I’ve said this a number of times, but I want to be sure and say this again. Steve Gladen is a couple of things. First, he’s one of the smartest GroupLife guys on the planet. He’s also one of the most helpful small group experts on the planet.
Steve’s new book, Small Groups with Purpose: How to Create Healthy Communities is a perfect example of his brilliance and his extreme helpfulness. Even better? It is a great book, absolutely packed with wisdom and insight. You’ll have trouble finding a chapter that doesn’t get extremely marked up, underlined, starred, and dogeared for future reference.
There are several things I really love about the book. First, this is a first person, insider account of the inner workings of the largest small group ministry in North America. That is worth noting. Size isn’t everything, but to build something like this takes time, wisdom, patience, and leadership. If you read with eyes to see…you’ll have some aha moments about how to build a pervasive small group culture.
Second, you don’t have to be a purpose-driven church to really benefit from an understanding of how the model works in grouplife. Important concepts like “healthy groups balance the purposes” are fleshed out in ways that you’ll find yourself applying in your context. With a chapter on how groups can develop each of the five purposes, Small Groups with Purpose will become a road map for implementation. It will also provide some insight into the kinds of grouplife attributes and activities that can be measured to determine system health.
Third, Part III, Step-by-Step, How Can I Do This is as sweet and complete a blueprint as you’re ever going to come across. Seriously…there aren’t many small group practitioners who know as much as I do about how it works at Saddleback, but there were so many no-brainer ideas that I came away with a long list of easy fixes and smart adjustments.
Fourth, each chapter includes a great set of questions that can be used for personal reflection or in the development process of a team. Since this is a book that could easily provide a leadership team exercise for both churches that are considering launching small group ministry as well as churches with groups already that dream of being more effective, this feature will be really helpful.
Finally, the things that stands out the clearest, throughout Small Groups with Purpose, are the author’s unassuming brilliance and authentic servant mindset.
This is a great book! It will make a difference in your ministry, whether you’re already in the midst of the small group adventure or just trying to chart an effective course.
Carl George said, “You absolutely must put a copy of Steve Gladen’s book into the hands of your small group leadership.” My one addition? You’d have to be crazy to not take advantage of Small Groups with Purpose, a fabulous resource and one of the five books I included on my GroupLife Reading List for Summer 2011.