The Power of Authenticity

When I was about 10 years old, I made friends with two brothers in my neighborhood, Tim and Jeff Ward. Perhaps because I didn’t have a brother living at home, or just for fun, I told them I had a twin brother named Mark. We would be playing Wiffleball, and I’d go home, change clothes, and come back as Mark. To help the ruse, I batted right-handed as Mike and left-handed as Mark. At first Mike was a better batter, but Mark steadily improved (which is how I became a decent switch-hitter).

After several weeks, Tim and Jeff started getting suspicious and asking me questions, like why we rode the same bike (our parents were too poor to afford two bikes) or why they never saw us together (because we only had the one bike!). When they came to our house, only one of us was ever around; the other had a game or was at another friend’s house. Then one day, Jeff asked my mom where Mark was. “Who’s Mark?” my mom asked. The gig was up.

Why do so many people pretend to be someone they’re not? I think it’s because they’re afraid others wouldn’t accept them as they are. So, we put on a mask that hides the real us. This happens particularly when the church gathers; we can’t be our real selves because we don’t think our fellow Christ followers would accept us as we really are: sinners saved by grace. We know the church ought to be the one place we should be accepted. But too often, it’s not. Someone said, “There’s more lying on Sunday morning than any other day of the week.” I would contend there’s just as much lying on Thursday night at small group, Saturday morning at the men’s fellowship, and other church gatherings. I would also contend people cannot grow spiritually in an environment of dishonesty.

Real discipleship can happen only where there is authenticity. If we cannot be real and admit our faults and frailties to one another, we cannot mature beyond where we are. But when we build an environment where we can be real with one another, sin loses its death grip on us. Because people love us “anyway” we have the encouragement we need to do battle against Satan’s attacks. The accountability of our friends helps us live the life we want to live but can’t live by ourselves.

I admit it’s not easy to be completely honest and transparent with others. It’s part of our sin nature that goes back to the beginning of humankind. Just as Adam and Eve’s sin caused them to hide from God and each other, our sin causes us to build barriers around ourselves to protect us from shame. The church needs the constant reminder that “There is no difference . . .  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:22-23). That’s one thing we all have in common.

To live life to the full and to be the authentic church God wants us to be, we must learn how to become an authentic community.

We don’t have to fight our spiritual battles alone. But when we gather with friends we trust and determine to grow in Christ together, we break down the barriers and become increasingly more authentic. We do this together.

The kinds of groups I’m describing here display God’s purposes for his redeemed community as the Scriptures proclaim:

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

Authenticity is the secret to finding mercy and healing. God’s church should be known as an authentic community. This authenticity should be growing in every area of the church (not just small groups).

People are drawn to authenticity, especially in an age where it seems there’s so little of it. For a long time, people were separated from community because of a pandemic. Others have never entered into authentic biblical community because of their sin and fear of being exposed. Either way, they’ve experienced loneliness and a host of other related emotions.

Imagine if your church or small group were an authentic, loving, others-first community where people’s lives are being transformed. People would want to be part of that, just as they were in the early days of the church. In this kind of church, the Lord would add “to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). May that be the church today!

This article appeared as the “From the Editor” column in the March/April issue of Christian Standard. It is adapted from Michael’s book, Small Group Vital Signs: Seven Indicators of Health That Make Groups Flourish, Touch Publications, 2012.

Real Friends, Real Transformation

I’m blessed to have been part of many authentic small groups over the years that God used to transform my life. The following is one example—the first small group I ever attended. As you read this narrative, see how many examples of authenticity you see.

When I first started attending church services at Centerville Christian Church (now called SouthBrook Christian Church) in Dayton, Ohio, I was alone and a brand-new Christ follower. I lived by myself and had no family in the area. My only acquaintances were people I worked with, most of whom were not Christians. I read through the Gospels and the book of Acts, but I had no idea how to incorporate my new beliefs into my everyday life. God had filled the void in my heart, but I sensed something else was missing. When I walked into the church building that first Sunday, my hope was that I would make friends with Christians, grow in my new faith, and find direction for my life.

An older couple named Harvey and Shirley greeted me warmly and asked me about myself. They told me a little about the church and then they invited me to their house for iced tea on their back porch. When the service concluded, they greeted me again and introduced me to some people my age, who in turn invited me to their small group. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so accepted.

