When I first thought about who I’d like to write the foreword for Small Group Vital Signs, I immediately thought of Rick Howerton. Rick has a passion for Biblical community, understands what makes a small group healthy, and is one of my favorite writers on the topic of groups. I knew that when he read my book he’d “get it.” Here’s his foreword:
I am awestruck by Mike’s ability to take us to the right places. I know they are the right places because Mike has been on the journey himself and is simply showing us where to tread.
As I made my way through this astoundingly insightful read, I found myself questioning so many aspects of group life that I have embraced and taught on over the years. I wondered if I helped groups to depend enough on the power of the Holy Spirit, the presence of Christ, and the strength of God the Father. I pondered how many small group ministries are over the top when it comes to teaching techniques, but lacking in helping small group leaders and coaches determine when to set aside “the right thing to do” with “the right way to think.” I questioned the discipleship models I have so often espoused and asked myself if they were the way Jesus discipled His followers. I even asked myself this question: “Did the small group movement deteriorate and embrace principles and practices birthed in a psychology class while setting aside principles and practices birthed in the heart of God and revealed in His Word?”
Most small group books tell you why, how, or what the author has done or is doing in his church. While reading these books, I thought, “You told me why, now tell me how” … or “You told me how, now tell me why” … or “You told me what you are doing, but will it work in any setting with any demographic?” One of the most refreshing things about this book is that Mike puts all three of the puzzle pieces in place. But most importantly, everything—and I do mean everything—is proven true via Scripture. And when Scripture speaks, the principles and practices are universal.
As you use the health assessment and then read this book, my prayer is that you set aside past paradigms to consider what I see as the heart of this book: God will do something amazing in the life of any group that gives Him room to do so.
Mike, thank you for taking your time to give the small group world a resource that will help us see a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet.
Rick Howerton was Global Small Group Environmentalist for NavPress and author of A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic, which will be available June 2012 from NavPress. Rick has been a small group pastor and senior pastor. In 2003 Rick planted The Bridge, a church built around healthy small groups. I love Rick’s vision: “A Biblical Small Group Within Walking Distance of Every Person on the Planet.”
Rick is also the author of several group guides.