29--After the Meeting
Chapter 30--Between Meetings
SECTION 6: Youth Small Groups by Josh Howerton
Chapter 31--Advantages of Small Groups in Student Ministry
Chapter 32--On Your Mark ... Get Set ... Go!
Chapter 33--Handling the Animal
Chapter 34--Final Warnings and Encouragement

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