Linked In to Healthy Small Groups

SGVS_bigToday I thought I’d share what a few ministry friends are saying about my newest book, Small Group Vital Signs. These recommendations come from LinkedIn, off the Small Group Leadership Products page for the book. Thanks, guys!

  • David Flug, Pastor of Adult Ministries at at Johnston Evangelical Free Church
    Des Moines, Iowa Area
    This book is great, it’s so great I invited Michael to come and speak at our annual regional small group conference on January 18-19, 2013. The great thing about Mike’s book is the truths are timeless, they are attainable, and they are measurable.
    • October 9, 2012
    • 1 person likes this recommendation
  • Andrew Mason, Founder at SmallGroupChurches.com

    Sacramento, California Area
    Most small groups never take the time to assess and evaluate their own progress and effectiveness. “Small Group Vital Signs” is an in-depth look at what a small group needs to succeed. One chapter of the book I really appreciated was how to make sure ‘Christ is at the center of your small group.’ It’s so easy to get distracted by activity and motion and miss this vital component. Not anymore! I highly recommend this book to Small Group Leaders and Pastors involved with Small Group ministry!
    • October 9, 2012
  • Thom Corrigan, Board Member at South Metro Denver Realtor Association

    Greater Denver Area
    When I think of seasoned, experienced professionals who can truly speak about the scope, breadth and depth of the small group movement in North America, Mike Mack is at the top of the list. You can buy a half dozen leading books on small groups, or you can cut to the chase and just read Mack’s Small Group Vital Signs. Regardless if you are a small group community novice or long term advocate- this book will tune you up.
    • October 23, 2012

Click here to see all the products and services offered by Small Group Leadership and to submit your own recommendations.

Small Group Dudes Are Talking About Small Group Vital Signs

I’m blessed to have partnered with many people over the years who have in one way or another shaped my thinking about small groups, community, discipleship, and ministry. I’ve been to the same conferences with many of them, been a part of the same teams and networks, and hung out together over dinner just talking life. I’ve read many of their books, articles, blogs, Facebook posts, and tweets, and perhaps they’ve read some of mine. That’s one of the things I love about small groups ministry: the community of people who are gurus, advocates, cheerleaders, trainers and teachers. We don’t always agree with one another, but we’re definitely all on the same team!

Today, I’m sharing some words from just a few of them about my book, Small Group Vital Signs.

“The only people who should notread Small Group Vital Signs are those who love to sit home in the dark by themselves or are addicted to mediocrity. For everyone else get ready for a tune-up and an upgrade!”
– Thom Corrigan, author of 101 Great Ideas to Create a Caring Group
“At Saddleback, we encourage every member to be a part of a small group and complete our Spiritual Health Assessment and use the Health Planner to grow as a Christ-centered believer. In Small Group Vital Signs, I was pleased to discover a similar approach to group health that any leader can use to lead a life-changing group! The assessment is revealing, the seven vital signs are biblically-based, and Mike’s suggestions to improve each area are grounded in years of practical application.”
– Steve Gladen, Small Groups Pastor, Saddleback Church, and author of Small Groups With Purpose and Leading Small Groups with Purpose

 

“Don’t mess around. If you want to lead a healthy small group — if you want to see healthy small groups in your church — you need to read this book.”
– Sam O’Neal, content editor for Threads by LifeWay


“Small Groups aren’t the answer. Healthy small groups are. Michael Mack has written the kind of book that you can read today and put into practice tomorrow.
– Adam Workman, Small Group Pastor, LifePoint Church, Reisterstown MD
Thanks, guys! 


David Roadcup on Small Group Vital Signs

Last April I had the privilege to lead a main session on small groups assessments at the Cincinnati Christian University Small Groups Conference. The theme of the conference was “Healthy Groups = Healthy Churches / Develop Your Growing Community.” My friend and partner in ministry David Roadcup spearheaded this conference. Here’s what David had to say about Small Group Vital Signs:

“Mike Mack’s book should be read and studied by anyone in the church interested in assimilating and growing believers! He is a veteran of Small Group ministry and knows how to help people grow in their faith. I highly recommend this work to leaders and lay people, as well.”

David is the Executive Director of the Center for Church Advancement and a professor at Cincinnati Christian University. I’ve had the honor of working with him on the planning committee for CCU’s Small Groups Conference. He is a man who has a passion for discipleship and he doesn’t just talk about it, it’s obviously a part of his lifestyle.

David has been in ministry for more than 42 years. Besides youth ministries, senior/preaching ministries, and college/seminary teaching through the years, Dr. Roadcup has authored numerous articles and books. He has spoken in 37 states and 5 foreign countries. As one of the founding members of the men’s ministry – Promise Keepers – he served on the Board of Directors for 11 years. In 2001, he was on the summer P.K. Men’s Conference Speaking Team. In addition to his wide-spread ministry to the Church and teaching classes at CCU, he is presently on the Board of Directors of Christ in Youth in Joplin, Missouri (C.I.Y.), the Board of Directors of Christian Arabic Services (C.A.S.), and is chairman of the board for SALT Ministries. He has been married to Karen for 40 years. Dave and Karen have two daughters, one son-in-law and three grandchildren. Dave’s great passion is discipling believers and helping Christians grow to deeper levels in their personal walk with Jesus Christ.