When I got to the house for that first small group meeting, I drove around the block three times before finally parking my car and summoning the boldness to walk into that stranger’s home. I don’t remember what kind of snack was served, what we studied, or the prayer requests shared that night. But I do remember feeling very, very good about this group of people, and I wanted them in my life.

Over the next couple months, I enjoyed doing everyday things with these people. These weren’t just once-a-week-at-the-meeting acquaintances, but real friends who invited me into their lives. This is exactly what I was hoping to find as a new Christian. I didn’t know what to call it back then, but I was searching for authentic biblical community.

A week after my first visit to the group, two guys from the group, Paul and Eric, met with me to talk about where I was in my new faith. They asked more questions than they provided answers, but they took me to God’s Word as we talked about how I could grow in my faith. They taught me from the Bible about baptism, and two weeks later, Tom Jones, the minister at CCC, immersed me into Christ.

At one group meeting after I met with Paul and Eric, I shared that I was confused about God’s will for my new life. Now that I was “a new creature in Christ,” what was I supposed to do? I wondered out loud if I was in the right career. The group encouraged me and prayed with me to know God’s will.

Within a month of joining that small group, the company I worked for went through a takeover and my whole department was eliminated. I went to the group that night and told them what had happened. “What do I do now?” I asked. Again, they supported me and challenged me to seek God’s direction. I sensed that God wanted me to use my passion for writing, and they urged me to pursue it. When I was offered a seemingly great leadership position in a Chicago firm, they continued to help me seek God’s will. When I turned down the offer, they were there with me, supporting me through a tough decision. Then when I started packing up my apartment to move to attend Cincinnati Bible Seminary, they came and helped me load the truck.

It was hard saying goodbye to these friends God had brought into my life, but I knew he put them there for a season and for a reason. I ventured out of my comfort zone with a new relationship with God and a community of friends I knew would continue praying for me.

___

This article was first published at ChristianStandard.com, February 20, 2022.

Four Reasons Every Lead Pastor Should Be in a Small Group

Lead pastors who lead a small group create a win-win dynamic. The pastors and the churches they lead both become healthier and grow as a result. Jim Egli, who has served as a senior pastor, associate pastor, missions pastor, and missionary says that regardless of his role, he has always led a group. He offers these four reasons:

Small groups are at the heart of church health. Egli says a healthy church lives in authentic, Christ-centered, missional community, and a church that uses healthy groups – the focus being on the word healthy – will increase its health, effectiveness, growth, and multiplication.

Pastors’ involvement in small groups greatly multiplies the leadership base of the church. A strategic pastor will lead a purposeful small group of potential leaders who will become new group leaders, new elders, and new leaders in a variety of other vital leadership functions in the church. The strategic pastor will model the discovery, development, and deployment of new leaders so that those he disciples will go and do the same.

Jesus led a small group. Jesus was more interested in starting a movement than preaching a weekly sermon, so he gathered some ordinary, unschooled men and patiently shaped them into bold leaders who would change the world. What would happen if every pastor walked in the ways of Jesus as a group leader?

For your spiritual health you need to be in a small group. “A lot of leaders say it’s lonely at the top,” said Tyler McKenzie, lead pastor at Northeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. “But it doesn’t have to be. I’m not lonely. I have the community of my small group.”

Every church leader needs that kind of authentic, Christ-centered, life-changing, mission-focused community. Every pastor needs a community in which to live out the “one another” passages of the New Testament.

Humbly admit your need and then boldly lead. You and your church won’t regret it.

____

Originally posted on ChristianStandard.com, Sept. 22, 2016.

Make More Disciples by Making Less

As a small group leader, how many people do you think you can effectively lead, shepherd, and disciple? Eight? Ten? Twelve? Twenty? Let me ask this question another way: If you are to bear much fruit, fruit that will last . . . if you are to see true transformation of people’s lives . . . if you are to see people develop into leaders so that you are multiplying your leadership . . . into how many people can you invest your life? 

The World’s Greatest Small Group Leader formed a small team that would eventually change the world. But first, Jesus called two sets of brothers: Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John. Three of these, Peter, James, and John, became Jesus’ inner circle, his Core Team. Jesus poured his life into these three men, investing into them and modeling a life surrendered to the Father for them. He took these three away with him to pray and heal, as well as when he was transfigured.[I] While Jesus did not ignore the other nine apostles or his other followers, he intentionally discipled these three and developed them into leaders. 

Jesus knew something vital about leadership, discipleship, and shepherding. No one—not even Jesus—can effectively lead, disciple, or shepherd more than about two or three people. Leading, discipling, and shepherding are based on close relationships in which the leader invests into the life of those he or she is leading. 

