Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Review - Leading Small Groups With Purpose

Steve Gladen's new book Leading Small Groups with Purpose is an excellent guide for small group leaders to help them foster the health of their group. Those who lead the small group ministry itself would do well to check out Gladen's first book Small Groups with Purpose (which I reviewed previously), while this book is aimed squarely at the small group leader.

Part One helps the small group leader understand his or her role, what is needed for healthy small groups, and some great discussion on the barriers people face on considering joining a small group. He talks about how each group is unique, how this requires being flexible, and how people must first crawl then walk before they can hope to run.

Part Two has ten chapters, a pair for each of the five purposes considered: fellowship, discipleship, ministry, evangelism and worship. For each of these areas there is one chapter which talks about the importance and necessity of living out that purpose, and a second chapter 'Practical Suggestions'. Together this core section of the book talks about the essential foundations of biblical community, spiritual growth, reaching out, and living for God. I really enjoyed sections like: "understanding the after-the-group meeting", "don't let the agenda crowd out the Holy Spirit", "an intentional pathway for development", "it's about health not just connection", "the goal of discipleship is transformation", "help your group members find their serving suite spot", and "conflict resolution."

Part Three is also very helpful and practical. It covers several of the common obstacles (and opportunities) surrounding group health.

There are a lot of books on small groups, including some really excellent ones. Why read Leading Small Groups with Purpose? It's super practical, written by someone who has helped literally thousands of groups and hundreds of churches. It's also very intentional, focused, balanced, and well-written. I also appreciate that Gladen is not at all dogmatic that his approach is the right way or only way. Even if your church or ministry has a framework different from Saddleback's, you as a small group leader will find a lot of useful information in this book.

I'll give you one more reason. Steve Gladen is the real deal. I had the privilege of meeting him last week at the GroupLife Midwest 2012 conference, and the heart and passion Steve has for helping small group leaders is nothing short of incredible. Sometimes we assume pastors at a big church will have a big head; instead I'm seeing more often they have a big heart. If you're a small group leader or point person for small groups you should also check out his small group network.

Both Leading Small Groups with Purpose and Small Groups with Purpose are available at Amazon and other book retailers.


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