David has co-authored a series of books about church leadership that are especially useful for elders: Answer His Call Reflect His Character, Lead His Church, and Enjoy His People. He also has helped produce a digital curriculum from e2: effective elders called “What Every Elder Should Know!” See David’s Author Page on Amazon for other books he has written or co-written.

Reid Smith on Small Group Vital Signs

I’m excited to see that churches, groups, and individuals are not only reading Small Group Vital Signs but actually starting to use it in their ministries. I’ve had the opportunity to talk through it with a college class studying small groups as well as a group of small group ministers in Central Ohio. Today, I’m sharing the words of one of the coolest guys on the planet and someone who really knows about small groups, Reid Smith:

We all want our leadership and our groups to be overflowing with God’s transformational, reproducing power. Michael doesn’t mince words on what it takes to get there. Whether it’s for the new or veteran group leader, look no further for a guide that is both practical and insightful as it draws from the Bible’s unlimited reservoir of wisdom.
 
A generous disclosure of Christ-centered principles that will cultivate health in new groups and rekindle God’s fire in existing ones. Look no further for a book that is practical without being boring and comprehensive without being shallow.
 
Michael continues his legacy of resourcing the Church with biblical keys to foster transformational leadership and group dynamics. Taken to heart, this reliable guide will revolutionize your personal or church’s group-life because it’s grounded in God’s Word and focuses on health. 
 


Reid Smith is Director of Adult Ministries at
the 20,000 member multi-site Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach, Florida. He is a regular contributing author to smallgroups.com and rightnowtraining.com through his small group training and resource ministry called 2orMore.  

Reid is also on Twitter and Facebook. I love reading Reid’s blog. He challenges my thinking about discipleship, small groups, and community. Be sure to add Reid to your people to follow. I promise you’ll learn from him!

Alan Danielson on Small Group Vital Signs

Small Group Vital Signs is now shipping. If you have not yet received your copy, you can order it here today! By the way, you can also get a digital version of the book and start reading as soon as you download it. Just go HERE to get started. 
 As the book begins to ship, I want to share what Alan Danielson had to say:

“In Small Group Vital Signs, Mike makes you really think about your small group ministry.  He forces you to wrestle with the big questions, so you won’t settle for groups that are “good enough.”  Instead, you’ll long for all of your small groups to be GREAT!  This is a powerful read that is not for small group wimps!”

Alan Danielson is 
Senior Pastor at New Life Bible Church in  Norman, Oklahoma. Alan has spoken at the Willow Creek and Saddleback small groups conferences as well as the RightNow Conference. He is one of my favorite bloggers, writing regularly about small groups, leadership, mission, and discipleship at Triple-Threat Solutions
I have used Alan’s excellent book, Triple-Threat Leadership, with the small groups ministry teams at our church. Coming to an understanding of the different leadership styles on our team has benefited us greatly. We have talked through these styles as well as our roles on the team and how we can most effectively work together, and we still often refer to Alan’s Triple-Threat Leadership graphic. I just read Alan’s blog entitled, “The Real Reason for the Conflict on Your Team,” and the same could be said for conflict in your group. 

Like any practical book, Alan’s includes an assessment–one to assess the leadership styles of people on your team or in your group.



Rick Howerton on Small Group Vital Signs

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.

TribeRick 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.

Brian Jones on Small Group Vital Signs

This is installment 10 of a series of posts in which friends and small groups ministry partners share their thoughts on Small Group Vital Signs. Today, Brian Jones:

“One of the best books out today to help you build a flourishing small group’s ministry in your church! I can’t wait to get this resource in the hands of all of our leaders.”  
Brian Jones is the senior pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley in the suburbs of Philadelphia, a church he and his wife Lisa planted in 1999. He is also the author of three books: Hell Is Real (But I Hate To Admit It), Second Guessing God, and Getting Rid of the Gorilla: Confessions on the Struggle to Forgive. See more about his books. Brian blogs regularly, challenging Christians to rethink what it looks like to follow Jesus.

Brian and I have been connected numerous times and in numerous ways over the last twenty-some years. Back in the late ’90s, Brian and I met to discuss the possibility of me coming on board with him to help plant Christ’s Church of the Valley. My wife, Heidi, and I were not ready quite yet to be in full-time ministry and plant a church. But I knew I really liked this guy and would love to work with him more. In 2006, I was the project editor of the Group Member Discussion Guide for his book, Second Guessing God. In 2009, Brain asked me to coach his new director of group life, Alyssa Dourte. In 2011, I asked Brian to come speak at the Cincinnati Christian University Small Group Conference, where he closed out the conference with a bang. 