"No one—not even Jesus—can effectively lead, disciple, or shepherd more than about two or three people." Click To Tweet

For years, many churches have assumed that small groups or Sunday school classes or discipleship programs make disciples. Just get people into one of these, and voila, you’ve made disciples. But it doesn’t work that way. Small groups and other forms are simply the context or environment in which disciples can be produced. Disciples are made life on life. As Leroy Eims said, “It takes time to make disciples. It takes individual, personal attention. It takes hours of prayer for them. It takes patience and understanding to teach them how to get into the Word of God for themselves, how to feed and nourish their souls, and by the power of the Holy Spirit how to apply the Word to their lives. And it takes being an example to them of all of the above.”

Read that quote again. Study it. Reflect on it. Can you do those things by yourself with 10 or 12 people? How about five or six?

I’ve said it before: We can mass-produce dresses, diapers, doormats, Doritos, and Dodge Durangos . . . but we can’t mass-produce disciples!

The foundation of disciple-making is a one-on-one relationship. Discipleship is the personal relationship in which one believer pours his or her life out into another to help that person become more like Jesus. I think most people can make this kind of investment with at most two or three people at once. In the best circumstances, these two to three should be people within your small group. It does not make a lot of sense to be in one group for discipleship, another for fellowship, another for Bible study, and yet another where you serve together. That leads to burnout for everyone (and yet I’ve seen plenty of churches organized this way). 

"Discipleship is the personal relationship in which one believer pours his or her life out into another to help that person become more like Jesus." Click To Tweet

The small group is where you do life together, serve together in missional community, and discuss and apply the Bible together. It’s also a warm and welcoming place where you can invite friends who do not know Christ yet, where they can see the love portrayed in your community life and meet the One who makes it happen.

Within that larger small group, discipleship happens one-on-one or with two or three who may meet regularly for more intense Bible study, memorization, and personal application; prayer; confession; and accountability . . . or it may be a less formal relationship in which they meet regularly for coffee, talk on the phone and text one another, or whatever works best for those involved. It’s always intentional, but it doesn’t have to be “formal.”

In these subgroups, the two or three people are close confidants whom you trust. The relationships are more authentic and intentional than in the larger small group.

I’ve described in much more detail how this works in a healthy small group in my book, The Pocket Guide to Burnout-Free Small Group Leadership: How to Gather a Core Team and Lead from the Second Chair, and also in Chapter 3 of Small Group Vital Signs: Seven Indicators of Health that Make Groups Flourish (both published by TOUCH Publications, www.touchusa.org). The foundation of the process is that the designated leader of the group must share leadership (that is, shepherding and discipling roles) with several others in the group. Each person on the core team takes responsibility for discipling one to three others. 

I’ve found that those whom have been discipled this way often turn around and disciple others, reproducing themselves again and again.

Jesus demonstrated a simple model we can use to make more and stronger followers, a model that can, and should, reproduce more disciples, more groups, and even more churches, just as Jesus intended.

"We can mass-produce dresses, diapers, doormats, Doritos, and Dodge Durangos . . . but we can't mass-produce disciples!" Click To Tweet

This post is adapted, in part, from Chapter 2 of The Pocket Guide to Burnout-Free Small Group Leadership.

[i]While it seems that Andrew was not included as much in Jesus’ inner circle as the other three, he was included at least once when the two sets of brothers pulled Jesus aside privately to ask him some questions (Mark 13:4). Interestingly, when the Gospel writers listed the Twelve, Matthew and Luke list the brothers together: Peter and Andrew, then James and John. But Mark separates the sets of brothers, placing Andrew fourth on the list behind Peter, James, and John. In the listing of the eleven apostles in Acts 1:13, Luke places them in this order: Peter, John, James, and then Andrew. Is there any significance to this? We can only surmise, but the order of names in a list was usually very significant in Jewish culture.

Return of the Small Group Leadership Blog!

Reader, forgive me. It’s been 7 months since my last blog post.

(If you grew up Catholic, as I did, I’m sure that first line has a familiar ring to it.)

So . . . where have I been? As I wrote in a blog post back in June 2017, I became editor of Christian Standard magazine a little more than a year and a half ago. I love that ministry and the way God is using it to serve leaders and churches around the world. But I’ve missed my interaction with small group leaders and pastors here. I still lead small group training sessions in churches occasionally on weekends, and I love that more than almost anything else I do, but I’ve been focusing most of my time and energy on the magazine and its ministry.

