One of the most challenging new books on small group ministry? In my mind it is Community: Taking Your Small Group Off Life Support by Mars Hill’s Brad House.
Published by Crossway, this is not your run-of-the-mill book on groups. Although the subtitle suggests that this is a book for small group leaders, it’s really a very thought-provoking read, focused almost entirely on guiding small group ministry point people toward the reframing of their entire ministry.
Almost immediately you will find in this book something different; something very unusual. There is a thoughtful and thought-provoking quality to the writing. It’s not light reading. Instead, Community is the kind of book that you’ll find yourself re-reading, just to be sure you’ve caught the full meaning. And…if your copy is like mine, it’ll be pretty marked up. There’s a lot here.
If you’re looking for practical, hands-on tips and ideas about how to do small group ministry…this is not it. At the same time, if you want to be sure you’re wrestling with the questions and formative thinking essential to building a quality small group ministry…Community has made my list as required reading.
Part one is a very thought-provoking examination of the biblical building blocks of community. You’ll find some familiar passages referenced. There are also some interesting connections made that you’ll mark up because you want to remember where you found them.
Part two is a section that grouplife veterans will find intriguing, especially when compared to Randy Frazee’s Connecting Church. There is an approach to mission in Community that is quite inspiring and will be a resource that adds to the missional community conversation.
Part Three, a short 30 page section at the end of the book, drops in a couple very practical ideas that are doable, although quite challenging. There’s also an interesting recounting of the history of grouplife at Mars Hill. I think you’ll find some insights in that final chapter that will help you understand strategic choices that have been made.
The appendix includes a helpful set of planning tools and job descriptions; perfect if you’re at the stage where you’re looking for resources.
You won’t agree with every conclusion. I didn’t. There’ll be some sections that will be read again and again. There’ll even be some statements that will resonate so completely that you’ll embrace the language and concepts as you’re own. I found some humdinger lines that will definitely become part of my way of thinking.
Community is a book you’re going to want to read. In fact, you’re probably going to want to read it with a few of your team members and then argue your way through its conclusions. It’s already added some depth to my thinking and I’m sure you’d benefit as well.