I’m still on hold with the new stuff, so one more blast from the past…. This isn’t a brand-new book — it’s a couple years old now, actually — but it’s certainly fresh even if it’s not new.
Don’t let the subtitle fool you — it’s not incorrect, but it’s not the kind of book you might think it is. It’s not a how-to book. It is, however, a what-to and why-to book. Rather than prescribing a strategy for small groups, Tara Miller and Jenn Peppers lay out the elements that make a small group successful… then point out that it’s not going to look the same for every group… then help you make the choices that will work best for your group. And that’s a far more practical approach, in the long run.
From the outset, Miller and Peppers affirm that lots of small-group models work. The trick, they suggest, is finding an approach that accurately reflects the values of your group. Both the opening section and the appendixes are built to help you think through what you and your group really value. From there, building your group becomes a much more natural process.
Another huge point the authors make early on is: While there’s a variety of ways to get there, if the focus isn’t squarely on a hunger for God (rather than on group needs), things will eventually fall apart. That one hit me square between the eyes.
Other sections cover such meaty topics as stages of group life, learning how to listen to God and others, asking questions that go deep rather than lead to obvious answers, dealing with conflict, and developing new leaders.
Peppered throughout each chapter (no pun intended) are many “Do This” suggestions — little ideas you can try either on your own or with your group. As you take these measured risks, your group life will almost certainly be enriched.
Even though it’s a small-group resource, I’ve already gotten this into the hands of one church planter who wanted to start things right with his core team. The principles in this book very much work in that context as well.
Whether you’re starting a small-group ministry or looking to grow your leaders (and yourself) in a meaningful way, this is a great book to help you face the issues that every small-group ministry comes up against. For more info about the book and other related resources, visit www.findingtheflow.org.
An earlier version of this review first appeared on smallgroupministry.com.