I just wanted to let you know I’m planning to return to blogging here on at least a somewhat regular basis. I’d love to get questions from readers of this blog; I’ll try to respond via a post as soon as possible. I’ll also share some of the “best of” materials from my books and other resources.

Meanwhile, I’d like to let you know about an exciting new move we’ve made with our magazines. Christian Standard Media just launched what may be considered one of the most exciting endeavors in our 152-year history. Christian Standard and The Lookout are now available digitally for FREE!

Simply go to each of our magazine’s websites, www.christianstandard.com and www.lookoutmag.com, enter your name and email address when prompted, and you’re in. You can then flip through and read the full magazine with all the stories, pictures, etc. on your computer, tablet, or phone. This isn’t just a three-month offer; we will not come back later and ask you to pay to continue your subscription. And you can be assured we won’t fill your email inbox with a bunch of junk mail; we’ll use your email address primarily to let you know when the next issue of our magazines are available on our websites. I hope you’ll join us!

And don’t forget, please send me your small group and discipleship questions! Click to comment below.

 

 

 

20 “Bible Dialogue” Questions

Here’s a way you and your group can study the Bible without using a Bible-study guide. I developed these questions (some of which I picked up from other places) several years ago.

Read a section of Scripture (a chapter, for instance) together as a group. Be creative. Read in the round (one verse or sentence at a time) or have group members read in parts. Then ask some general questions to get people dialoguing around the text. Move from “what did you get” questions to “what will you do” questions. Here are a few possibilities. You might use only one or two of these kinds of questions in a study! Remember that follow-up questions are the best questions.

  1. What jumped out at you in this passage?
  2. What’s going on here? Summarize what’s happening.
  3. What did you notice here, maybe for the first time?
  4. Who are the main characters in this passage?
  5. What’s your favorite verse in this passage? Why?
  6. What’s your least favorite verse in this passage? Why?
  7. What do you think God is trying to communicate overall in this passage?
  8. If we were writing a sermon with three main points from this passage, what would be our three points?
  9. What did you sense the Holy Spirit saying to you?
  10. What example do you see here that you can follow?
  11. What commands do you see here that you need to obey?
  12. What thoughts do you find here about God himself?
  13. What promise(s) do you see here for you to claim?
  14. What principles do you see here that you need to accept?
  15. What can we learn as a group from this passage?
  16. In what verse or section do you sense God speaking directly to you?
  17. How will this passage affect your relationships this next week?
  18. What changes do you feel like you need to make based on this passage?
  19. So what? What are you going to do based on reading this?
  20. What is one specific thing from this passage that you would pray back to God? How would you word that prayer?

The Need for Accountability in Groups

CJ StephensGUEST POST by C.J. Stephens, Small Groups Minister at Northeast Christian Church, Louisville, Kentucky

 

I hear the stories over and over again. They vary in subtle ways, yet they’re always about that person in your group—the one who seems to have everything together. Their life is going perfectly. Their family is great. They are making more money than they ever have. They love their job.

And then one day, out of the blue, their life falls apart.

It turns out that everything wasn’t as great as it seemed. Maybe they weren’t in such a great financial position. Maybe their marriage was a sham. Maybe the person was dealing with a secret sin.

I wish I could say this kind of thing never happens in our groups, that it never happens in our church. But it does, and each time, it breaks my heart. It can happen in your group, too, if your group lacks something critical: accountability.

Honestly, I hate accountability. I like to make plans. I like to come up with grand ideas about getting healthy or saving money. But I hate when someone holds me to those plans. I’d rather just make the plan and then give up on it whenever it becomes inconvenient for me.

Yet, I grow the most when I’m held accountable. This is true for your group as well. Your group will grow closer to each other and grow in their spiritual walks when they are being held accountable.

Cross the Line

The major barrier in our groups to accountability is an unwillingness to cross the line. You know the line—the line between comfortable, polite dialogue and discussions about touchy, sensitive topics in your life. So many of our groups never get past the surface level of life. They never move beyond the comfortable. Yet, it’s just across that line where we can ignite the most growth.

I want to give you a word of warning. It takes time and sensitivity to know when and where you can cross the line from casual friendship to speaking truth into someone’s life. The most important thing is that the person to whom you are trying to talk knows you are doing it out of a place of love. They need to know you have their best interests at heart. They need to know you are not meddling or teasing, but helping them in their walk with Christ.