 Thanks, Brian, for your partnership in ministry over the years. And thanks for your kind words about Small Group Vital Signs


Click the images below to find our more about Brian’s books:


ChurchTeams Boyd Pelley on Small Group Vital Signs

We’re moving closer and closer to the release of Small Group Vital Signs. Today is our ninth installment of a series sharing what some of my friends and ministry partners are saying about the book. Today, my friend Boyd Pelley:

“Deming taught business that if you can’t describe what you’re doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing. For forty years the church has been challenged to figure out the process of making disciples and I love that everywhere you look, churches get it and real disciples are being made. Mike Mack gets it and he is doing it every day at his church. He has also been around a long time and watched the small group movement grow and flourish. Small Group Vital Signs walks you through the process and gives you a way to measure so you can improve your ministry as a group leader or ministry director. Read it and make sure you know what you’re doing.”

Boyd Pelley is Co-founder and President of ChurchTeams. Boyd and I have been involved in ministry together in a variety of ways for many years. The church where I minister is a member of ChurchTeams, and we love it! It’s a great system to help ourt leaders communicate with their groups and with our ministry team, provide reports for themselves and for us, helps people get connected through our website, and lots lots more. See a four-minute video of Boyd’s overview of ChurchTeams and their small group distinctives, below.

One of the many things we’ve learned since starting to use ChurchTeams is how much it helps us to continuously gauge the health of our groups and also coach our leaders in being healthy. When a group meets, someone in the group–not necessarily the leader (which leads to more teamwork)–fills out a very brief report that includes attendance, what happened at the meeting, prayer requests (if the group wants to share these), and what the group is doing at the next meeting. These reports are automatically sent to the group, which is great as reminders for people who were there and updates for anyone who missed. At our church, these reports also go up-line to the group’s coach, team leader, and the small groups minister. We’ve taught our coaches and team leaders to watch these reports as they come in–watching for any red flags, opportunities for coaching, or possibilities for some encouragement. 

ChurchTeams also sends out regular reports on all the groups at the church–one of my favorite features–which allows me and others in our church to evaluate the overall health of our groups at a glance.  These reports are also easily customizable so I can get just the information I (or my boss, senior minister, or elders) am looking for. ChurchTeams has found that one of them main contributors to health in a group is consistent attendance. I discuss this factor in Vital Signs #5 and 7 in my book. Commitment to the group and authentic community are vital to health. The old maxim is true: 99% of success is just showing up! 

Our church has tried other church databases, but we love ChurchTeams because it was originally built as a small-groups-based tool, so it’s easy to use and provides the communication and information we need. And by the way, ChurchTeams now also provides many other tools for churches beyond small groups.

Boyd Pelley is a really smart, innovative guy who also really knows small groups ministry. So I’m extremely  thankful and very honored that Boyd has endorsed Small Group Vital Signs

Saddleback’s Rick Zeiger on Small Group Vital Signs

I visited Saddleback Church a number of years ago and felt overwhelmed, not just by the enormity of the place and the number of people, but also by the quality of everything they did. I was greeted in the parking lot by warm, friendly, Hawaiian-shirt clad folks in the parking lot and along the sidewalks leading up to the building. Once inside, I found it easy to find my way and find out more about the church. It was impossible to miss the fact that small groups were a major part of this church’s life. I saw it at a kiosk set up outside the building and in the foyer, and heard it several times in the service, especially from Rick Warren.That day I just happened to run into Brett Eastman, and spent some time talking about small groups and ministry.

I’ve followed Saddleback and their small group story for many years and have learned a lot from them. I’m currently part of the PurposeDriven Small Group Network, a great place to build relationships with other small groups point people and share ideas. Today, one of Saddleback’s area small groups pastors shares his thoughts on Small Group Vital Signs:

“What a fantastic contribution to the small group world. Michael Mack’s strong theological framework and unrelenting emphasis on the importance of a Christ centered and spiritually healthy group leader is the launching point to authentic community. This powerful book goes beyond mere group life theory; it is packed with practical tools and relevant life experiences that will transform any small group ministry. Mack’s health indicators are not a program to be studied but a lifestyle to embody and a must for all who lead others. I look forward to this book’s impact on your leaders and the life changing ripple effect it will have in the kingdom of God.”
Rick Zeiger is a Small Group Area Pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. His interests include the Bible, baseball, books, body surfing, beach cruisers, and building things. Apparently, Rick’s interests are limited to B things! Oh yeah, and one more “B”: Check out his Blog at “The Christ Adventure.”

What Randy Boschee Has to Say About Small Group Vital Signs

If you’re following along, my new book, Small Group Vital Signs, is now just days away from being available. If you have not taken our free small group healthy assessment, you can take it here. Today, I’m sharing what one of my fellow small group pastors said about the book.

“This book speaks to the heart of what’s missing in many small group ministries… A true focus on life change and authentic discipleship in the context of group life.  I was inspired, encouraged, and challenged as a small group pastor to refocus my efforts to build a small group ministry that embodies the essence of biblical community, to be the Body of Christ.”
Randy Boschee is Life Groups Pastor at Liquid Church, one of New Jersey’s fastest growing churches now meeting on three campuses plus online. He has also served at 12 Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He’s a 33-year ministry veteran and has been involved in small groups ministry since 1997. 

I’m extremely grateful to Randy. As a guy who has been in the ministry trenches day in and day out for many years, I appreciate his positive feedback on the book. Thanks, Randy!