Review: Simple Small Groups

“I am an unlikely small groups minister.”

That is the confession that introduces the reader to Bill Search, at the time of writing the team leader for Community Groups at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky.  I think Bill’s reluctance to participate in small groups echoes the feelings of many, decades after the cell group concept was introduced into American evangelical churches. There are still many Christians who are not convinced that the small groups model is for them.

For those of us who lead small groups ministries, finding methods and plans that work well is an elusive task. So often what works well in one setting is disastrous in another setting. Having a discerning spirit about what will be a blessing in your church is necessary, and sometimes difficult. Bad group experiences and (worse) boring group experiences lead people to not want to participate again. Great care is needed in planning and sharing about small groups.

There are so many things to like about Search’s book, and the title is one of them. Simple. After reading some of the complex schemes and organization some small group books present, I was ready for something simple.  Bright’s book is centered around three simple ideas he calls patterns:

“Connecting is the growing sense of connection with an identified group of people.” In this section he writes about some of the things that kill our connections with other people. There is an emphasis on creating a place where connections can happen.

“Changing is the spiritual and relational renovation that transforms us into the likeness of Christ.” After writing about two obstacles to change, Search notes things that characterize healthy groups; things that can facilitate our spiritual development.

“Cultivating is the missional lifestyle. It’s not only evangelism or only service. It’s both.” Here Search confronts the issues of really caring for others verses assuaging a guilty conscience. Developing a heart for reaching out is addressed in excellent form.

The fourth part of the book has to do with harmony … how the flow of these three patterns exists in harmony within the group. There are also dangers in becoming obsessed with one of the patterns over others … or being stuck in one pattern without developing the others.

There are several things I like about this book.

*It retains the demeanor of the title: simple. It does not present complex ideas that would only work in certain situations. I think these concepts transcend group formats and mechanics.

*It is a book with much Scripture to accompany the principles it contains.

*Each section ends with a “nuts and bolts” chapter so that you can see examples of how to put it into action.

*Each section contains a set of questions to contemplate in order to gain greater understanding of your group and which of the patterns it does well, and which need improvement.

Bill Search is a veteran among small group ministers (Community Groups is what they are called at Southeast). His work with Willow Creek speaks well of both his credentials and his talent.

You can read more of Bill’s thoughts at his website Simple Small Groups.

Or at his blog located HERE.

You can befriend him on Facebook  HERE.

Here’s Bill sharing a ten minute synopsis of the principles of his book:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqIYho7jDdQ[/youtube]

Thanks for reading,

John

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