Hold Them to It

Once your group is in a place where you can deeply speak into their lives, you need to consistently hold them accountable. I’ve been in groups in which people bring up the same relational troubles over and over. I know people who mention the same sin issues repeatedly and never seem to make any progress. How can we help those people move forward?

I’ve found one question to be helpful to you as a leader: “What steps are you going to take this week to change that?” It’s a deceptively simple question, but it has helped me enormously. It asks the person to do two things: make a plan to remedy the situation and get to work on it quickly. Let’s discuss each briefly.

Make a plan: Many of our problems never get solved because we never make a plan. By asking group members to make a plan to change, you are asking them to think more deeply about the situation and come up with a solution.

Get to work on it quickly—this week. Our nature is usually to let things go on and on without a solution simply because the solution is uncomfortable. By putting a timeline on the plan, it makes the problem immediate.

And here’s where the accountability comes in. The next time you see that person, ask him or her, “How’s that going?” This part is crucial. If you don’t check back with them, you aren’t holding them accountable. Check in on them. Bother them. Pester them until they start to make progress. Let them know you are on their side, but challenge them to find a solution.

If you love your friends, you’ll want them to grow. You’ll want to see them change. Love them enough to challenge them. Don’t wait until the problem blows up their life and they must then try to pick up the pieces. Keep your group accountable.

_____

This blog post originally appeared in “Leader Connect,” a newsletter for small group leaders at Northeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

Don’t Let the Sheep Lead the Flock!

God often takes us places we didn’t plan to go.

As I got into my rental car in Louisville, Kentucky, to head out to The Groups Conference in Mattoon, Illinois, where I was speaking last weekend, I set the route I wanted to take in Google Maps and headed out. I was driving along the highway with the radio cranked up, enjoying the drive, when, about 2 hours in, Google Maps told me to get off the highway, at least 30 miles before my next designated turn. I took the exit as GM instructed and then looked at my phone to see where it was taking me. It looked good: a straighter shot than the highway although smaller roads. As I went, the roads became even smaller and smaller and less and less smooth, yet I was enjoying the sites on this country road that I never would have seen on the highway. At one point, GM told me to turn down a dirt road that had just had gravel added. The car in front of me took the same turn, and at several points, the dust from the gravel became so thick I couldn’t see. All I could do was stop the car and let the dust settle. At places in this drive, I had no idea where I was; I felt lost. I was in Illinois in the middle of a lot of barren fields, but I began to see small oil-well pumps. I’d expect to see those in a place like Texas, but Illinois? Then I saw a sign that said “Louisville, 7 miles.” I felt like I was going in circles! I yelled at my phone, “What are you doing? Where in the world are you taking me?”

Eventually, the back roads took me to the expressway, and I got to Mattoon safe and on time.

I admit that I too often treat God like I treated Google Maps. I set my own destination and course for “my” life. I enjoy the easy ride for awhile, but then I come upon a detour that takes me off the road I had planned to travel. I’ve been in those places where the dust and gunk of life became so thick that all I could do was stop until eventually the dust cleared enough to go on. I’ve felt lost and confused. I’ve wondered why I wandering. I’ve yelled at God, “What are you doing, Lord? Where in the world are you taking me?”

Yet, eventually, I get to a better place—and this has taken years of my life—and it’s not until I get there that I can see what God was doing. In the middle of the detour, I believed I didn’t deserve to be where I was. But afterward, I could hear God say, “Yes, you didn’t deserve this detour to your plans, but I did it for your good anyway.” While these times were difficult and heavy and painful, I saw and learned things about life and about God that I would not have seen or learned otherwise. He taught me to rely on him and trust his course for my life. He gives me opportunities to show others who are currently detoured that God is faithful.

If you lead a small group or family or team or any other collection of people, you will soon discover that they too end up on detours in their lives. Sometimes these detours look very much like the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4). Yet, somehow, he is guiding them along the right paths for his name’s sake (v. 3). Your job is not to steer them back to the road they wished they were on or planned to be on. Your job as a shepherd is not to fix them or the circumstances. Your job is simply to walk with them through it. You shepherd them as the Good Shepherd guides you. You simply overflow (see v. 5) the compassion and love and peace and comfort and wisdom and power that he has poured graciously into you. Just be with them during these times.

Often, people don’t want to go where the Chief Shepherd wants them to go. He leads us out of our comfort zones so that we will rely on him, not ourselves, for our comfort and peace.

God leads us out of our comfort zones so we will rely on him for our comfort. Click To Tweet

Guiding people to go (or as they go) places where they do not want to go is not easy or comfortable for you or them.

God wants your group to go and make disciples, but they want to stay on the smooth and easy road they know of comfort, stability, and safety.

God wants your group to serve the poor and hungry and homeless and imprisoned, but they want to serve themselves with good meetings and safe relationships.

God wants them to mature so that they will take on leadership and feed others, but they just want to stay put and be fed.

If you as God’s shepherd-leader decide to follow the Chief Shepherd, you will face conflict from sheep who don’t want to go there. I can point to many biblical examples of this, but one of the clearest comes from the Exodus and the wanderings of the Israelites in the wilderness. They were off course from where they expected to be. They were looking for the Promised Land, but found themselves in the desert. Moses was their shepherd but he found himself in constant conflict with stubborn sheep. Moses heard God’s voice telling him to lead the people, but he also heard the loud bleats of sheep who didn’t want to go God’s way. When this happens as you lead, what do you do?

  1. Always, always, always hold high the values and principles found in God’s Word. Don’t give in to lesser values.
  2. Listen to God’s voice first (and you need to spend time with him—abide in him—to hear him), and then to people’s voices. When there is conflict between those voices, refer to #1.
  3. Don’t kowtow to people who prefer their comfort over God’s mission.
  4. Don’t let the sheep lead the flock!

Don't let the sheep lead the flock! Click To Tweet

God has chosen you to lead his flock. He has entrusted these people into your care as an act of stewardship. He wants you to invest into them, care for them and, lead them to where he wants them to go. He wants a return (Matt. 25:14-30)! He wants fruit (John 15:8). Be a wise and faithful steward-servant-shepherd who follows the Chief Shepherd.

What places does God want your group to go that group members don’t want to go? Share it by scrolling down and commenting.

Small Group Leader TIPS of the Week: Feb. 20-24, 2017

It’s Friday! That means we’re sharing our Small Group Leader TIPS of the week as Tweeted, posted on our Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn. Use these tips in your ministry!

Read All Small Group Leadership TIPS here!

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6 Must-Read Books for Small Group Ministry Leaders

I teach a “Small Group Ministry & Discipling” seminary class at Cincinnati Christian University that is designed for students who have an interest in starting or further developing a small group ministry in a local congregation. I selected the required textbooks for these leaders and emerging leaders to give them a mixture of adaptable philosophy, biblical values for discipleship in community, and  practical “how-to-do-it” resources.

Before sharing the books I use, it’s important to share my objectives for this course:

As a result of this course, students will . . .

  • be able to internalize the importance of effective small group ministry in the local church
  • understand the biblical basis for discipleship in small groups
  • understand the process and system for establishing and executing an effective disciple-making small group ministry in the life of a local church
  • be able to discover, develop, and deploy leaders so as to execute their ministries through effective volunteer leadership
  • be able to launch (or relaunch) and operate a life-changing small group ministry in a local church

I share those objectives because I believe those are important for any and every small group ministry leader. With that in mind, I highly recommend these resources for you. I include my own book first because it provides the principles and values I believe in for healthy, overflowing small group ministry.

  1. Small Group Vital Signs: Seven Indicators of Health That Make Groups Flourish, Michael Mack. Houston, TX: TOUCH Publications, 2012.
    ISBN 978-0-9825352-5-7.
  2. MissioRelate: Becoming a Church of Missional Small Groups, M. Scott Boren. Houston, TX: TOUCH Publications, Inc., 2011. ISBN 978-0-9825352-4-0.
  3. Building a Life-Changing Small Group Ministry: A Strategic Guide for Leading Group Life in Your Church, Bill Donahue and Russ Robinson. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012. ISBN 978-0-310-33126-1.

I tell students that if they have read any of the previous texts within the last two years, to substitute the following:

  1. A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small-Group Dynamic, Rick Howerton. NavPress, 2012. ISBN: 13-978-1-61747-995-3.
  2. Real-Life Discipleship: Building Churches That Make Disciples, Jim Putman. NavPress, 2010. ISBN: 13-978-1-61521-560-7.
  3. Small Groups with Purpose: How to Create Healthy Communities, Steve Gladen. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011. ISBN: 978-0-8010-1379-9.

 

QUESTION: What other books or other resources have you found that are “must-reads” for small group ministry leaders? Please share yours using the Comment button below.